Leetown Fish Hatchery

Shepherdstown Register
December 25, 1930

We Get Fish Hatchery

Jefferson county is fortunate in getting the government's proposed new bass and trout hatchery, for which the present Congress has appropriated $75,000. It will be located at Leetown. Official announcement was made last Saturday by Congressman Frank L. Bowman, of this district, following approval of the project by the Commissioner of Fisheries.

The bill authorizing the fish culture station was drawn by the Merchant Marine, Fisheries Committee of the House, of which Congressman Bowman is a member, and provided for the location of the station either in Maryland or West Virginia. The efforts of Mr. Bowman in directing attention of experts to numerous ideal sites in his State led to the selection of the Leetown location. The constant supply of spring water on the tract to be acquired, together with the general topography of the land and other advantages, made it especially attractive to fisheries investigators. Maryland representatives made strenuous efforts to win the station for that State, but the activity of Mr. Bowman and of Hon. Vernon E. Johnson, chairman of the State Game, Fish and Forestry Commission, as well as the co-operation of the Jefferson County Branch of the Isaak Walton League, finally won the prize for this section. At one time it was feared that the high prices asked by the owners of the property desired might cause the hatchery to go to Washington county, Maryland, where, it is said, a free location was offered, but the matters in dispute were finally adjusted and options given for the tracts needed.

The government will get approximately 100 acres at a cost of $33,500. This includes the main spring on the farm of Lee Osbourn, from which a strong stream of water flows with unfailing regularity, and furnishes most of the water for the stream that turns the wheels of J. Frank Gardner's mill. Mr. Osbourn sells the spring and the land through which its waters flow, but retains water rights for his farm stock. The Gardner mill and its water rights and adjacent land are also purchased. The mill, it is stated, will be converted along with other buildings, to the use of the station. A third tract purchased belongs of James E. Slusher, including what is known as the Balch spring and the meadow land on the west side of the public road. It is said that the ponds or pools for the propagation of fish will be located on this land, to which the water will be piped.

Work on the project, it is announced, will begin in the early spring, following the completion of abstracting titles and other legal work. A considerable force of men will be employed in constructing the ponds and other necessary parts of the hatchery and rearing pools, for which the remaining $41,500 will be expended. It is said that as many as twenty persons will be employed by the hatchery during the busy season after the establishment shall have been gotten into working order. When finished this will be the second important fish hatchery in the State, the other being located at White Sulphur Springs.

Observation and analysis of the water of the springs at Leetown prove that not only is there an unfailing supply, but the water itself has the elements especially desirable for bass and trout culture. Inspection was made of the Southwood spring, owned by G. W. Hoffman, near Kearneysville, but there was not a sufficient flow of water from this source. Years ago Southwood spring was one of the famous springs of this section, but the water level has been lowered in the course of the years and the issue is greatly diminished.

Parks and Recreation