April 16, 1886: Duluth newspaper announces Lakeside to be home of the “largest and best” fish hatchery in the world

On this day in Duluth in 1886, the Duluth Weekly Tribune announced that that the government was considering placing that hatchery at the mouth of the Lester River, at that time part of the Village of Lakeside. Dr. Sweeney, then president of the Minnesota Fisheries Association, was tapped to take the lead on the project. By January the following year, the newspaper wrote of the facility as an inevitability and announced that it would be the “largest and the best” such facility “in the world.” The Lakeside Land Company, which developed much of the  Lakeside and Lester Park neighborhoods, recognized the value of the hatchery and donated the land for the project. It took some time for plans and the contract bidding process, but finally, on June 25, 1888, construction began. As work neared completion in September, the government announced that Dr. Sweeney himself would become the hatchery’s first superintendent. Sweeney wanted the facility hatching fish by mid-November to coincide with the opening of the whitefish season—the facility promised to produce 50 million whitefish fingerlings each year. Besides whitefish (the most popular fish produced in Lake Superior at the time) the hatchery would also raise lake trout, and the facility’s capacity would eventually increase to 150 million eggs per year. Read a much more complete history of the fish hatchery here.

Dr. R. O. Sweeney’s sketch of the proposed Lester River Fish Hatchery. (Image: Duluth Public Library)