125 West Sunset Way
With more than 300,000 visitors each year, the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery is easily the most-visited hatchery in the state. The best time to visit is September and October, when the salmon return to the hatchery up Issaquah Creek and when the Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery (F.I.S.H.) offers public tours.
The facility is open to visitors year around and has very good interpretive signs and displays to help guests learn about salmon and their life cycles, and about the hatchery itself. Inside the front door, there is an aquarium of fish which are the same age and size as the fish in the hatchery’s holding tanks.
The Salmon: Star of the Show
Adult salmon begin returning to the hatchery via Issaquah Creek in late August and early September. As many as 10,000 to 20,000 salmon may return before the runs are over in December.
Upon reaching the hatchery, salmon are strongly encouraged to jump up the fish ladder at the hatchery. Once up the fish ladder, the fish wait in holding tanks. Large windows allow for public viewing.
This site was once part of “City Park”, which was connected to downtown Issaquah with a wooden bridge over Issaquah Creek. During the 1920’s, the park was well used with a bandstand and speaking platform for large holiday celebrations; and there was much picnicking along the creek.
The hatchery was constructed as a Works Project Administration project during 1936-1937. Plans included: Hatchery Building (increased in size during late design phase from 90 feet long to 176 feet!), hatching troughs, deep tray troughs, hatchery baskets, egg trays, overseer’s residence, feed house, garage, rearing ponds, water system, and racks and traps.
In the early 1990’s, the State Department of Fish and Wildlife announced plans to close the hatchery due to budget constrains. But the City of Issaquah, Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery (F.I.S.H.), the Muckleshoot Tribe, and King County all urged the state to keep the hatchery open. With a new focus on education, watershed stewardship, and bolstering native and threatened salmon such as the Lake Washington steelhead, the hatchery was significantly renovated and expanded in 1997 and 1998 with a new viewing pond, viewing shelter, four raceways, plumbing, stormwater systems, and a fish ladder. As of 1999, more significant improvements are still in the works!
The lands on which the hatchery sit are owned by the City of Issaquah which is leasing them to the State of Washington on a 99 year lease.
From the 1998 “Issaquah Historic Property Inventory”:
The Hatchery, located just adjacent to lssaquah’s downtown district, is a site that includes a large intact W.P.A. built building, 19 rearing ponds in front and 3 holding ponds in back.
The site is located close to Issaquah Creek, its flow of water and attachment to Lake Sammamish, the slough and Puget Sound is the reason for the location of the Hatchery.
The main Hatchery building is a long narrow rectangular single story wood frame structure; its long (north) elevation is fully banked with windows horizontally divided into 3 panes. A hipped roof covers the enclosed entry which is centered on the front elevation. The building is clad in horizontal bevel wood siding.
Fish ponds on the grounds are surrounded by low chain link fences.
Issaquah Historical Society files. Issaquah Press newspaper articles from 1971; November 28,1935; and December 19,1935. King County Assessor’s Records.
Related Web Sites
- Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery
- Upgrades on track for local hatchery (May 1997 Issaquah Press Article)
- Lawmakers behind hatchery (April 1999 Issaquah Press Article)