The Neosho National Fish Hatchery, the nation’s oldest operating federal fish hatchery, unveiled a new visitor center last year.
It sports state-of-the-art energy efficient technology yet maintains the original building’s stately Victorian-era design and the original stone raceways built by the Work Progress Administration. Only two of the 69 national hatcheries have a visitor’s center; the other is in Kentucky.
Though there are many visitors, the facility is still a research and production hatchery. The hatchery has produced more than 130 species of fish since its creation in 1888, including fresh-, cold-, and warm-water fish.
Today, the facility primarily produces 100,000 rainbow trout annually to restock Lake Taneycomo. The pallid sturgeon is the main research target, and the sturgeons raised here are released in the Missouri River in several states. Research is also beginning on mussels, especially mud puppies, which are endangered in Iowa and of concern here.
Youngsters can catch trout out of the spring-fed holding ponds at the annual Fishing Derby, on the first Friday in June. The visitor center has many interactive exhibits and displays, including one for kids where they can put their heads into a glass bubble inside the aquarium.