D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery and Archives
Mountain-Prairie Region
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D.C. Booth - Yellowstone Boat

From 1901-1911, the Spearfish National Fish Hatchery began and operated an egg-gathering substation in Yellowstone National Park. Located on the West Thumb of Yellowstone Lake, the substation was mainly responsible for the collection of black-spotted trout eggs and their subsequent shipment to Spearfish for hatching and later distribution to other areas.

Since direct railroad service did not exist between Spearfish and Yellowstone Lake, an overland expedition was undertaken each year to gather the eggs and return them to Spearfish. The expedition usually left Spearfish in June, traveling by rail as far as possible. The last portion of the journey was made by wagon, with the wagons piled high with boats, nets, troughs, and other equipment. The annual Yellowstone expeditions were conducted until 1911. At that time the hatchery at Bozeman, Montana, assumed responsibility for the Yellowstone egg-gathering and hatching operations.

In August of 1996, a boat similar to the boat used in Yellowstone egg-gathering operations, U.S. Fisheries 40, was docked at the D.C. Booth Historic National Fish Hatchery. No. 40 is a wooden, "Great Lakes" style cabin cruiser. The style was developed by commercial fishermen on the Great Lakes. It was adopted for the massive fish rescue operation on the upper Mississippi River, which required a fast boat that could carry many containers of fish. This rescue operation saved fish stranded by receding flood waters and either returned them to the river or shipped them to other parts of the country for stocking. The center of this operation was the Homer, Minnesota hatchery. The hatchery maintained a crew of three to four men to build watercraft. The Homer station was put in charge of the Yellowstone operation in 1922 and put at least four of these boats into use in the park. The modeled hulls and high bows could weather the heavy waves on Lake Yellowstone during storms.

After No. 40s useful life ended, it eventually wound up in Corwin Springs as trade for a load of ready-mix cement. It was discovered there in the late 1980s and its owner agreed to donate it for restoration. No. 40 is 33 feet long, with steam-bent white oak ribs and cypress planking. The engine is a Model 35 Kermath marine engine. Restoration of the boat was done in Central, South Carolina, by Frank Tainter in 1991. His grandfather, Frank Tainter, was a boat builder at Homer. His father, Hugh, worked with the boats in Yellowstone. No. 40 rests on a wooden cradle, patterned after the original cradle elevated by a concrete base to protect it from ground moisture. A shelter and viewing platform with signage is available to explain the history and role of the boat.

Last updated: January 13, 2012

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