1904 Pennsylvania State Building


Forestry, Fish, and Game Building


U.S. Fisheries Commission Building

ScrollTransporting live fish and keeping them in a displayable condition for an extented period would be a monumental task even with today's technology. And as William Meehan documents here, the 1904 Fair had its share of problems.

"Nearly five thousand fish were brought in the first shipment and it was attributed to the skill of Mr. Nathan R. Buller that on that one thousand two hundred miles journey only three died. It is to be regretted that this condition could not continue, but they were scarcely placed in the tanks before my fears of the unsuitable character of the water furnished by the Exposition authorities were realized. The water instead of being clarified by subsidence as it should have been was filtered first by the city of St. Louis with lime and again on the Exposition grounds by means of alum water; water filtered by any process is not well adapted for the maintenance of fish life and that which was supplied was so heavily impregnated with lime and alum as to form a heavy deposit on the iron pipes, was necessarily fatal to nearly all the high-grade fishes. The trout, pike-perch, whitefish and blue-pike died within twenty-four hours. Yellow perch and several other species, notably blue catfish, died within a few days. At the expiration of ten days there were not more than fifteen species of fish alive, although curiously enough among those which seemed able to accept filtered water were several thousand Lake Erie minnows. Under the circumstances I felt it my duty to refuse to send another load of fish until the water was put in a better condition. After several weeks this was done by materially reducing the quantity of alum. I then shipped the second load, taking charge of the car myself. This was early in June, although the water was very warm, less than one dozen fish were lost in transportation. I regret to say that on my arrival I found that the Exposition officials had not kept their pledge to install the refrigerating plant to supply clear water. The consequence was when the fish arrived the water in the tanks had a temperature of over eighty degrees. The trout and many of the lake fishes consequently died very quickly. The refrigerating plant was installed in August, and on the 18th of August, Mr. A. G. Buller, Superintendent of the Erie hatchery, brought down a third lot, losing less than a dozen on the way. Owing to the chilled water in several of the tanks and by heavily icing the water in other tanks we were able to carry no less than thirty-six species of Pennsylvania fishes until the middle of September."


Inside fair

"At the east end of the space extending southward is constructed a circular pool, twelve feet in diameter and five feet deep, fed by water falling over an eight foot cascade at the east end of the aquarium, and along a winding stream bordered by living evergreens, ferns, cat-tails and vices. The stream contained live fish and in the pool were huge specimens of catfish and carp, some weighing twenty to thirty pounds each. The pool attracted scarcely less attention than the aquaria itself. All day long the projecting railing was overhung by large and curious crowds, who watched with interest the movements of the huge fish." -- Wm. Meehan.

Hatch house

A portion of the model of a Commission "hatch house" can be seen in this photograph. "The confiscated nets and the mounted fish...were artistically displayed on a partition twelve feet high.

The photographs and water color drawings were displayed on a neat wall of oiled yellow pine, guarded by the wings of a huge trap-net set upon the floor. In the center of the space was a large railed enclosure completely filled by two huge specimens of sturgeon and a porpoise the Delaware River. -- Wm. Meehan.


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November/December 1998 PA Angler & Boater

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