Fairport Fish Hatchery Pump House Spurs Conservation Efforts

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlberthttps://discovermuscatine.com
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

MUSCATINE, Iowa—A new chapter in Muscatine’s pearl button history opened Jan. 17 when Preservation Iowa named the Fairport Fish Hatchery’s pump house to its 2020 Most Endangered Properties list. The designation will allow for a variety of new conservation efforts to move forward.

Terry Eagle, Director of the National Pearl Button Museum @ History and Industry Center and member of the Mussels of Muscatine conservation organization first learned about the pump house’s significance last year. While touring the hatchery, Eagle found out the site originally opened as a federally run biological station operated to propagate mussels for use in the pearl button making industry. After the fish hatchery became a Department of Natural Resources property and its focus shifted, the DNR replaced all the original biological station buildings with new ones better suited to their purposes, except for the pump house. Several years ago, water damage to the walls led hatchery staff to abandon it all together and begin planning to demolish it.

When Eagle learned of these plans, he wanted to save the pump house to preserve its history and use it to support future conservation efforts. “You have to learn from history,” he stressed. “If you tear it down and cover it up, you’ll forget about it and make the same mistakes again.”

Eagle reached out to Conservation Iowa and began working with them to have the pump house added to their list of Most Endangered Properties. Eagle felt elated when he got word Friday that Conservation Iowa had moved forward to help save it.

With the support of Conservation Iowa and the members of Mussels of Muscatine (the City of Muscatine, National Pearl Button Museum, the Nature Conservancy and the Iowa DNR) Eagle has big plans for restoring and repurposing the pump house. Initially, the pump house will need work to stabilize its walls, damaged by years of gutter leaks.

Once restored, Eagle would like to turn the pump house into an interpretive area, curated through a partnership between the hatchery and the National Pearl Button Museum. Through plaques and displays, visitors could see how the fish hatchery started out to propagate mussels and how efforts going on at the fish hatchery work to restore mussel populations today.

Eagle hopes that the restored pump house, along with other pearl button historical sites along Muscatine’s stretch of the Great River Road, could spur tourism, which could raise money to support Mussels of Muscatine’s goal to raise more mussels at the hatchery in the future. “All we’re doing is trying to put Muscatine back on the forefront, not with pearl buttons but with clean water initiatives,” stated Eagle.

Melanie Harkness, a natural resource technician at the hatchery, shared that they have several mussel propagation projects already in process. These include overwintering fish needed for other hatcheries to feed their mussels in the spring, maintaining mussel rearing cages in several locations along the river, and learning how best to propagate common species of mussels. As the mussel propagation program continues to expand in years to come, Harkness looks forward to possibly propagating endangered species of mussels as well. The new conservation efforts at the pump house mark the beginning of making these plans realities.

Latest News

MUSCOM to start video streaming from 911 callers

Muscatine, Iowa- The Muscatine County Joint Communications Center (MUSCOM) is excited to announce the launch of Prepared Live in...

More Articles Like This

Muscatine Today

MTS- Brandon is here to talk about Fat Cat

Today on the show Scott Schultz from Impact Fitness and Nutrition is here to talk about more healthy fitness tips. Then if you are looking to get your car cleaned up from the winter listen to today's show to learn about a business in town that can help you with that and more..... Thank you to our show sponsors: Harpers Cycling and Fitness, Beckey Insurance, Muscatine Power and Water, RIVO Plumbing and Heating, ImpactLife Blood Center, Lutheran Living, Toyota of Muscatine, Impact Fitness and Nutrition, Sun Tan City Muscatine, Real Estate Resource Associates, UnityPoint Health Trinity Muscatine and Hy-Vee Muscatine #muscatinetodayshow #goodmorningmuscatine #KindnessIsFree

DMSN Broadcasts

Manta Rays Swim

Join us as the Muskie Boys Basketball team hosts the North Scott Lancers! Watch Your Way: DiscoverMuscatine.com Discover Muscatine Facebook Discover Muscatine YouTube DiscoverMuskie Twitter Muscatine Power and Water Cable Channel 3 Brought to you by Muscatine Power and Water, Muscatine Lawn and Power, Hy-Vee, Bayer of Muscatine, First National Bank of Muscatine, Affordable Metal Manufacturing, Eastern Iowa Power Washers, Arty’s Ice Cream and Grill, Rivo Plumbing and Heating, Riots and Rebelle’s Salon, Bickford Senior Living, Let’s Eat, Muscatine Community Y and the Youth Sports Foundation. #DMSN #MuskieSports #Muscatine #MuskieSchools #basketball #prephoops #prepbasketball

Talk of the Town

Chasing the American Dream!

I've always been an idea guy. I love sitting around a table, brainstorming with a group, and talking things through. This includes people considering...

Muscatine Area News

MUSCOM to start video streaming from 911 callers

Muscatine, Iowa- The Muscatine County Joint Communications Center (MUSCOM) is excited to announce the launch of Prepared Live in our dispatch center. Built by...