latest newsletter "The
Have a question
for the Fishways Staff?
or mail to:
PO Box 330
Manchester, NH 03105
The Center and
exhibit hall are open
Monday - Saturday
9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The Fishways will be closed the following dates:
May 27th (Memorial Day)
July 4th (Independence Day)
Sept. snd (Labor Day)
Fish Season Hours
The center is open 7 days a week during fish season
April 29th - June 15th
Click to visit
About the Fishways
The Amoskeag Fishways Learning and Visitors Center is
an environmental education center located in Manchester, NH on the beautiful
Merrimack River. The center is open year round Monday through Saturday
from 9am to 5pm. During fish migration season in May and June, the center
is open seven days a week.
The center houses an impressive interactive exhibit hall that allows visitors
to explore the Merrimack River. The exhibits focus on the Merrimack River
watershed, historical use of the Amoskeag area, and river wildlife. Visitors
can view live turtles, frogs and salmon, play a salmon migration game,
generate electricity, and more. In May and June, visitors can experience
the unique opportunity to view migrating shad, herring and sea lamprey
in our underwater viewing windows. These windows look into a 54-step fish
ladder that allows migrating fish to swim around the Amoskeag Dam and
continue on their way up the river to reproduce.
The Amoskeag Fishways offers a variety of programs for all ages,
including family programs, school field trips and teacher workshops. Program
topics include: river wildlife, river ecology, electricity, hydro and
solar power, fish biology, urban wildlife, survival skills, Native Americans,
and more. Your family or school group will enjoy these fun and interactive
programs. Click for more information about our public
programs or school programs.
The Amoskeag Fishways Mission: The Amoskeag Fishways provides cooperative
environmental education programs fostering cultural and ecological stewardship
of watersheds and riparian systems.
History of the Fishways
Anadromous fish are born and grow in the fresh water
of rivers and streams, but live as adults in the salt water of oceans.
Each spring in the northeastern United States, many anadromous fish -
including the Atlantic salmon, sea lamprey, American shad, and river herring
- migrate from their ocean homes to the Merrimack River to breed, or spawn.
During the 1800's, dams were constructed along the Merrimack River to
harness the water's power for use in textile manufacturing. Anadromous
fish populations began to decline during that time since the fish were
unable to pass the dams to reach their traditional spawning grounds. Overfishing
and increasing levels of water pollution also reduced anadromous fish
The Amoskeag Dam, named with a Native American word meaning "Great Fishing
Place," was built in 1836.
A fish ladder was built at Amoskeag due to legislation passed in Massachusetts
and New Hampshire requiring fish ladders to be built when constructing
dams. Sadly, this ladder did not work correctly and the anadromous fish
population in the Merrimack River collapsed by 1850.
In 1921, the current hydro station was constructed and the dam was rebuilt
to facilitate the generation of electricity.
In 1989, Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH), in cooperation with the
New Hampshire Fish and Game Department (NHFG) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife
Service (USFWS), constructed the current fish ladder. The ladder is comprised
of 54 pools, each one a foot higher than the preceding one. The pools
act as steps, allowing the fish to safely "climb" to the top of the falls,
bypassing the hydro station. This ladder was built as part of an effort
to restore anadromous fish populations to the Merrimack River.
In 1990, a visitor center with an underwater viewing window was built
adjacent to the fish ladder to allow visitors to see and learn about anadromous
fish. One year later, a learning center was added to provide field trips
and science education opportunities to school children. In 1995, the Amoskeag
Fishways Partnership, consisting of Public Service of New Hampshire, New
Hampshire Audubon, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, and the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, was formed to increase environmental education
opportunities at the Fishways.
Today, the center hosts an interactive exhibit hall and offers a wide
variety of programs to school children, families and adults that focus
on the history and ecology of the Merrimack River watershed.
Since 1990, families have enjoyed watching the fish ladder in use.
This is an external view of the fish ladder and its 54 pools.