The decision to locate a national fish hatchery in Leadville was made in 1888.
By 1889, Leadvillians celebrated the Leadville National Fish Hatchery by placing the cornerstone in the hatchery building with a luncheon featuring trout and champagne.
That original building is still in use today. The second oldest in the federal system, it is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Most think of a hatchery as a place to raise fish for stocking lakes and reservoirs.
That is one function of the Leadville Hatchery, but it is also involved in preserving endangered species.
It works with three different cutthroat trout species, according to Ed Stege, hatchery manager.
With the greenback cutthroat, the hatchery produces eggs, which go to the state's Mount Shavano Hatchery and Rearing Unit in Salida, where they become fish.
Hayden Creek cutthroats have the same genetic markings as historic 1889 trout. The last remaining Hayden Creek cutthroats are at the Leadville hatchery. They were removed from Hayden Creek following the 2016 fire. The mud in the aftermath of the fire totally wiped out the population at that location.
The Carr Creek cutthroat is used for stocking by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Rainbow trout aren’t endangered and last year 122,000 were raised at the hatchery and stocked in local reservoirs.
The hatchery is also working with endangered Wyoming toads, both adults and youngsters. To raise the toads, the hatchery also raises between six and nine species of insects as a food supply. The old shop building at the hatchery has been repurposed into a place to raise the toads and their food supply.
The toads will be used for research, including placing backpack transmitters on 15 of them and returning them to their habitat.
The hatchery is also a favorite place for hikers with its numerous trails and lakes in more than 3,000 acres.
Friends of the Leadville National Fish Hatchery are active in keeping the grounds in shape and promoting activities at the hatchery.