“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Hinsdale in Cheshire County, New Hampshire — The American Northeast (New England)

The Story of Anadromous Fish

From Freshwater to the Ocean and Back Again

The Story of Anadromous Fish Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 8, 2019
1. The Story of Anadromous Fish Marker
An Ancient Cycle
Egg to Adult — Rivers to Ocean
American shad, Atlantic salmon, river herring and other fish that migrate from the sea to freshwater to spawn are known as anadromous fish. Their story begins with a small egg — just one of thousands — laid in a freshwater stream. This tiny egg begins a cycle as old as time, one that will take it from the stream of its birth to the cold waters of the Atlantic and back again, to spawn in a river like the Ashuelot. Anadromous fish may complete this journey many times during their lives.

A History of Abundance
Fish for the Eating
It's hard to imagine the springtime abundance of shad, alewives and Atlantic salmon that once swam here. Stories tell of fish being so numerous, a person could walk across the rivers on their backs. Before European settlers came to New England, the native people of the river valleys celebrated the spring run of salmon and shad. Fishing at waterfalls and rapids, they used spears, reed nets and weirs of woven twigs and pliable bark to catch the migrating fish. Some of the fish were eaten immediately, but most
Marker detail: Migratory Routes image. Click for full size.
2. Marker detail: Migratory Routes
Traditional migratory routes of Atlantic salmon the Connecticut and Merrimack rivers.
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were smoked and dried to provide food for the winter and for trading. During the fishing season, treaties were formed, speeches were made and marriages were celebrated.

Decline of a Vast Resource
Barriers and Pollution
Beginning in the 1700s, settlers built small dams to run grist and saw mills on tributaries of larger rivers. These barriers prevented fish from reaching historic spawning and nursery habitats. In less than a century, from the mid-1700s to the mid-1800s, the massive fish migrations had all but disappeared from most of New Hampshire's rivers. Over-fishing, the construction of thousands of dams and canals and dumping of manufacturing waste products into these rivers all contributed to the decline of shad and salmon.

Restoring Anadromous Fish
The Return of Salmon, Shad and River Herring
In 1968, state and federal agencies began working together to map out a strategy to restore migrating fish species to the waters of New England. The Clean Water Act, finalized in 1977, dramatically improved the quality of our rivers by regulating discharges of pollutants into the water. This provided an important component needed for restoration — the good water quality essential for healthy fish populations.

Yet the most vital issue for migratory fish remained: restoring their ability to move through the rivers. Adult
Marker detail: McGoldrick Dam circa 2000 image. Click for full size.
Courtesy New Hampshire DHR
3. Marker detail: McGoldrick Dam circa 2000
fish need to migrate upstream and young fish must make their way to the ocean. To make this possible, resource agencies and private dam owners worked together to build fish passages that allow anadromous fish to migrate upstream and to identify where unsafe or unwanted dams could be removed. Removal of dams, like the McGoldrick and Winchester, and building fish passages will eventually improve access for anadromous and resident fish species alike. Thanks to these efforts, perhaps one day migratory fish will make their way up the Ashuelot River once again.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: AnimalsEnvironmentNative AmericansWaterways & Vessels.
Location. 42° 47.297′ N, 72° 28.203′ W. Marker is in Hinsdale, New Hampshire, in Cheshire County. Marker is on Canal Street (New Hampshire Route 119) half a mile east of Chesterfield Road (New Hampshire Route 63), on the left when traveling east. Marker is located in a pull-out on the north side of the highway. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Hinsdale NH 03451, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Hinsdale and the Power of the Ashuelot (here, next to this marker); Hinsdale's Auto Pioneer (approx. 0.2 miles away); Newhall & Stebbins (approx. half a mile away); Nation's Oldest Continuously Operating Post Office Building
The Story of Anadromous Fish Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Cosmos Mariner, July 8, 2019
4. The Story of Anadromous Fish Marker
(marker is rightmost panel of three-panel kiosk beside highway)
(approx. 0.6 miles away); Ashuelot Covered Bridge (approx. 2½ miles away); Historic Vernon Union Church (approx. 2.7 miles away in Vermont); Jemima Tute (approx. 3 miles away in Vermont); Fort Bridgman Marker (approx. 3.2 miles away in Vermont). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Hinsdale.
Also see . . .
1. Why Restore Anadromous Fish?. New Hampshire Fish and Game entry:
Today, only a few thousand shad even have the chance to spawn in New Hampshire waters. There is a ripple effect on the ecosystem as predator populations grow and the shift in resource use takes the pressure off of other prey populations. There are many aspects to this ripple effect that we do not understand. Similar to the bison of the great plains, the decline of diadromous fish marked a major shift in the ecosystem of the Northeast. (Submitted on July 1, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. New Hampshire River Restoration Task Force. New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services entry:
The removal of the McGoldrick dam was a critical piece of a larger plan to restore anadromous fish to the Ashuelot River, a historically significant Connecticut River
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tributary for American shad, blueback herring and Atlantic salmon. Two additional dams on the river have since been removed, the Winchester Dam in Winchester, removed in 2002 and the Homestead Woolen Mill Dam in West Swanzey, removed in 2010. Since 2002, numerous obsolete dams have been removed in New Hampshire with input from the task force. Most recently, the Great Dam on the Exeter River in Exeter was removed in the summer of 2016. (Submitted on July 1, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 18, 2021. It was originally submitted on July 1, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 106 times since then and 21 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on July 1, 2020, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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Jul. 1, 2022