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Spawning Fish Foul Grants Pass Water in Early 1900’s

In the early 1900’s there was something fishy about Grants Pass water.

The water supply came from the Rogue River, where hundreds of dead salmon piled up on a fish rack used to snag fish for their eggs. The fish eggs went to local hatcheries. The dead salmon also swirled around and into the eddy where the city's water intake sucked in the rotting debris.  Many fish were in the 30-pound range.

After residents complained, a crew began removing the rotting floaters from the bank-to-bank rack in a riffle along the eastern city limits.  Seven men pulled the fish off the sharp tines of the rack and carted them off to a 6-foot-deep ditch where they were sprinkled with lime.  

Grants Pass water consumers were not satisfied.  They also demanded a halt to the practice of bleeding fish in the river during salmon egg harvesting.   In response, a fish-whacking platform was built, where female salmon were bled into a trough that spilled onto the ground nearby.


Source: "City Water Not Hurt by Fish Rack." Rogue River Courier 8 Sept. 1911 [Grants Pass Oregon] : 1. Web. 9 Feb. 2016. .

Lynda Demsher has been editor of a small-town weekly newspaper, a radio reporter, a daily newspaper reporter and columnist for the Redding Record Searchlight, Redding California. She is a former teacher and contributed to various non-profit organizations in Redding in the realm of public relations, ads, marketing, grant writing and photography.