Fairport Fish Hatchery

The Fairport Fish Hatchery is a warm-water extensive culture station located on the Mississippi River near Muscatine. Eighteen ponds are used to hatch and raise warm-water angling favorites such as largemouth bass and bluegill. Adult largemouth bass are kept at the hatchery year-around. These fish are referred to as brood stock and are placed in ponds for spawning. When the ponds are drained, the fish are gathered and transferred to the holding house for sorting before being transported to lakes. In addition to largemouth bass and bluegill, the facility produces walleye's for stocking in Iowa's interior rivers.

The Fairport Fish Hatchery is located along Iowa Highway 22, eight miles east of Muscatine in Muscatine County. It has a very rich history, serving Iowa's natural resources and its anglers for many years. The facility is located along the scenic upper Mississippi River valley. The land where the hatchery is located was donated to the federal government by the Association of Button Manufacturers. It was established as a biological station by Congress in 1908.

The station was set up for freshwater mussel research and propagation, which was of economic importance to the region at the time. In 1929 the station became a fish hatchery and during the late 1960's the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife spent more than $200,000 renovating and modernizing it. In 1973, the bureau suffered from severe budget cuts and the federal pond stocking program ended. As a result, operation of the Fairport Fish Hatchery was turned over to the Department of Natural Resources. It was an opportunity to add, without cost to Iowa anglers, an excellent, well-managed hatchery to the system. (Source: Iowa DNR)

Muscatine County Historic Preservation Commission contracted in 2021 with Spark Consulting to prepare the NRHP nomination of the entire Fairport Fish Hatchery 60-acre site.  Funding for this project was through an HRDP Grant from the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs.   

  1. History of Fairport Fish Hatchery
  2. Fairport Biological Station
  3. Friends of Fairport Fish Hatchery (FFFH)
  4. Proposed Educational and Informational Pavilion
  5. Iowa DNR Contacts
  6. Fairport Fish Hatchery Photos

In 1891, John Boepple developed the freshwater pearl button industry in Muscatine in response to the national demand for buttons to use in the burgeoning garment industry. Muscatine quickly became the center of the pearl button industry, and by 1900 more than 60 button companies or shell blank companies were located in, or near, Muscatine. As a result of the booming pearl button industry, the population of Muscatine doubled from 8,000 to 16,000 between 1880 and 1910. An estimated 11.4 million buttons were manufactured in Muscatine in 1904, and by 1914 that number had increased to an estimated 21.7 million. However, by the turn of the twentieth century, button manufacturers realized mussel beds near Muscatine and elsewhere along the Mississippi River were being depleted. Because of the importance of the button industry to the overall economy of the United States, button manufacturers, the garment industry, scientists, and the federal government agreed that something needed to be done to try and save the button industry from collapse. The consensus of company owners, scientists, and government was to increase mussel propagation. 

Historical Fairport Biological Station - Living Quarters Entrance