Avoca State Fish Hatchery
PO Box 16
Avoca, IN 47420
3178 Avoca-Eureka Rd
Avoca, IN 47420
In 1819, a man named Fitzpatrick built a grist mill on what is now the hatchery property. The mill was operated by a turbine water-wheel, with the spring water for power to turn the wheel. The mill had three sets of buhrstones; one for wheat, one for corn, and one for chop feed.
Later, the mill was sold to the Hamer brothers. They had originated from North Carolina and were the first settlers in Avoca.
The huge two-story colonial style house, which serves as the residence for the property manager, was built by the Hamers in 1823. In the early days, the building was often used as an Inn. Around 1828, the north upstairs room served as a grocery store and post office.
The mail in those days was carried by horseback from Louisville once a week. Letters were $.25 each, which you paid when you called for your mail. The average person received six letters a year. Groceries were hauled from Louisville every four weeks by six yoke of oxen hitched to a linchpin wagon.
Dr. Winthrop Foote, who first foresaw the possibilities of Bedford limestone, was responsible for the naming of Avoca. Dr. Foote used to go to the spring, which is now the hatchery water supply, and he was reminded of Tom Moore’s Poem:
Sweet Vale of Avoca, how calm I rest
In the bosom of thy shade, with the friend I love best
Where the storms that we feel in this cold world should cease
And our hearts like thy waters be mingled in peace
He often quoted this bit of verse, and when the village finally sprang up near the spring, it was given the name of Avoca.
The house and grounds for the hatchery were purchased by the Department of Natural Resources (Department of Conservation at that time) in 1919 - 1924 from Hayden Bridwell. Pond construction began in 1923. The service building, which includes the offices and equipment, was built in 1924. Most of the stone work on the property, including the shelterhouse, was done by the N.Y.A. Ponds were built by the W.P.A.
The water supply for the ponds comes through a pipe from the spring. The original dam was built to power the grist mill. A new dam was built to hold more water by the N.Y.A. in 1935. The water supply is more than sufficient to supply the 13 ponds on the property which total about 5.6 acres of water.
The ponds at Avoca are of the older style, i.e., harvesting the fish is done by draining the pond down to a minimum pool and wading through the water with a seine to collect the fish.
Avoca is a warm water hatchery where largemouth bass, bluegill, redear sunfish, and black crappie are the chief species produced. In a normal year, the hatchery will produce approximately 500,000 to 1,000,000 fish.