Libby State Fish Hatchery – gone, but not yet forgotten

The long building which once housed the main office and indoor hatching facilities at the Libby State Fish Hatchery has since burned down. The home and garage structure seen to the left and

in the distance still stand at 385 Fish Hatchery Road. (Photo Courtesy of Joanne McBride)


by Joanne McBride


During its operation, the State of Montana Libby Fish Hatchery occupied two sites.

The first was approximately three miles above U.S. Hwy 2 on Cedar Creek, serving as a satellite station to the Somers Hatchery from 1925-1930. Construction of a new hatchery began on this site in 1926, but for reasons unknown, was never finished.

A second field station had been established about 7 miles south of Libby on what is now known as Fish Hatchery Road. In 1931, this became the final site of the Libby Hatchery, built with assistance from the Civilian Conservation Corp (CCC). This was the most popular of the New Deal programs established by President Franklin Roosevelt, designed to provide jobs for young men having difficulty finding work during the Great Depression.

Approximately 20 years before the Libby Hatchery was established, state hatcheries produced a variety of fish – mostly cutthroat, rainbow (red band) and brook trout. During these years, the Libby Rod and Gun Club was instrumental in “planting” (transferring fish to ponds, lakes, or streams) around Libby. Formal requests for fish were sent to the Superintendent of Hatcheries in Helena or to foremen of State hatcheries.

Into the 1930s, railroad cars were used to transport fish in milk cans equipped with aeration systems. Individuals, groups, or organizations would then transfer fish to various waters. As time passed, fish were then placed on State trucks equipped with large water tanks, hauled to transfer areas, removed by dip-net, placed in a bucket of water on a scale, weighed as per the specific amount assigned to each area, then planted.

In early years, eggs for spawning were received from various sources. Both in- and out-of-state private hatcheries, brood lakes, state hatcheries, and the federal government.  Eventually, the Libby Hatchery, and most other State hatcheries, provided its own eggs.

At first, green eggs (eyes not yet developed) were collected in satellite spawning locations and sent to hatcheries, but the mortality rate was high.  Around 1920, more mature eyed-eggs were collected which greatly reduced the mortality rate. In 1927, about fifty men from the Libby Rod and Gun Club and area Boy Scouts cleared land for the building of two rearing ponds at the Cedar Creek hatchery site.  The use of rearing ponds allowed growth to fingerling-size before planting which improved the survival rate even more significantly.


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Pride of Mountain Lions photographed near Troy

“This picture was taken by my game camera on my parent’s property near Lake Creek in Troy,” shared Randall Thomas this past week. “I estimate the location of this camera to be around two miles from town. Since there are a lot of homes in the area I just wanted  people to be aware of the mountain lion activity, for safety reasons.”  Though Thomas later added it is also just amazing to see the mountain lions traveling together in a pack—something most are never given the opportunity to witness. The image was captured on the property of Melvin and Marta Thomas., Randall’s parents.  (Courtesy Photo)

Cabinet View Golf Course land sale pending, future

Club House in sight with help from $514K grant agreement

By Stacy Bender

With a tentative closing date of May 14, the long-standing
goal to develop a large strip of property off the back nine holes of Cabinet View Golf Course (CVGC) appears to be in sight.

When the City of Libby
received an $8 million economic development boost from the
federal government in 2001, CVGC received a loan from those funds dispersed in the amount of $1.541M. CVGC planned to utilize those funds and expand the then 9-hole golf course to 18-holes and later develop the neighboring land for sale to pay off the loan.

By 2006, the 18-hole
course was complete and an
offer was on the table from a buyer interested in the land
development. However, it would not be in the cards at the time due to unforeseen debt previously undisclosed to CVGC.

For the past 15 years, CVGC’s non-profit volunteer Board of Directors has remained focused on selling the land. Reaching into their own pockets at times to keep the golf course afloat, and holding fast to the end-goal offuture development for Cabinet View Golf Club.

“We have waited 15 years since the earlier offers to buy the land in 2006,” said George Mercer, CVGC representative, during recent negotiations with the City Council of Libby. “We do not want to wait another 15 years.”

Mercer came to the council on behalf of CVGC just over two months ago with a $1,912,500 offer from an unnamed buyer.

Initially, CVGC had hoped
to have a portion of the loan forgiven in exchange for the benefit the course has brought to the city in revenue over the years. Those monies CVGC retained would then be utilized to build a much needed new clubhouse  as current facilities are beginning to rot and are no longer comfortably able to serve the number of events and patrons the course sees each year.

Met with strong opposition from City Council, CVGV’s first offer for settlement on the loan was declined.  Yet all parties remained open to discussion with a new buyer waiting quietly in the wings.

“This was just a highly unusual situation,” shared council member, Kristin Smith. “The $8 million dollars originally dispersed was done so with very unclear terms. Twenty years later it has left several unprecedented negotiations on the table for our new council members to consider.”



On Monday, April 19, it seemed an agreement to move forward with the sale was reached in almost unanimous fashion by both City Council and CVGC Board members alike.

CVGC will now move ahead with the sale of its property and in doing so will repay the $1.541 million to the City of Libby from those sales profits.

That money will go directly into the Economic Development Fund for the City of Libby for future investment in the

The city, in turn, is drafting grant paperwork that will set aside $541K which CVGC has requested to go towards construction of a new clubhouse and the remaining $1M will remain in city |coffers for future development.

Simultaneously, the city is also working on a rezoning of the back 9 property to become Residential B so that houses and condominiums can be built.

“Currently it is zoned commercial which isn’t what either the City, CVGC, or the developer want,” said Mercer. “All three parties agree this development needs to remain a residential project.”

“CVGC could not be happier to continue to move forward working with the City. ”



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