November 7, 1898.
A Remarkable Industry Located In Danby When the Contemplated Plans Are Carried Out 15 Tons of Trout Per Year Can be Raised—Legislative Visitors.
Lake Griffith, Mt. Tabor, Vt., Nov. 6.— In the virgin forest is not a place where one would naturally look for lawmakers out the ‘woods here are full of them to-day. Senator Griffith had invited a party of senators, representatives and friends to visit his fish hatcheries and spend Sunday at Lake Griffith about 1500 feet above the station at Mt. Tabor, where the party landed and they are here having one of the best times on record.
In the party were Senators S. L. Griffith of Danby, E. S. Fleury of Isle La Motte, G. B. Hitt of Brattleboro, F. S. Platt of Poultney, A. E. Cudworth of South Londonderry, Representatives W. B. Arian of Randolph, C. H. Delong of Shoreham, H. J. Hyde of Salisbury, Charles Downer of Sharon, C. L. Soule of Cornwall, John J. Paris of Rutland, C. T. Winchester of Rutland, Gen. Edward L. Bates, Jame’s K. Batchelder of Arlington, Fish Commissioner John W. Titcomb of St. Johnsbury and W. 3. Bigelow of Burlington.
Griffith’s fish hatcheries have become well known but one cannot get a proper idea of the place without visiting it. The party reached the station at 2 o’clock Saturday afternoon and were first shown the senator’s office which is fitted up with all modern improvements, with mosaic floors and many fine portraits. Here were three fine double teams waiting to convey the party to the senator’s residence across the track and in Danby. It his been said that “Griffith is a crank on fish and flowers,” but this is not exactly correct. He is a specialist in these things and has met with a very high degree of success. The lawn in front of his beautiful residence is laid out in many differently designed flower beds and connected with his barn is a large greenhouse filled with all the common varieties of flowers, and many very rare varieties of plants. There is an especially fine display of chrysanthemums and carnations. Among the rare varieties to be seen are palms, orchids, ferns, child of two words, cacti, azaleas, several varieties from Mexico and the stephanotis, a very rare plant. Altogether the plants represent an outlay of many thousands of dollars.
Getting into the teams again, a drive of two miles was made to the fish hatchery: Here was a revelation. One hundred thousand trout, representing all the sizes, from the little fry hatched last February ranging from two to six inches in length up to the king of the hatchery, a great rainbow trout weighing six pounds. To speak of tons of trout seems like a fairytale, but here one finds it a reality. Seventy-five thousand is the number of fry in the nursery ponds and 25,000 is the number of large trout. In several nursery ponds are thousands of trout weighing on an average a third of a pound each and it is from these Senator Griffith will furnish the market with trout during the months of February, March and April next. In the ponds where the breeding fish are kept the trout weigh from one to three pound and these are now being “stripped” for spawn, the work being in charge of Mr. Talbot of the United States fish commission.
Senator Griffith has a hatchery with a capacity for hatching 7,000,000 trout eggs to the “eye” period. He is then obliged to sell half his stock and can develop 3,500,000 into “fry,” which he can keep until they become “fingerlings.” This gives him the largest commercial trout hatchery in the world, one expert saying that when he gets his present plans carried out he can raise 15 tons of trout per year, “but if I can raise 10 tons I shall be satisfied,” is the way the senator ends the estimate. This shows the importance of the passage of Senate bill No. 23, which has become known as “Griffith’s bill,” and allows the sale of trout from private hatcheries during February, March and April. “I simply want to sell enough to pay the running expenses of the hatchery,” is the remark of the senator. Trout sell during that period at from $1200 to $700 per ton, and if he raises 10 tons, as he hopes to do, it will give him quite a bonus, as he says the annual cost is about $5000.
It takes some water to raise 3,500,000 trout in, and the hatchery is supplied by two brooks known as the Casey and James Griffith brooks. The supply from one of these streams comes to the distributing tank through a 10 inch circular flume. A large spring supplies the hatchery building and several nursery tanks with which Senator Griffith originally began business But even with these supplies the place is short of water and a compressed air pump brings a large supply from the Otter creek. This has been found too warm for fish culture, so two artesian wells have been sunk about 160 feet and furnish 93 gallons of water per minute of a temperature of 4 degrees. This is not enough and more artesian wells will be sunk until a supply of 250 gallons a minute is obtained. The plant is not yet complete and a large number of nursery ponds are yet to be built, the whole number being 80. As said above, it is the largest trout hatchery in the world and indirectly furnishes a good argument for a further supply of money for the State hatchery as Sen. Griffith has demonstrated that it is necessary to keep trout until they become “fingerlings” before they can be profitably distributed and all the fish commissioners want Is money enough to furnish the State hatchery with nursery ponds enough to enable them to raise their trout to fingerlings.
But it is not as a fish culturist that Senator Griffith has won his greatest success. He is the owner of 20,000 acres of land, 18,000 acres being in a solid tract in the towns of Danby, Mt. Tabor and Peru. He owns six saw mills and is part owner in three mere, the total annual output of which is 12,000,000 feet of lumber. He owns 160 horses and 54 oxen, and makes his own harnesses, wagons and sleds. He is the engineer of one of the greatest pieces of road building in this country. Four miles from his fish hatchery is Lake Griffith, a body of water 15 acres in extent, lying half in the town of Mt. Tabor and half in Peru. This body of water is about 1400 feet above the fish hatchery on the top of one of the steepest, most rocky and inaccessible mountain sides to be found in Vermont. This description suggests very hard climbing but the party rode over road on which any lady might safely drive a team so far as grade or smoothness are concerned. Here it is that Senator Griffith has show his skill as a road builder. During his absence a few years ago an engineer who had been in his employ for 30 years laid out and built a road up this mountain side at a cost of $20,000. Upon Senator Griffith’s return he found the grades too steep to satisfy him so he look-out a route for himself. Some of the way it was so steep and rough that it was almost impossible for a man to climb on foot but it would give an easy grade over which 2000 feet of logs at a load are now hauled by a double team. In one place it was necessary to blast about 12 feet of solid rock off the top and side of a ridge for several rods. All this stone was used just below in lining a gorge 56 feet deep and backed up against the mountain on the other side. In another place the mountain side was so precipitous that it was necessary to drill into the rock and drive in iron rods to hold the logs on which stone work is based in place. For over three miles the road is dug right out of the side of the mountain, much of the way it being necessary to blast it out on the upper side, piling the stone on the lower. In one place the road is blasted out of the side of an almost perpendicular ledge and on the lower side the mountain side seems to be nearly a hundred feet below. The read is smooth, dry and solid, almost the entire length of it being corduroyed on the upper end wherever the soil is too soft. For about a mile along this road runs the stream from the lake, sometimes right beside it and then again with a sullen roar, hundred of feet below. When complete the cost was $30,000 so that Senator Griffith has expended $50,000 in about seven miles of road but it gives him practically a belt line for his lumber teams to work on. The last mile leads through a virgin forest of tall straight spruces, and as the teams last night slowly wended their way up through the lanterns threw their sombre light on many a forest giant which will yield rich revenue to its owner. Good judges estimate that 50,000,000 feet of spruce lumber has been reached by this road so the expense was not made in vain.
At the end of the road Senator Griffith has built a cottage with eight sleeping rooms and here it is the party mentioned above is located. The cottage faces the lake which is full of wild trout and its bunks are lined with fish stories which equal those of olden days. But this is not all the fishing Senator Griffith has charge of. For two miles above the lake the brook is fenced in and altogether he has 12 miles of inclosed streams which he intends shall never be exhausted of their speckled beauties.