Metro   City

Amoskeag Fishways Learning and Visitors Center

Thank You! Your rating has been saved.

Anadromous fish are born and grow in the fresh water of rivers and streams, but live as adults in the salt water of oceans. Each spring in the northeastern United States, many anadromous fish - including the Atlantic salmon, sea lamprey, American shad, and river herring - migrate from their ocean homes to the Merrimack River to breed, or spawn.

During the 1800's, dams were constructed along the Merrimack River to harness the water's power for use in textile manufacturing. Anadromous fish populations began to decline during that time since the fish were unable to pass the dams to reach their traditional spawning grounds. Overfishing and increasing levels of water pollution also reduced anadromous fish populations.

The Amoskeag Dam, named with a Native American word meaning "Great Fishing Place," was built in 1836.

A fish ladder was built at Amoskeag due to legislation passed in Massachusetts and New Hampshire requiring fish ladders to be built when constructing dams. Sadly, this ladder did not work correctly and the anadromous fish population in the Merrimack River collapsed by 1850.

  • In 1921, the current hydro station was constructed and the dam was rebuilt to facilitate the generation of electricity.
  • In 1989, Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH), in cooperation with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department (NHFG) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), constructed the current fish ladder. The ladder is comprised of 54 pools, each one a foot higher than the preceding one. The pools act as steps, allowing the fish to safely "climb" to the top of the falls, bypassing the hydro station. This ladder was built as part of an effort to restore anadromous fish populations to the Merrimack River.
  • In 1990, a visitor center with an underwater viewing window was built adjacent to the fish ladder to allow visitors to see and learn about anadromous fish. One year later, a learning center was added to provide field trips and science education opportunities to school children. In 1995, the Amoskeag Fishways Partnership, consisting of Public Service of New Hampshire, New Hampshire Audubon, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, was formed to increase environmental education opportunities at the Fishways.

Today, the center hosts an interactive exhibit hall and offers a wide variety of programs to school children, families and adults that focus on the history and ecology of the Merrimack River watershed.

The Amoskeag Fishways Learning and Visitors Center is an environmental education center located in Manchester, NH on the beautiful Merrimack River. The center is open year round Monday through Saturday from 9am to 5pm. During fish migration season in May and June, the center is open seven days a week.

The center houses an impressive interactive exhibit hall that allows visitors to explore the Merrimack River. The exhibits focus on the Merrimack River watershed, historical use of the Amoskeag area, and river wildlife. Visitors can view live turtles, frogs and salmon, play a salmon migration game, generate electricity, and more. In May and June, visitors can experience the unique opportunity to view migrating shad, herring and sea lamprey in our underwater viewing windows. These windows look into a 54-step fish ladder that allows migrating fish to swim around the Amoskeag Dam and continue on their way up the river to reproduce.

The Amoskeag Fishways offers a variety of programs for all ages, including family programs, school field trips and teacher workshops. Program topics include: river wildlife, river ecology, electricity, hydro and solar power, fish biology, urban wildlife, survival skills, Native Americans, and more.

Explore Related Categories

Details and Specs

Hours of Operation:
Mon9:00 AM4:00 PM
Tue9:00 AM4:00 PM
Wed9:00 AM4:00 PM
Thr9:00 AM4:00 PM
Fri9:00 AM4:00 PM
Sat9:00 AM4:00 PM
Notes: The Fishways will be closed the following dates: May 28th (Memorial Day) June 4th July 4th Sept. 3rd (Labor Day)


Be the first to add a review for this item.

Please write a review for this item

Send a Message