The Amoskeag Fishways is a unique, fun, educational activity
in the Manchester, New Hampshire area. We were looking for something to
do one rainy day, and my husband remembered the Fishway. It
is an award winning environmental education center located along the Merrimack River
that has a visitor’s center, fish viewing area, and programs for kids year round. It also has
a viewing area where you can view the fish swimming along the fish ladder.
I’ll give you a quick history of the Fishways. From what I
understand, when the dams were built along the Merrimack River in the 1800’s, the Anadromous fish
population in the Merrimack River was reduced significantly. (Anadromous fish are fish that
spawn in fresh water but grow up in salt water) When the Amoskeag dam was built in 1836
they built a fish ladder, but it did not work and the fish population was pretty much
wiped out by 1850. In 1921 the current hydro station was built and the dam was re-constructed.
It wasn’t until 1989 that the current fish ladder was built to help the fish jump from pool to
pool to reach their spawning grounds. This was a major effort to rebuild the Anadromous
fish population in the Merrimack River.
First, stop in at the
Amoskeag Fishways Learning and Visitor’s Center. Although not a large place, it contains plenty
of information about the history and ecology of the Merrimack River Watershed. It was
especially made with kids in mind, and contains great, touchable, interactive exhibits, and live
animals! We only had our youngest kids with us (ages 2 and 4 at the time), and they had a blast.
We stayed for over an hour because they were playing with the puppets, games, and other
Unfortunately the fish were not migrating during our visit and the 54 pools in the
ladder were completely empty. But, it is worth seeing even without the
fish. And, you can get some great views of the Dam and the area
surrounding the Fishways.
The viewing time is typically in May or June. The center is open 9-5
Monday through Saturday all year, but is open 7 days a week during May and June when the fish are
The Amoskeag Fishways Learning and Visitor’s Center is located at 6 Fletcher Street
Manchester, NH 03103. Their phone number is 603-626-3474. It is right on exit 6, off of