Restocking the Merrimac River with Lamprey Eels. June 19, 1885
By George W. Riddle. [Letter to Prof. S. F. Baird.]

Amoskeag Falls on the Merrimac River was once the great fishing places of New Hampshire. It was here Passacanaway and his tribe of Indians lived and had their noted fishing-place, more than one handred and twenty-five years ago; the waters teemed with salmon, shad, and lamprey eels. About forty years ago a high dam was built on the Merrimac River at Lawrence, Massachusetts, 40 miles below here and some 25 miles from the mouth of the Merrimac River, which enters the Atlantic Ocean at Newburyport, Mass.

Since the building of the Lawrence dam (30 feet in height) fish and eels have become extinct, as they could not reach the spawning beds. Fishways have been built ten years or more, but no eels and but few salmon have come up the river. Four years ago I took from the Lawrence fishway some 200 lampreys, placed them in barrels, and transported them by rail above Amoskeag Falls. The result is that this year thousands of full-grown eels have put in an appearance and have gone up through the fishway.

They have ascended the river to the hatching house at Plymouth, 150 miles from the mouth of the river. Thousands of them have been seen at Amoskeag Falls in this city on their way to the spawning bed. As they have once more reached their spawning beds, I have no doubt that the return is a permanent one.

It is a great satisfaction to the fish commissioners to know that they have succeeded in restocking this river (which turns more machinery than any other river in the world, it is said) with lamprey eels, and it gives our people much encouragement to go on in the great work of restocking the large water-area of this state.

Manchester, N. H., June 19, 1885.