Wish You Were Here reflects the value of postcards as tools for learning about the past, with images drawn from Manuscript Group 213, Postcard Collection, Pennsylvania State Archives.

Andrew Gregg Curtin (1817–1894) of Bellefonte, Centre County, is remembered in history as Pennsylvania’s “War Governor” for his ardent and early support of President Lincoln and the Union during the American Civil War, but he also played a critical role in conservation in the mid-nineteenth century by naming James J. Worrall the Commonwealth’s first Commissioner of Fisheries in 1866. Pennsylvania’s first fishway was constructed on the Columbia Dam on the Susquehanna River in 1867 and the following year the General Assembly of Pennsylvania passed a law prohibiting the use of seines for catching fish within two hundred yards of devices erected for the passage of fish. An act of the state legislature in 1873 created Pennsylvania’s first state fish hatchery in Lancaster County. Two years later the legislature appropriated money to construct the Western Hatchery at Corry, Erie County.

A circa 1950 postcard depicts Hatching Room at the Pennsylvania State Fish Hatchery at Tionesta, Pa., on Route 62. Completed in 1929, the hatchery is one of fifteen state owned and operated fisheries managed by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission. The postcard, bearing a photograph by the Carl and Don Studio, Clarion, explains, “The eggs are hatched in the glass jars then transferred to the different troughs then into the ponds and from there to rivers and creeks.” The Forest County facility today consists of earthen ponds, exterior curvilinear concrete raceways, and a building containing concrete and fiberglass raceways, circular tanks, and egg incubator jars. The hatchery stocks or produces fathead minnow, purebred muskellunge, tiger muskellunge, walleye, and steelhead trout.

The hatchery is open daily from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Attractions include a visitor center and an outdoor trout display area. To plan a visit go to www.fish.state.pa.us.

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission adopted “The Land of Penn and Plenty: Bringing History to the Table” as its annual theme for 2012, and this vintage postcard was selected for this installment of Wish You Were Here! to underscore the theme.