History of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery

You cannot think of Issaquah without also thinking about the salmon. The community and the species are inextricably linked. Issaquah Creek for centuries teemed with this mighty species, which provided the local First Nation populations with a vital food, cultural and trading resource.

The Issaquah Hatchery was constructed in 1936 as a federal Works Progress Administration (WPA) venture, created to restore the historic salmon runs that once thrived in Issaquah Creek but had been destroyed by logging, coal mining and other activities in the Issaquah Creek Basin.

The Issaquah Hatchery’s salmon stocks originally came from the Green River. The hatchery began raising chinook, coho and steelhead (and historical records indicate that sockeye were also spawned here). Today the hatchery raises chinook and coho; steelhead rearing stopped in the early 2000s. Plans are in the works to spawn and/or raise Lake Washington kokanee at the Issaquah Hatchery.

The hatchery grounds were once part of city park that was connected to downtown Issaquah with a wooden bridge over Issaquah Creek. During the 1920s, the park featured a bandstand and speaking platform for large holiday celebrations, and there was much picnicking along the creek.*

Every year the hatchery, which is owned and operated by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW), serves as the hub for Issaquah Salmon Days, a festival presented by the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce to honor the annual return of the salmon. The annual Salmon Days Festival began in 1970 and draws an estimated 150,000 visitors to the city to celebrate the species with which Issaquah is so closely identified.

* From Issaquah History Online

Annual Salmon Return To Hatchery

These numbers represent the number of salmon trapped at the hatchery. Additional salmon spawn naturally in the creek and do not get counted by the hatchery.

2011 3,000 4,000
2010 3,107 474
2009 2,295 13,878
2008 3,069 4,296
2007 13,432 3,272
2006 8,934 8,698
2005 7,314 8,740
2004 12,771 25,617
**2003 5,842 5,643
2002 5,620 1,284
2001 10,451 35,259
2000 3,776 27,225
1999 2,246 3,155
1998 4,539 3,906
1997 4,751 28,000
1996 1,134 24,000
1995 1,901 33,000
1994 3,703 1,384
1993 3,159 12,934
1992 769 2,435
1991 1,469 5,023
1990 5,041 1,774”
Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery on PlaceFull

** Thousands of salmon passed over the hatchery's barrier without being counted during this season due to flooding and other reasons.