In 1879, the State Legislature created the Board of Fish Commissioners, the forerunner of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission. That board contracted with a privately owned firm known as the Santee Hatchery. The owners, Mr. Romine and Mr. Decker, attended to early fish propagation in the original building on this site. Three years later the board purchased the hatchery and 54 acres for $1,200.
The site was chosen because of an ample supply of spring water which still supplies the canyon ponds above this site. The fish commission replaced the original hatch house in 1889, and in 1914, when that frame structure proved inadequate, it was replaced by this structure at a cost of $4,000. Today the old hatch house serves as a museum devoted to fish culture and related activities.
The original 54-acre tract has been adjoined with 277 acres donated by the late E. F. "Pop" Schramm, Professor of Geology at the University of Nebraska.