A Brief History of the Leetown Science Center

In 1930-31 the U.S. Fisheries Experimental Station was established in Leetown, West Virginia, and was operated by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of Fisheries, Division of Fish Culture and Division of Scientific Inquiry.  In 1939 the Station was transferred to the DOI Bureau of Fisheries.  In 1940, the Bureau of Fisheries and the Biological Survey were consolidated to form the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) within the Department of the Interior.   In 1944 the station transferred to the Division of Game Fish and Hatcheries and Fishery Biology and renamed the U.S. Fish Cultural Station.  Sometime around 1959 station was again renamed, to the Leetown National Fish Hatchery and Research Station, and transferred to the Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife within the USFWS.  In the early 1970’s the USFWS Division of Fishery Ecology Research took over the administration of the Station.  In 1977 the station was designated as The National Fisheries Center–Leetown.  At this time The National Fisheries Center took over program supervision six other USFWS research and development components scattered across the nation (Tunison Laboratory of Fish Nutrition; Hagerman, Idaho, Field Station; the Southeastern Fish Cultural Laboratory; the Fish Farming Experimental Station; the National Fisheries Research and Development Laboratory; and, the Fish Genetics Laboratory).  This historical information is taken from an unpublished manuscript written by George Gutsell entitled, “Leetown…50 years in Retrospect:  History of The National Fisheries Center–Leetown”.

In 1993, The National Fisheries Center–Leetown was transferred to the new U.S. Biological Survey, established within the DOI by Secretary Bruce Babbitt.  In 1995, the U.S. Biological Survey, along with The National Fisheries Center–Leetown,  was transferred to the U.S. Geological Survey and became the Biological Resources Division.  Upon its transfer to the U.S. Geological Survey, Biological Resources Division, The National Fisheries Center–Leetown was renamed the Leetown Science Center.  The Center is currently headquartered in Leetown, West Virginia, on approximately 466 acres in the “Eastern Panhandle” region of West Virginia, approximately 70 miles west of Washington, DC.  The site is noted for its supply of cold-water springs, extensive water holding and distribution systems, and modern research pond facility which provide outstanding support for the conduct of a wide variety of aquatic research.  The Center conducts research at five components: the Fish Health Branch, the Aquatic Ecology Branch; the Southern Appalachian Field Branch; the Northern Appalachian Research Laboratory; and, the Conte Anadromous Fish Research Laboratory. 


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