Location: Spearfish, SD
Dates: May-Aug 2011
Duties: This is a big operation, with 10 volunteer couples. Men give tours of the museum and historic railcar, while women give tours of the historic superintendent’s house and work in the visitor center/gift shop.
Hours: 3 days on/3 off, approximately 24 hours/week each.
This is the US Fish & Wildlife’s “Historic Fish Hatchery and Archives”, and is on the grounds of an 1899 hatchery. Although no longer operating as a hatchery, there are ponds with “show” trout, and a large viewing area at the visitor center where visitors can feed the up to 30-pound Brown and Rainbow Trout. The hatchery grounds are beautifully maintained by local volunteers, and the work is relatively easy and enjoyable. Volunteers work either an early or late shift, as the hatchery buildings are open from 9:00 to 7:00 PM.
The Volunteer Village is one of the best we’ve seen; ten paved sites are located in a separate area of Spearfish Park with a trout-filled stream directly behind. The sites are roomy, with grass and trees along the stream. There’s a large community area with a 20-foot trout-shaped fireplace, tables, and outlets for the frequent potlucks. The park is located across from the hatchery, just a short walk to work.
Spearfish is a prime example of small-town America. Friendly people, excellent library and hospital, and adequate shopping, including a Super Wal-Mart and Lowe’s. The town is located the foot of Spearfish Canyon, a stunning area that leads to the heart of the Black Hills. Rapid City, with a Mall and all of the usual box stores, is less than an hour’s drive by interstate. Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, and Custer State park are an easy drive, and Devil’s Tower is only 60 miles away.
The staff is friendly and easy to work with, and the working conditions are very good except that the historic home is not air conditioned and can be uncomfortable. Overall, this is an excellent place to spend the summer and explore the area.