• Volume 18 Number 1
    Winter 2009


  • Cover Story: Feeding the poorest of the poor

  • No longer interim, Jay Akridge is the new dean of agriculture

  • College honors 10 distinguished alums

  • Alumni Profile: Afghanistan is last mission for Col. Chastain before retirement

  • Hospital patients check out adjunct professor's photography

  • Globe-trotting winner of the World Food Prize centers sights on the future

  • more...

    Notify me when the next issue comes online

    Stay in Touch

    About Us


    Home Page


    Bookmark and Share
    Development Notes
    Donation preserves Bass Lake fish hatchery

    Image: A portion of the idyllic Bass Lake State Fish Hatchery as it appeared in the 1930s.
    Photo provided

    A portion of the idyllic Bass Lake State Fish Hatchery as it appeared in the 1930s.

    In 1912, Warren S. Terry deeded some family land near the shores of northern Indiana’s Bass Lake to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. That ground became the Bass Lake State Fish Hatchery, which provided fish for many of Indiana’s lakes, rivers and streams until it was closed in 1996.

    Terry’s grandson, Eldon Palmer, 79, is a Butler University graduate, but his Purdue roots run deep. His wife, Elaine, attended Purdue. Their four children, two sons-in-law and one daughter-in-law are Purdue graduates. His grandson, Jacob Nichols, a 2000 graduate, was Purdue Pete for three years, and another grandson, Christopher Palmer, is a sophomore.

    So when the property reverted back to the original owners in 1996, the Palmer family thought the best way for the hatchery to remain a viable part of the Starke County community was to deed it to Purdue Agriculture.

    “The property should be a beautiful attraction for the community, and it seemed like the best use for it,” Palmer says. “Our family has long been entrenched in the Bass Lake community. I’m the youngest of three children who all grew up on the family farm close to the property, and we all graduated from the one-room grade school that adjoins the property. Our sentiments were for something good to happen to the property. We thought giving it to Purdue would make it a community improvement.”

    The Bass Lake hatchery was one of eight hatcheries operated by the DNR’s Division of Fish and Wildlife. It was the smallest and oldest hatchery in the state.

    Bass Lake originally was known by its Indian name, Wichetonqua, meaning “beautiful water.” In the early settlement days, the lake, bordered by many cedar trees, became known as Cedar Lake. Around 1895 a settler — apparently an enthusiastic fisherman — renamed it Bass Lake.

    Bass Lake is the fourth-largest natural body of water in Indiana. The hatchery occupies a small piece of land near its northern shore. Until he went away to college, Palmer spent his formative days in and around the lake. His life and the Bass Lake property are forever intertwined, which is why he wanted to see the hatchery property preserved.

    “Back in the 1920s, Bass Lake was a resort area for people from the south side of Chicago. It was a pretty neat place,” he recalls. “Al Capone even had a place on the lake.”

    Besides a house and the hatchery, there are 12 ponds on the 14-acre property that have value to research being conducted by Purdue Agriculture faculty in aquaculture, fisheries biology and management, fisheries genetics, and evolutionary biology, so this gift was certainly of interest to the Department of Forestry and Natural Resources.

    “The site provides a valuable resource for our faculty and students to study aquatic cold-water systems under controlled conditions,” says Robert Swihart, department head.

    In addition to the gift of the property, the Palmers have also given generously to support the renovation and restoration of the house and the hatchery for use as educational, research and outreach facilities.

    “A renovated house, ponds and hatchery building offer a wonderful opportunity for us to share our findings and the beauty of the property with K-12 students and residents of Starke and nearby counties,” Swihart says. “Citizens living on Bass Lake and throughout northern Indiana will benefit from the generosity and vision of

    Mr. Palmer and his family for decades to come.”

    The Palmers were sad to see the property begin to fall into a state of disrepair. But they are optimistic that will begin to change soon.

    “It may take a couple of years to get the property up and running,” Palmer says. “But we hope they will be able to get started on the restoration of the house later this year.”

    Thanks to their generosity, the Palmers’ long history with the Bass Lake community will continue at the Francis W. Palmer Research Center for Aquatic Resources, named in memory of Eldon’s father.

    We truly appreciate the generosity of Eldon, Elaine and their family, and look forward to the day when this research center will open its doors to Purdue Agriculture and the people of Indiana. Their gift is another example that generosity to Purdue Agriculture comes in many forms, from a broad and diverse group of donors.

    If you have any questions or comments, contact the Purdue Agriculture Development Office at 800-718-0094 or e-mail the office at agdevelopment@purdue.edu.