Robert E. Barrett Fishway

About the Fishway

Each spring when the shadbush blooms, American Shad, Sea Lamprey, and other anadromous fish swim up the Connecticut River as they begin their annual spring migration. Driven by their evolutionary instincts, adult fish return to spawn in the rivers of their birth.

The fishlift at HG&E’s Robert E. Barrett Fishway helps migrating fish over the dam. It was the first and most successful fish lift on the Atlantic coast.  It consists of two elevators or “lifts” which carry migrating fish up and over the Holyoke dam.

Fishway Closed- 2024 Season

The Robert Barrett Fishway will be closed to the public in 2024 for required maintenance and construction activities. Similar to other large hydro generating facilities, HG&E’s units require complete disassembly and rehabilitation every 30-40 years. Our Hadley Unit No. 2 was originally commissioned in 1984 and several components are nearing the end of their expected lifespan and need replacement. This enhancement will assist the Department in delivering low-cost, reliable, and carbon-free power.                                                                                                                                   
While our team will miss seeing visitors at the fishway this spring, HG&E has partnered with Holyoke Heritage State Park to offer a Collaborative Program, “Connecting with the Connecticut River”. This interactive program will explore how the river made this planned industrial city possible. You will visit a canal to see how the river and canals power this city. You’ll learn about fish and other wildlife that live in this river and how migratory fish get a “lift” over the Holyoke Dam. Join a Fishway Guide and State Park Interpreter at Holyoke Heritage State Park to consider your river connections.
Depending on age and objective of each group the program will include a mixture of the following:
  • Walk to the first level canal
  • Demonstration of model turbines
  • Fish counting activity (for middle school and up)
  • Fish migration scent game (for elementary school age)
  • “Connection Reflection” mural contribution
  •  Interacting with museum exhibits.
If you are interested in participating in this program, please complete the following Tour Request Form.
If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact Nancy Condon at

Educational Materials

HG&E has developed a variety of educational materials that can be accessed remotely to compliment your fishway and Connecticut River lessons. Please visit the links below for more details.


Seasonal Contact Info

Robert Barrett Fishway
1-3 County Bridge
Holyoke, MA 01040
Tel: (413) 536-9460
Email the Fishway