The late Williamson Dilg had his contributions to the rivers of America eternally recognized as he was inducted into the National Rivers Hall of Fame at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium at a special event honoring the 100th Anniversary of the Upper Mississippi River National Wildlife and Fish Refuge on June 7. The Izaak Walton League of America accepted the induction. The voting process includes a ballot sent to the River Museum membership, comprised of 12,000 members, and members of the National Rivers Hall of Fame board.

Williamson H. Dilg
Williamson H. Dilg (1869-1927) was the driving force behind the establishment of the Upper Mississippi River Wildlife and Fish Refuge from north of Winona, Minnesota to Rock Island, Illinois. He was one of the most prominent voices for conservation and the environment in the 1920's and was the founder and first president of the Izaak Walton League. Dilg crossed the country speaking, writing, and organizing to preserve 240,000 acres of upper Mississippi River bottomland and backwaters and prevent them from being diked and drained. On June 7, 1924, just two and a half years after the first Izaak Walton League meeting, the U.S. Congress authorized the Refuge. This was the first time in U.S. history that the federal government purchased large tracts of private lands for conservation and public use, and 2024 marks the centennial anniversary of its establishment.

Dilg and the League then moved on to other issues such as protecting the elk in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, strengthening migratory bird laws, and protecting the Superior National Forest from exploitation by timber interests. Dilg was referred to as "a man of dauntless courage, persuasive eloquence, and inspiring zeal in the protection of fish and fishing" by others, and spent most of the remaining eleven months of his life in Washington, D.C. lobbying Congress and the Coolidge administration to establish a cabinet level "Department of Conservation." The League he founded had grown to over 2,850 chapters and over 200,000 members. 
He died at age 58, and newspapers all over the nation noted his passing.

Dilg becomes a part of nearly 100 National Rivers Hall of Fame inductees, and their achievements tell the rich history of America’s rivers and the profound impact of our waterways. To learn more about the other inductees and the National Rivers Hall of Fame, visit

About National Rivers Hall of Fame
Established in 1985 with 113 national advisors, the mission of the National Rivers Hall of Fame is to collect, preserve, and share the stories of the women and men who have had a significant impact on the rivers of America. Located at the National Mississippi River Museum & Aquarium in Dubuque, Iowa, the Hall of Fame advances its mission through educational programs and exhibits through the Museum & Aquarium, and through its national outreach program, RiverWorks Discovery. The Hall of Fame is supported by members in 36 states.