‘Lost' Grand Central eagle discovered at Space Farms

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:47

    WANTAGE-A retired railroad supervisor has been on a quest for 15 years to find a special flock of eagles. These were not live birds, but large, two-ton, cast-iron eagles that previously perched atop New York City's Grand Central Terminal from 1898 to 1910. There were either ten or 11 on the original building, which was razed in 1910 to make way for the building that stands now on 42nd Street. A New York Daily News photographer, David McLane, set out on a quest to find them. On McLane's death in 1986, David Morrison, a former railroad supervisor and former president of the Long Island Railroad Historical Society, took up the quest. Morrison finally tracked down nine of them, and now has found the tenth eagle at Space Farms Zoo on Route 519 in Beemerville. How it got there is a bit of a story. Ralph Space, founder of Space Farms, owned and operated two mink ranches, one in Beemerville, the other in Middleburg, N.Y. During the 1960s and 70s Space started collecting antiques for the museum he envisioned opening. When he died in 1986, Ralph Space left no written record of the Grand Central Station Eagle and its mysterious travels, but his son, Fred, remembers an eagle arriving at Space Farms in pieces and being stored for a few years in an old barn. It had taken 45 years to find the other nine eagles. One is located on the grounds of the former Mary Immaculate Friary, now the Capuchin Seminary at Garrison, N.Y., overlooking the Hudson River. Two are at St. Basils Academy in Cold Spring, N.Y. An additional two from the original flock are located at the Vanderbuilt Museum in Centerport Long Island. Nestled amongst the azaleas, one eagle snuggles down in Bronxville, N.Y. at a private residence. Overlooking the Long Island Sound is a Kings Point eagle, again on a private estate, but visible by boat. One eagle landed in North Tarrytown, N.Y. shortly after 1910. Two eagles were placed in Mt. Vernon, N.Y. on a private estate. That property was subdivided, one eagle residing at 110 Villa Street. This eagle was purchased by McLane, restored and donated to the town of Shandaken, N.Y.. The eagle previously residing at 112 Villa Street remained missing. Apparently, that's the eagle that Ralph Space purchased and brought to his museum. Recently, a zoo visitor mentioned it to Morrison, who confirmed its identity. Parker Space, Ralph's grandson, remembers the work involved with reconstructing the majestic bird. The Grand Central Station Eagle sits with an outspread wingspan atop a specially designed garden overlooking the zoo. The masonry supporting the garden has antique mill stones from the local area embedded amongst native field stones. Finished in the late seventies, Ralph was proud of his prize eagle. Ralph had been erroneously informed that the statue was the last one in existence, the others allegedly having been smelted during World War II. The Space Family was delighted to find their Grand Central Station Eagle had a rich, colorful history. Many thanks are extended to David Morrison for his information and research on the Grand Central Station Eagles. The "Lost Eagle" had found a nest 30 years before at Space Farms Zoo and Museum.