Erlanger’s Eagle

Have you seen the eagle flying in “The Present Looks at the Past” mural in the Lemoore downtown plaza park, and wondered why the eagle is flying over downtown Lemoore?

It was a time when Tulare lake was still the largest fresh water lake west of the Rockies, a few canals existed, but major irrigation canals were still in the future. There was a variety of bear, wolves, deer, elk and others that lived off of the millions of birds whether they were permanent or migratory. Of the birds that flew over the lake and surrounding area one was the eagle, both the bald and the brown.

That eagle belonged to Edward Erlanger. How Erlanger came into possession of the bald eagle is not known, stories do persist. One such story was that his friend Daniel Rhoads captured the young eagle and gave it to Erlanger knowing that he would take good care of it. Erlanger was know for his love of all animals.

Erlanger named the bird Old Abe. He would show the bird to anyone who showed the minutest amount of interest. The eagle became a source of community pride.

An agent of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington came to Lemoore in 1906 looking for information on the Native Americans of the area. Local citizen began bragging about Old Abe to the agent and he dropped by and was surprised to see the beautiful eagle living in the community.

The agent thought that Old Abe was a perfect type of a bald eagle and had photographs taken. When he returned to Washington he showed the photographs to several members of the Treasury Department who were also very impressed with Old Abe. It is thought that the engraved eagle on the 1913 $5 and $10 gold coin is that of Old Abe.

On the mural painted by Colleen Chronister Old Abe still flies over downtown Lemoore.