Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Old Abe is leaving his perch.
No more will he keep watch over N. Main Avenue in Sioux Falls, where he has surveyed the changing area for nearly 2 decades.
Old Abe is being transferred.
The giant eagle - he dwarfs a man - will be removed from atop the J. I. Case Co. building at 700 N. Main Ave. The building has been purchased by Crescent Electric, and Old Abe will be shipped to the Case headquarters at Racine, Wis.
There are only two, or possibly three, other eagles that are the same size as Abe, a trademark for the Case Co. since 1865. The others are in Omaha and Racine, says R. B. Harris, branch superintendent, who is in charge of closing the office as the company centralizes its operations.
The dies used to create the eagle have long been discarded, so Abe will stand as the last of his kind.
Abe was moved to Sioux Falls from Aberdeen when the branch office was built in 1937.
'He was pretty well shot up,' recalls W. O'Hare, who was branch manager in Sioux Falls from 1936 to 1953, when he retired and was transferred to the Racine sales branch.
It seemed kids at Aberdeen thought Abe was a fine target.
'It cost about $200 to restore the eagle,' adds O'Hare, who returned to Sioux Falls in 1958.
Abe, made of wood, plaster, cast iron and bronze, has a history that started in the wild north woods in Wisconsin in 1861.
Chippewa Indians on their annual sugar-making pilgrimage felled a tree that had a nest holding a young eagle.
The Chippe was raised the eaglet and later traded it for a bushel of corn to a white settler. But eagles make poor pets, so the bird was sold to soldiers for $2.50.
The legend began to grow.
Company C of the Eighth Wisconsin Regiment was being organized, and the eagle was adopted as mascot and named Old Abe.
He became a. soldier among soldiers, so the story goes, and an inspiration to the men. Soon he was mascot for the entire regiment.
Abe was there for the roll of drums and the tramp of marching feet, and Abe was there during battles in the war between the states.
He went through 38 battles and skirmishes. His wild piercing war cry - an eerie scream repeated five or six times in rapid succession - was said, to be familiar to men on both sides of the unhappy struggle.
Abe was just as prominent in peace.
After the war, he attended parades and reviews and received cheers of the nation.
When the Eighth Regiment was mustered out, Old Abe was quartered in the Wisconsin State House. Later he shared the same platform with Gen. Grant.
Shortly afterward a fire broke out in the State House. Old Abe was rescued by firemen, but he almost suffocated in the heat and smoke. He never really recovered, and Old Abe died March 26, 1881.
Four years later the eagle took its place in agricultural history.
Jerome I. Case adopted Old Abe as a trademark. Since then the bird has made its mark wherever men obtain their living from the soil.
His image is found on every Case tool, every Case machine, every Case replacement part.
But Sioux Falls' Old Abe is leaving soon, probably within 30 days.
To some, perhaps, N. Main Avenue won't be the same.