“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Pigeon Forge in Sevier County, Tennessee — The American South (East South Central)


The American Eagle Foundation's Oldest Bald Eagle

Pilgrim Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jason Voigt, July 6, 2021
1. Pilgrim Marker
Inscription.  If the American Eagle Foundation has an elder statesman, it is indeed Pilgrim. The facility's oldest Bald Eagle, Pilgrim celebrates his 40th birthday in 2008.

Pilgrim's life story begins in New England, where he was born into the wild in 1968. He was discovered near Jonesport, Maine, on November 4, 1970, where he was taken to the Moosehorn National Wildlife Refuge. One week later, Pilgrim was relocated to the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Laurel, Maryland, a facility operated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

Officials at Patuxent Wildlife Research Center examined Pilgrim and determined that he had a pellet in his left wing. Unfortunately, Pilgrim's medical records are incomplete and the origin of his injuries is unknown.

At the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Cambridge, Maryland, on January 30, 1973, Pilgrim was released into the wild. Just two short years later in April 1975, he was found injured in Dover, Delaware, with a gunshot to his right wing. His wing was also broken in two places, leaving Pilgrim with a permanent "droop". On December 5, 1988, Pilgrim moved south to the
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In 1994, Pilgrim arrived at the American Eagle Foundation along with his mate, Mayflower, with whom he had been paired since 1977. Again, a complete history with Pilgrim and Mayflower's history is sketchy. Upon arrival at the American Eagle Foundation, the duo found a new home in the facility's breeding enclosure at the Eagle Mountain Sanctuary here at Dollywood. The staff was elated when Pilgrim and Mayflower produced three eggs each year. Much to everyone's dismay, the eggs were infertile.

Though unsuccessful on this front, Pilgrim and Mayflower would still get a chance to exercise their parenting skills. In 1996, Pilgrim and Mayflower were given an eaglet to nurture, which they did with great success. After eight weeks of loving care from Pilgrim and Mayflower, the eaglet was removed from their nest and taken to the hack tower at Douglas Lake in East Tennessee where it was released into the wild.

Sadly, Mayflower passed away in 1999. American Eagle Foundation staffers tried pairing Pilgrim with two other females. Twilight, who lost her mate in 1998, captured Pilgrim's eye and attention. The pair laid their eggs in 2001, but once again, the occasion was met with great sadness when it was discovered that the eggs were infertile. Unfortunately, no eggs have been laid since. In 2007, Pilgrim and Twilight were moved to a group enclosure.

Pilgrim Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jason Voigt, July 6, 2021
2. Pilgrim Marker
was then discovered that Pilgrim suffered from vision problems. Pilgrim later underwent successful cataract surgery at the University of Tennessee Veterinary School. Pilgrim's sight was restored. Though not perfect, Pilgrim's vision is adequate enough to allow him a satisfactory quality of life.

Appropriately named, Pilgrim's pilgrimage started many years and even more miles from the American Eagle Foundation. Today, as the facility's senior eagle, Pilgrim resides here at Dollywood where he delights visitors.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: AnimalsParks & Recreational AreasScience & Medicine. A significant historical year for this entry is 1970.
Location. 35° 47.607′ N, 83° 31.836′ W. Marker is in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, in Sevier County. Marker can be reached from Dollywood Parks Boulevard. Marker is located in the Craftsman's Valley section of Dollywood theme park. Specifically, near the eagle sanctuary. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 2700 Dollywood Parks Boulevard, Pigeon Forge TN 37863, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 2 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Native American Sea Eagle (about 500 feet away, measured in a direct line); The Tennessee Mining Company (about 500 feet away); Dolly's Childhood Home (approx. 0.2 miles away); First Baptist Church Pigeon Forge
Pilgrim Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Jason Voigt, July 6, 2021
3. Pilgrim Marker
Marker is behind the building in the background, which is located at the Craftsman's Valley section of Dollywood.
(approx. 0.9 miles away); Pigeon River Railroad (approx. 1.1 miles away); Pigeon Forge Elementary School / Pigeon Forge Canning Factory (approx. 1.2 miles away); Sevier County Veterans Memorial (approx. 1.2 miles away); Broady Dairy (approx. 1.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Pigeon Forge.
Regarding Pilgrim. One must have a ticket and/or paid admission to view the marker.
Also see . . .  Pilgrim (American Eagle Foundation). Pilgrim passed away on September 11, 2013 at the age of 45. (Submitted on August 12, 2021, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.) 
Credits. This page was last revised on August 12, 2021. It was originally submitted on August 12, 2021, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois. This page has been viewed 86 times since then and 8 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on August 12, 2021, by Jason Voigt of Glen Carbon, Illinois.

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May. 29, 2023