The Merrill Egg Farm
The Merrill Egg Farm sat on what is now Downtown Eagle. The main office and site for the farm sat where the Eagle Fire Department currently is and stretched 68 acres in area. In 1952 Reid Merrill started his poultry farm with a 30 ft by 80 ft laying house and 1000 hens. At that time the eggs were sold to a small dairy farm. Eventually, Merrill’s eggs were sold to most local stores including Albertsons, M&W Markets and Associated Food Stores and also many local restaurants. Eventually, Merrill’s Egg Farm had grown to over 500,000 chickens and was the largest poultry producer in the Northwest. All of the Merrill family members worked on the farm, including myself! All summer since I was 11 throughout high school I worked there from 7:30 in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon. This is where we all learned how to work hard and be a part of a team. If our work wasn’t done, the eggs couldn’t be delivered to the stores. It was as simple as that.
One of my kids’ favorite memories of the egg farm is the massive chicken named Sparky who has been a mascot for the farm since the beginning. It used to stand at the entrance on the egg farm all the way back on Old State Street. My kids loved to ride on it’s back when they were little or ride in the car pulling it in the annual Eagle Fun Days Parade. Many times the chicken was even ‘borrowed’ and found its way onto a rival high school’s football field during senior prank season.
In 1989, an electrical fire started in one of the buildings and the farm was declared a total loss. The farm was moved over to the 400 acres in Emmett the Merrill’s had purchased a few years prior and the operation was rebuilt. What is now known as Merrill Park was Reid’s generous donation to the community that supported the farm and his family for over 50 years. Every year during Memorial day weekend you must visit the “Flags of Honor” display. This is a program Nancy Merrill, my mother, set up when she was the mayor. It was a way to honor Reid’s service in the army along with all those who have served.
Growing up, my grandpa Reid taught me so many lessons and was a great example of compassion and charity. He was always helping others by offering job to those who needed work and taking in a friend in need for a warm meal. He had time for anyone anytime. I spent many days on the metal chair in his office working side by side and learning countless life lessons. Reid was a hard worker. He was on the farm at sunrise or would start at 5AM loading up his truck for his weekly run to Grainville. (a short 2.5 hours away from Eagle) He ran this exact route at the age of 79 just a couple of days before he had a sudden heart attack. I attribute my work ethic and so many other life lessons and attributes that I have had the opportunity to pass along to my children, to my grandpa. He is a legend in mine and many other’s book. Today, the Merrill legacy is remembered with the large Rooster, Sparky, in Merrill park, a tile at Heritage park in downtown Eagle and photos in various local restaurants. I am honored to be a part of the family that played a large role in making Eagle what it is today.
Merrill Park is one of my favorite parks, right up there with Stephen Guerber Park, which this year hosted the “Eagle Glow in the Park” fun run.
The History of the Merrrill Egg Farm in Reid Merrill Park