The Cost of Freedom Eagle
The Cost of Freedom Eagle nests about 100 feet inside the White Banks Alabaster Quarry (also called Mystic Eagle Alabaster Quarry) in Mount Sopris near Redstone, Colorado. The eagle has been carved straight out of the wall of the quarry by Jeremy Russell. I’ll fill you in on Jeremy a little later, although he would rather the focus be on the ‘why’ of the project and not him.
Jeremy met Robert Congdon, owner of the quarry, when he went looking for alabaster to carve. Robert took Jeremy into the quarry and that’s when Jeremy said he could see an eagle coming out of the wall. Without much more explanation or discussion, Robert agreed to allow Jeremy to carve the wall and expose the eagle. That was in 2000 and the photo below shows the eagle as of 2004, when work ceased due to numerous problems with the Forest Service, permits, MSHA and the quarry changing hands since 2004 (ownership has since reverted to Congdon).
Jeremy says The Cost of Freedom Eagle is to honor veterans and their families, especially those that have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. This is Jeremy’s passion. What makes this even more awesome is how Jeremy arrived to this point.
In the summer of 1996 Jeremy was involved in a horrific crash near his home of New Castle, Colorado. He rolled his vehicle numerous times and suffered catastrophic injuries. He died several times and was resuscitated by medical personnel at the scene and at the hospital. The accident claimed his right leg and his memory between the ages of 13 right up to the day of the accident (26 years old at the time). He was told he would never walk again yet he does so with his prosthetic leg. Jeremy was not an artist or carver before the accident nor when he saw the eagle coming out of the wall inside the quarry. He just knew that he was the conduit to bring it to life.
Since 2004 the quarry has changed hands and many road blocks have been put up to stop the carving of the eagle. As of today, June 29, 2011, the roadblocks are gone, especially with the quarry once again in the hands of Robert Congdon. New setbacks with Jeremy’s health, likely related to his accident in ’96, have prevented him from continuing with the project. Jeremy was at death’s door several times during the first part of the year and spent 8 continuous weeks in the hospital after a grand mal seizure in January. After several other complications, doctors thought he would lose both arms but Jeremy has managed to save his left arm and in the process of doing the same with his right. Like Jeremy says, “I’m pretty ornery.” Medical science is now at a loss as how to help him and Jeremy has turned to holistic medicine for answers. I’ll keep you posted on that outcome as well.
All of these health battles have left Jeremy relying on oxygen 24/7 which is something that would prohibit his finishing the eagle. MSHA does not allow oxygen underground. The current battle is Jeremy’s to rid his dependence on the oxygen and regain enough strength to chisel away at the wall of alabaster and expose the eagle nesting inside.
Jeremy working with the clay model of the project, 2004. The wingspan will be reach about 50 feet.