EARLY DUCK FARM
- Grant Recipient
Industry & Commerce
- 1049 W Main St, Riverhead, NY 11901, USA
- 40.915762, -72.683876
Flanders Village Historical Society
George Pugsley’s Duck Farm and the former site of The Big Duck roadside stand resides in the community of Riverhead, NY. As early as 1909, resident and duck rancher George Pugsley raised Pekin ducks here and was extremely successful. In 1919, Pugsley nearly lost his farm. The event was described in a November 4, 1919 article from the Brooklyn Daily Eagle:
Sunday night a fire broke out in the picking house on George E. Pugsley’s duck ranch at Upper Mills, near Riverhead and for a time the entire ranch was threatened with destruction, but through the good work of the firemen only one building, that where the fire started, was consumed. In this building was stored a lot of cranberries from Mr. Pugsley’s ranch. The damage is placed at about $2,500.
Not long after this incident Pugsley sold his farm for $30,000 dollars. Around 1931, The Big Duck roadside stand was built near Pugsley’s former duck farm. Bearing a strong resemblance to a pekin duck, The Big Duck is believed to have been the brainchild of duck farmer, Martin Maurer, and was built to serve as a roadside stand where Maurer sold duck. Unsurprisingly, The Big Duck attracted a lot of attention from passing motorists and became a popular local landmark. A June 26, 1931 article from the Riverhead News describes Mauer’s new roadside stand:
Motorists passing through now have something else quite distinctive to remember us by; it is the big duck on the Maurer ranch at Upper Mills, and naturally it is attracting much deserved attention. This true-to-life bird, sitting so comfortably beside the road, and at night showing its electrically lighted eyes, is 28 feet high and had inside dimensions of 11x 15 feet. It is the biggest duck ever “raised” anywhere in the world.
The Big Duck continued to be a popular Riverhead landmark for several years until 1937, when it was moved to its new home in Flanders, NY. While The Big Duck no longer serves as a roadside stand, it is still popular local landmark for tourists and community members alike.