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Once so despised students tried to burn it, the Iron Horse has become a beloved Oconee County landmark

Oconee County's Iron HorsePhoto by©Brian Brown/Vanishing Georgia

By Brian Brown/Vanishing Georgia

Sculptor Abbott Pattison designed the 2-ton, 12-foot Pegasus Without Wings in 1954. The work was first sited at the University of Georgia's Reed Hall, but was immediately unpopular with students, who attempted to melt it by burning tires beneath it. The protest was so unwieldy that the fire department had to turn their hoses on the estimated 700 students to gain control of the situation.

As a result of the controversy, the sculpture was removed, stored for a time in a warehouse, and in 1959 transported by night to a field owned by UGA horticulture professor L. C. Curtis near the Oconee-Greene County line. The “Iron Horse” stands here today, and visiting it has become a rite of passage for many UGA students . I met two, who extolled the benefits of visiting the countryside and their love of the sculpture, while I was photographing.

The Iron Horse up closePhoto by©Brian Brown/Vanishing Georgia

visitors from all over stop by to pay homage these days. It can be hard to spot when the surrounding fields are full of corn or sunflowers, but a crude parking lot off the side of Georgia Highway 15 across from a UGA sign identifying the location as the ‘Iron Horse Plant Sciences Farm’ lets you know you’re in the right place.

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Some years after Curtis took it UGA decided that it was a valuable sculpture after all. So they went to him and said "We want our horse back." And Jack said, "Whose horse?"

When Jack's son sold the property containing the horse to UGA the horse was granted a small piece of land with access as part of the deal. UGA still doesn't own the horse.

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