The Iron Horse stands alone in a field off Ga. 15 in Greene County, a historical monument to the ramifications of censorship.
On the morning of May 27, 1954, the 12-foot-tall, one-ton creation was placed on the Reed Hall Quadrangle.
"They began to move the horse at 10 a.m., and it was in place by noon," said Robert Nix, a 1954 University graduate.
Built at the Lamar Dodd School of Art, the Iron Horse is an abstract sculpture that was created by Abbott Pattison, an artist who visited the University in 1954.
A crowd gathered around the Iron Horse shortly after it was in place, and by nightfall it was "a full-blown demonstration to say the least," Nix said.
He also said during the 1950's, publicity and crowds were not unusual and "not always good."
"It was a beautiful Spring afternoon," said Jack Curtis, co-owner of L. C. Curtis and Son, Inc., where the horse now resides. "The horse was new and different, and the students wanted something to do."
Straw was placed around the horse, which was labeled with the word "Front." Balloons were tied
underneath the rear legs, and attempts were made to set the horse on fire, according to "The Iron Horse: A Documentary," which was produced by University alumnus William VanDerKloot.
The fire department was called, but the students refused to back away from the horse, Nix said.
"Eventually they turned the fire hoses on the students to move them away," Nix said.
He said there are no photographs of the crowds around the horse available. Nix, who was a photographer for The Red & Black at the time, said he received an anonymous phone call advising him not to take any pictures.
"Another photographer took some pictures, but they were destroyed when the darkroom he was using was cleaned," Nix said. "The pictures never saw the light of day."
The day after the incident, University officials moved the horse to a secret hiding place, and a few years later the Iron Horse was moved to its current location on the farm of
L. C. Curtis, a professor of agriculture at the time.
The removal of the Iron Horse was blatant censorship of the arts, Nix said.
"The purpose of a university should be seeking wisdom and understanding knowledge. Toleration of ignorance is antithetical to what the University is about," he said.
There have been several unsuccessful movements to bring the Iron Horse back to campus, the strongest led by Steve Fiveash, president of the Interfraternity Council in the 1980s.
"It won't ever happen," said Alex Curtis, L.C. Curtis' grandson, "The horse owns itself now."
The Iron Horse does more good where it is now than it ever would on campus, Nix said.
"It is a monument to censorship, intolerance and ignorance," he said. "It is a good reminder there that censorship was once well-tolerated, and that it should not have been."
The Iron Horse continues to dwell in the field in Greene County, standing with its backside to the University.
"The horse is a free-spirited animal, and now the Iron Horse is free," Nix said. "It is Pegasus without wings."