Arts & Humanities Society & Culture

Iron Horse to be restored

The Iron Horse Statue at sunrise on the Iron Horse Plant Sciences Farm off Highway 15 in Greene County. (Photo by Andrew Davis Tucker/UGA)

Famous sculpture donated to university will undergo restoration this summer

The Iron Horse, a popular destination for tourists and University of Georgia students, will undergo restoration this summer. The sculpture will be temporarily removed from its current location along Highway 15 during the restoration process, and it will be reinstalled in late summer.

Patty Curtis and her daughter, Alice Hugel, generously gifted the sculpture and the land on which it sits to the university this year. Amy Abbe, a local conservator, will assess the 12-foot, 2-ton sculpture, restore any imperfections, and reinforce the steel structure.

“Visiting the Iron Horse has become a great student tradition at the University of Georgia, and we are excited that this restoration project will allow students to enjoy this sculpture for many years to come,” said Dean of Students Eric Atkinson.

The sun rises behind the Iron Horse at the Plant Sciences Farm on a cloudy morning. (Photo by Peter Frey/UGA)

The Iron Horse was originally sculpted in 1954 by Abbott Pattison, a visiting artist-in-residence from Chicago who was working at UGA as part of a Rockefeller grant. He constructed the horse by welding together pieces of boilerplate steel.

While the sculpture is now a beloved local attraction, it was originally met with derision from students when it was installed on campus. The university allowed L.C. Curtis of UGA’s Horticulture Department to move the statue to his farm in Greene County, about 25 miles south of Athens. The Curtis family later sold their property to the university, and it is now home to the Iron Horse Plant Sciences Farm.

Current plans are for the sculpture to be removed shortly after the spring Commencement ceremonies. It will be returned to the same site in late summer.