You may or may not have seen the 2000 lack luster movie, The Skulls, starring Joshua Jackson and Paul Walker, based upon the conspiracy theory surrounding a possible secret society at Yale University. Who am I kidding…I liked the movie. I’ve seen it many, many times but critics didn’t exactly take the same opinion as me away from the film. Why am I talking about a movie focused on secret societies at a school a sum odd 900 miles from here? Just 11 miles outside of downtown Greensboro stands a symbol, with a far greater history behind it than most would ever know, and in that secret lies links to a secret society a little closer to home.
If you set out north on Georgia Highway 15 headed towards Athens you may or may not realize that along the way you pass a rather significant piece of history. And if it’s early October and corn crops are fully grown there’s a good chance you may never even see the Iron Horse set back in the field of farm owner Jack Curtis. At 12 feet tall, weighing in at over two tons, one would think it’d be hard to miss but according to Curtis if the horse is not visible from the road then they’ve probably had a good harvest season. Shortly after the crop is harvested and the stalks are cut down to plow, in the middle of the field stands a 2000 pound statue now 54 years old. Erected on the campus of the University of Georgia by Abbott Pattinson, then a student at the Lamar Dodd School of Art, the horse was placed in front of Reed Hall. At a time when abstract art and metal sculpturing were still new concepts to southern universities, to say the least the horse was not a favorite of the students. Within 48 hours of its placement on campus the horse was subjected to nonstop torture and ridicule. Students went so far as to stuff straw in it’s mouth, place manure at it’s backside, and even set the horse on fire. Stories told say that when the fire department arrived the students refused to back away from the statue so the hoses were in fact turned on them.
Professor of Agriculture, L.C. Curtis knew he had a place where the horse would be “safe.” So it was to his farm that the horse was moved and is where it has remained since 1959. Rumor has it that the reasoning behind the horse’s backside being turned towards Athens is because it refuses to ever return there again. Many attempts have been made to bring the Iron Horse back to Athens but all have failed.
The Iron Horse now stands as the symbol to the Order of the Greek Horsemen, UGA’s own so called secret society said to have been formed in 1955. Who’s to say the fourth installment of the Skulls couldn’t be about our own little secret society right up the road?