Iron Man Of The Month

| July/August 1972


'He's the little feller who draws all them 'pitchers' of railroad engines, over in the art hall.'

Yes, John Hixson may be a little fellow, but the pictures he draws and colors in light blue and pink pastels are all of the big fellows that once pulled America's proudest fleets of passenger and freight trains by steam over the complex network of high-iron that sprawled from one end of our nation to the other.

The beautiful, straight lines, the intricate spokes on the big, high iron locomotive drivers, the excellence of valve-gear detail, the rivets and leaf springs all are neatly laid out by John in the strictest sense of the master draughtsman's art. From the austere simplicity of the old DeWitt Clinton to the imposing power of latter day Hudsons and Mountain-types, John Hixson has penned the august beauty of steam locomotive evolution. Whether it's the sleek lines of a Pennsy E-6 Atlantic 4-4-0 (the fastest things on rails), the familiar portrait of old 999 which preceded it in setting world records, or the lately renowned high-stepping Hiawathas whose streamlined profiles headed the famous 100-mile-an-hour Milwaukee varnish Hixson has captured the thrilling spirit of each locomotive which, in its day, established the railroad timetables of a growing America.

For anyone attending the National Threshers Association Reunions over the years, either at Montpelier, or later at Wauseon, Ohio, stepping into the Arts and Crafts Building of the county fairgrounds the first thing that usually caught his eye was the vast array of the Hixson art-form study in the American Steam Locomotive. Neatly lined in several rows, the large hand-drafted drawings reaching sometimes fifty feet from end to end always lent an atmosphere of artistic charm to the big national reunion. Here one could bask over the clear-cut lines of his favorite steam locomotive, or all of them, much the same as art lovers and critics have ventured across the oceans to glory over original Rembrandts, Van Goghs, Millets and Holbeins at the Paris Louvre except for the fact that these are steam engines and that's what people come to the threshing reunions to see.

And, like any artist, proud of his work, John Hixson fetches his outstanding steam locomotive art display year after year to the National Threshers Reunion, not only as his unique contribution to the big show, but also as his right for being there. For, besides a leisurely hour or two offered by John in the pleasantries of reminiscing with his old cronies, there can be additional hours of pure inquisitiveness and satisfaction for any and all who appreciate the clean-cut, distinctive lines of the great locomotives that once ruled as kings of speed and power throughout the American transportation system. Indeed, in our lifetimes we boast of having seen many famous portraits of kings and queens and presidents. But to those who love steam engines there's simply nothing so fulfilling as viewing the John Hixson art gallery of Famous American Locomotives.