Vulcan-The Iron Man
I had a book signing at Vulcan's 100th Birthday Party and Dedication Ceremonies on Sunday June 6, 2004 at Vulcan Park! Then I had book signings at the 102nd Birthday Party in 2006 and also at the 103rd Birthday Bash on June 3, 2007. Signed copies of Birmingham in Vintage Postcards, Panama City (also a postcard history), and my newest book, Birmingham:Then & Now,are available there in the Gift Shop.
The Statue of Vulcan has stood as the symbol of the City of Birmingham since it was crafted by Giuseppe Moretti for the 1904 Louisiana Purchase Exposition (St. Louis "World's Fair"). Vulcan won the Grand Prize in the Mines & Metallurgy Exhibit. Both St. Louis and San Francisco made offers to purchase the statue but those offers were politely refused. It still is the largest cast iron statue in the world and the largest statue ever made in the United States. It was cast in Birmingham by local foundry workers. It took seven train cars to ship Vulcan (unassembled) from Birmingham to St. Louis. After seven months in St. Louis it was shipped back to Birmingham. Its first permanent home was at the Alabama State Fairgrounds in Birmingham, where it stayed until erected on a pedestal on top of Red Mountain in 1939. The original pedestal was "modernized" in 1971 which included covering the old sandstone pedestal with marble. In 1999, an effort by the Vulcan Park Foundation raised millions of dollars to restore Vulcan and the surrounding park to its original appearance. I am a proud contributor to this effort. It was disassembled for restoration and the statue has now been raised to its pedestal once again on top of Red Mountain. See the article in the March 2004 issue of Smithsonian Magazine for a nicely written history of Vulcan. Also, check the new and upgraded web site for Vulcan Park.
Thanks to Bill Springer for this picture of the old Vulcan Gift Shop. It was located down at the bottom of the parking lot (which was pretty small) toward Homewood. He picked this up there about 50 years ago in a small packet of Vulcan views. Kinda small to keep up with for half a century!
On a recent trip to Robinson Iron down in Alexander City, Alabama, the Vulcan volunteer docents were given a tour of the facilities. For those who don't know, Robinson Iron is the firm that disassembled, restored, and reassembled Vulcan on Red Mountain. In the photo below are several bolts that had to be replaced. The bolt at the top, with the attached nut, was one that was used to bolt Vulcan together in 1938, prior to being erected on his pedestal in 1939. The bolt at the bottom is one of the original bolts used to assemble Vulcan in 1904.
I recently found this sketch that I did about thirty years ago for a Drawing Class at UAB. It was one of those five minute exercises, including picking a topic. Note in the drawing that Vulcan is facing the water falls, which is not correct, since he faces the downtown of Birmingham.
Below are a few postcard views and some photographs of Vulcan I made while it was disassembled and on the ground in the park.
This is an early 1940's view from the parking lot looking at the rear of the statue. Those beautiful water falls are missing now and maybe some day they will be back.
A view of Vulcan from the lower parking lot in front of Vulcan. The 1940's automobiles date this view pretty well.
A night view of Vulcan with his torch burning red, which indicates there has been a traffic fatality in Birmingham within the last 24 hours. It normally burns green.
A view of Vulcan by moonlight and you can see people on the viewing platform. A very romantic place to take a date in the 1950's for sure.
Yes, it does snow in the sunny South! As you can see in this postcard view of Vulcan. You won't see many folks visiting in the snow since Vulcan sits on top of Red Mountain and it would be dificult to go over the mountain from either direction.
This is what 1950's Birmingham looked like from atop Vulcan. A very nice view looking toward downtown. The downtown landscape has grown since this postcard view was taken over fifty years ago.
An aerial view of Vulcan that gives a good idea how the park is arranged. The road at the top is Highway 31. This postcard was mailed in 1948.
The following pictures were made while Vulcan was disassembled and waiting to be moved to the site of the restoration.
This is Vulcan's head with three of my grandchildren, Elizabeth, James, and Matthew.
This is me with James and Elizabeth on Vulcan's foot.
This is Elizabeth and Matthew with Vulcan's anvil.
And for the end I saved the picture of Matthew, Elizabeth, and James standing by Vulcan's rear end!!
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