Friday, February 4, 2011

Vulcan, The Moon Over Homewood

Vulcan Park on Birmingham's Red Mountain is home to the worlds largest cast iron statue "Vulcan".  Vulcan was created by Giuseppe Moretti in 1904 from 50 tons of local iron.  Vulcan is 56 feet tall and stands atop a 125 foot pedestal where he commands the local skyline with spectacular views of downtown Birmingham, Alabama. This beautiful statue is now a local icon and considered to be one of the most beautiful works of civil artwork in the United States.  Vulcan Park was created on 10 acres and features an interactive museum and a beautiful park for visitors to enjoy.  The museum tells the story of Vulcan along with the history of Birmingham's rise as the iron and steel giant of the South.  Vulcan Park also has a 1 mile trail where hikers can get some exercise while taking in the scenery.  More information can be found on Vulcan Park at:  Over the years Vulcan has called three places home and caused controversy with his exposed backside.  Citizens of Homewood and Mountain Brook have even petitioned to have Vulcan's butt covered from view. The Vulcan's famous posterior was immortalized in song with "Moon Over Homewood" written in 1981.  Thankfully the statue was never covered and still remains in his full unbridled glory.

Vulcan was first unveiled in 1904 in St. Louis at the World's Fair. He was received with great fanfare and took the grand prize at the fair.  Vulcan was then disassembled and shipped by train to Birmingham where he was  reassembled at the Alabama State Fairgrounds.  Vulcan would call the Fairgrounds home for almost 30 years.  When he was assembled at the Fairgrounds his right and left arm were installed incorrectly and Vulcan was unable to support his hammer and spear.  His left arm was supported for a while with a wooden timber to keep Vulcan from toppling over.  Merchants have used the statue for years to advertise their products.  Over the years Vulcan has held objects such as an ice cream cone, a pickle sign and a coke bottle.  He has even worn a huge pair of Liberty overalls.  At his lowest point Vulcan was painted flesh tones with rosy cheeks for viewing at the State Fair. In 1939 Vulcan was moved to his permanent home atop Red Mountain.  The statues hollow body was filled with concrete to anchor him atop his stone pedestal.  This would prove to cause future problems for Vulcan.  In 1946 citizens got the idea for Vulcan to hold a cone shaped light.  The cone was lit red on days were there was a traffic fatality and green on days with no fatalities.  In the late 60's a marble clad observation deck was assembled over the pedestal.  This obstructed the view from the ground and also covered Vulcan's beautiful stone pedestal.  Rain water entering the statue from the top of the head along with concrete that was poured inside Vulcan started a series of cracks.  Vulcan was again removed from his pedestal in 1999 due to rusting and structural issues.  The Vulcan Park Foundation was created that year to raise money for Vulcan's repairs.  Vulcan then underwent a $14 million dollar restoration lasting 3 years.  Vulcan was raised again in 2003 where he still stands in his rightful place atop Red Mountain.   If you are planning on moving to the Birmingham area I would be happy to help.  You can find more information on homes, schools and local attractions at:   
Sources:  Vulcan Park and Museum Website, photos from Google.

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