Sunday, December 4, 2016

Souvenirs & History of Vulcan Statue in Birmingham Alabama

Being promoted as the original Iron Man, the Vulcan Statue is the world’s largest cast iron statue. Made of 100,000 pounds of iron, he stands 56 feet tall and watches from atop Red Mountain overlooking the city of Birmingham, Alabama. Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and forge, is now the symbol of the city and it's iron origins. He also could be considered a hipster these days:  big burly beard and a craftsman. Designed by Italian artist Giuseppe Moretti and cast from local Birmingham iron for the 1904 St. Louis Exposition / World Fair, this Vulcan has lived long and prospered. After the exposition ended, he traveled home by train and was installed at the Alabama state fairgrounds in 1906. But, his raised right arm was accidentally installed upside down and without his spear - which had been lost along the way from St. Louis. The statue's arm remained that way for 30 years. Souvenirs from this time period (1906-1936) show his hand upside down with the palm up. In 1936, the well-traveled statue moved again to his current location. In 1946, another “temporary' change to the statue was a light placed over the spear tip which would glow either green or red depending on an area traffic fatality. Like the temporary location in the state fairgrounds, the light lasted 53 years. Some souvenirs seem to include this light. By 1999, the 50-ton statue was in desperate need of repair. The surrounding 10-acre park was closed and Vulcan was removed from his pedestal for restoration. The 124-foot pedestal increases to a height of 180 feet with the statue. Realizing Vulcan’s importance to the region’s history, city leaders sought public support for its restoration, forming the non-profit Vulcan Park Foundation. The foundation would oversee a master plan to return this colossal statue to his 1904 grandeur. By 2003, work was completed with the addition of an educational park complex interpreting Alabama’s industrial history for both residents and visitors. The Museum includes an entire room dedicated to Vulcan souvenirs produced over the years. The first Vulcan souvenir, according to the museum, was commissioned by Birmingham’s Commerical Club which cast 2000 statuettes. The square-based, no-pedistal replicas were sold for $2 each to finance building of the large statue for the St. Louis fair. You can buy an 8-inch resin version of the statue at their online gift shop. Below are some photos of various versions and varietals of the Vulcan Statue over it’s more than 100 year history.


Unknown said...

I would like some more information on these statues. I have one that is similar but very .heavy.

Anonymous said...

If you haven't, you should reach out to the Vulcan Museum. They may be able to aid in any questions.

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