Want to know where to go to see some of the most amazing views of Birmingham, Alabama, including the city’s lights at night? Some people think Vulcan is just a statue of an old man overlooking the Magic City (Birmingham’s most recognized nickname), but it is so much more than that. There’s even proof that the city loves this giant deeply.
Vulcan Park and Museum, established in the 1930s, is located atop Red Mountain in Birmingham, Alabama. Entry into the 10-acre park is free and with tables and chairs on the veranda overlooking the city, it is a great place to picnic with the family, take your lunch break, or just go, sit, and enjoy the scenery. A $6 ticket gets a visitor entrance into the park’s museum, which I found extremely interesting, and entrance to the observation tower to see those beautiful views of Birmingham from a higher advantage. The gift shop is also a must-stop…. so many great things I wanted to buy!
Of course, the main attraction at the park is Vulcan, the largest cast iron statue in the world. The Roman god of metalwork and the forge, Vulcan was built in 1904 to represent the booming iron and steel industry of Birmingham at the World’s Fair in St. Louis. The 56 foot tall statue was built in seven months and shipped in pieces to St. Louis. At the fair, Vulcan stood at ground level and was viewed by over 18 million people and featured in newspapers all around the country. “After smashing success at the fair, he was brought home to Birmingham,” one display at the park states. For the next 30 years, Vulcan stood at the state fair until he got his own place on top of a high pedestal on the mountain.
In 1999, it was realized that this watchman of the city had declined drastically due to weathering. The park was even closed for fear a piece of him would fall on someone. Due to the finances needed, Vulcan was almost scraped. However, a group of people came together and raised the huge amount of money needed to have him restored. It really showed how much the people of Birmingham love having his watchful eye over them.
There is one small problem with Vulcan, and this problem has been the brunt of many jokes throughout the decades. Because Vulcan’s clothing does not cover his buttocks, he “moons” the city of Homewood. There was even a song written and recorded about it in 1982 by disc jockey, Jack Voorhies. “Moon Over Homewood” is available on YouTube and states,
“Moon over Homewood; It’s so unrefined
We have to get mooned with the Vulcan’s behind
Moon over Homewood; We don’t think it’s fair
That we have to look at his big derriere”
There’s so much more history about this massive guy, like how he laid in pieces at the train yard for 18 months after he returned from St. Louis, and how he used to tell the people of Birmingham if there had been a car fatality in their city during the week. So, my suggestion for everyone is to visit the park and find out about him for yourself. Walk the beautifully manicured grounds, eat a picnic meal overlooking the city, catch up on all the history in the museum, and see the breath-taking view of the city’s night lights from the observation tower. Oh, and tell the big guy “hi” for me.
Keep Piper Peachin’ and Wander with Wonder
“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.” -John Muir