Vulcan: God of Fire and Metals
Vulcan is the world’s largest cast iron statue; made of 100,000 pounds of iron and 56 feet tall, he stands on top top of Red Mountain overlooking beautiful downtown Birmingham. But Vulcan is more than just a statue—Vulcan Park and Museum features fantastic views of Birmingham, an interactive history museum that examines Vulcan and Birmingham’s history, a venue for private events, and a beautiful public park for visitors and locals to enjoy.
When state geologists mapped the Birmingham District’s mineral resources in the mid-1800s, they found great quantities of the three ingredients necessary for the manufacture of foundry: coal, limestone, and iron ore. The availability of these ingredients and the ability to recruit a large and inexpensive pool of labor made Birmingham’s industry possible.
In its heyday, Birmingham’s iron and steel industry was dominated by four large companies; Sloss, Woodward, US Steel, and Republic Steel. Each company owned its own ore mines, coal mines, quarries, and blast furnaces, which enabled them to control every aspect of the complex process of turning raw materials into iron and steel.
Material for Success: Birmingham was founded and grew into the largest industrial center in the south because of the iron and steel industries. Local foundries transformed enormous quantities of Birmingham iron into useful products like stoves, sewing machines, fire hydrants, manhole covers, and iron pipe that were shipped throughout the country.
Commissioned by the Commercial Club of Birmingham, Italian-born sculptor Giuseppe Moretti began designing the monumental figure in 1903. It was created as Birmingham’s entry for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition (1904 World’s Fair) in St. Louis, Missouri.
Just as my stature towers above the sons of Earth, so shall the district, from whose breasts the ore and coal were torn and fused to give me birth, exceed all others in “Times March”. For o’re and o’re nature hath flung her treasures with a generous hand, and Birmingham sits throned. Both hemispheres can draw on her. The mineral wealth of every land is there allied to rule the world in future years.
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