Little Known Works of Famous Authors



Birth of an Icon

Italian-born sculptor Giuseppe Moretti crafted the largest iron figure ever cast in the world: Vulcan, a 60-ton, 55-foot tall iron god of the forge, the useful god in the Roman pantheon who made tools and thunderbolts for the other gods. By celebrating his productivity, Moretti created in this Vulcan a special icon- the hero of the working people.

Vulcan was cast in a Birmingham foundry by local workmen from iron mined on Red Mountain- the very mountain on which Vulcan Park would later be constructed. Though time needed to complete the project was two to three years, Moretti had only months. In the next four months, men worked 60-hour weeks to ensure the statue would be complete. Vulcan won the Grand Prize in the Mine & Metallurgy Exhibit and Birmingham leaders had to reject offers from both St. Louis and San Francisco to buy the statue at the end of the Fair.



At Home atop Red Mountain

After seven months in St. Louis, Vulcan came back to Birmingham, only to be dumped beside the railroad due to unpaid freight bills. His original spear was lost enroute home from St. Louis. The Alabama State Fairgrounds offered him a home, but upon arrival, the statue was erected so hastily that workmen incorrectly installed both of his arms. In 1935, two members of Birmingham's Kiwanis Club organized a citywide campaign to find the statue a decent home. Funds given by President Franklin Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration (WPA) allowed the construction of the park to begin.

By 1939, the 55-foot-tall Vulcan stood atop a 123-foot pedestal of native sandstone and marble quarried just a few hundred yards away. Once again holding a spear point in his right hand and a hammer in his left, the man of iron proudly dominated Birmingham's skyline.

Carrying the Torch


Vulcan was made a symbol of highway safety in 1946, surrounding his spear with a neon torch that glowed green except after a traffic death when it turned red for 24 hours as a warning to travel safely.

70's Makeover


In 1971, Vulcan got a $1 million facelift including a new marble-sheathed pedestal, an enclosed observation deck and elevator, plus a fountain, gift shop, and snack bar to commemorate the city's 100th anniversary. But inside Vulcan, problems were developing. To stabilize the statue, Vulcan had been filled to his mid-chest with concrete and iron re-bar. But concrete and iron expand and contract at different rates, causing the statue to become less stable. With water entering through his uncovered head, the statue began cracking and corroding.

Vulcan Restoration Begins

Through the decades, Vulcan presided over the continued progress of Birmingham from his lofty site as the city's undisputed symbol. But in April of 1990, an engineering study warned that the statue could collapse as a result of cracks and structural problems.



By early 1999, another engineering report warned that huge chunks of concrete and iron could fall to the ground if major repairs were not made. After 60 years atop Red Mountain, Vulcan had to come down and sits in 18 pieces in the parking lot of the park. Mirroring the vision and enterprising spirit of Vulcan's creators, a colossal effort is now underway to restore Vulcan to its 1904 grandeur and Vulcan Park to its 1938 glory.

  The first crane pick was the right leg on Tuesday, June 10. With the stainless steel column inside this was a 15.000 pound lift.    

Home | uCan | Southern Storage Solutions | | |  Copyright 1992 - 2013 John R. Taylor