Vulcan the Iron Man
Image by K. W. Sanders
In ancient times, Vulcan was the Roman god of the Forge. What does an ancient god have to do with a modern city? Birmingham was founded in 1871 and it grew largely because of its abundance of raw materials for making iron and steel. Because of its quick growth, by 1900, Birmingham was known as the "Magic City".
The city’s leaders wanted to advertise the Birmingham to the world, so they commissioned the Italian sculptor Giuseppe Moretti to make a statue of Vulcan for the World’s Fair in St. Louis. Mr. Moretti completed the mold of the statue in just six months in a large, abandoned church in New Jersey. The mold, in two pieces, was shipped to Birmingham. These were then used by the Birmingham Steel and Iron Company to cast the statue in iron. There are 21 pieces to the statue. It was commissioned on June 7, 1904.
At the end of the World’s Fair, in 1905, the statue was dismantled and hauled to Birmingham by train. The status was erected at the Alabama State Fairgrounds, which was to be a temporary home, but 30 years later, he still stood there. In May 1939, Vulcan was moved to Vulcan Park where he stands atop Red Mountain today. Funds were raised starting in 1999 to return Vulcan to his original glory and in 2003, the process was completed.