As state mottoes go it’s not quite as violent as New Hampshire’s Live Free or Die, or doesn’t require a knowledge of rudimentary Latin like Virginia’s Sic Semper Tyrannis. However, in the all around oomph department, it doesn’t even come close to New Jersey’s Not Only Toxic Waste But Also No Self Serve Gas.
Oh well, at least it wasn’t a monument celebrating the Ten Commandments.
Paul W. Bryant (no relation) Museum and the Bates Turkey Farm and Restaurant in hand, we set out for Birmingham. I'm still sorry that we couldn't fit the Bates' place into our itinerary.
Vulcan is a little shorter than the Christ of the Ozarks in Arkansas and Lucy the Margate Elephant in New Jersey, two of my favorite giant statues. But Vulcan is on a 10-story pedestal atop a small mountain overlooking Birmingham, a much better site than his compadres have in a mostly unbuilt Jesus-themed amusement park in the Ozarks, and on a not-very-attractive swatch of the Jersey Shore. What Vulcan lacks in height he makes up in location, location, location.
The park’s website (which is great, btw) tells the story of the statue, which was created by an Italian American sculptor working in New Jersey, Giuseppe Moretti.
1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. This was in the era when businessmen thought giant statues were a good idea. The Birmingham Steel and Iron Company used molds created by Moretti to cast the statue in 21 separate pieces of iron which were assembled at the Fair. Birmingham's Vulcan is the largest cast iron statue in the world.
Vulcan stands at his anvil, with a hammer in his left hand, holding aloft a rather cartoonish spear in his right hand. He’s wearing apron that droops to expose his heaving-in-a-manly-sort-of-way left pec. He’s sporting an Eddie Haskell-esque hairstyle accompanied by a totally butch and au courant hipster full beard.
Now he’s back to his buff self, and even wears the same size trousers as he would have worn at the 1904 World’s Fair....had he worn trousers there anyway.
1701 Valley View Dr.
Birmingham, AL 35209
Museum open 10:00 am to 6:00 pm most days; Tower 10:00 am until 10:00 pm.