The other evening we were out and about giving our out of town visitor a quick tour of the Magic City. We happened to stop for gas on the Southside of Birmingham. When we looked up there was Vulcan looking down on us as big as Dallas.
As someone who grew up in Birmingham, Vulcan is a regular sight. Some of us who have lived in the `Ham most of our lives are so accustomed to Vulcan we may even take him for granted…like a good pair of comfy shoes or a favorite granny.
But, to a newcomer, a big, tall half dressed Roman god who moons half of the city can make you do a double take…
Vulcan was the Roman god of the forge and fire. Our symbolizes Birmingham’s connection to its past as the “Pittsburg of the South” or as a giant in the steel industry pre-Jimmy Carter’s recession days and decline.
Our Vulcan statue standing, at 56 feet tall is the largest cast iron statue in the world and the 7th largest free standing statue in the US. He was displayed at the 1904 World’s Fair representing Birmingham.
When I was a young girl Vulcan was used to alert the city as to the status of traffic fatalities in the area. If his torch burnt green, we knew the roads had been safe, but if his torch blazed ominous red, we knew somewhere someone in the metropolitan area was no longer with us. Over the years, Vulcan has been revamped and refurbished. In 1999 – 2004 there was a large restoration and the torch was replaced with a spear.
Some things have changed, but one thing remains the same…Vulcan still stands watch over Birmingham…and visitors are still intrigued to see the big Roman guy standing atop Red Mountain. Birmingham is full of wonderful surprises my friends…
© 2012 Beverly Hicks Burch All Rights Reserved