The Largest Cast Iron Statue in the World

VulcanWhere: Statue of Vulcan (Birmingham, AL)

Who: The Whole Clan

When: March 17, 2013

Nothing says “Irish” like a giant statue of a Roman god, so on St. Patrick’s Day we visited the Vulcan Park and Museum in Birmingham.

I had seen the statue from I-65 dozens of times over the years, but this was my first chance to visit it. Vulcan is situated on a ridge to the south of downtown and looks northward over the city. You have to approach from the south, so it’s difficult to get a decent picture of the front of the statue. This one will have to do.

The statue is more than 50 feet tall (not counting the pedestal) and weighs more than 100,000 pounds. It is the largest statue ever cast in the United States and is the largest cast iron statue in the world.

The city of Birmingham commissioned it for the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. After the fair ended, it stood in the Alabama State Fairgrounds for about 30 years. Then the city and the Works Progress Administration built the park where it currently stands and moved it there.

We paid to go up the elevator to the top of the statue’s pedestal and had some nice views of the city. We didn’t have the greatest weather, but you can’t have everything.

The museum next to the statue is actually quite good. Its exhibits tell the history of the coal and iron industry in Birmingham as well as the history of the statue itself. There are displays showing the various kinds of ore mined in the ridge and the foundries that processed the ore. Other displays, like this re-creation of a general store, shed light on the lifestyles of the miners and mill workers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Vulcan Museum

Fortunately for us, the museum and park were fairly kid-friendly. At one point the kids got to work a big wall puzzle of the statue. Notice the grass on Son #1’s back in this photo. That’s the result of multiple rolls down the slope between the statue and the parking lot. Sons #1-4 had several rolling races down the hill before we made them stop.

Building Vulcan

For more info, here’s the official website for the park.

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