Fun Facts/Frequently Asked Questions
Have questions about Vulcan? We encourage you to visit Vulcan Park and Museum and try to discover some of the answers. Vulcan Park and Museum is filled with outdoor info stations and museum exhibits that explain many of these topics. Our knowledgeable and friendly staff is happy to speak with you about any questions you may have.
1. Why Vulcan?
Vulcan is the Roman god of fire and forge (a forge is a shop with a furnace where metal is heated and hammered out into useful items). Birmingham is unique because of the availability of the raw materials necessary for making iron: coal, iron ore and limestone. By 1900, Birmingham was called the "Magic City" because of its rapid population growth due to the larger number of workers needed to produce iron. City leaders wanted to advertise Birmingham and Alabama at the St. Louis World's Fair and decided a statue of Vulcan would best highlight the area's growing industrial abilities.
2. Why does Vulcan hold a hammer and spear?
The hammer is a tool Vulcan used in his forge and the spear represents a piece of his completed work.
3. Why did Vulcan hold a torch light in his right arm for so many years?
In 1946, the decision was made to place a torch in Vulcan's right hand as a temporary traffic safety campaign for a few months. The red light signaled that there had been a traffic fatality in Birmingham; the green light shone to demonstrate there had not been a fatality.
4. Why was the torch removed?
The torch was removed in 1999 during the renovation of Vulcan. The actual torch can be seen in Vulcan Center Museum. The decision was made to return Vulcan to the way that sculptor, Giuseppe Moretti, intended. Since the original spear point never returned from 1904 World's Fair, a new one had to be cast. For the first time, since 1904, Vulcan is standing as he stood in St. Louis - gazing at the spear point in his outstretched right arm.
5. What happened to the cascades at Vulcan Park?
One of the fond remembrances of early visitors to Vulcan Park is the cascades. Constructed out of stone, water tumbled down the cascades in a series of falls and ponds that contained fish. The cascades were removed when the park was renovated in 1969-1971. No original 1936-1939 landscape records were found and preservationists needed original drawings to proceed with reconstruction. Today, the sloping grass hills between the stone steps that lead up to Vulcan are designed to simulate the original cascades.
6. How big is the statue?
Vulcan stands 56 feet tall, from toe to spear point, upon a 124-foot pedestal rising to a height of 180 feet and weighs 101,200 pounds. Vulcan is the largest cast iron statue in the world and the largest metal statue ever made in the United States.
7. Is the image of the statue and the word "Vulcan" registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office?
Yes! Vulcan Park and Museum is the owner of all intellectual property pertaining to the Vulcan Statue likeness. Vulcan Park and Museum takes great pride in the newly reconstructed Vulcan Park and Museum and Vulcan Statue and its preservation as an important icon of the city of Birmingham. If you wish to use the likeness (photo, sketch, drawing, etc.) of Vulcan or the word "Vulcan," click here for information on how to obtain a license.