The Vulcan always watches over Birmingham. Who watches over the Vulcan?

The Vulcan statue of Birmingham has served in a variety of roles since its inception in 1904 as an exhibition piece for the World’s Fair in St. Louis. Currently, the statue stands like a guardian over Birmingham, symbolizing the city’s industrial roots.

The Vulcan

Towering at 56 feet tall on a sandstone pedestal at Vulcan Park and Museum, the statue has pierced the Birmingham skyline for 79 years. It has endured harsh weather conditions including Alabama’s scorching summer heat and the “snow-pocalypse” of 2014. While no natural phenomenon has been able to take the Vulcan down, this cast-iron Roman god of fire and forge still needs some tender love and care every once in a while. Joe Saling is just the man and caretaker that Vulcan needs.

Joe Saling

Saling has served as director of visitor experience at Vulcan Park and Museum for 2 years. In addition to accommodating the best possible experience for guests, Saling oversees park maintenance projects. Prior to working at Vulcan Park and Museum, Saling spent over 30 years in sales and marketing. He worked with Sheraton Birmingham and Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa. Most recently, Saling worked on marketing and community relations efforts for the Grand Bohemian Hotel in Mountain Brook, Alabama. His expertise in hospitality and tourism has served him well in his position at Vulcan Park and Museum.

Vulcan Park and Museum

Even so, taking on the role as the Vulcan’s caretaker did not come without a few learning curves, specifically in the aspects of engineering and construction. Shortly after Saling took the position, the Vulcan needed a new paint job. And the pedestal it stands on needed to be sealed.

“This required understanding the inherent unique challenges with getting the job done, using the right products and doing it with the least disturbance to our visitors,” Saling explained. “Also, how to maintain a federally protected historic monument within the required guidelines.”

The Vulcan undergoes yearly interior and exterior inspections performed by the craftsmen at Robinson Iron of Alexander City, Alabama. “What they tell us is typically what we do,” Saling explained. “And fortunately, we do not have to do anything but every eight to 10 years.” Because the Vulcan is made of almost-indomitable iron, the statue rarely endures damage, aside from the occasional paint chip.

Vulcan Painters of Bessemer, Alabama, maintain the statue’s interior and exterior paint work. When painting the Vulcan, they prep the surface by sanding it down, caulking cracks and imperfections so that they are water-sealed. Then, they use an industrial primer and final coat. The Vulcan’s last paint job was in 2012. According to Saling, the Vulcan is currently in great cosmetic standing.

Over more than a century, the statue has undergone some inevitable repairs and updates—the most notable of those changes being the re-casting of its hand and anvil in 1938.  When the Vulcan was moved from the fairgrounds to Vulcan Park, its hand and anvil were lost and had to be recast. Even so, Saling explained, “one would never be able to tell any difference between the Vulcan today and the Vulcan at its original inception.”

Saling takes great pride in his work as the caretaker of this beloved Birmingham icon. He said the Vulcan represents not only Birmingham’s industrial prosperity, but also the city’s progress. “We equate that with the spear he holds. It points upward to symbolize Vulcan’s persistence and endurance,” Saling said. “Our mission at Vulcan park and museum is to educate and further develop the pride in Birmingham. I think he does that very well.”



Why Crestline Bagel Company (Cahaba Heights) is the best study spot

Crestline Bagel Company has been serving the Birmingham-area with New-York style bagels for 11 years. In February 2018, Jennifer Yarbrough, founder and owner of Crestline Bagel  Co. opened a second store location in Cahaba Heights. The bagels and service at the new location are wonderful as always, but the unique space is what sets this bakery apart from others of its kind. Here are 10 reasons why you need to make Crestline Bagel Co. Cahaba Heights. your next study spot.

  1. Spacious: This location has several seats and tables. The seating area is arranged to accommodate plenty of space between you and the person(s) next to you.
  2. Affordable: Google maps gives Crestline Bagel Co. one dollar sign for a price rating. “$”
  3. Variety of options: Not a fan of bagels or coffee? That’s ok! There is something for everyone at Crestline Bagel Co. See their menu here.
  4. WIFI: Ask any of the staff for the WIFI password. I won’t give it away, but if passwords can be cute, this one definitely is.
  5. Unlimited Coffee Refills: I love a good coffee shop, but when I’m studying for a couple of hours, one little vanilla latte just isn’t going to cut it. I prefer multiple cups of coffee that I can sip on throughout my entire study session. At Crestline Bagel Co. if your cup is empty, just get up and refill it!
  6. Great scenery: In my humble opinion, one of the best features of the Cahaba Heights location is the scenery. Leaf ‘n’ Petal flower shop is right next door. Enjoy the sights of beautiful plants, flowers and butterflies from any seat.
  7. Clean: Every time I have been to Crestline Bagel Co. (which happens at least once a week), the place is spotless!
  8. Quiet: Don’t get me wrong– Crestline Bagel Co. is a great place to go for socializing with a friend. But it’s a peaceful atmosphere with a comfortable buzz of talking. Nothing too noisy or distracting.
  9. Sun light: Big windows inside the bakery allow for the refreshing natural light to fill up the entire space. I always prefer natural light over fluorescent light in a study space.
  10. Opens early in the morning:  The bakers have to show up before sunrise to start bagel-production. But for customers, the doors open at 6:00 a.m. Monday through Friday, and 7:00 a.m. on weekends. You can get in an hour or two of study time before class even starts!

Q&A with Sarah McFarland, Alpha Omicron Pi’s President

Samford University is home to six panhellenic sororities, one of which is Alpha Omicron Pi. The sorority is lead by an executive council that strives to make the chapter the absolute best it can be. Sarah McFarland, a junior accounting major from St. Louis, Missouri, has been the chapter president of Samford’s AOII for the past few months. Although McFarland enjoys binging shows on Netflix, hanging out with friends and eating far too many scoops of Edgewood Creamery icecream most of her time is spent serving with and for her fellow sisters. I got the chance to sit down her McFarland and ask her about her experience serving in such a crucial role and being a full time student.

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5 Ethnic Restaurants in Birmingham, Alabama

Birmingham, Alabama has a wide variety of different cultures especially when it comes to food. Below are five ethnic restaurants to enjoy with your family and friends!

1. Grab some delicious bbq at Saw’s

It’s only in the Southern US states where the word barbecue is not an adjective. It’s a noun, and for some, it’s a world all its own. Walking into a true hole-in-the-wall barbecue such as SAW’s BBQ is more than just a place to get some really good food to go, or to sit and enjoy a leisurely meal. It’s an experience.

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Q&A with Emma Percy: Young female pilot defies status quo in aviation

Pilot Emma Percy, 18, poses by her 1973 Bonanza V35, the plane she trains in.

Q: Where did your interest in aviation come from?

A: My dad does fly and I think that’s really what got me started with flying, you know just kind of being interested in that part of his life. So, he got me my first lesson (at Shelby County Airport). And after I took that first lesson, I was kind of hooked on it. It took me about a year of training to get my private pilot’s license which is the first license.

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Must-see vintage Birmingham bookstore

Reed Books is a bookstore in downtown Birmingham. With a residency of several decades, it has become a staple of the community. While people come from all over the world to view the thousands of books that line the shelves and the floors, there is much more to this bookstore than just the books. While Mr. Jim Reed, owner of Reed Books, will want to greet you with a smile, there are more faces that will welcome you into the store. Reed books is more than a store with faces. It is a a chance to find something new from the old. Take a look…

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Earth Day Purpose and Celebrations

Earth Day comes around every year on April 22 but the history and idea behind the day is not commonly discussed. The concept for Earth Day was for the nation to focus on the environment for one day. Founder Gaylord Nelson was a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. After seeing the 1969 massive oil spill in Santa Barbara and being ruled by the student anti-war movement, he related the public needed to be aware of the air and water pollution they were contributing.  Nelson worked until the next year

Earth Day Network states that “on April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets, parks, and auditoriums to demonstrate for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies.” Learn more about Earth Day.

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Q&A about “Cultural Shock.”

Q & A with Ruth Blackburn

  1. Can you introduce yourself? What’s your name? Hometown? Major?

My name is Ruth Blackburn. I am a junior from Birmingham, Alabama. My major is Foods and Nutrition with an Art minor.

  1. When people mention Asia or Asian, what is your first thought?

I think of the cultural differences between Asia and America. My best friend went to China for 6 weeks and I think of the stories of squatty potties and riding bikes all around the cities. I once read that middle-aged men in Asia are at a very high risk of suicide because of pressure to succeed and do well in the workplace.

  1. What makes you most proud to be an American?

The kindness that people show to each other even when they are strangers and do not know each other.

  1. What do you think about “Culture Shock”?

I have never been affected by culture shock very much when I go to different countries. I think I am very easy going so the differences between countries do not shock me or bother me that much and it takes a lot of effort for me to pick out the differences and things that bother me or that I like better about one country.

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Colorful Seasons of Kelly Ingram Park

May 1963, Kelly Ingram Park held organized protests and boycotts as a part of the Children’s Crusade of Birmingham. In response to these protests, law enforcement officers used fire hoses and dogs to stop the protesters. This event in history was broadcasted internationally, turning people’s attention to the endless fight for racial equality. Kelly Ingram Park holds the hearts, blood and lives of many who took a stand for justice everywhere that day. The park historically stands across the street from the Civil Rights Institute with statues and memorials decorating the acre. It’s spring colors are as vibrant today as they were then in a field of black, white, and red.