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.”

 

 

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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The Faces of Reed Books

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. Take a look…

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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.

 

“Coffee-coffee-coffee, is a saying. It’s a funny, desperate cry for caffeine.”

Here in Birmingham, coffee seems to run through the city’s veins like it runs through the fictional veins of Lorelai Gilmore. If you’re looking for a place to study, catch up with a friend, or fuel your day, we’ve got you covered. Here are five unique coffee shops in Birmingham, AL.

1. seeds coffee company, 174 Oxmoor Rd, Birmingham, AL 35209

Seeds is has an industrial-rustic chic and laid-back atmosphere that’s always buzzing with studious college students and twenty-somethings.

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Three Inexpensive Nights Out In Birmingham

You deserve a night out. If you are a college student like me, you are probably juggling six or more classes, an internship for academic credit and a paid full-time job just to pay your rent. Because of all these things, you have the right to treat yourself every once and a while. The issue often tends to be that, though you may want a night out, you cannot afford to spend a lot of money. That is where I come in. Having lived in the city of Birmingham my whole life, I knew quite a few spots that can help you save a few bucks while enjoying what the city has to offer. Here is a short list of three different locations in Birmingham on the cheap. You can find directions to each location by clicking on the venue name in the list.

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Running in Birmingham

Running is a sport for everyone. It’s a sport that becomes more popular every year, especially living in a city like Birmingham. Throughout the city, there are so many options of beautiful places to spend your time on the trails.

  • Lakeshore Trail: Located in Homewood along Lakeshore Parkway. This paved trail offers 2.5 miles of flat, paved surface without any worry of motor vehicles.

  • Vulcan Trail: Located at Richard Arrington Blvd (near Vulcan Park), Birmingham and 11th Place South. The mile-long trail scales the ridge of 1,025 ft. Red Mountain. The south side runs below 10-acre Vulcan Park

  • Jemison Park: Located in Mountain Brook. This 3 mile trial takes you through the hills and trees of Mountain Brook.

  • Rotary Trail: Located in Downtown Birmingham. This trail ends at Railroad Park and Sloss Furnace. Enjoy running through downtown on the concrete trail underneath the 46-foot sign that reads “Rotary Trail in the Magic City.”

Runners dream big and tackle new distances. They become morning people and make it a routine. One of these trails becomes their friendly southern neighbor. Try something new, go on a run and try out one of Birmingham’s scenic trails.

Birmingham the Beautiful

Take a drive in downtown Birmingham and you will experience a vibrant city full of hard-working individuals. There is growth on every corner, like the newly renovated Pizitz building that consists of over 15 food compartments, Sidewalk Film Festival and several shopping options as well as condominium living upstairs.

While there is growth, there is also tradition like the “It’s nice to have you in Birmingham” sign outside John’s City Diner.

Take a walk down any street in the Historical District and you’ll find a new appreciation for this city with every step you take. With the old, there is also new. Take the new home of the Birmingham Barons, Region Field.

Summer mornings are spent doing yoga at Railroad Park, afternoons hiking at Red Mountain Park and nights are spent at Regions Field cheering on the Birmingham Barons.

Whether young or old, this city has something for everyone at every walk of life.

Look out because Birmingham is quickly growing into a must-see destination!