The Vulcan, Sloss Furnaces & Birmingham Civil Rights Institute

For Memorial Day weekend we stayed at the Rolling Hills Campground in Calera, AL which is 35 minutes south of Birmingham, AL. This was a nice campground with a lake and a pool. The days were hot and sunny and we were grateful for the 50 amp service so we could run both ACs. We enjoyed cooling off in the pool during the early evenings when parts of the pool were shaded and grilling dinner outside once the sun started to go down.

One day we packed our lunch and headed into Birmingham to sightsee. Our first stop was Vulcan Park to see “the world’s largest cast iron statue; made of 100,000 pounds of iron and 56 feet tall.” We decided to save the $12 and not go up the observation tower or visit the museum. Instead we walked around the park and enjoyed the view of Birmingham. We could even see the Sloss Furnances in the distance which is where we were heading next.

Sloss Furnaces which operated from 1882-1970, was once the largest manufacturer of pig iron in the world. This National Historic Landmark is free and there are guided tours on most Saturdays and Sundays at 1 pm. Unfortunately they were not doing guided tours on the Sunday we went so we did the self-guided tour. There were some signs with detailed information but I could have used a few more to get a better understanding of some parts of the Sloss Furnances. If you visit the Sloss Furnances I would recommend going when there is a guided tour. One of the questions I pondered while walking around was “Why is it called pig iron?'“ “Pig” was the term used for the bar of iron because the workers thought the molds resembled pigs suckling at the sow. See the picture below.

We finished our day with a visit to the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. On Sundays, admission is donation only and I thought that was awesome. This gives people a chance to visit who may not be able to afford the admission fees. The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute was one of the better museums I have been to. It was large and full of interesting exhibits and flowed very well. I learned a lot and at times it was very emotional. There were moments when I had goosebumps all up my arms. I liked how the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute was built across the street from the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church which was at the center of the Civil Rights Movement. This church was also where four girls were killed and 22 others injured during the church bombing on September 15, 1963. I couldn’t believe that the crime’s suspects were not convicted for decades.

There is a lot of history in Birmingham and I appreciate that we had to opportunity to learn about it.