- July 10, 2021
- Posted by: Phil Block
- Category: Photography
A recent expedition took me to one of the most fascinating photo destinations I’ve ever had the privilege to visit. Dr. Evermor’s Sculpture Park presents a phenomenal assortment of metal art, including the Forevertron, listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the World’s Largest Scrap Metal Sculpture.
Dr. Evermor’s Scupture Park was named by Road America Magazine as one of America’s Top Ten Most Interesting Sites. This article tells the story of Tom Every, creator of the Forevertron and the metal sculptures in the park.
Merriam-Webster defines ingress as “the act of entering.” After gathering at meetup point in West Bend, five experienced photographers embarked upon a two-hour ride to Dr. Evermor’s Sculpure Park, located near Baraboo in south-central Wisconsin. Although I’ve lived in Wisconsin for thirty-seven years now and thought I was familiar with many of its premier attractions, I’d never even heard of this one. Visiting it turned into one of the most over-the-top visual experiences in my more than fifty years as a photographer.
The Forevertron is the main attraction in the park. Wikipedia describes this otherworldly creation as follows:
Dr. Evermor’s Forevertron is the largest scrap metal sculpture in the world, standing 50 ft. (15,2 m.) high and 120 ft. (36,5 m.) wide, and weighing 300 tons. Built in the 1980s, it is housed in Dr. Evermor’s Art Park on Highway 12, in the town of Sumpter, in Sauk County, Wisconsin, United States.
The sculpture incorporates two Thomas Edison dynamos from the 1880s, lightning rods, high-voltage components from 1920s power plants, scrap from the nearby Badger Army Ammunition Plant, and the decontamination chamber from the Apollo 11 spacecraft. Its creator, Tom Every (1938 – 2020), was born in Brooklyn, Wisconsin and was a demolition expert who spent decades collecting antique machinery for the sculpture and the surrounding fiction that justifies it. According to Every, Dr. Evermor was a Victorian inventor who designed the Forevertron to launch himself, “into the heavens on a magnetic lightning force beam.” The Forevertron, despite its size and weight, was designed to be relocatable to a different site—the sculpture is built in sections that are connected by bolts and pins.
In addition to the Forevertron itself, the sculpture includes a tea house gazebo from which Every says: “Queen Victoria and Prince Albert may observe the launching of Dr. Evermor; it also includes a giant telescope where skeptics may observe the ascent.” Dr. Evermor’s art park is home to a large number of other sculptures, many of which relate to the Forevertron, such as the “Celestial Listening Ear” and the “Overlord Master Control Tower.”
Every related that he took pride in allowing the original materials to remain unaltered as much as possible, using their original forms in new juxtapositions to create his aesthetic. Although Every has now passed, tours of the art park site can generally be accessed from passing through the surplus store adjacent to it, Delaney’s Surplus. Mr. Every also created much of the installation art for the House on the Rock, including the world’s largest carousel.
Below are the Forevertron images that found their way into my viewfinder.
Many of the sculptures portray otherworldly birds, insects, and creatures that creep along the ground. Wikipedia describes these sculptures as follows:
Other large-scale sculptures include gigantic insects (the “Juicer Bug” and “Arachna Artie”). The most numerous sculptures are the “Bird Band and Orchestra” which includes nearly 70 birds ranging from the size of a child to twenty feet tall, all made from scrap industrial parts, geological survey markers, knives, loudspeakers, springs, and musical instruments, among other salvaged materials.
Some of the most interesting sculpture to me were pieces built around vehicles. One of these is “Epicurean,” a bellows-driven barbecue train. Others include a classic Buick, vintage clown cars, an ancient fire truck, an amphibious car, a tow truck, and old military vehicles.
The sculptures in this category don’t seem to fit anywhere else. They depict weaponry, railroad artifacts, or abstract art pieces.
Small pieces and parts of all sorts go into making these fascinating sculpltures. Here’s a glimpse of some of these materials in a work area.
Merriam-Webster defines egress as “the action of going or coming out.” Our photo expedition ended with a group meal at Driftless Glen, a restaurant and distillery in Baraboo. Our return trip took us through Devil’s Lake State Park and across the Wisconsin River on the Colsac III (Merrimac Ferry), the last publicly-owned and operating automobile ferry in Wisconsin.