Thursday, March 20, 2014

Forevermore, Dr. Evermor - In Praise of a Steampunk Pioneer

"Dr. Evermor's Forevertron, built in the 1980s, 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. It is housed in Dr. Evermore's Art Park on Highway 12, in the town of Sumpter, in Sauk County, Wisconsin, United States."
(Photo found here.)

"I don't think there’s any damn need to alter anything at any given point in time, because any kind of shape or form can be anything! It’s all in the way you look at it! I make that vast statement in the many birds I've created here. Those special bird bodies out there – I’ve got electric motors in them. Who says you can’t have electric motors in a bird to make it a power-bird? It’s a rebellious forum that I am presenting in all these things. If an art teacher says, “You can’t do that, you've got to have a bird body shaped like a bird body, I say, “The hell with that, I’ll put any kind of body I want on it!"

"This is a very different kind of art, because there’s never anything imposed on the piece itself - the parts are always used as they are. Thus, you have to put a little twist or torque into it, in order to get some kind of human communication between the finished piece and the more or less rigid, sterile, pre-existing shapes and forms. You have to get some kind of magic going there, and we have a lot of people who have come here, taken pictures, and then they go home and produce things. There are fifteen to twenty people out there trying to do Evermors, but they fail on just that issue of getting enough energy flowing so that the piece has a little magic."

- Two quotes from Dr. Evermor found in this interview.

Tom Every was a depressed man in 1983. At the age of 45, after a disillusioning battle with Big Brother, and in a state of chronic dissatisfaction with the burgeoning commercialism and de-humanizing artificiality he sensed in the modern world, Tom  - a former demolition expert, born in Brooklyn, Wisconsin - turned to the one thing he knew well: scrap metal; vintage industrial machinery. His epiphany arrived in the form of a fictional character - and a story - which emerged in his psyche at the time... the story of "Dr. Evermor", a Victorian inventor from Eggington, England, whose singular purpose was to build a spacecraft to the stars. But, this was no ordinary spacecraft; nor was its proposed destination found on any official celestial map. This vehicle was designed to propel Dr. Evermor to the center of creation - the phenomenal, virtually-timeless lap of "God"- on a magnetic beam of lightening within a magnetic force field, both conjured and fabricated by Evermor, for his first and final solo-mission.

The above photo, and the flying insect head detail (above, right) and the spider detail (below, left) belong to Melinda Roberts and are featured on her blog's Forevertron page.

As it happened, that very same year found Tom Avery - now fully incarnated into the illustrious Dr. Evermor - setting up camp with his companion, Lady Eleanor, on a donated patch of land in the town of Sumpter, Wisconsin. He had a treasure trove of relics he had collected over time: "carburetors and generators, early x-ray machines and theater speakers, river barges and hamburger signs"... "brass bedposts, survey markers and gasoline nozzles"... and that's just a small sampling. Much of it was historical detritus saved from total obliteration, such as the recovered autoclaves from the Apollo's decontamination chamber (authenticated by NASA), and the bi-polar electrical dynamos constructed by Thomas Edison.

Then, without preliminary sketches, nor even a master plan - beyond "curved arches and circles... in (a) formal series of 3, 5, 7 and 9" - Dr. Evermor began creating what he termed his "salvation," and with his own variety of automatism, began piecing his dream together, one welded mechanism at a time. 

Initially, he didn't consider himself an artist, nor refer to his work as an art-form. Dr Evermor was an inventor, and his "Forevertron" was meant to fly. Over time, as the Forevertron grew larger and larger, it acquired new additions: an audience of monstrous insects, an army of robots, a 70-piece orchestra of mechanical birds, numerous gazebos, and a teahouse for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.

In time, the Forevertron began attracting spectators, until, by the late 1980's, it evolved into, more or less, a Steampunk theme park installation, although the "steampunk" genre would not be formally established till the following decade. 

Below are four photos from the Forevertron (found in this Flickr collection); the last two showing examples of the amazing avian orchestra mentioned above (click to enlarge).

Dr. Evermor refers to his creation as a "rebellious forum" and, possibly, that's the reason I felt so compelled to present it here. Because the Forevertron is more than mere sculptural assemblage; its one man's magnificent contribution to human relevancy within an increasingly de-humanizing landscape. Punk-rocker, Patti Smith, might've referred to it as "focused" anarchy; that is, an evolution/revolution from within... brought on by one individual's inspired imagination illuminating - and integrating with - the collective psyche.

More information about Dr. Evermor and the Forevertron can be found on his website, and  in the following articles:
The Forevertron, Baraboo Wisconsin
USA Forevertron: World's Largest Scrap Metal Sculpture by Dr. Evermor 
The Land of Evermore

There is also a 2 part documentary - Doctor Evermor's Miraculous Time Machine - found here, and here. Also, brief views of the Forevertron can be found in Abney Park's Steampunk Revolution video.


Today is/was the first day of spring -  the Vernal Equinox - known to the Druids as Alban Eilir, and, to Pagans as Ostara. For a Space Pagan, however, it's a good day to visit Dr. Evermor's Forevertron... and I wish I could beam myself to Wisconsin right about now.

I first learned about Dr. Evermor from a rebroadcast of an old "American Pickers" episode (HIS channel) last week. Gotta love Mike and Frank; a couple of perpetual "big" kids, and "good old boys" (emphasis on "boys") who - with contagious enthusiasm - roam the States in search of its cast-off treasures; its diamonds in the rust. And, for M & F, they find metaphorical "diamonds" in rust for sure - the kind you can scrape a living from, thereby enabling you to masquerade as a responsible American capitalist. However, the real riches Frank and Mike find (and, let's not forget the vivacious Danielle) are the human treasures: the eccentric, inspirational outsiders that give America its very soul. Dr. Evermor is a prime example. He made my day, and I hope he makes yours.


  1. VERY cool!

    Dr. Evermor is certainly inventive in his certainty of vision.

    Thank you for bringing him to our massed, collective attentions.....

  2. Thanks, BG, but I'm afraid Dr. Evermor's Forevertron is already old news and has a pretty extensive web presence. And, the details I've posted really don't do it justice... I recommend clicking on the two photo links I've mentioned as the sources.