Dr. Evermor merrily manipulates bits and pieces of the historical slipstream. He's been building god-knows-what behind Delaney's Surplus since 1983.
In a previous life, Dr. Evermor was Tom Every, a successful industrial wrecker and businessman. But Tom was unsatisfied. The transformers and generators and gauges and compressors that he scrapped seemed too well-designed to be destroyed. So Tom began stockpiling them, and then building things out of them -- strange retro-sci-fi contraptions that were Steampunk long before the word was even invented. In the 1970s he became partners and friends with Alex Jordan, whose nearby House on the Rock became a showcase for Tom's mechanical fantasies (You should try to visit it and the Forevertron for a truly memorable day).
Then Tom and Alex had a falling-out. The partnership ended. Tom became depressed.
And that's when Tom became Dr. Evermor, and began building the Forevertron.
The Forevertron, according to Dr. Evermor, is based on a machine that supposedly launched one of his English ancestors skyward in the 1890s. It's a commanding mass of industrial salvage, weighing 320 tons, over 50 feet tall and 160 feet long. A plaque on the Forevertron's entrance gate calls it the "World's Largest Scrap Metal Sculpture," a title conferred on it by Guinness World Records.
Dr. Evermor has shown great respect for Tom Every's artful junk. Nearly all of the Forevertron's castoff parts are unmodified; they're just welded and bolted together in a new way. There are pieces of breweries, power plants, steel mills, snowmobile factories, cargo ships, and railroad engines. A pair of Thomas Edison's bipolar electrical dynamos are in there, somewhere, as are the autoclaves that sterilized the Apollo 11 moon rocks.
According to Dr. Evermor, the job of the Forevertron is to generate a "magnetic lightning force beam" that will catapult him to the celestial sphere. After "de-watering" himself in the machine's Gravitron (a repurposed full-body fluoroscope), Dr. Evermor will fire up the Forevertron's motors and thrusters, climb into its streamlined crystalline egg capsule, and blast off for a rendezvous with God.
Why? Nothing personal, but Dr. Evermor just really wants to get away from the rest of us.
Peripheral devices surround the big machine and spread across several acres of the Forevertron property -- a science fiction landscape from the Age of Steam. The Celestial Listening Ears will detect voices from the cosmos to direct Dr. Evermor's flight. The Cherry Picker (which is 44 feet long) and the Juicer Bug (which is 50) will supply reserve power if needed. An elevated Royal Gazebo will allow VIPs to watch in comfort, while "Tyco's Telescope" will let observers accurately track the Doctor's flight. Four Faraday cages, one at each corner of the Forevertron, will protect the assembled launch-day multitude from stray voltage. The Epicurean mobile grill will provide food, while the Magnetic Laser Love Gun -- a fanciful Victorian howitzer -- will zap crowd members who aren't having a good time.
Dr. Evermor doesn't use blueprints or drawings, and he has no traditional art schooling. "No sketches, no models, no nothing -- I just go for it," he told us on a visit several years ago. This is pretty amazing since the Juicer Bug, for example, weighs fifteen tons, and will be hoisted up on spindly insect legs. "Everything here is free floating. I got these bug toenails up in the air, but I don't want a toenail falling off on somebody." The Doctor develops his own construction solutions, so far without mishap. "No engineering firm could compute the compression on these legs."
While the Forevertron is imposing, much of Dr. Evermor's work is delicate and whimsical. Dozens of intergalactic mechanical creatures, ranging from waist-high to over 30 feet tall, flock in clearings. The 70 members of the "Bird Band" are surprisingly lithe, made of salvaged musical instruments and gasoline pump nozzles. One towering Cello Bird is fashioned from tubs once used to treat military burn victims.
There are no guides, no labels, no explanatory signs. And it's all free.
If this sounds like a bit much, well, that's part of what makes the Forevertron so special. Other outsider-artist-spacemen have built contraptions and crafted mythologies since Dr. Evermor began his great work, but none have seriously challenged his ingenuity or the scale of his creation.
For many years the Doctor greeted visitors to the Foreverton, often wearing a pith helmet, smoking a cigar, and giving impromptu lectures (That's how we learned most of how it works). Infirmities have since slowed Dr. Evermor, who now spends much of his time at a nearby care facility. But he still makes frequent visits, and if you're lucky he'll be at the Forevertron when you are, supervising the work carried on by his supportive family.
Why is he still building? "Why not?" he answers. He thinks of his creations as "an inspiration to other people to look at things in a different perspective."
There is no set launch date for the Forevertron, but it stands ready. When the voices from the celestial sphere tell Dr. Evermor it's time to go, he will assemble his fans and loved ones, enter the egg-shaped travel chamber, power up the Magnetic Steering Gyro, flip on the thrusters, and, as he puts it, "highball it to heaven."