Between Madison and Baraboo on US 12 lies the now defunct Badger Army Ammunition Plant. On November 19, 1941, with war seemingly imminent, President Franklin Roosevelt authorized 65 million dollars for the construction of the plant on 10,500 acres of land the US Army ‘acquired.’ Farmers protested, but there was no chance; construction began in March 1942 and by May 1943 the plant was operational. At the time, it was the largest munitions plant in the world. It continued to produce explosives until 1975, when it was placed on standby for the last time. Today, the plant is being demolished (a paradoxically difficult task for an ammunition plant) and the land is being cleaned up in preparation for it to become a civilian once again. We have been driving past it for over 10 years and the progress is amazing. Besides being a step towards world peace, dismantling the Badger Army Ammunition Plant has another positive effect: some of the scrap from the plant went across the highway to be immortalized in scrap-metal sculptures.
Across the highway from the plant is Dr. Evermor’s, an art park that is home to the most beautiful creations, as well as the largest, to be created from scrap metal. Dr. Evermor is actually Tom Every, a former demolitions expert who has spent the better part of his life amassing the scrap metal and creating the sculptures. He does not alter a piece of metal; it is fastened onto the creation in its original form. What is he is able to do with our refuse is nothing short of genius. There are birds made from horn instruments, giant insects with augers as antennae, towers, gazebos, phone booths and cars. There are a few pieces visible from the highway, but they only understate what is actually hidden behind the trees and fence. The centerpiece of the park is the most famous invention you’ve never heard of – the Forevertron.
The Forevertron is a Victorian machine that will launch Dr. Evermor “into the heavens on a magnetic lightning force beam inside a glass ball inside a copper egg.” It is made entirely of scrap metal and contains two 19th century Edison dynamos and the decontamination chamber from Apollo 11 (the first one to go to the moon). It weighs 320 tons and is the largest scrap metal sculpture in the world. Despite its mass, it can be taken apart in chunks to be relocated if necessary. There are other sculptures related to the Forevertron: the Celestial Listening Ear and the Overlord Master Control Tower are designed to help Dr. Evermor on his journey, and there is a gazebo for spectators. Don’t miss this voyage into a fantastic dream world.
The park is open on Monday, Thursday and Saturday from 9am to 5pm and on Sunday from noon to 5pm. Call 608-219-7830 to double check. Anytime of year would be great for this. Dogs and children are welcome. Admission is free. This is close to Natural Bridge State Park and Devil’s Lake State Park, so include this as part of your trip.
Take a trip back to the era of Victorian inventors with a stop at Dr. Evermor’s Park.
Want to learn more about Dr. Evermor? Check out this book: A Mythic Obsession: The World of Dr. Evermor
Interested in other quirky Wisconsin attractions? Try this book: Oddball Wisconsin: A Guide to Some Really Strange Places (Oddball series)