Everyone loves to shit on Dever. Why? Well, even back in the days before armchair explorers and iPhone photos and location vultures ruined everything, Dever still sucked pretty hard. Even today, if ask anyone where they took that hashtag-cool hashtag-photo on Instagram or whatever, and they’re gonna say it’s a photo from Dever. It’s funny because who the hell ever actually goes to Dever to take pictures? Well, after making a handful of trips out to Dever over the past couple years with a backpack full of beer and a camera …and only ever taking the beer out… I figured it was time to give the place a chance, and try to take some pictures there.
After parking somewhere in the office park, we made our way down the road and onto the overgrown campus. It was a warm afternoon in October, sky was full of pink clouds and humid air. The leaves were just starting to turn. Part way onto the grounds, we watched a car turn onto the road we were walking down and head in the opposite direction. We edged against the tree line and wondered allowed how careful we really ought to be.
We made our way into one of the outer L shaped buildings, which are usually described as all looking the same, despite the absolutely spectacular amout and variety of vandalism and damage that has afflicted them. Some of the buildings still contain original furniture that’s in approximately the same place it was when the building was vacated. Other buildings are covered in the remains of paintball games, with smashed out windows and walls. Another building has tire tracks from someone’s dirt bike ride up to the second floor.
So, we hung out here for a bit, took some pictures, went on the roof, whatever. The girl I was with at the time insisted on standing in pretty much every other shot I took, so that was fun. I took a few pictures of the damage and then we moved on to wander the grounds and check out the rec building.
After spending a few hours exploring the property, wandering form building to building and trudging around the tunnels, the sky started to turn a warm orange as the sun set. We decided to leave and made our way back to the edge of campus.
Almost immediately, the same car we had seen roaming the campus earlier was behind us. As soon as we heard it approaching, we ran into a building and hit the tunnels. Heading south, we made our way towards the edge of the campus underground. Surfacing with just one building between us and the gate, we made our way through the grass toward the road. From were we stood, we watched as the car flew down the road toward the same gate we were headed for, and disappeared behind a huge garage. Bullshit. This is the last place I was gonna get caught. So we waited. For about five or ten minutes, we didn’t hear anything. There was another road that led away from the garage back on campus, or the guard could have opened the gate and left the grounds, we figured. Finally, with the sun setting and no sign of security anywhere, we decided to set off toward the exit again.
The first leg was down a tight footpath on hill, which would lead us to an open parking lot in front of the garage. The first one down was the girl who had come with us. She stopped abruptly at the end of the trail and we all crowed at the end of the trail to see what was wrong. Turns out the guard had, presumably by random luck, parked right there at the end of the trail. We were staring right at the hood of his car, and he had no idea we were there. So, I made the call, and we ran out past his car and into the woods. As soon as we hit the brush on the other side, I heard a car door slam and the engine rev up. But there was no sign of the car where we had ducked into the woods, so we figured we were safe to make our way back to the car.
This post was originally set to auto-publish on May 31th. While I was getting the images and text packaged up to post, I was also making plans with a girl who wanted to check out a low risk abandonment, so I figured Dever fit the bill. When we got there, we made our way through the woods and I noticed there were a lot of cars driving around on the grounds… and then a firetruck went by. Turns out the place was on fire. So, obviously we didn’t bother going onto campus, and instead decided to hang out with the news crews and take pictures. Because the gallery and article name was taken from the Prefuse 73 album One Word Extinguisher, I thought it’d probably be best to suspend auto-publishing for a bit, since it’d probably be pretty weird to have an article about Dever show up online with “extinguisher” in the title, on the same day they open an arson investigation. Meh.