Picher, Oklahoma is a harsh example of the effects mining can have on an area. Once a major producer of lead and zinc, the town is now a ghost town as the lead came back to haunt them. The air, soil and water around Picher became contaminated with leftovers from the mining operations known as chat and tailings.
A 1996 study revealed that a third of the children suffered from lead poisoning. By 2009, Picher Oklahoma was a Superfund site and was virtually abandoned.
The D & D Drive-In still advertises burgers in its window. It later became G & J’s Gorillas cage and was the last place open in Picher.
Main Street thrived during the 1940s, when mine operations in the area produced most of the lead for bullets issued to American soldiers in World War II.
Picher-Cardin high school’s track and gym remain, along with the Coca Cola sponsored scoreboard.
The high school mascot was the Gorillas, as seen in this statue which also proclaims that Picher was the 1984 state football champ; which is a big deal in Oklahoma. It’s sad that this symbol of school spirit was left behind.
The Picher Gorillas water tower rises over an abandoned “Car Bath.”
The source of Picher’s troubles, piles of toxic mine waste, looms over abandoned homes. The lead waste blew over the town, causing birth defects and learning disabilities in children. A chalky grain covers everything in the town.
This abandoned church looks like something from a Gothic horror movie set.
The modern churches had to be abandoned too.
The writing on a burned out building on Main Street proclaims that Picher is a drug-free community.
Even the church bus was left behind.
We also visited the abandoned town of Centralia, Pennsylvania. In the 1960s an abandoned coal mine caught fire, it still burns today, causing the evacuation of the town. For more go to: Centralia, Pennsylvania: The Unforgettable Fire.
Here’s our story about the 10 spookiest ghost towns in America.