Ghost Town of Picher

Posted by on Friday, March 4, 2016

By Tim Dowd -, CC BY 3.0.

Picher was once a bustling lead and zinc mining city. Today Picher is nothing more than a ghost town in Ottawa County, Oklahoma.

The city suffered more than a century of unrestricted subsurface excavation. As a result many of the towns structures were dangerously undermined. Also huge piles of toxic metal-contaminated mine tailings were heaped throughout the area.

The discovery of the cave-in risks, groundwater contamination, and health effects associated with the chat piles and subsurface shafts resulted in the site being included in 1980 in the Tar Creek Superfund Site by the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The state found in a 1996 study that 34% of the children in Picher suffered from lead poisoning due to environmental effects, which could result in lifelong neurological problems.

The EPA and the state of Oklahoma agreed to a mandatory evacuation and buyout of the entire township.
As of January 2011, only six homes and one business remain, their owners having refused to leave at any price. Except for some historic structures, the rest of the town's buildings were scheduled to be demolished by the end of the year. 

The Team

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