Picher, Oklahoma: Lead Toxic, Tornado Ravaged Ghost Town

EPA's Most Toxic Place in America -- Superfund cleanup site since 1983, surrounded by enormous piles of lead and zinc mining chat. Property buyouts offered to 3,000 in 2006. Smashed by F4 tornado in 2008. Less than ten residents remain; there's still an operating pharmacy/store.
Address:
S. Connell Ave., Picher, OK
Directions:
US Hwy 69, just south of the KS/OK border. Public roads, no services. Be respectful of residents.
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Deserted building.

Modern Day Ghost Town

We saw this town on the Discovery Channel's "Forgotten Planet" and we're intrigued. It was very easy to get to, it's right off Route 66 and the large hills of chat mark your approach.

The town was deemed poisonous in 1996 after 1/3 of the children were found to have the effects of lead poisoning from the mining (or so the show tells us). Most of the 3,000 inhabitants took the buyout but a number stayed.

The town was then hit by an F4 tornado that wiped out hundreds of homes, as seen by all the empty slabs. The main neighborhood has "KEEP OUT" spray painted on most homes and the doors and windows are all gone.

Curiously a few homes (3-5) are still inhabited, so if you choose to stop here please keep that in mind. The abandoned Main Street makes for some pretty pictures of the decay of the 20th century. Our kids enjoyed this stop a lot; they felt like they really were in a ghost town!

[Rachel Ford, 08/17/2014]

Nearby Offbeat Places

Lonely Gorilla in Modern-Day Ghost TownLonely Gorilla in Modern-Day Ghost Town, Picher, OK - < 1 mi.
Hole in the Wall Conoco StationHole in the Wall Conoco Station, Commerce, OK - 4 mi.
Mickey Mantle Statue #1Mickey Mantle Statue #1, Commerce, OK - 5 mi.
In the region:
Giant Hands in Prayer, Webb City, MO - 23 mi.

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