Picher, OK Ghost Town

Picher is a ghost town and former city in Ottawa County, Oklahoma, United States. Formerly a major national center of lead and zinc mining at the heart of the Tri-State Mining District, over a century of unrestricted subsurface excavation dangerously undermined most of Picher’s town buildings and left giant piles of toxic metal-contaminated mine tailings (known as chat) heaped throughout the area.

The discovery of the cave-in risks, groundwater contamination and health effects associated with the chat piles and subsurface shafts—particularly an alarming 1996 study which showed lead poisoning in 34% of the children in Picher – eventually prompted a mandatory evacuation and buyout of the entire township by the State of Oklahoma and the incorporation of the town (along with the similarly contaminated satellite towns of Treece and Cardin) into the Tar Creek Superfund site.

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An F4 tornado which destroyed or damaged 150 homes in May 2008 accelerated the exodus. The town ceased official operations on September 1, 2009


Staff Writer

Leo Ashcraft

A retired broadcast engineer, talk show host, news reporter - I have done everything there is to do in the radio broadcast business. I worked a year in television. I left that as my true passion has always been radio - plus I got tired of hearing - you have a face for radio.. I hope you enjoy my articles! Be sure to share them excessively on facebook - like our page and bug your friends with invites!

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2 Responses

  1. Lita says:

    You add so much to MITD.

    Thank you for your intelligence, tongue in cheek humor and melodious voice.

    Pictures here are creepy.

    I hope more people see this site.


  2. pam says:

    I just saw a video on YouTube about this town. A wealthy individual bought the whole place, intending to make a resort for other wealthy people. It is in such beautiful area, and on the water, but it seems to me that there is so much work to do to the grounds, buildings which have been left to decay for years, that this won’t happen in this guy’s lifetime. Good luck buddy, there just may be forces there that want to be left alone again.

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