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3.9
10 votes

Picher, Oklahoma

Picher, Oklahoma 74360 USA

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“most toxic place in the US”

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 (via eminent domain) of the entire township by the Environmental Protection Agency and the incorporation of the town (along with the similarly contaminated satellite towns of Treece and Cardin) into the Tar Creek Superfund site. A 2006 Army Corps of Engineers study showed 86% of Picher's buildings (including the town school) were badly undermined and subject to collapse at any time. An F4 tornado which destroyed or damaged 150 homes in May 2008 accelerated the exodus. The town ceased official operations on September 1, 2009 and the population plummeted from 1,640 at the 2000 census to just 20 at the 2010 census. As of January 2011, only six homes and one business remain, their owners having refused to leave at any price; the rest of the town's buildings (excepting designated historical structures) are scheduled to be demolished by the end of the year. Picher is one of only a few locations in the world (along with others such as Gilman, Colorado and Wittenoom, Western Australia) to be evacuated and declared uninhabitable due to environmental and health damage caused by the mines the town once serviced.

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Reviewed by
PiStOlErA0709

  • 1 Review
  • 3 Helpful
August 05, 2014

This was a neat little side trip to see. A beautiful sadness is what remains. The locals that stayed behind didnt seem to keen on us being there though. We took some photographs and then got outta there.

3 people found this review helpful

Reviewed by
jonjolly

  • 3 Reviews
  • 1 Helpful
February 06, 2016
Rated 4.0

If you're ever in the area its worth making a little detour to check out this 'ghost town'. The old high school is especially cool, you can walk on the football field with bleachers around and its so quiet and creepy, reminds me of the walking dead sort of. They do have a sheriffs station in the town though but all of the times I have been I have never been bothered by anyone. A few people refused the buyout by the US Government and still live in the town...

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
skkiser

  • 9 Reviews
  • 3 Helpful
May 01, 2015
Rated 4.0

Not much left but you can definitely tell it was a town at one time...this would be an awesome place for a zombie movie to be made!!! creepy!

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Austin Coop

  • 486 Reviews
  • 433 Helpful
April 06, 2014

One of the creepiest places I've ever been. The locals had the option to take a buyout or stay in town. A few people were crazy enough to stay in town. It's well-worth a little detour off your Route 66 trip to see this crazy place.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
tj.fiddler.1

  • 4 Reviews
  • 2 Helpful
March 14, 2014

Whats so funny is I was raised in this area. The big town of Miami, OK is only 5 miles away. Its not the town, its all of extreme NE oklahoma and SW Missouri due to lead mining. I can't figure out why they wont condemn Miami, Quapaw, or Commerce oklahoma.

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Scott

  • 1 Review
  • 1 Helpful
October 20, 2013

Put Centralia, PA on this list ...

1 person found this review helpful

Reviewed by
Maikolo

  • 24 Reviews
  • 7 Helpful
May 24, 2017
Rated 2.0

Not a ghost town, but it includes a few abandoned buildings. Seems like most of the buildings and it's contents have been cleared. Evidence of the remaining foundations are left behind.

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Reviewed by
Barb

  • 14 Reviews
  • 3 Helpful
April 06, 2017
Rated 4.0

Defiantly was interesting driving thru the streets where neighborhoods used to be before the tornado came through. I wish I would have seen it before that. You can see many huge mounds of the chat as you are driving thru.

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Reviewed by
KaseyHall

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
July 22, 2016
Rated 4.0

While most of the town's buildings are gone it was an interesting detour.

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Reviewed by
Jimmy1011

  • 1 Review
  • 0 Helpful
May 21, 2016

The town has pretty well all been torn down. Not much left to see anymore. Only a few miles from the interstate.

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Picher, Oklahoma

Picher, Oklahoma
74360 USA

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