As my readers know well enough, this blogger stays away from that boring interstate. Instead, she finds herself often without a map on the narrow two-lane roads winding through the fabric of America. I just returned from vacation a couple of days ago and now with much needed rest, I am ready to share my adventures.
My destination was Decatur, IL. Traveling with a baby, the scenic route is not always the most efficient choice. This time, I did take the faster route, but made one small detour: Route 66-Kansas. But this entry is about another little town with a very interesting story: Picher, Oklahoma.
I had no idea this was even on the map. I wasn’t lost exactly but had become concerned because even though the sign said 69, I felt that I may have driven to far East. It didn’t matter. I figured if you drive north far enough, you’ll end up somewhere.
And with that, I zigzagged on the 69 for a few miles and headed northbound crossing E30th Road. It was quite disturbing because there were only a few cars to be seen and about 4 or 5 adults sitting in the front of some empty storefronts. I’ve been through small very run-down towns but nothing quite like this. The large building to my right (in the photo below) looked like it had been hit by a tornado.
I slowed down while no one followed behind allowing me to stop in the middle of the street to examine my surroundings and take photos. My heart raced. It was a very eerie feeling; rather startling. All the structures appeared to be empty and each one had a mark on the front of them–a number. Homes, business, a museum. Windows broken out, some flattened, but most left empty neglected by society.
Once in Kansas, I called my husband to research this town on Google. You may find information on your own, but I will summarize what I found on Wikipedia. In short, Picher was once a successful mining town. Contamination forced evacuation of the town with fear of cave-ins. There have been a few documentaries made on this what one calls “the worst environmental disaster in the U.S.”
If my baby was not with me, I would have spent the rest of the day exploring this discovery. The day was bright with clear blue skies. A more appropriate day would include some large thunderheads hovering in the background in late day. One would not be wise to venture out alone either. Perhaps you would want to join me.