Picher Mining Field Museum

04 May

Paging back through pictures I took over the last decade, I often return to those I took when traveling to Illinois on the back roads of back roads. Roads with names and towns with a stirring history. I’ve written about Picher before in this blog sometime ago. I’m not sure when but it’s far back in this old blog.

This image below of the Picher Mining Museum was shot July 26, 2011. I was headed from Texas to Illinois and wanted to go to Baxter Springs, KS to shoot some Route 66 landmarks. There are easier and quicker ways to get to Galena, but I hadn’t been on this road before, this road that passes through Picher. In fact, I randomly exited the Will Rogers Turnpike at Miami. Maybe it was lunch time. I don’t remember. I did have a baby in my car and I expect it was necessary to get out and stretch, make necessary changes. As I drove north, the landscape was pretty much the same but suddenly changed when I found mounds of what appeared to be sand. I had no idea what was ahead at the time. And there empty and abandoned structures sat along the road.

I slowed and took a few shots of outside. No one was around and I parked in middle of road, got out took some snaps and was overcome by a feeling of vacancy. After driving around what I discovered was an ghost town, I found the Picher Mining Museum.

In previous post, I didn’t do much research on the museum. It was simply a picture and drive-by documentation. However, much time has passed and being curious, I did some googling. Back in 2007 The Joplin Globe published and article,

“Buyout closing Picher’s museum; Baxter Springs new home for history of mining field.”

Relieved that the collection was moved to  Pittsburg State University and Baxter Springs Heritage Center and Museum, I was saddened to learn that in April of 2015 and arsonist destroyed the former Picher Museum.

I don’t make trips as before to Illinois or through any part of this country so I can’t say I’ll be driving again through Baxter Springs, Galena, or Joplin. Now that Covid is better controlled I may make another trip to Illinois and take the scenic route once again to see what’s left. But I did go back through there a few years later and bull dozers were leveling much of what was left.

If you are from Picher area, or have any stories of the area, please share in the comments below.

1 Comment

Posted by on May 4, 2021 in Oklahoma, Uncategorized


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One response to “Picher Mining Field Museum

  1. Sandi DeMent

    June 8, 2021 at 8:24 am

    Anita, my mom was born in Picher. My grampa (RH Vandiver) worked for the mining company as a security guard during the depression. Mom was born in 1933. I think it was there that the workers got mad at the company, and started stirring up trouble. Because Grampa was a “company man,” and continued working while the miners were striking, some men came and buried an axe or a hatchet in the throat of my grandparents’ milk cow. Grampa continued working because he had to feed his family. He had married my mom’s birth mother knowing she had TB and probably wouldn’t live a long life. They had one more child and ended up moving to Phoenix, Arizona because of the dry air, to try to help her get better. She passed away when Mom was still a young girl.

    Because of all the mining tunnels under Picher, the town started caving in and everyone had to eventually move out because it was so unsafe. That’s why it became a ghost town. I’m so glad you got a picture of the museum. If you have any other pictures of Picher or the surrounding area, I’d love to see them.


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