"Picher is a ghost town and former city in #OttawaCounty, Oklahoma, United States. Much of the land was originally owned by the Quapaw after Indian Removal. In the early 20th century, #mining took place initially under federal leases of these lands but the Quapaw did not receive a fair share of royalties and were generally excluded from the thousands of mining jobs in the region. In 2000, they comprised a significant minority of the population in the city. This was a major national center of #lead and #zinc mining at the heart of the Tri-State Mining District.
More than 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 resulted in the site being included in 1980 in the Tar Creek Superfund Site by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The state collaborated on mitigation and remediation measures, but a 1996 study found that 34% of the children in Picher suffered from #leadpoisoning due to these environmental effects, which could result in lifelong neurological problems. Eventually #EPA and the state of Oklahoma agreed to a #mandatoryevacuation and #buyout of the entire township. The similarly contaminated satellite towns of Treece, Kansas and Cardin, Oklahoma were included in the #TarCreek #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. The destruction of 150 homes by an F4 tornado in May 2008 accelerated the exodus. On September 1, 2009, the state of Oklahoma officially dis-incorporated the city of Picher.The town ceased official operations on September 1, 2009 and the population plummeted from 1,640 at the 2000 census to 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, except designated historical structures, were scheduled to be demolished by the end of the year.
Picher is among a small number of locations in the world (such as Gilman, Colorado, Centralia, Pennsylvania, and Wittenoom, Western Australia) to be evacuated and declared uninhabitable due to environmental and health damage caused by the mines the town once serviced.
The closest towns to Picher, other than nearby Cardin, Treece and Douthat, are Commerce, Quapaw (the headquarters of the nation by that name) and Miami, Oklahoma."
* Description via: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picher,_Oklahoma
* Photos by: http://flickr.com/photos/dionnehartnett (self)
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