Austin, his friend Morgan and his girlfriend Cassidy, and I started planning a roadtrip to Picher Oklahoma the day before it happened. It started out with just driving to Picher, but quickly changed to three total stops in Catoosa, a detour into Cardin, exploring what we could in Picher, and ending at the Kansas state line, where Picher and Treece Kansas met.
Our first stop in Catoosa was to look at this spot off of the highway with a pond and a whale structure that, quite honestly, I didn't trust to walk on. We followed a little trail around the pond, seeing/hearing two snakes scurry away from us. I could imagine what this place used to be like in it's hey-day, when families or teenagers would come to the pond to swim in on hot summer days. The water now is so dirty and cloudy, no one swims in it.
Our next stop was at a rail-road track that ran along the highway. We saw the bridges as we were driving and decided to stop. We found this entrance to a private property. We didn't go through the tunnel of course, but on top was where the train tracks were, and Austin and Morgan were eager to explore it. They climbed up along the side and got to the railroad tracks. Cassidy and I were very hesitant at first, but eventually we climbed the same path up to the tracks. There was enough space on each side of the tracks that we could go to when trains came. But my God it was hot. Cassidy and I went back to the truck and sat in the A/C while the guys went further down the tracks. I told Austin to be careful. They both made it back in one piece.
After loading up on drinks and a few snacks, we headed into the town of Picher. There was a church and a few houses on the outskirts of the town, as well as "chat piles." The town's history is that it used to be a booming mining town in the 60's. They mined so much under the town that the ground became unstable, and lead was leaking into the water and air (don't worry, the lead only effects you if you're there for a long period of time, so it's still safe to explore for a day). The residents had to be evacuated, as well as the small town of Cardin that is right next to Picher. It is a ghost town now, but cars still pass through on the major highway.
While taking back roads through Picher, we found ourselves stumbling across Cardin's water tower, and the abandoned building next to it. I loved seeing the vines and growth on this building, and the mess inside the building that was visible through the open doors and windows.
We went further into Cardin, finding more abandoned buildings. On our drive back to Picher, we drove by corn fields that were "government property."
Back in Picher, we stopped by the high school football field and other high school buildings, a baseball field, and duplex houses that had been stripped of windows, doors, and everything that wasn't sheetrock, drywall, and foundation. While at the houses, I took a photo of Morgan and Cassidy outside of one of the houses as joke, as if they had just bought a house together.
Our last stop was at the Kansas boarder, where an eerie church was tucked away by some trees, and a completely abandoned corner store sat. We got out to take photos of the amazing sunset and the Kansas sign. Austin and I took photos in front of the sign, and with a brilliant stoke of luck, I managed to get a perfect instant film selfie of us with the sign visible behind us.
We headed home as the sky got darker and darker, showing us it's colors before covering us with darkness. All of the areas we explored in Picher and Cardin had been so eerie and quiet. It was so clear to us that nature takes over the things we leave behind. It reclaims itself and it makes quick work out of it in the process.
We were all tired and hungry, so we stopped at a corner store to get more snacks. We had been out since around 12pm, and we got back into OKC around 11 or 12pm. The whole drive back was filled with early 2000's rap and hip-hop music, and laughter as Cassidy danced and sang along in the passenger seat.