Oklahoma is not OK

Day 163 / Mile 19,250

Traveling through the Ozarks was surprisingly beautiful, for I was completely naive to the region and now would definitely go back. ...give me a call if you wanna go.

 Can we have the history books rewritten already, and stop calling the native Americans, "Indians"? That dude Columbus really fouled some things up.

Can we have the history books rewritten already, and stop calling the native Americans, "Indians"? That dude Columbus really fouled some things up.

I was excited getting into Oklahoma, knowing that my first stop was a bit of a thrilling location. The northern town of Picher is claimed to be, "The most toxic town in America", and mostly a modern day ghost town. Since I've visited a similar and actually more dangerous place, I wasn't afraid to go explore.

 A hundred years ago, Picher used to be one of the largest lead & zinc mining areas in America. That large pile of "chat" is the leftover dirt from the mines and is still very toxic; there are tons of these mounds all over the place. This man here hopes the winds don't turn his way.

A hundred years ago, Picher used to be one of the largest lead & zinc mining areas in America. That large pile of "chat" is the leftover dirt from the mines and is still very toxic; there are tons of these mounds all over the place. This man here hopes the winds don't turn his way.

 In the 60's they closed down the mines. When doing so they stopped pumping the water that gets into the shafts, they filled up, and that leached into the drinking water supply. After a while, the local doctors figured out that's why residents were getting poisoned and sick, also why their children were being born with health problems.

In the 60's they closed down the mines. When doing so they stopped pumping the water that gets into the shafts, they filled up, and that leached into the drinking water supply. After a while, the local doctors figured out that's why residents were getting poisoned and sick, also why their children were being born with health problems.

 In 2009 the government paid the residents to evacuate and relocate. It wasn't only because of the toxic dangers, but that much of the town has the potential of major sinkholes collapsing in from the mines being directly under them!

In 2009 the government paid the residents to evacuate and relocate. It wasn't only because of the toxic dangers, but that much of the town has the potential of major sinkholes collapsing in from the mines being directly under them!

 Apparently there are still a couple of residents who won't leave. Why, nobody knows.

Apparently there are still a couple of residents who won't leave. Why, nobody knows.

 Maybe the church goers didn't pray enough or the town would still be inhabited.

Maybe the church goers didn't pray enough or the town would still be inhabited.

 I didn't have a respirator while in here to avoid asbestos exposure, but the lead dust in the air probably trumps it anyhow.

I didn't have a respirator while in here to avoid asbestos exposure, but the lead dust in the air probably trumps it anyhow.

 I don't really care for this color scheme in a church. The locals obviously don't as well and tried to get the remodel going...

I don't really care for this color scheme in a church. The locals obviously don't as well and tried to get the remodel going...

 The graduating class of 2009 was 11 students.

The graduating class of 2009 was 11 students.

 Where are you? "I" am getting out of here! ...haha, amateur comedy hour!

Where are you? "I" am getting out of here! ...haha, amateur comedy hour!

 There was a deadly tornado that blew through in 2009, and now only a few buildings are left standing.

There was a deadly tornado that blew through in 2009, and now only a few buildings are left standing.

 Dare you to go in there. ...double dare ya.

Dare you to go in there. ...double dare ya.

 The earth is slowly reclaiming it all.

The earth is slowly reclaiming it all.

 In the 1920's there were 15,000 residents. Now the  majority of the area looks like this.

In the 1920's there were 15,000 residents. Now the majority of the area looks like this.

 Nothing more to see here, except a toxic sludge creek that a man was fishing in. Not the best choice. Oklahoma is not OK.

Nothing more to see here, except a toxic sludge creek that a man was fishing in. Not the best choice. Oklahoma is not OK.

After leaving Picher I found that the historic Route 66 was in my path. I'll be seeing more of it down the way, but wanted to check out some of those classic roadside tourist destinations while I had a chance.

 The Blue Whale of Catoosa. Once upon a time this used to be a popular swimming hole, you could slide down it's fins or dive off the tail.

The Blue Whale of Catoosa. Once upon a time this used to be a popular swimming hole, you could slide down it's fins or dive off the tail.

 I had read there was an abandoned church which a cool modern architectural design to it, just  on the outskirts of Tulsa. I showed up to find it's recently been remodeled and is all locked up. Pretty cool, wish I could've gone inside.

I had read there was an abandoned church which a cool modern architectural design to it, just on the outskirts of Tulsa. I showed up to find it's recently been remodeled and is all locked up. Pretty cool, wish I could've gone inside.

  I showed up in Oklahoma City in the middle of a heavy rainstorm. Luckily I   found this cool conservatory to take shelter.

I showed up in Oklahoma City in the middle of a heavy rainstorm. Luckily I found this cool conservatory to take shelter.

 ...and it sprang a leak! Haha, just kidding, it's part of their indoor rain forest.

...and it sprang a leak! Haha, just kidding, it's part of their indoor rain forest.

The storm here is showing to get pretty serious, so I'm going to charge off to safer grounds. Fortunately my ex-girlfriend who I haven't seen in a few years lives just over in Austin, may as well go for a visit and dry out.