Ethan Weston

Photojournalist
   
A Haunting in Oklahoma
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Location: Columbia, Missouri
Nationality: American
Biography: Ethan Weston is a photographer currently based in Columbia, MO. His work focuses mainly on the human side of environmental issues facing the world today. Growing up Ethan would always use his mother’s camera to take photos of landscapes or... MORE
Public Story
A Haunting in Oklahoma
Copyright Ethan Weston 2022
Date of Work Oct 2019 - Ongoing
Updated Oct 2021
Location Picher, OK
Topics Aerial, Community, Conservation, Documentary, Editorial, Environment, Essays, Landscape, Photography, Photojournalism, Portraiture, Water
Picher, Oklahoma was once a prosperous mining town. At its height it was home to around 20,000 people. The mines closed around 1970 and the population began to take a nosedive from there but it held on until the late 2000s. A study by the Army Corps of engineers which found that a large portion of the town had been undermined and was in danger of collapsing, combined with a major tornado, spelled the end for the town. Now, it's home to less than ten people. In 2009 the town officially ceased functioning and that same year all residents who wanted one were given federal buyouts to leave the town. Four years later the town of Picher was officially dissolved.

Despite the town being mostly abandoned — one person said there were maybe three families left now — the former residents of the town still love Picher as if it were home.
One former resident of the town, Tom Houston, said a person would never meet another group of people who love their town the way Picher’s former residents still love Picher.

“The town was like a family member,” former resident Mitchell Lee said. “If you come back during the summer you’ll see a lot of people just visiting the old places they used to spend time.”

Sheri Mills, a member of the Picher-Cardin All School Reunion Committee, thinks the reason the town’s former residents keep making pilgrimages back is the equality among
everyone.

“There was no rich, poor, or middle class. Everyone was family. Everyone was equal,” she said.
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A Haunting in Oklahoma by Ethan Weston
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