Picher, OK in its heyday had a population of over 22,000. This was during the first big boom from 1917-1919. From about 1915-1930, Picher was the largest center for zinc mining in the world. All land in Picher was either owned or leased by the Eagle-Picher Company. They had the right to take over all surface areas with only a thirty day notice. The zinc was mined through tunnels under the town and surrounding areas. In 1950, about 200 residents were give the thirty day notice because of possible cave-ins. Throughout the areas are huge piles of chat (tailings). Mining was terminated in the 1970s.
In May of 2008 there was a large tornado in the area, further reducing the number of homes. In addition, lead levels are high in the population around Picher and Tar Creek and the area is polluted by zinc and lead. The Tar Creek Superfund Site Buyout has hit many snags along the way. The buyout can be seen by the number of empty and decaying houses with TBC written on their doors. TBC stands for the company (Twin Bridges Company) removing the houses from the area.