Over spring break, two of my friends and I embarked on a haunted tour of Oklahoma. Our journey took us all over the state, from Norman to Lawton to Bartlesville, and involved stops at many spooky sites, and also some not so spooky sites.
We spent our first night in Duncan at the Tucker Cemetery. Tucker Cemetery includes gravestones from as far back as the 1800s and is said to be all kinds of haunted. Reports include everything from bright lights and ghosts to bigfoot. We had to park outside and hop the fence and, after a few minutes of walking, we arrived at a sparse field. There were probably no more than 30 tombstones total. While it was pretty spooky, we did not encounter any bigfeetses, which was a little disappointing.
From Tucker Cemetery, our next stop was a pet cemetery on our way to Fort Sill. The pet cemetery was not particularly spooky. Partly because it was like 12 p.m. and partly because it was a pet cemetery.
When we arrived at Ft. Sill, we stopped at the Parallel Forest. It is not said to be haunted, but it is a pretty weird, creepy backdrop. It was planted in the mid-twentieth century, so instead of being a random collection of trees and grass and whatnot, it is rows and columns of trees.
A couple miles down the road, we hiked up to the watchtower at Lake Jed Johnson. We went both during the day and at night. The tower is said to be haunted by the ghosts of all the people who jumped off of it to their deaths. One park ranger said that he noticed that animals would gather around the tower with owls perching on the top, around midnight every night. Now, the tower is locked down and the entrance is bolted shut.
As we parked at the beginning of the trail, our headlights shone on a longhorn grazing. The longhorn stared at us, we stared at the longhorn. Eventually the longhorn wandered off. We were really hoping to catch a gathering of animals, but that did not happen. Our primary theory regarding the lack of animal meeting is that the longhorn told the other animals we were coming. There is no other logical explanation.
Moving on from there, we went to Wall’s Bargain Center in Shawnee. Wall’s is said to be haunted by a man wearing gray. We saw a number of men wearing gray, so one of them was almost definitely a ghost. We also got some scary good bargains. It was an all-around win.
We drove from Shawnee to Bartlesville (which took a minute). Bartlesville is home to Labadie Mansion, a now decrepit mansion that was once owned by the Labadie family. Legend says that Mr. and Mrs. Labadie could not have children, and that Mr. Labadie was pretty upset about it. They had a slave named Enos (it was the late 1880s, and they claim that he stuck around because he just loved being a slave so much, which I think is a pretty suspicious claim, but I was not there, what do I know?). Anyway, eventually Mrs. Labadie got pregnant and gave birth to a baby, who was black. Mr. Labadie got angry, shot Enos and dragged his body to the river.
This story is pretty suspect in a number of ways. The first being that the descendants of the Labadies say that they did have children, and that all of the children were white. Second, I did not see any rivers around.
The mansion is relatively small by modern house-size standards. It likely burned at one point, because all that is left is the brick walls. Inside, it is full of beer cans and broken glass. There are the remnants of an old piano, with a tree growing through it, but it was taken apart by local youth. Porcelain and metal fixtures are scattered on the grounds outside the house. The interior has no floor or stairs — you stand on grass and dirt, below where the floor of the house would have been. There are four fireplaces, but two are on the second floor, so you cannot get close to them. We did not experience any paranormal activity, but it was a creepy place.
Our next stop was Picher, once prominent mining town, now a ghost town, surrounded by white hills and mountains made of lead-and-zinc-mining-waste. In the 1980s, testing showed that around one third of Picher’s children had lead poisoning. It was a site in the Tar Creek buyout, so the government literally bought people’s houses so that they would not continue to live there. Picher used to be part of Oklahoma, but it is so toxic and ghostly that Oklahoma disincorporated it. In 2008, Picher was the site of a massive F4 tornado, which tore down a lot of structures and sped up people’s departures.
There are only a tiny handful of people still living there, data suggests roughly 20 people in 2010. What remains of Picher is a handful of intact houses, a decrepit church, a school and a water tower. We drove around, but it was hard to see a lot of things because a) there weren’t very many things and b) there were lots of “keep out” roadblocks. There is what used to be a neighborhood, but now the houses have no doors or windows and “keep out” is spray painted on the brick. There was one house that was clearly still occupied, with doors and windows, and a truck parked out on the garage.
We found a road that was not blocked, and followed it into the wooded center of Picher. It was clear the tornado had taken out all of the structures. It was full of concrete slabs from where homes and businesses had been just totally demolished. At one point, we came across the remains of what was clearly either a daycare or a school. There were baby clothes and stuffed animals hanging from trees. It was pretty weird, but probably not haunted.
We drove out of the wooded area and back down a main road, which was full of smoke. We parked right before the smoke and saw that there was a field that was on fire. Just like, casually burning. Picher is not officially part of the state of Oklahoma, so there are no firefighters or other public services. Two guys in a truck appeared, presumably to fight the fire. We drove a little ways down another road, and encountered three rusted-out cars, one of which was also on fire. It was actually Silent Hill.
Our final stop was the tri-state spook light, so called because it can, in theory, be seen in three states (Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri). The spook light appears at night and varies in color and size (from volleyball sized to five feet in diameter). There are a number of places you can park to look at it. But sometimes it does not appear. Like the time that we were there. It is apparently a legit thing, because it has been studied by actual real scientists. Their best guess is that it is probably due to some environmental factor and not a spooky light ghost. Which is why I am not a scientist.
Although we did not encounter any spooky scary specters, it was an interesting trip. 10/10 would recommend. I give it 10 spooky ghosts out of 10 spooky ghosts.