Thanks to Richard Gregory for sending this paper
The house of Mr. and Mrs. George Foote,
perched on the edge of the Cave-in, and at
about a forty-five degree angle on the east
side of the site. Foote, his wife and their
ten children scrambled through awindow to
Looking North over the cave-in area, the two
houses in the area are pictured. They are
about twenty-five feet lower than they were,
but aside from that appear as though they
were "built there." The depression, almost
circular is estimated to be about 300 feet in
diameter, twenty to twenty-five feet deep and
to cover about three acres. Notice the trees,
shrubs and grass still in place.-
The thousands that streamed into Picher over the weekend, to view the cave-in, slowed to a trickle this week. Probably many of the visitors, estimated at between four to six thousand, each day, Saturday and Sunday, were disappointed, especially if they were attracted by exaggerated rumors, ranging from "the whole town caved in" through "five blocks of main street."
What they saw was unusual, even to those who have witnessed many "cave-ins" in the field. The area, estimated by Assistant State Mine Inspector C. R. (Hawk) Hall, Quapaw, covers three acres, is 20 to 25 feet deep and almost circular with a diameter of about three hundred feet. So "unusual" a site it could have been designed by an architect.
Most of the "floor" is level; the "sod" scarcely broken; trees still standing and growing and utility poles intact. As one bystander put it "you could play croquet down there. "
The area is located in the second block and West B St., section of Picher, in the northwest part of town. The mishap occurred about Friday midnight, with the first hint about twenty minutes earlier. The cave-in claimed two houses, five automobiles, and left two more houses dangling on the brink.
One of the houses in the depression belonged to Bill Denny, who lived alone. Denny said he awakened a few minutes before the cave-in by a noise. "If I had known anything about mining, I might have been suspicious then", Denny said. He stepped outside into the yard and then returned. A few minutes later his house rested about twenty feet lower, but still on an even keel, and appeared to have been built there.
The "noise", mentioned by Denny, was, also described by several other residents in the area as an "explosion", "blast" "rumble", etc., but most did agree, there was some kind of "thunder”. Some saw a "flash of light."
The George Foote house, located a short distance east of the Denny residence, was left dangling on the edge of the area at about a forty five degree angle. Foote, his wife, and their ten children escaped injury, and managed to make their way to safer ground, via a window, before their house angled toward the depression.
Mrs. Beulah Owens, 69-year old widow, was visiting her daughter in Blanchard, Okla. Her house, also located on the brink of the area, was partly "hanging'" down into the hole. Her biggest concern on her return to Picher early Saturday morning with her daughter, Mrs. E. T. Ward was to recover the pictures of her son, killed in action in Viet Nam about two years ago. Her pictures were recovered.
The home of Jess Matteer, stood at the very edge of the cave-in. The garage was wrenched out of shape by the sliding earth. The Matteer car was recovered from the hole and the back of the garage was knocked out to bring out their pickup. The Matteers have moved into the Roger Graham property on South Cherokee Street. Mine Inspector Hall said as far as he, knew "there had been no mining in the site the past four and a half years, despite rumors to the contrary”. He added that there were mining operations about three hundred yards north. The land belongs to Eagle-Picher with Tom Kiser of Miami, holding the lease.
Hall said he inspected the site over the weekend. He was accompanied underground by Walter Fields, Eagle-Picher Safety Engineer; Leon Stepp; Eagle-Picher Mining engineer, and Tom Kiser.
State Chief Mine Inspector Ward Padgett was in town Saturday for an inspection tour and a federal mine inspector, M. J. Turnipseed was here Sunday.
Hall said that the area was not considered subject to any further danger. There is the possibility the cave-in could extend a few feet north.
The area has been fenced in. Over the weekend, Highway Patrolmen, County officers, Picher officers and volunteers, together with Ed Wilson, Picher Civil Defense Director and Carl Orr, County director, patrolled the area, directed traffic and in general "took charge.'"
Mayor Harold McLain and Wilson expressed their appreciation for the cooperation of all volunteers who helped salvage clothing, and household goods. Wilson pointed out United Iron and Metal, Picher, who furnished trucks and men, as an example of the assistance and help extended, adding that he could not begin to name all who rendered aid.
A final casualty of the mishap was the garden of Roscoe Brown, who operates a general store a few yards from the cave-in. A fine berry patch and other garden growth fell victim to thousands of “feet” as viewers used the garden as a shortcut to the site.
And so, Picher has had another shot at the headlines. Through it all Picher residents appeared the I least excited and alarmed, in the television, radio and newspaper coverage area ……