Filmmakers tackle subject of Tar Creek

The Tar Creek Superfund site in northeastern Oklahoma has become a topic of many films and books.
By Nathan Poppe, Staff Writer Published: October 10, 2010
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PICHER — Filmmaker Matt Myers once remembered this place as just another small town he visited to as a child playing baseball.

Today, that has changed.


Picher is the subject of Myers' 2009 film “Tar Creek,” which focuses on the Superfund site littered with mining waste, orange creeks and sinkholes. Tar Creek was named a Superfund site in 1983.

“Our aim was to provide context ... so what you're left with is an audience who gets just a little bit of everything and wants to know more,” Myers said.

In 1997, Myers worked for a company that had him check road conditions to see which parts of the state needed road funding. One day, he arrived in Picher.

“I hadn't been up there since I was a kid and played baseball there,” Myers said. “We were measuring one road, I remember, and it just ended in a sinkhole.”

He began filming his documentary in 2007, shortly after the Superfund program began a federal buyout of Picher.

Myers has shown his film at several Oklahoma colleges. He estimates he will have 200 screenings in the U.S. this year.

Myers isn't the only filmmaker interested in Tar Creek. Oklahoma City native Bradley Beesley recently finished the film “The Creek Runs Red,” which focused on home buyouts in the Tar Creek area. The film, co-directed by Tulsan James Payne, featured the music of Oklahoma rockers The Flaming Lips and the Starlight Mints.

Tar Creek also has inspired books, including “Tar Creek” by Larry G. Johnson and “Tar Creek Anthology: The Legacy” by several Miami High School students.


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