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The AOK Team

The AOK Team

Michael Schwarz

majestic-michael
Majestic Hotel fire, 2014

Starting from a young age, I’ve always loved exploring. I can remember venturing off and scoping out the houses being built in the developing neighborhood right behind my house. As I got older, I found myself appreciating the work and love that went into architecture and just being excited to pass by the beautifully designed places in downtown. That’s why when I found out there were historic properties all over Oklahoma that were just sitting abandoned, I couldn’t help but wanting to do something about it. In high school, I discovered the website AbandonedOK.com and started exploring these places and taking pictures to contribute to their large online database.

Upon graduating, I moved to Arkansas to attend college and started my own version, AbandonedAR.com. It wasn’t until I came across the Majestic Hotel in Hot Springs, AR that I started to fight for the preservation of buildings. Unfortunately, we lost the Majestic and in honor of what could have been, I am committed to continuing that fight to try and save these forgotten places before it is too late. If we can’t physically save them, I hope that their history and the memories created within their walls can live forever on the internet. Find out how you can help us fight, donate and/or volunteer here: AbandonedAR.com/support

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Emily Cowan

The AOK Team

In my lifetime I can’t remember frequently seeing abandoned buildings, let alone know their history. I think this observation is what has led me to become so passionate about educating others on our disappearing history and making sure its documented thoroughly. One day in high school I stumbled across a then almost defunct website that is today Abandoned Oklahoma. Immediately I was fascinated, I scrolled for hours and hours finding post after post of a seemingly endless list of abandoned places that I had never known existed. My first abandoned building was the Skedee High School, I was shocked with the amount of stuff left in the building even though it had been abandoned for over 50 years. After seeing paper and books that had past students’ names written on them I was on a mission to find out more. Why and when did it close? Could I find anyone who used to go there? Were there any plans for the school?” That jump-started the hobby for me and instead of just going to cool places it became a sort of a historical conquest.  

I was brought onto the Abandoned OK Team in December of 2019 with big dreams for the website. Helping redesign the website entirely and now becoming the most published author on the website with over 150+ articles written for the website. In addition to volunteering my time to Abandoned Oklahoma, I founded our third state in the Abandoned Atlas Foundation, Abandoned Kansas. Working with the Abandoned Atlas Foundation has been a dream come true and has given me many opportunities including being a two-time published author by the age of 21 with my two books Abandoned Topeka: Psychiatric Capital of the World and Abandoned Oklahoma: Vanishing History of the Sooner State.

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Eric Price

The AOK TeamMy name is Eric Price based out of Norman Oklahoma. I am former military with the 45th infantry. I have a wife and three beautiful kiddos. My passion besides the family is solely being behind the lens of the camera catching what history I can of not only our beautiful state but the world around us. It is with due diligence I travel as much as I can and document as much as possible through photography to keep any kind of history alive after the physical part is gone. We have generations to come we are responsible for to be able to pass the stories and history, that being bad or good, on for them and the generations that follow them. I shoot everything from abandoned, street, landscape and anything that will get in front of my lens.

Darrell Powers

The AOK TeamDarrell Powers is from Miami Oklahoma and born on July 14th, 1990. He took on urban exploring shortly after high school with his friends. Miami is just a short skip and a jump from the abandoned towns of Picher and Cardin, Oklahoma which they frequented. After finding a passion for photographing anything Dirt Track Racing, allowing Darrell to travel into multiple states uncovering even more abandoned places. As one of the newest members, Darrell was brought onto the team in 20221 and has since contributed to Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, and Missouri websites making him one of the few photojournalists to contribute to over half of the states under the Abandoned Atlas Foundation!

Taylor Adney

The AOK TeamTaylor’s passion for abandoned buildings and Oklahoma history began while attending college in Okmulgee for photography and video production. Okmulgee has a surplus of abandoned historical buildings, which was the perfect place to practice his newly acquired skills. After college visiting historical places in, around, and under Tulsa, as well as abandoned cemeteries became a regular occurrence. Since then his adventures have taken a more historical undertone, seeking out places with rich history and a meaningful past, places like the Quanah Parker Star House and Forest Service Fire Towers in the Southeast corner of the state and Arkansas. His love for the outdoors and exploration keep him seeking out places that few people have seen before. As a Cherokee Nation Citizen, Taylor has recently gained interest in early Oklahoma and Native American history, seeking out 19th-century cemeteries and hunting artifacts while exploring the beautiful places Oklahoma has to offer.

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Cody Cooper

The AOK Team

Cody’s passion for Urban Exploration began through a love for architecture and Oklahoma history. In high school he became captivated by the Skirvin Hotel and Page Woodson School. Photographing and researching the stories behind the buildings. “There is nothing more interesting to me than the history of place. The lives people lived within these buildings creates a fabric of history. Woven through stories, images, artifacts and memories. It is our duty to preserve these buildings and their histories”

While in college, Cody and the team founded AbandonedOK. “It was something unique that Oklahoma was lacking. There weren’t any urban exploration groups specific to our state. I felt it was necessary to bring awareness to Oklahoma and at-risk buildings across the state in another avenue that the public had yet to see” The group quickly grew and the response was overwhelmingly positive. “The forums began buzzing. People came out of the woodwork! The most rewarding part of all was knowing that we were able provide a space for fellow explorers to share their work and content.”

Cody continues his exploring today. Whether down an unknown country road, or in an urban center, you’ll find him out and about exploring. “Many days I will just get in the car and go somewhere I haven’t ever been before. It is the ultimate freedom!”

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David Linde

Bio

The AOK Team

Born and raised in Tulsa, David has developed a strong appreciation for old buildings over the years, especially around Tulsa. He knows the city very well, along with the surrounding towns, and has been avidly exploring since 2007.

His alias “Fiend” was a nickname middle school derived from a video game (Tiberian Sun), which ended up sticking with him. He has almost an obsession with the past, always looking at something and wondering how it came to be there or how it was built, who was here before him, what was it like in the past. To him (since he hasn’t mastered time travel), abandoned buildings and structures are a way of seeing into the past.

His first actual abandoned building experience was an old movie theater off of 71st and Memorial (now a Wal-Mart) in Tulsa. At the time he didn’t even own a camera, and just did it for the thrill. The experience was “life changing”. The dark, musty smell of the building was unforgettable, it was something he was instantly interested in.

Now, almost 6 years later, he has been all over the state documenting historical places. What started off as just a little hobby, has now started to grow into a way of life. He met some good friends through their common interests of old buildings and now share some incredible experiences with each other. He spends hours researching maps and old documents constantly looking for buildings, which have been lost and forgotten, and has become quite good at it. He has contacts with local historians and city employees that occasionally help him with his research and endeavors.

One of his other favorite past times is exploring the underground or “draining”. He has always had a fascination with the underground, walking around the streets wondering what was below his feet. He has explored countless tunnels under Tulsa, and has started to see what OKC has to offer as well. Finding something long forgotten underground is a constant desire of his.

As much as he likes the “awesome photo opportunities” of abandoned buildings, his ultimate goal is to see them saved and restored. He believes that if enough people see his pictures, the buildings can be saved, and hopefully invested in. His only wish is that he could have done something to save or even photograph the countless old buildings and schools in Tulsa that have been lost forever due to “city progress” or were damaged beyond repair because of neglect.”

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Billy Dixon

Bio

The AOK Team

If you have ever driven by a building and wondered what has happened within its walls, walked by catching a trace of that stagnant smell and thought about what lies inside still, you know what drives Billy Dixon. Born and raised in Oklahoma, Billy has spent countless hours researching, exploring, and combing through the walls of Oklahoma’s forgotten and neglected buildings.

“I first got introduced to this by hanging out with friends in Jr. High that were going to an old abandoned dairy factory.” said Billy, “Once we got there, everyone but myself got scared about going in. As soon I stepped out of the car, I knew this was for me. There were awesome old documents, labels, old bottles, and just so much stuff left inside. I immediately became curious of what happened and why all this was left behind.”

Since his first exploration, Billy has been headfirst into discovering and exploring other unremembered and passed-up places. “It’s a really awesome hobby, which I wish to turn into a career at some point. I would love to help restore or document the last moments of pieces of history that many have never seen or would not have access to otherwise.”

If you are driving or walking along that building you pass almost every day and your curiosity peaks, take a look around this site. You might just find out what is lurking inside its walls.

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Johnny Fletcher

Bio

The AOK Team

Johnny Fletcher is the oldest member of the team. Born & raised in Bartlesville, Ok. He has lived on the same street his whole life. He began exploring in 2008 officially. His explorer/screen name came from his early days on the internet. It is derived from his love of horror films” Psycho, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre & Friday The 13th. He wanted something to describe what I loved the most. It had stuck with him & used this moniker ever since. When he started out exploring it was only small homes left abandoned around his neighborhood. His first memories of exploration was an old two story home down the road from his neighborhood that had been converted in to a “Spook House” by a local organization. “That was our playground,” says Fletcher. He & His buddies would go there at night & have a great time. The organization had left all of the spook house props & a huge slide on the inside. They would play hide & seek & just be kids inside that house. Later in years a friend on Facebook mentioned a UE site to him. After viewing it & searching through the forums, he discovered that others enjoyed exploring too! After looking at some images of Dogpatch U.S.A. (an abandoned Arkansas amusement park) …He was hooked.

After 6 months or more of documenting his explorations, he received a message from a local explorer in Tulsa (David Linde) . Looking to meet others with the same passion, he answered the request. Little did Johnny know that this explorer would become one of his good friends. Their first adventure was the Lincoln Beerblower Power plant in Ponca City. “David didn’t look anything like I thought he would. He was a very clean-cut guy”. They got along well. They had the same interests. “UE is what brings people together” it doesn’t matter what you look like or what kind of background you have. “Talking about rusted decaying structures can get any like-minded individual talking for hours”.

Abandoned Oklahoma soon went live. The administrators asked if Johnny Fletcher would be on board to help out & get the site rolling. “The site was fantastic!” it was the best site he had seen since he got into Urban Exploration After a few more meet-ups & working with AbandonedOK, David had mentioned another member of the site “Billy Dixon” Soon they had all met up for exploration in the Ghost town of Picher. Johnny states “These are some of the best friends I could ask for; they are all diverse individuals but yet they share the same interests. After another big meet-up with the guys from Abandoned Ok at the Chillocco Indian School, He says “there just isn’t any feeling like it. Once you step onto those empty streets you feel like you are the only man left on earth”

Johnny Fletcher continues to work to preserve history with his pictures & stories. “It really has become a full-time hobby” he says. There are lots of hours of editing photos & sometimes months of research just to find the story behind the discovery. He continues, “I love it, I have already captured images of things that are now gone & demolished. I have the history no one cared about, but in 30 or 40 years we can show the future generations what it used to be like, because I’m the one who did care.”

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Jennifer Burton

Bio
The AOK TeamGrowing up, Jennifer lived in a small Oklahoma town that is home to an Arts and Science University. Her mother worked for the University and on most days in the late 80’s, Jennifer could be found riding her bike down the expansive winding sidewalks and becoming more interested in the buildings on campus that sat unused. One in particular was the old fieldhouse. At the time, part of the building was still being used for classes but the majority of it was no longer needed. There was a pool on the bottom floor with locker rooms that still smelled like chlorine, a basketball court on the top floor and a boiler room in the basement. That pool was actually the pool Jennifer learned to swim in around 1982. By 1988, it and the basketball court became places that she loved to visit. The doors were never locked because, well, the 80’s, so access to unlimited exploring of this building was very attainable. The building itself was beautiful and so was the campus. Some of Jennifer’s best childhood memories came from the time spent exploring the University.

Later in life, Jennifer realized that wanting to know what was behind any old door she saw or boarded up building, started with the field house as a child. That curiosity has always been there. She has been very fortunate as an adult to be able to make the connections that she has made with other people with similar curiosities. She has been able to gain access over the years to some pretty incredible places and has made a few new friends along the way.

A few years ago, after some research, Jennifer was able to find the current owner of the abandoned hospital that she was born in. With permission, she and a few other Abandoned Oklahoma team members were able to enter what would become one of our most memorably gross explores. There was so much water damage and the place was at the time, being used as storage for more junk than any of the team had ever seen. They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. If we looked hard enough, there were still reminders of the hospital. Surgery lights, drawer labels, a clinic in the back, X-ray machines and even a cafeteria. Jennifer could still see through the clutter what was once vitally there. Regardless of all the mess inside, because of the sentimental value, this is one of Jennifer’s favorite places to have ever been in. She was able to stand in the same long closed waiting room that her grandparents and great grandparents stood in awaiting her arrival in July of 1979.
Jennifer and her friend Leslie, also an Abandoned Oklahoma team member, have seen some interesting places and things over the years. There have been old schools, nursing homes, amusement parks, hospitals and hidden treasures along the way. Jennifer is always surprised by the amount of useable goods that always seem to be left behind. There is something appealing to her about what happens to these places when the doors close for the last time.

Her hope through Abandoned Oklahoma is that we are able as a team, to show accurate and historical content related to our state and its history. Every team member understands and respects that each of these places were special and unique. They hold special places in the hearts of so many and the memories made there are and were priceless. Some of the places that she had the pleasure of photographing are no longer standing making the mission of Abandoned Oklahoma that much more important.

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Lynda Shannon Bluesteiin
1 month ago

To Emily Cowan – I am in the process of writing my memoir which includes a chapter on my years as a VISTA volunteer in Oklahoma. In 1971 my husband and I rolled into Hominy, Oklahoma to assume work on a project known as the Carver Community Center – the former Colored School in Hominy. You have your dates wrong about its abandonment. We (Peter and Lynda Holmstrom) did our VISTA training in Dallas in October 1971. There were 80 trainees in our cycle – we were assigned to Hominy arriving in November 1971. I have newspaper clippings from The… Read more »

Emily Cowan
Admin
Reply to  Lynda Shannon Bluesteiin
1 month ago

Lynda, yes please! I would love if you could send them to my email at ecowan@abandonedatlas.com. There was a huge gap in the history of the school that I could not find in newspaper records so I would love to be able to add in this information. I appreciate you reaching out so much and look forward to seeing your story!

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