The streets sat empty, save for the dark, windowless husks of decaying, abandoned houses. She would always tell me about how that was where everyone had to be evacuated because toxic waste contamination had poisoned the place. Even though I was barely old enough to understand what that meant, every time we'd drive by on our way out into St. Louis County to visit family, I'd get that tingly feeling in the pit of my stomach knowing we were going to pass it. In my young mind, I thought if any place was truly haunted, it had to be Times Beach.
The official story goes like this. About seventeen miles southwest of St. Louis sat Times Beach, a small community which began as a summer resort back in the 1920s. By the 1970s, it had become a low-income housing community with a population of 1,240 people that could not afford to pave its dusty roads. In an effort to control the dust, the city hired waste oil hauler Russell Bliss to spray them down, which he did multiple times between 1972 and 1976. The government would later claim Bliss obtained the dioxin-laced waste he dumped on Times Beach in 1971 from a Verona, Missouri plant where chemical byproducts including the toxic chemical byproduct of Agent Orange was manufactured… waste Bliss surreptitiously mixed in with the oils he sprayed on Times Beach roads as his means of "disposal". This plant would later show concentrations of dangerous dioxin at up to 2,000 times higher than that found in Agent Orange itself. By 1985, Times Beach was disincorporated, evacuated and quarantined, save for one elderly couple who refused to leave. The town wasn't demolished until 1992.