Return to Mount Carmel
(Going Back to the Scene of the Crime)
by Daniel Tobias
It's been a couple of years since I last visited
Mount Carmel, the site of the Branch Davidian tragedy of 1993, and
I'd heard that some of the buildings I photographed then had burned down
since, so I decided to check the place out again.
It had been my earlier impression that the Davidians didn't like the
name "compound" to describe their location (preferring to refer to it as
their church and their home), but they now seem to have given in to the
media and adopted that name; it appeared on the sign at the front of the
place, and also on the admission pass they use for visitors.
These passes are given after soliciting a small recommended donation
from visitors, in an attempt to raise maintenance expenses for the property
from the curious tourists stopping by.
The buildings I saw last time have indeed burned down. Now a trailer
serves as the "office". One man was there, who said he's the husband
of the woman who usually is there (Amo Roden Drake, who I saw last time), but she was
In place of the old "museum" was a new crude structure with various
exhibits. One shows the cover of a book by Carol Moore (a Libertarian
I've met at various Libertarian Party
conventions and online forums) and refers to it as "dishonest"; I'm not
sure why, since Moore's book supports the Davidians' claims of government
This time, I went further into the compound, to look at what was left
of the buildings.
In between the front area and the building ruins were many monuments and
markers, including memorials to each person who died in the compound in
1993, and a monument to "The Living Waters -- Branch of Righteousness --
This altar is dedicated to Christ the Word the Branch of Righteousness."
Another monument was "In remembrance of all the men, women and children
who were victimized and brutally slaughtered in the bombing of the
Oklahoma City Federal Building on April 19, 1995. We pray that they and
their families find comfort and peace in Our Lord."
The burned-out remains of a bus were out in the field, with a bathtub
(maybe the same one I saw last time) nearby.
Parts from another bus were buried in the ground; this was the bus that
was placed by Koresh as part of the compound structure so his people could
take refuge in it.
Lots of places on the property had signs identifying things from the
compound that visitors were being called attention to.
The foundation of one of the buildings was visible, and was filled with
water. This made it look more like a swimming pool than a building, but
I wouldn't want to swim in it. [Actually, according to notes on somebody else's
site, it actually is a swimming pool.]
Writing on a corner of the foundation pointed the way to various spots
that showed up in the media coverage of the Branch Davidian siege.
Further in, and blocked off so the public can't approach it, there appeared
to be a church, probably used for worship by the remaining Branch Davidians.
So, the Branch Davidian compound is continuing to be maintained by
survivors, and seems to do some business as a tourist attraction.
I don't know what's in store for it for the future; I suppose, as the
site of a notorious incident, it may always have some attraction to
curiosity seekers. Maybe future centuries will regard it as one of
the famous spots from the 20th century, just as the Alamo is one of
the famous spots of the 19th. (Remember Mount Carmel?)
I received this by e-mail:
I also found a site (which seems no longer to be online), "Imposters
Living at Waco Tragedy Site" -- it was done up in imitation of this page,
taking my graphics but changing the text as an 'answer' to this site, from the point of
view of somebody in the Davidian faction that opposes the other Davidian faction that's
presently occupying the property.
I've received more notes by e-mail giving
additional detail about the Branch Davidian factions.
Back to first visit
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This page was first created 03 Aug 1997, and was last modified 03 Mar 2002.
Copyright © 1995-2011 by Daniel R. Tobias. All rights reserved.