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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.

[Sign at entrance to compound]

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.

[Visitor's Pass: Branch Davidian Compound]

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.

[Picture of trailer serving as 'office']

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 on vacation.

[Picture of 'museum' at site]

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 persecution.

[Exhibit of 'dishonest' book about Branch Davidians]

[Picture looking into Davidian grounds]

This time, I went further into the compound, to look at what was left of the buildings.

[Monument to 'The Living Waters -- Branch of Righteousness']

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."

[Marker in memory of Oklahoma victims]

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."

[Picture of burned out bus and bathtub]

The burned-out remains of a bus were out in the field, with a bathtub (maybe the same one I saw last time) nearby.

[Part of yellow bus buried in ground]

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.

[Picture showing exhibit sign]

Lots of places on the property had signs identifying things from the compound that visitors were being called attention to.

[Foundation of building, now full of water]

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 concrete foundation points to important locations.]

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.
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