Monahans Sandhills State Park Celebrates 50 Years

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MONAHANS, Texas — The year was 1957. Dwight D. Eisenhower was president. The Russians launched Sputnik. The most popular movie was The Ten Commandments. Texas A&M’s John David Crow won the Heisman Trophy. And, Monahans Sandhills State Park opened to the public west of Odessa.

This giant sandbox of a park — 3,840 acres of shifting sand dunes — celebrates its 50th anniversary on Saturday, May 26 with a host of festivities that will run from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

On hand to help celebrate Monahans Sandhills’ golden anniversary will be Kathleen Dunagan, 93, who along with her late husband Conrad, helped raise endowment funds to keep the park operating when it was in danger of being shut down.

“I’ve been working on this event since January,” said Theresa Burnett, Monahans Chamber of Commerce executive director. “Mrs. Dunagan’s request to the board was that we put on a big celebration, and we’re happy to do it.”

The event kicks off at 10 a.m. with a color guard and firing of a Civil War era cannon. Highlights of the festival will be a kite-flying contest for all age groups, a beach sand volleyball tournament, cross country fun run, slip n’ slide, Relay for Life and an appearance by a professional sand surfer. An evening barbecue dinner will be followed by a concert and star party that concludes at 10 p.m.

The state park offers the only public access to a 200-mile stretch of a massive sand dune field that stretches northwestward from Crane County about 20 miles south of the park into southeastern New Mexico. Some of the dunes, popular with sand surfers, rise 70 feet. Sand disk riding and camel treks are just a couple of the many activities to be enjoyed at this unique park championed by the late Texas literary icon and naturalist Roy Bedichek.

For more information about the 50th anniversary celebration, call the chamber at (432) 943-2187 or the state park at (432) 943-2092.