In 1881, John Thomas (Pat) Monahan dug the first water well at the edge of the west Texas sandhills. Originally known as Monahan’s Well, by 1883 it was simply Monahans. In 1928, the region’s oil industry left a unique relic on the east side of town – a one million barrel oil tank. Too much oil and not enough barrels led to this oddity, a 35 foot-deep dish lined with cement. It proved a short-lived solution, however, when the concrete cracked and the oil leaked back into the ground. Today it’s the centerpiece of the Million Barrel Museum, which interprets much of the town’s history. The Bankhead runs adjacent to the site and straight through Monahans with many of the amenities built in the 1930s and 40s surviving today. Fifteen miles west of town, Pyote Army Airfield now sits abandoned, but during World War II it was a major bomber training installation with 8,000-foot runways perfect for use with B-17 and B-29 aircraft, some of the largest in use at the time.
Monahans Sandhills State Park, 2500 E. IH-20
It’s easy to forget you’re in west Texas when you encounter 50-foot high sand dunes. You might expect to find camels crossing over the dunes, but instead you’ll find picnic and camping areas and tourists who’ve come from far and wide to see this natural wonder.