CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — A treasure hunt enticing folks to visit Palo Duro Canyon State Park 70 years ago has a new generation of adventure seekers pulling out their metal detectors, but park officials are asking visitors to not pocket the past.
From ice cream to cash, even a brand-new Chevy, the Palo Duro Gold Rush wanted to draw people into the nation’s second largest canyon.
“There was a chamber of commerce promotion for the park to help get people to come out and enjoy Palo Duro Canyon State Park, and what they came up with was to drop 10,000 specially minted coins from an airplane all across the park,” said Jeff Davis, park superintendent, “and for folks who came out and found certain serial numbers of those coins, they won prizes.”
As you can imagine not all 10,000 coins were found. In fact, Davis told us a coin was found just a few weeks ago. That is 70 years after they were scattered.
“We will report it to every region of the state parks. There’s 17 parks in our region has a cultural resource specialist, and we will record it to him. He’s an archaeologist and he will he will deal with it appropriately. They can’t give the exact answer on what what specifically he’ll do with that coin, but it will be dealt with professionally,” said Davis.
Since the coins aren’t worth any prizes anymore, Davis wants to encourage visitors to “leave no trace,” meaning if you find something, leave it alone.
“So we are a conservation agency, Texas Parks and Wildlife, and the reason that we want to conserve these things is for future generations. There’s kids walking around us right now, here where we’re standing, and you know, we want them to comeback when they’re adults, and experience this place. We want them to bring their children, their grandchildren, and so on, and so on forever. And that requires us all of us the owners of Palo Duro Canyon State Park, which is everybody to take care of the place now. So that it will be here for all future generations,” said Davis.
Davis said the canyon’s busiest time of year is spring break and that a typical day draws in 4,000 visitors and about 400,000 a year. That is why they want everyone to leave things the way they found it, so the next visitors can experience it too.
Davis told us he does encourage folks to take a picture and even geo-tag where they found the coin to give the park services a heads up of where others may see the coin.