A Gem of an Adventure
.

Photos by the Crater of Diamonds State Park

The term “once in a lifetime experience” is often used. You might be able to qualify by meeting your celebrity, or even winning the lottery. It also applies to America’s parks, which offer visitors their own interpretation of nature, local flavor and history.

And, occasionally, you’ll come across one of the thousands if state parks all over the country that really amps up the “wow!” factor.

One such place is the Crater Of Diamonds State Park, Murfreesboro (Arkansas). This tourist spot is located approximately two hours southwest from Little Rock, Louisiana and just over two hours north Shreveport Louisiana. It’s one of few places where you can search for diamonds within their original volcanic crater. This makes it an unforgettable experience.

And, yes, you can keep what you find.

Just as a gemologist studies the past to determine how a diamond forms in a particular shape, so too must one look at the history of Crater Of Diamonds to see how it became the state park that it is today.

people digging

A chronicle of this crater

The eroded volcano which formed this land is thought to be about ninety-five millions years old. In modern history, geologists in the 1800s were the first to suspect that the area could contain diamonds. A farmer named John Wesley Huddleston was the first to discover diamonds, which he found on his property in 1906. Seeing an opportunity, Huddleston sold his land a mere one month later to investors for $36,000 (the equivalent of $1. 05 million today), who embarked on diamond mining.

News spread fast about this diamond-rich area in Arkansas, and between 1907 and 1910, it was inundated with prospectors; a tent city even sprung up nearby. Unfortunately, the majority of attempts to mine this land failed. In 1952, Howard Millar opened a mining tourist attraction on the north side of the park’s current diamond search area called Millar’s Crater of Diamonds. Around the same time that the Arkansas Mine, the adjacent property was also made available to the public. Both attractions were competing for tourists from nearby Murfreesboro. The entire area was eventually consolidated under the company General Earth Materials in 1969 and three years later was bought by the state, which turned it into a state park. Over four million people have visited the Crater of Diamonds since then, and well over 100,000 people come here each year.

How to hunt for diamonds

If you are ready to take your own diamond excursion make sure you plan in advance. You can purchase tickets up to 24 hours in advance online or in person at the Visitor Center. People often ask if they can bring their own mining equipment. Although you are welcome to bring your own equipment, the park offers tools that can be rented. A few diamonds are found daily at the park. Make sure you bring your tools and something to transport your rocks.

Before you begin your dig, make sure you visit the Diamond Discovery Center. Here you can learn about the park’s diamond-mining techniques as well as more information about the park. Even uncut diamonds can be seen on display. It’s worth leaving time so that you can return to the shop after your diamond hunting. The staff will gladly examine and identify any diamonds you find, and register them for you.

diamond

Diamonds from the rough

In its almost fifty years of existence as a state-owned park, the Crater of Diamonds witnessed many historic mining moments. More than 34,000 diamonds, including thirty-five of five carats or more, have been discovered at this site since it opened in 1972. You’ll find variations of the three main colors white, yellow and brown. Although most are tiny, some notable (if not world-record-setting) gems have been discovered at this site since Huddleston purchased the land.

1924

The 40. 23-carat Uncle Sam diamond was unearthed. It’s the largest American diamond to date.

1975

A Texas man excavated the Amarillo Starlight, a 16. 37-carat beauty that is the largest found since the Crater of Diamonds became state-owned.

1990

The Strawn-Wagner Diamond was just over three carats in weight when it was discovered. However, it is extremely rare and one of only a few diamonds that have been deemed perfect by the American Gem Society as well as the Gemological Institute of America. In 1997, it was cut into a 1. 09-carat round brilliant shape and purchased by the State of Arkansas to be put on permanent display at the park.

2015

A Colorado woman discovered the 8. 52-carat white Esperanza diamond, the fifth-largest ever found at the park. It was deemed colorless and internally flawless and later priced at $500,000.

2020

Last year, the second-largest diamond since 1972 came out the Crater of Diamonds. It has a brownish color and weighs in at 9. 07 carats.

More than mining

People come to Crater of Diamonds to find these diamonds. But there is still much to discover. A variety of minerals are also found at the site, including amethyst and quartz.

After a hard day of mining, you can enjoy a series of walking trails and lunch at one the park’s picnic spots. You can also relax at one the 47 campsites. After a fun day of mining, take a refreshing dip at the onsite Diamond Springs Water Park and the more than 4,000 square feet of water in its wading pool. The park’s hours of operation change throughout the summer so make sure you check it before your visit. )

People visit the park mainly for the chance to have a great time. This is why you should visit the Diamond Discovery Center’s Wall of Fame. It features photos of people who have struck gold at this park. You can also smile knowing that you might be next.

For more info, visit craterofdiamondsstatepark.com

Read More