Crater of Diamonds State Park
Diamonds were first discovered here near Murfreesboro, Arkansas in 1906. They were mined commercially for a number of years. The state park was established in 1972. It is the only place in the world where the mining of diamonds is open to the public. Diamonds are still being found here at the rate of about 600 per year. The week before we arrived, a highway patrolman from Oklahoma, on vacation with his family, found a stone valued at more than $60,000.
The "mine" is a 40-acre, plowed field. There weren't many prospectors when we arrived. The weather was cooperating for a change and the field was relatively dry. When it rains, the whole field turns into a giant mud puddle. The park provides water hoses to sluice down these aquatic prospectors.
|The crowd arrived later. A diamond was found that day; unfortunately, not by us. Apparently some of these people were actually expending energy in searching for diamonds.|
For the serious prospector, these washing facilities are provided. The idea is to scoop dirt into the small round tubs that have a fine screened bottom. You then wash away the dirt leaving the diamonds behind. The theory is good but you have to wash an awful lot of dirt before one diamond is left behind.
Almost all the diamonds found are low grade. They are small, flawed, of poor color, and fit only for industrial use. But, every once in a while, someone finds one of the good ones that are still there. It might be you. The odds are better than buying a Lottery ticket.
|There are a number of signs around marking the spot where a significant diamond was found. It was not necessary for the park maintenance people to add another sign as a result of our visit.|
The park is well worth a visit if you are anywhere in the vicinity. There is a nice campground in the park within walking distance of the mine. Give it a try. You might get lucky. Keep in mind that the largest diamond ever found anywhere was found by a drunk on his way home from a bar in South Africa. He tripped over it and fell down. When he awoke the next morning, he was sitting on a diamond weighing almost one third of a pound.