|John W. Huddleston|
You won't find Kimberly on the map these days. Incorporated in 1908, it was to be funded by the revenues from a genuine, bona fide producing diamond mine. A good idea, but all dependent on those diamonds. Commercial testing was done, the diamonds proved to be elusive, and by 1911 the development at Kimberly was done.
So mining diamonds for commercial endeavors never really paid off well. But the idea of being able to find a diamond was intoxicating, and the Ozark Diamond Mines Corporation decided to take advantage of that, opening some of its land to would-be prospectors as a tourist attraction back in 1952. They called their site the Crater of Diamonds, and for 20 years this private venture charged a small fee for people to come out and see what they could dig up. Several large diamonds were found, including the 34 and a quarter carat diamond, Star of Murfreesboro, back in 1964.
When I talk about things everyone talks about needing to do in Arkansas, things that are on their Bucket List, I invariably hear "I need to go dig for diamonds." Growing up I'd hear people on TV talking about their chance to win the lottery -- but here in Arkansas, there was no lottery, and the only real equivalent was finding a large diamond. The idea of diamonds in our state saturated it from border to border so quickly, that when Willie Kavanaugh Hocker of Wabbaseka created her contest-winning design for the state flag, she incorporated a diamond into its design.
But what's it like? Certainly it's nothing like panning for gold in California or Colorado? Or like digging for silver underground in the Rockies? Nope, it's something a bit different, and fortunately for all of us it's relatively easy, relaxing and fun. Unless you forget your sunscreen, of course.
Crater of Diamonds State Park is a rather nice place south of Murfreesboro. There's a great RV section on park for those who wish to stay there. There are wildlife watching areas and a great visitors center. But of course, you're wanting to know about digging up some of those diamonds for yourself.
You'll learn about the history there (more than what I've shared, of course, and if you want to read more right now, you can go here) and pick up tips on spotting stones. There aren't just diamonds out there... there are also garnets, peridot, jasper, quartz and amethyst in the field, and they're also great souvenirs.
You can bring your own shovel or trowel, pail or bucket, screen or anything else you wish, as long as it's not motorized. You can even bring your
Kimberlite Cafe on-site (it's not open every day, be sure to check the website for times and dates). Bring plenty of water, or at least clean vessels to fill from a water fountain. Bring your own
If you need a break, go fishing on the Little Missouri. Walk one of the park's trails. View wildlife from an observation blind. And... especially if you have kids... and it's summertime... bring your swimsuit. Crater of
Diamonds has a lovely little water park,Diamond Springs, right off the 37.5 acre field to cool off in... after you've showered, of course.
That's the other thing. You don't want to wear your Sunday best. For heaven's sake, you're going to be digging in the dirt -- dress appropriately!
|Margi Jenks determines the size of a small diamond found in|
Just keep this in mind... there are over 100,000 visitors to Crater of Diamonds each year... and an average of two finds a day. Those diamonds are usually under a carat, though occasionally a two or eight carat stone is found. You probably won't find one that will pay off your mortgage, but you will have a good time, especially if you go with friends or family. And aren't memories the best souvenirs anyway?
Crater of Diamonds State Park
209 State Park Road
Murfreesboro, AR 71958