Volume 8 Issue 1 Spring-Summer 2023
By Jonathan Hankins-Hull
ooking to get rich quick? Don’t mind getting a little mud on your boots? Well then, this natural state destination might be the one for you! At first glance, Crater of Diamonds State Park doesn’t look like much, but the 37.5 acre field in Murfreesboro, Arkansas warrants a closer look. Dig a little deeper, and you might find a diamond from this one-of-a-kind state park.
This is the only diamond mine in our country and the only diamond mine in the world, where you can dig for diamonds and keep what you find. In fact, the park yields 1-2 diamond finds every day, and since the park’s opening in 1972 more than 33,000 diamonds have been found.
This unique state park sits atop an ancient volcano vent known as the Prairie Creek Diatreme. It was 100 million years ago that these carbon deposits were pressurized deep underground (think 60-100 miles down) to make diamonds that today continue to make their way to the surface through this volcanic vent. Though most diamonds found in the park are small (usually about the size of a match head) there have been some exceptions. The largest diamond ever to be discovered in the United States was found in 1924, on this site, before the founding of Crater Diamond Park. This notable 40.23 carat, white diamond is called “Uncle Sam”. More recently in 2015, an 8.52 carat diamond was found and named Esperanza. Wondering what one of these diamonds might be worth? Well, “Uncle Sam” was sold to a private collector in 1971 for a cool $150,000 - if you do the math, that’s a little over $1 million in 2022.
If you decide to try your luck at Crater Diamond Mine you will find three varieties of diamonds: white, brown, and yellow. Other rocks and minerals, such as quartz, agate, jasper, amethyst, and garnet, can also be found. Not up to speed on all of your gemstones? Not to worry, complimentary rock identification is provided by the park staff along with digging tools to rent. If you decide to bring your own equipment, please note no power tools allowed (because that would be cheating). Last year, Crater of Diamonds saw over 200,000 visitors, so you might have a little competition for that next big find! But there is more to do than get your hands dirty. The park also features several walking trails, camping and picnic sites, a gift shop, and the (seasonal) Diamond Springs Water Park.
Stop by the visitor center for recommendations on locally sourced diamond shops, a variety of exhibits, and learn about the history of the park and see the list of famous finds.
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