Arkansas farmer John Huddleston was doing what most farmers do one hot August afternoon in 1906 — plowing his field — when he noticed something strange in his soil. Two clear, shiny pebbles caught his eye, so he stopped to investigate. What Huddleston had found was unbelievable if it wasn’t true. He found diamonds. Real diamonds.
A treasure boom quickly followed on the property and it continues today in the form of Crater of Diamonds State Park, one of America’s most unique destinations. Located just south of the town of Murfreesboro in the southwestern part of the state, Crater of Diamonds is the only diamond mine in the world where people can visit, dig, and keep anything they find — even diamonds.
When Huddleston found his diamonds back in 1906, it was the first time that diamonds had been found in their natural source outside of South Africa. Mining companies took over the farm and started digging but each company couldn’t turn a profit. Even though nearly 75,000 diamonds have been found on site — an average of 600 a year — the soil just wasn’t potent enough with gems to sustain an expensive mine. So in 1972 the state of Arkansas bought the property and opened it up to the public.
Crater of Diamonds contains gem-quality diamonds that are highly valued. In fact, the world’s only flawless, perfect diamond was discovered there in 1990, the 3-carat Strawn-Wagner Diamond. The largest stone was a 40-carat monster discovered in 1924 and nicknamed the “Uncle Sam.” An average of two diamonds are found in the fields every day. Will you be one of the lucky finders?
Crater of Diamonds State Park is a great location for families to spend the day. It only costs $7 for adults, $4 for children 6-12 and free for those 6 and under. There is a water park on site for kids, an interpretive learning center and plenty of shaded picnic tables. You can even bring your own digging tools or rent equipment for a small fee. There is also a campground nearby if you’re intersted in a longer treasure-hunting expedition.
The park is open from 8:00am to 5:00pm most of the year. You can find out more at www.craterofdiamondsstatepark.com.