Whalechaser's Musings

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Digging for Diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park

So, if I had a bucket list, which I don't, I suppose spending a day a Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas would be somewhere on it.  I know when I was planning to move to Arkansas, more than a few years ago, I was intrigued with this place.  Imagine it, open plowed fields from a defunct privately held diamond mining operation where one can search for and keep any diamonds found.  Many sizable ones have been found too!  The largest on record is the Uncle Sam diamond which was found in 1924 and weighed in at 40.23 carats. This year, so far, the largest recorded find is the Illusion Diamond which was 8.66 carats.  See, you get my drift...or sift...you can find really big stuff here!  But don't get too taken by the history...mostly what is found is pretty small, about the size of a match head



I arrived mid-afternoon Monday and registered at the visitors center...if you wait until 4:00PM you can buy a ticket for access to the field for today and tomorrow.  They give you your first hour free if you do it this way.  After pitching my tent, getting my stuff organized and having some lunch,

(never let it be said that camping has to be Spartan or unappetizing!)

I made my way back to the visitors center to be first in line for the the four o'clock rush.  Turned out it was a line of one...me.  Am I the only one that excited about this place?  Anyway, I went out and walked the fields and discovered it was pretty hot and the sun was quite strong.

I also noticed that there are three distinct ways of searching for diamonds.  The first, which is what I was doing is just walking around the field, poking here and there with a stick and picking up what you find.  The second way is dry sifting.  You bring or rent a sifting contraption, hand shovel and a bench of some sort, pick your spot and begin methodically sifting and looking for your treasure.  I quickly discovered that you get your dirt from one place and sift it into another place.  Don't mix them up or you will be working with the same dirt over and over again.  So I found a spot and started sifting first thing Tuesday morning



Here is the sifter that I rented.  I had not really sifted it enough to say there was nothing in that batch but I think you get the idea... try to get in down to pretty much all the small stuff, if a diamond is not waving at you, try again with another batch!

The third method is wet sifting.  That requires a 5 gallon bucket and a strong back.  You fill the bucket and bring it to the wet sifting stations located throughout the park. and begin a rather arduous task of dipping, turning, jiggling and continuing that for a bit.  Then when the stuff is arranged just so in your sifter, you bring it up and flip it over on a flat surface and see what has accumulated in the center of the batch.  It seems this is the most difficult and strenuous method.  Since the field was very dry I stuck with the dry sifting method.

Actually, before I headed down the the field to search for diamonds on Tuesday, I took a nice little hike on the Little Missouri River trail which is about 1.2 miles long and is half paved and half single track. It was quite enjoyable and I had the entire place to myself!


There were a couple of these bridges over what was supposed to be a small stream, but with the very dry summer that we have had it was just over a dry gully.

When I got to the Little Missouri I frightened a Blue Heron and noticed a gaggle of ducks on the other side of the river out for a morning swim.  Very nice.

I did not find any diamonds.  I did find quite a bit of Jaspar, which is a brownish, smooth almost creamy stone.  Anyway, I was there for the fun of it and I sure did have plenty of that.

2 comments:

Arkansas Patti said...

Good for you. That is on my bucket list to do. It was just too darn hot this summer.
Thanks for letting me know what I will be in for.

Mary Mueller said...

Hi,

I work with Fox News Channel in NY, and I am producing a video package on the top 5 things to do and see in AR. I saw you had some great pictures of the Little MO River Trail at the Crater of Diamond State Park, and I wanted to know if I could use them in the package? The video they would be used in is a 1:45 and it will be posted on the travel section of FoxNews.com. I can credit your name or the link to your blog each time they are used. Please let me know if this would be okay by either emailing me at MFMBROADCAST@ME.COM or calling my cell at 914-980-1267. Thank you!