We spent our weekend at The Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro, Arkansas, trying our hands at prospecting...We didn't find any diamonds but we had a great time digging around and talking with people!
The crater is the site of an ancient volcanic eruption which spewed lava and diamonds all over the place, but now it just looks like a typical farm field, plowed and maybe 30 or 40 acres. Visitors are allowed to bring in buckets and shovels and any other non-motorized tools to search for diamonds, and they can bring home anything they find! People find diamonds just about every day--some are huge, but most are pretty small. Still, a diamond is a diamond!
We arrived on Friday afternoon, so we took a look around the diamond field for about an hour before it closed. Mostly, we walked around and looked at shiny spots (there are LOTS of shiny things in that soil!), and did a little digging. It was enough time to get us inspired to do some intensive hunting!
On Saturday morning we arrived early, buckets and screens in hand. Dale and the kids had put together some screening tools on Friday afternoon to help us with our quest. We spent more time digging up soil from different spots around the field, and then we went to the washing tables to remove the dirt. It was a lot of work! Fortunately, we met a guy from Tennessee who is a regular visitor, and he gave us a lot of tips, as well as a lesson on how to properly wash the gravel. There's a trick to it--if the gravel is sifted first, then swished around in the water in just the right way, all of the heavy bits end up on the bottom and in the center of the screen. If you have a diamond, that's where it will be! We all got good at the swishing around and flipping over the screens part, but alas, no diamonds.
On Sunday, we found a few really good spots that were full of the "right" kind of gravel, so we spent pretty much the whole day digging and swishing. It was tiring, but also really fun since we were all working on the same thing, and there were terrific people near us at the washing tables. We met a man from Arkansas who was full of diamond stories (very entertaining), and a couple on a first date, as well as a pair from Texas. A couple people showed us actual diamonds that they had found previously, in little glass tubes. Listening to their stories made the time fly! We ended up finding a lot of pretty little stones, mostly jasper and quartz. It was a fun way to spend a weekend, and we all got good and dirty and a little rosy from the sun.
The other thing I have noticed while travelling here in the south is that southerners have a real knack for great names for their roads and towns. We have passed "Goodgoin Road," as well as "Okay Landing Road." Some of the towns are "Delight," "Enjoy," "Chunky," (along with the "Chunky River") and my favorite, "Hot Coffee." I did not make any of those up!
Next stop, Texas!