Hi all, Dianne here. We put on old clothes and took a day trip from Lake Catherine State Park to Crater of Diamonds State Park near Murfreesboro, Arkansas for a day of prospecting for diamonds at the only productive deposit of precious mineral diamonds in the United States. Best of all, it's "finders keepers" -- you pay an admittance fee and any diamond, rock or mineral that you find is yours to keep.
We did a little research and discovered that dogs are allowed, so Bandido came along for some digging in the dirt. (In May of 2009 a Yorkie actually found a 1.11 carat white diamond at the park!)
We also knew that it would be a long, long day, so a picnic lunch was packed and off we went. We made a wrong turn that added at least a half hour to our drive over there; by the time we actually arrived we were ready to eat our lunch at the scenic picnic area next to the parking lot.
Then it was time for a treasure hunt! We knew ahead of time that our chance of actually finding a diamond was small, but there were lots of other interesting rocks to look for, including amethyst, jasper, agate, and more.
The visitor's center showed displays of what to look for, instructive videos showing surface searching, dry and wet-screening techniques, and friendly park guides on hand to verify your findings at the end of the day. We rented a screen and trowel and headed to the plowed field.
The decision was made that one of us would walk up and down the plowed rows with Bandido, doing some surface searching. We planned to take turns sitting in the dirt and digging and sifting with the screen. I ended up doing all of the digging and sifting, because I was having so much fun doing it. I hadn't had that much fun playing in the dirt since I made mud pies as a little girl, decorating the tops with dandelions and whatever else caught my imagination.
The area is large -- 37 acres -- and the whole field is purported to be diamond-bearing soil. There were several other folks spread out over the field digging, searching, and wet sluicing. We learned that diamonds have no static charge and will always stay clean; dirt and mud will not stick to them. For that reason it's possible to just do the surface searching technique, watching for shiny objects on the surface of the soil.
Typically the diamonds found are about the size of a match head, and either white, yellow, or brown.
I had lots of fun digging in the dirt, but had no luck at all finding any diamonds or minerals. Roger found lots of pretty stones while surface searching, including a small, shiny stone that had possibilities; we learned at the end of the day it was an agate.
Bandido started panting and acted like he was getting too hot, so we moved to a different area of the field where there was nearby shade. When we walked closer, I realized that there were actually dog pens in the shade!
What a nice surprise. We made Bandido comfortable in the shade with some water, and continued our search nearby.
We spent about two-and-a-half hours prospecting before we decided to call it quits and start the long drive back to the campground. No diamonds, but we had a lot of fun looking. We came home with some nifty Jasper stones to add to our collection, along with Roger's tiny agate. What a unique experience! If you'd like more information, here's a link to their web site: Crater of Diamonds State Park
Gotta say, though, that by the time we reached our site back at Lake Catherine I was totally exhausted -- wiped out -- from the hot sun and exertion of the day. Would I do it again? Sure would!
The pet photo of the day shows that I wasn't the only family member exhausted by our field trip. Bandido was "out" the moment he hit the back seat and slept all the way home.