Crater of Diamonds State Park
209 State Park Rd
Murfreesboro, Arkansas 71958
Southwest Arkansas is both a literal and metaphorical gem of a location. The Crater of Diamonds State Park is located on a 95-million-year-old eroded volcano were ancient magma had deposited diamonds from the earths mantel on the surface. Today, a small fee grants anyone the chance to dig up their own diamond.
In 1906, John Huddleston discovered diamonds on his farm outside Murfreesboro, Arkansas. This launched a diamond rush that turned Murfreesboro into a boomtown. Thousands of people rushed to the diamond mine yet—despite several attempts to commercially mine the land—the relatively low yield of diamonds made mining for profit unsustainable. By 1951, the land was opened as a tourist attraction. Much like today, visitors could pay to search the fields for diamonds. In 1972, the land became a state park, open the crater to visitors even today.
The 911 acres state park is open to visitors for an $8 admission ($5 for children). Thirty-seven acres of the park are plowed up. Visitors are allowed to hunt through this plowed region and keep any diamonds and gems that they discover. In 1990, Shirley Strawn discovered the 3.09 Strawn-Wagner Diamond. After being cut to 1.09 carats, it was ranked 0/0/0 for cut, color, and clarity by American Gem Society. It is considered to be the only perfect diamond to be discovered in the world.
This and many other notable diamond discoveries continue to draw visitors to the park each year. The park sells tools for collecting and searching for diamonds along with docents available to identify discovered gems. Along with digging for diamonds, visitors can also learn about the history of the region and diamond mining at the visitors center. Should anyone get a little too ansy and if the weather is right, one can also take a break at the water park which is right next to the museum entrance.
The neighboring town of Murfreesboro has grown up around the Crater of Diamonds. Today, evidence of the economic role of mining is seen in the decorations outside the county courthouse and the many shops selling gems and mining tools.