National and state parks all over the country are known for their amazing—and usually unique—attractions. From the glaciers in Alaska to the geysers at Yellowstone, these preserved lands boast a ton of breathtaking sights. Of course, most of the these places forbid guests from removing any rocks or other items to bring home as souvenirs.
There’s one park in Arkansas, however, that not only encourages you to collect souvenirs—it practically guarantees that you’ll become wealthy from them! It’s the only park in the world where you can come in poor and leave filthy rich… but you have to do your own legwork!
When it comes to gemstones, few are considered as precious as the diamond. Because of their supposed rarity and the level of demand, diamonds are one of the most expensive jewels on the planet.
But it turns out that everything we’ve been told about these precious jewels may be totally incorrect. If you want to get your hands on your very own diamonds without becoming the Queen of England, you can do it with ease right in the U.S.A.—but there’s a catch…
That’s because you’ve got to dig them up yourself! If you have a craving for expensive jewels, all you need to do is visit the Crater of Diamonds located in Murfreesboro, Arkansas. It’s the only diamond mine in the world that’s actually open to the public…
After paying a small fee, you can step onto the grounds of the mine and go digging for your very own diamonds. What’s more: you can actually take home anything you happen to find. Hello, jackpot!
The 37 acres of land that make up the diamond mine were once the site of a very large natural crater. The crater itself was caused by natural gas buildup more than 300 million years ago, according to geologists.
Thousands of tourists visit the Crater of Diamonds State Park every year with the hopes of finding their very own personal treasure trove. It’s kind of like a diamond digging free-for-all!
Some of the tourists who visit the crater really come prepared. They bring with them all sorts of equipment, like a special kind of prospector’s sieve called a seruca, which helps them separate dirty clumps from the real diamonds.
But you don’t need to have any fancy tools of the trade to help you on your quest. In fact, if you want to find diamonds at the crater, all you have to do is get down on your hands and knees and dig!
Believe it or not, more than 31,000 diamonds have been discovered by park visitors since it first opened in 1972. Park officials say you have a good chance of lucking out, too: more than 600 diamonds are discovered each year!
While most of the stones found at the crater are on the smaller side, there have been pretty sizable discoveries at the site as well, including the 40-carat “Uncle Sam” diamond pictured here.
The park has a long and storied history. In 1906, a man named John Huddlestone was working on his farmland when he discovered what he thought were two large crystals. He was initially stunned; he’d never found anything like them before.
Because he wasn’t quite sure about what kind of jewels he was dealing with, he took them into town so a jewel appraiser could properly assess both of them. What he found out changed his life forever…
Sure enough, John was told that he was in the possession of two large diamonds! When word of his discovery spread, a diamond rush began in the area, with folks flocking to Murfreesboro to make their fortune.
Interestingly enough, John himself had no interest in taking up diamond mining. He made his money elsewhere, selling his farmland to investors for $36,000. That amount today would be around $100,000!
Several different attempts were made after John sold the land to turn it into a commercial diamond mine. Many factors, including mismanagement, saw each attempt fail right after the other…
The state of Arkansas finally had enough of the new owners’ endeavors. Knowing there was something better they could do with this land, the state officially bought the property in 1972 and opened it up to the public.
The reason the park “gives away” its precious stones is because most of the diamonds people find there are incredibly small—no bigger than the head of a matchstick. They’re too tiny to cut or to mount into a piece of jewelry.
However, some intrepid and lucky tourists have managed to find diamonds that were bigger than three or five carats, making them worth thousands of dollars. This boy inherited a future family heirloom, whether he realized it at the time or not!
Diamonds come in all different colors, though the traditional clear diamond is the most well-known. The crater has been known to yield primarily brown or chocolate-colored diamonds. While unusual, they’re beautiful in their own right.
That said, other types of diamonds can be found in the crater, too. If you decide to visit, you could find something like this 8.52-carat Esparanza diamond! That’s exactly why people make the trek to this park: the possibilities outweigh the travel costs!
Can you imagine visiting a state park like this one and having a diamond to bring home with you as a souvenir? This is one crater definitely worth visiting.
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