Diamond Springs Aquatic Playground Opens May 29 at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Article follows the photos:
May 26, 2004


Diamonds Springs Aquatic Playground Opens May 29 at Crater of Diamonds State Park
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Joan Ellison, public information officer
State Parks Division
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism

MURFREESBORO -- Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas's diamond site, is undergoing many enhancements for the enjoyment of park visitors. Opening Saturday, May 29 at 12 noon of Memorial Day Weekend, the official kick off to summer, is Diamonds Springs, a new $1.2 million mining-themed aquatic playground located adjacent to the park's diamond search area. Funded by Amendment 75, Arkansas's 1/8-cent Conservation Amendment passed by Arkansas voters in November 1996, the facility will cover 14,700 square feet. The water playground features a 4,166-square-foot wading pool with aquatic playground equipment including spray geysers, sprayers, jets, animated waterspouts, cascades, two water slides and waterfall hideaways. The facility includes a pool deck with three shaded cabanas, tables with umbrellas and lounge chairs. Diamond Springs is accessed through a ticket booth and entry wash stations.

Park visitors of all ages will be able to enjoy Diamond Springs. It will likewise serve the local community as a recreational facility to be rented after hours for social gatherings and parties.

The prices for admission to Diamond Springs are:
-- Adult (ages 6 and up): $4.00 each (tax included)
-- Child (ages 2 through 5 years): $3.00 each (tax included)
-- 20 Admissions Pass: $65.00

There is no charge for children under age 2, limited to three children per paying adult. Children age 10 and under must be accompanied by an adult 18 years of age or older.

Diamond Springs may be rented for private parties after normal closing hours (no rental after dark). The park will furnish lifeguards. Minimum rental time will be one hour. Rates vary according to size of party.

The prices for parties are:
-- Group (up to 20 persons)*: $70.00 for first hour
-- *Each additional person: $3.00 each

The hours of operation are:
-- May 29 -- August 21: Sunday through Saturday -- 12 noon to 6:00 p.m.
-- August 22 -- September 6: Saturday and Sunday (and Labor Day) -- 12 noon to 6:00 p.m.

Crater of Diamonds State Park is one of the 51 state parks administered by the State Parks Division of the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism. Located in southwest Arkansas two miles southeast of Murfreesboro, the park is the world's only publicly-operated diamond site where the public is allowed to search and keep any gems found, regardless of value. Visitors search over a 37 ½-acre plowed field, the eroded surface of the earth's eighth largest diamond-bearing deposit in surface area.

Other semi-precious gems and minerals found here include amethyst, garnet, peridot, jasper, agate, calcite, barite and quartz. Over 40 different rocks and minerals are unearthed at the Crater making it a rock hound's delight.

Over 75,000 diamonds have been unearthed at the Crater since those first found in 1906 by John Huddleston, the farmer who at that time owned the land. The largest diamond ever discovered in the United States was unearthed here in 1924. Named the "Uncle Sam," this white diamond weighed 40.23 carats. Other notable finds from the Crater include the "Star of Murfreesboro" (34.25 carats) and the "Star of Arkansas" (15.33 carats).

The largest diamond, of the 24,000 discovered since the Crater became an Arkansas state park in 1972, is the 16.37-carat "Amarillo Starlight." A visitor from Texas found this white diamond in 1975.

In June 1981, the 8.82-carat "Star of Shreveport" was added to the growing list of large valuable stones found at the Crater.

The 3.03-carat "Strawn-Wagner Diamond" was unearthed at the park in 1990 and later cut to a 1.09-carat gem in New York by Lazare Kaplan International in 1997. The American Gem Society graded the diamond a D-Flawless, O/O/O (for cut/color/clarity) in April 1998 and noted it was the most perfect diamond their laboratory had ever certified.

Crater of Diamonds State Park is open daily. Admission to the diamond search area is: Adult -- $5.00 each; Child (age 6-12) -- $2.50 each. With advance notice, groups of 15 persons or more can receive a group discount. Please check with the park.

In addition to the new Diamonds Springs, the park offers 59 campsites with water and electric hookups, picnic sites, a cafe, visitor center with exhibits, gift shop, laundry, hiking trail and interpretive programs.

The park staff provides free identification and certification of diamonds. Park interpretive programs and the exhibit gallery in the park visitor center explain the site's geology and history and offer tips on recognizing diamonds in the rough.

For more information about the park, contact: Tom Stolarz, park superintendent, Crater of Diamonds State Park, 209 State Park Road, Murfreesboro, Arkansas 71958. Phone: (870) 285-3113. E-mail: craterofdiamonds@arkansas.com. Web site: craterofdiamondsstatepark.com.

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Submitted by the Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism
One Capitol Mall, Little Rock, AR 72201, (501) 682-7606
E-mail: info@arkansas.com

May be used without permission. Credit line is appreciated:
"Arkansas Department of Parks & Tourism"