New Diamond Discovery Center Opens at the Crater of Diamonds State Park

June 28, 2005


New Diamond Discovery Center Opens at the Crater of Diamonds State Park
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Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism
State Parks Division

MURFREESBORO--Crater of Diamonds State Park, Arkansas’s diamond-bearing site, has undergone many enhancements for the enjoyment of park visitors. The latest improvement is the new 3,900-square-foot Diamond Discovery Center, a $965,069 structure that will serve as a gateway to the park’s diamond search area and an in-depth introduction to the adventure of searching for diamonds. Park visitors will now access the park’s 37 ½-acre diamond search area through this facility.

The Diamond Discovery Center is a diamond search area-based, interpretive facility that is designed to enhance the visitor experience at the park by helping park visitors understand diamonds and how to search for them at Arkansas’s diamond site. The exhibits will include the diamond hunters’ hall of fame, and feature information about the many notable diamonds that have been unearthed at this site since those first diamond discoveries here in 1906.

Along with the exhibit gallery, the two level barrier-free building will feature a refreshment area, digging equipment rental, restrooms/bathhouse/changing rooms, office, and storage on the lower level. The building’s upper level will feature a 1,600-square-foot classroom.

Nestled above Fugitt’s Bank near the search area, the building features an architectural design reminiscent of old mining buildings. This mining-theme is carried into the interior with the look of the exhibits and furnishings. The galvalume roof and mixture of earth tone block and natural stone sets the style for all new development at the park, and can be seen in the new enclosed pavilion near the visitor center and in the associated areas of the park’s aquatic playground, Diamond Springs.

The project totaled $1,531,469. This includes $965,069 for site development and the construction of the facility, and $566,400 for the exhibit design, fabrication and installation. The project was funded by Amendment 75, Arkansas’s 1/8-cent Conservation Amendment sales tax passed by Arkansas voters in 1996.

Crater of Diamonds State 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 of Diamonds 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 of Diamonds include the Star of Murfreesboro (34.25 carats) and the Star of Arkansas (15.33 carats). The largest diamond, of the 25,000 discovered since the Crater became an Arkansas state Park in 1972, was the 16.37-carat Amarillo Starlight. A Texas visitor 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 of Diamonds.

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—$6 each; Child (age 6-12)—$3 each.

The park offers 59 campsites with water and electric hookups, bathhouse, picnic sites, pavilion, a cafe, visitor center with exhibits, gift shop, laundry, hiking trail, Diamond Springs aquatic playground, amphitheater, wildlife viewing area with viewing blind, 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.

Additional information about the Crater of Diamonds State Park is located on the park’s
Web site: http://www.craterofdiamondsstatepark.com.


For more information, contact: Tom Stolarz, park superintendent, Crater of Diamonds State Park, 209 State Park Road, Murfreesboro, AR 71958, phone:
(870) 285-3113, e-mail: tom.stolarz@arkansas.gov.

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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"