New Excavation Project Ongoing at Crater of Diamonds

By: 
Waymon Cox
 Updated: 
Trench project at Crater of Diamonds State Park
Trench project at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Greetings from Crater of Diamonds State Park! A lot has happened at the Crater in the past few days, as a new trenching plan seeks to expose unsearched diamond-bearing material and create new opportunities for diamond finds in the park’s 37.5-acre search area.

Park Superintendent Caleb Howell notes that this is an exciting time for the Crater of Diamonds. “Since I started at Crater of Diamonds State Park in July 2013, I’ve heard about the excitement surrounding heavy equipment projects on the mine. It gives me great pleasure to know that this project will improve mine field conditions for our visitors.”

Royce Walker Excavating, of Lockesburg, AR, is conducting this year’s endeavor. According to Assistant Superintendent Dru Edmonds, “Mr. Royce Walker has completed previous deep plows at the park, and we’re pleased to have him once again for his expertise and quality of work.”

Edmonds continues, “Deep plowing is an important part of Crater’s operational plans. Periodic deep plows and erosional forces provide improved access to unsearched material. Though every day holds the potential of a significant diamond find, a freshly turned surface is especially exciting.”

The primary goal of this year’s project is to create a drainage trench, approximately 200 yards long, along a portion of the diamond search area’s southern edge. Years of eroded soil and gravel have accumulated in this area, making deeper gravel deposits inaccessible to most park visitors. Howell says of the ongoing undertaking, “We are starting to see patches of gravel in the bottom of the new trench. These heavy gravel deposits are what many of our ‘regular’ visitors look for. They know that if there is a pocket of gravel, then there is a higher probability of a diamond being there, as well.”

Layers of dirt and gravel removed from the trench will be used to reinforce the main pathway between the search area entrance and north washing pavilion. Secondary paths will also be shored up and flattened to help make them easier to traverse. According to Howell, “All of the gravel picked up by the heavy equipment is going where most of our visitors search for diamonds. Hopefully, someone will cross paths with a very large diamond soon!”

After the trench is complete, Walker will then deep plow the entire search area to loosen the soil at a greater depth and help to release more diamonds. Park Interpreter Waymon Cox says, “Several visitors have found diamonds on the top of the ground this year. Diamonds are a bit heavy for their size and may be uncovered by rainfall. Sunlight reflects off of an exposed diamond and makes it easier to see. We are looking forward to many more surface finds the first good rain after the deep plowing is complete!”

Cox says that the new drainage trench will also help foster future diamond finds. “Most runoff from the southern half of the diamond search area will wash through the new South Drain, which should make it a very good place to dig. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone finds a large diamond in this area over the next few months.”

The South Drain passes near where local farmer John Wesley Huddleston reportedly found the first diamonds here in 1906. If the new trench proves fruitful, many other diamonds will be found in this area over the months and years to come.

Trench project at Crater of Diamonds State Park

Since 2005, Crater of Diamonds State Park has completed several trenching projects throughout the diamond search area. Park staff expect the latest venture will be completed by mid-October. The entire search area is currently open to the public, but guests are encouraged to stay safe and keep clear of the heavy machinery.

Crater of Diamonds State Park is the only area in the United States where the public can search for diamonds in their original volcanic source and keep any they find. The park is open year-round, seven days a week, closing only on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve afternoon, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Park staff regularly demonstrate diamond searching techniques and offer other special-interest programs for visitors. For more information, contact the park at 870-285-3113 or by e-mail at [email protected]. Or visit www.CraterofDiamondsStatePark.com.

Search area last plowed: Excavation project ongoing

Most recent significant rain: September 25, 2019

Diamond finds for the weeks of September 22 & 29, 2019 (100 points = 1 carat):

September 22 – Larry & Gretchen McCollum, Hindsville, AR, 7 pt. brown, 2 pt. white

September 24 – Billy Woods, Murfreesboro, AR, 11 pt. white; Larry & Gretchen McCollum, Hindsville, AR, 15 pt. white

September 25 – Shirley Strawn, Murfreesboro, AR, 5 pt. white, 33 pt. brown

September 26 – Lezlie McVaigh, Bluford, IL, 5 pt. white

September 27 – Tom Payne, Paola, KS, 5 pt. white

September 28 – Solomon Baughman, Elkins, AR, 3 pt. white, 19 pt. white

September 29 – Larry & Gretchen McCollum, Hindsville, AR, 12 pt. white; Alison Cook, Liberty, MO, 11 pt. white; Brady Sheumaker, New Orleans, LA, 3 pt. yellow, 4 pt. brown, 5 pt. white, 6 pt. white

September 30 – Larry & Gretchen McCollum, Hindsville, AR, 6 pt. yellow

October 3 – Jacqueline Salvesen, Daytona Beach, FL, 7 pt. white