Crater of Diamonds State Park History

Geologist W.B. Powell first reports conspicuous intrusive igneous rock in southwest Arkansas on Judge Isaac White’s land, south of Murfreesboro.

Millard Mauney acquires 40 acres of land from his Uncle Isaac White, including several acres of igneous boulders later identified as diamond-bearing material.

Geologist John Branner visits Murfreesboro and recognizes the igneous rock as potentially diamond-bearing but doesn’t find any diamonds at that time.

Local farmer John Huddleston buys land adjacent to Millard Mauney, containing several acres of diamond-bearing material.

John Huddleston finds the first diamond at what is now Crater of Diamonds State Park. The exact date of his discovery is unknown. Some sources cite August 1; others August 8.

John Huddleston sells his farm for $36,000 to Sam Reyburn and a group of investors from Little Rock, AR.

First primitive wash plant for diamond mining built on Huddleston’s land.

Millard Mauney’s son Walter finds the first two diamonds on their land.

Prospectors flood the Murfreesboro area and comb the countryside for diamonds. Assorted claims include many false discoveries.

Geologist Philip F. Schneider hired to update Branner’s 1889 report on diamond-bearing material in Arkansas.

Mineralogist George Kunz and Mining Consultant Dr. Henry Washington present “On the Peridotite of Pike County, Arkansas, and the Occurrence of Diamonds Therein,” a program with specimens and lantern slides, to the New York Academy of Science.

Speculation booms in Murfreesboro, thanks to exploration and development of established diamond mines. Thousands of prospectors occupy a tent city along the road to the mines.

Cut Arkansas diamonds go on public display for the first time, including a 0.765 ct. brown, a 0.969 ct. canary, and a 0.203 ct. blue-white diamond. They are appraised at $103.33 per carat at that time.

Millard Mauney gives about 80 acres west of Prairie Creek for development as a new township called Kimberley, to provide homes and services for thousands of potential mine workers.

With no additional discoveries of diamond-bearing material, the tent city near the diamond mine disperses.

Kimberley officially opens with brass bands and barbecue. John Huddleston purchases the first two lots for $70 and $200 in gold.

Passenger service begins on the “Diamond Route” extension of the Memphis, Dallas, & Gulf Railroad to Murfreesboro. Regular excursion trains bring curious tourists into the area.

Lot sales stop; many businesses close in Kimberley.

The largest diamond ever found in the U.S., the 40.23-carat pink Uncle Sam Diamond, is uncovered by Wesley Basham in a hydraulic mining operation on Huddleston's land. Basham’s nickname is “Uncle Sam,” and the diamond is named in his honor.

Aircraft magnate Glenn L. Martin opens a mining operation on Huddleston's land. It closes less than a year later.

The Diamond Preserve of the United States opens. Though it fails to make a profit, the operation serves as a pattern for future diamond mining attractions.

Millar’s Crater of Diamonds, a commercial enterprise, officially opens on the north side of the current search area.

Winifred Parker, of Dallas, TX, finds the beautiful 15.36-carat white Star of Arkansas at Millar's Crater of Diamonds. It is later cut into a marquise-shape gem weighing 8.27 carats.

Ruth McRae, of Irving, TX, discovers the 3.11-carat white Eisenhower Diamond at Millar's Crater of Diamonds. This unique gem resembles a caricature profile of President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Art Slocum, an oil prospector from Texas, leases land from then-owner Ethel Pearl Wilkinson and opens the Wilark Mine. The mine operates until 1962.

Howard Millar appears on the television program “I’ve Got a Secret” and stumps the panel. His secret is that he owns the only diamond mine in the United States.

Howard Millar sells Millar’s Crater of Diamonds to General Earth Minerals, out of Dallas, TX, for $350,000.

The Arkansas State Parks, Recreation, and Travel Commission votes to buy the Crater of Diamonds property from General Earth Minerals to create a state park.

Initial land acquired for the park

The Arkansas Legislature passes Act 859 recognizing the purchase of several state parks, including Crater of Diamonds State Park.

Howard Millar passes away at age 91.

Joplin, MO resident Tom Dunn discovers a 6.75-carat brown diamond.

W. W. Johnson, of Amarillo, TX, finds a 16.37-carat white diamond on the surface of the field. It is later cut to 7.54 carats and named the Amarillo Starlight.

The state applies for the Diamond Park grant which will be matched by the state. Plans call for the construction of 50 – 100 “class A” campsites, a new entrance road to be built between Presley’s Rock shop and the Prairie Creek Bridge; a new VIC and extension of water and sewer lines to Murfreesboro.

The earth at the Crater of Diamonds is being bull dozed and plowed. Jim Cannon states “I really don’t know what it will do; this is the first time the soil has been turned to this extent. I have hopes it will improve the diamond hunting over a period of time”. Friday, a county bull dozer, operating on state funds, turns over the first few feet of top soil. After the field is “dozed”, plows will turn more of the soil.

George Stepp, of Carthage, AR, discovers a 4.25-carat yellow diamond. It is later bought and named the Kahn Canary by Stan Kahn, owner of Kahn Jewelers in Pine Bluff, AR and is eventually lent to Hilary Rodham Clinton to wear at her husband’s inaugurals, both as Governor of Arkansas and President of the U.S.

L.C. Hawkins, of Sulphur Springs, TX, finds a 5.76-carat white diamond.

The Crater of Diamonds State Park hires a new interpretive geologist, Harry Harnish, and begins guided tours of Arkansas' diamond site.

L.C. Hawkins, of Sulphur Springs, TX, finds a 5-carat silver cape diamond valued at $5,000 - $10,000.

Record-breaking month – 97 diamonds found

History of Crater of Diamonds program begins – 1-hour program

4th of July has over 3,700 visitors. Don Mayes, of Springdale, AR, finds a 3.30-carat white diamond.

Betty Lamle, of Hitchcock, OK, finds the 8.61-carat brown Lamle Diamond.

Slidell, LA resident Jeannine Macy finds a yellow diamond weighing 5 carats.

Crater of Diamonds State Park is named outstanding park of Arkansas State Parks' Class III parks for 1978. Approximately 120,000 visitors enjoyed the park that year.

The Visitor Information Center at the Crater of Diamonds is formally dedicated Thursday afternoon. Chairman of the State Parks and Tourism Commission Orville Richolson, of Newport, makes the dedication speech before about 100 guests, state and local dignitaries, and visitors. Other improvements include 60 new campsites, a public laundry, additional parking facilities, a short order café, picnic areas, and new bathhouses and restrooms.

James Williamson, of Black Canyon City, AZ, is the first person to purchase a ticket at the newly-opened Visitor Information Center early Saturday. He is also the first to register a find in the facility – a 5.08-carat brown diamond.

Don Mayes, of Springdale, AR finds a 5-carat white diamond.

First “Gems from the Diamond Mine” biweekly article published by Harry Harnish.

Crater receives Outstanding Park of the Year for 1979.

After deep plow of three feet by heavy equipment, visitors find diamonds at a rate of two per day. Within a few days of the furrowing project, a 4.25-carat yellow diamond is found by Paul June, of Houston, TX.

James Archer, of Nashville, AR uncovers his 241st gem at the Crater of Diamonds, a 3.27-carat silver cape diamond.

Joe Trombello is hired as a new ranger at Crater of Diamonds State Park.

Sam Barkley, of North Little Rock, discovers a 5.15-carat white diamond on the surface after 30 minutes of searching.

Charles Newman, of Little Rock, AR, finds a 6.25-carat white diamond.

Martin Griffin, of Carmi, IL, finds a 5.90-carat brown diamond.

Anaconda Mining Company, of Denver, CO attempts to obtain lease rights for diamond mining operations at the Crater of Diamonds. Governor Frank White is interested in at least considering commercial mining on the park land.

The State Parks and Tourism Commission rejects a sizeable offer by Anaconda Mining Company to lease the Crater for a mining operation. The vote is 11 to 1 to turn down the offer of $500,000 annually until actual production began, at which time they would pay the state 15% net profit of all diamonds found.

Carroll Blankenship of Shreveport, LA finds the 8.82-carat white Star of Shreveport. He has visited the mine for five years and has found 71 diamonds at this point.

Marcel Hanzlik is hired as a new ranger.

Ray Schall, of Murfreesboro, finds a 6.7-carat flawless white diamond.

Tom Stolarz of Hammond, IN recently named Park Interpreter at the Crater of Diamonds.

Film crew from Ripley’s Believe it or Not films at the Crater. The program airs on February 20.

Grady Snearly, of El Dorado, AR, discovers a 5.63-carat white diamond.

Walter Stockton, of Topeka, KS, finds a white diamond weighing 6.20 carats.

Jake Palermo, of Gretna, LA, finds a brown, 5.58-carat diamond.

Keith and Kevin Connell, of Rockton, IL, find a 7.95-carat white diamond.

Murfreesboro, AR resident Steve Lee discovers a 6.30-carat white diamond.

The state-funded Evaluation Program begins. Phase I consists of surface mapping and core drilling to determine the size and shape of the Crater, and to determine the types of rock material beneath the surface.

Shirley Strawn, of Murfreesboro, finds the 3.03-carat white Strawn-Wagner Diamond. It was later cut into a 1.09-carat round brilliant shape and graded as a perfect diamond.

Joe Fedzora, of Murfreesboro, discovers a yellow diamond weighing 6.23 carats.

Nashville, AR resident James Archer finds a 5.25-carat yellow diamond.

Phase II of the Evaluation Program begins. Mining companies process 9,600 tons of ore to determine the quantity of diamonds in the Crater.

Richard Cooper, of Lockesburg, AR, discovers a 6-carat brown diamond.

Richard Cooper, of Lockesburg, AR, finds a 6.72-carat brown diamond.

Mary Dickinson and Carol Stevens, of Baton Rouge, LA, discover the 7.28-carat yellow Dickinson-Stevens Diamond.

Marshall Rieff, of Fayetteville, AR discovers a 5.50-carat white diamond.

Harold Lay, of Murfreesboro, finds a 5.57-carat white diamond.

James Archer, a longtime “regular” miner at Crater of Diamonds State Park, dies at age 77.

The new Arkansas State Quarter is officially released at Crater of Diamonds State Park.

Diamond Springs Aquatic Playground opens.

Don Hing Lo and Cecilia Cheung, of Peekskill, NY, find a 2.68-carat white teardrop-shaped diamond.

Aneesah Rasheed, of Shreveport, Louisiana, is hired as park interpreter.

Crater of Diamonds State Park receives 2003-2004 Region IV Park of the Year Award.

Marshall Rieff, of Fayetteville, Arkansas, unearths a 19-point white diamond, the 25,000th found since the Crater of Diamonds became a state park in 1972.

Crater of Diamonds State Park excavates a large trench on the east side of the diamond search area to open new diamond-bearing ground.

99-year-old Alberta Rice, of Jetmore, KS, visits Crater of Diamonds State Park. She was born in the same year John Huddleston found the first diamonds in Pike County.

Crater of Diamonds State Park receives the 2004-2005 Park Maintenance Award.

Marvin Culver, an Oklahoma State Trooper, finds a 4.21-carat yellow diamond he names the Okie Dokie during his family's first visit to the park.

Crater of Diamonds State Park excavates a large trench on the west side of the diamond search area to open new diamond-bearing ground.

Donald and Brenda Roden, of Point, Texas, find the 6.35-carat brown Roden Diamond.

Bob Wehle, of Ripon, WI, finds the 5.47-carat yellow Sunshine Diamond.

Crater of Diamonds State Park receives the 2005-2006 Region IV Park of the Year Award.

Michael Burns, of Arab, AL, discovers the 5.75-carat white Arabian Knight.

Beth Gilbertson, of Salida, CO discovers an 8.66-carat white diamond while helping two other visitors learn how to wet sift.

Daniel J. Kinney III, of Sault Ste. Marie, MI finds the 6.67-carat yellow Teamwork Diamond while searching with a group of friends.

Twelve-year-old Michael Dettlaff, of Apex, NC, finds a honey brown, 5.16-carat diamond after less than 10 minutes of searching and names it God's Glory.

David Anderson, of Murfreesboro, AR, finds a 6.19-carat white diamond on the surface of the diamond search area.

Bobbie Oskarson, of Longmont, CO, finds a white, 8.52-carat diamond she names the Esperanza Diamond, for her niece's name and the Spanish word for "hope." She found it after about 30 minutes of searching.

Kalel Langford, of Centerton, AR, finds the 7.44-carat brown Superman's Diamond.

Crater of Diamonds State Park excavates a large trench on the south end of the diamond search area to open new diamond-bearing ground.

Maumelle, AR resident Kevin Kinard finds a 9.07-carat brown diamond he names the Kinard Friendship.

Crater of Diamonds State Park celebrates its 50th anniversary as an Arkansas State Park with a two-day event, including speeches by retired Executive Director of Parks and Tourism Richard Davies and retired Park Superintendent Jim Cannon.

Scott Kreykes, of Dierks, AR, registers a 3 pt. white diamond, the 35,000th since the Crater of Diamonds became a state park in 1972.