Crater of Diamonds State Park History

1842
Geologist W.B. Powell first reports conspicuous intrusive igneous rock in southwest Arkansas on Judge Isaac White’s land, south of Murfreesboro.

6/14/1879
Millard Mauney acquires 40 acres of land from his Uncle Isaac White, including several acres of igneous boulders later identified as diamond-bearing material.

1889
Geologist John Branner visits Murfreesboro and recognizes the igneous rock as potentially diamond-bearing but doesn’t find any diamonds at that time.

7/15/1905
Local farmer John Huddleston buys land adjacent to Millard Mauney, containing several acres of diamond-bearing material.

8/1906 
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.

9/19/1906
John Huddleston sells his farm for $36,000 to Sam Reyburn and a group of investors from Little Rock, AR.

1907
First primitive wash plant for diamond mining built on Huddleston’s land.

3/1907
Millard Mauney’s son Walter finds the first two diamonds on their land.

6/1907
Prospectors flood the Murfreesboro area and comb the countryside for diamonds. Assorted claims include many false discoveries.

9/1907
Geologist Philip F. Schneider hired to update Branner’s 1889 report on diamond-bearing material in Arkansas.

11/4/1907
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.

1908-1910
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.

3/1908
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.

10/7/1908
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.

1909
With no additional discoveries of diamond-bearing material, the tent city near the diamond mine disperses.

1/22/1909
Kimberley officially opens with brass bands and barbecue. John Huddleston purchases the first two lots for $70 and $200 in gold.

8/1909
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.

1910
Lot sales stop; many businesses close in Kimberley.

8/1924
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.

9/1948 
Aircraft magnate Glenn L. Martin opens a mining operation on Huddleston's land. It closes less than a year later.

2/20/1951
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.

7/15/1952 
Millar’s Crater of Diamonds, a commercial enterprise, officially opens on the north side of the current search area.

3/5/1956
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.

5/20/1957
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.

1958
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.

1/20/1960
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.

2/26/1969
Howard Millar sells Millar’s Crater of Diamonds to General Earth Minerals, out of Dallas, TX, for $350,000.

12/10/1971 
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.

3/13/1972 
Initial land acquired for the park

4/16/1973 
The Arkansas Legislature passes Act 859 recognizing the purchase of several state parks, including Crater of Diamonds State Park.

11/21/1973 
Howard Millar passes away at age 91.

8/4/1975
Joplin, MO resident Tom Dunn discovers a 6.75-carat brown diamond.

8/20/1975 
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.

9/1976 
The state applies for the Diamond Park grant that 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.

9/30/1976 
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.

8/22/1977
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.

4/2/1978
L.C. Hawkins, of Sulphur Springs, TX, finds a 5.76-carat white diamond.

5/1978 
The Crater of Diamonds State Park hires a new interpretive geologist, Harry Harnish, and begins guided tours of Arkansas's diamond site.

5/2/1978 
L.C. Hawkins, of Sulphur Springs, TX, finds a 5-carat silver cape diamond valued at $5,000 - $10,000.

6/1978 
Record breaking month – 97 diamonds found

7/1978 
History of Crater of Diamonds program begins – 1-hour program

7/4/1978 
4th of July has over 3,700 visitors. Don Mayes, of Springdale, AR, finds a 3.30-carat white diamond.

8/18/1978 
Betty Lamle, of Hitchcock, OK, finds the 8.61-carat brown Lamle Diamond.

9/3/1978
Slidell, LA resident Jeannine Macy finds a yellow diamond weighing 5 carats.

3/1979 
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.

5/24/1979 
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.

6/2/1979 
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.

9/16/1979
Don Mayes, of Springdale, AR finds a 5-carat white diamond.

1/1980 
First “Gems from the Diamond Mine” biweekly article published by Harry Harnish.

3/1980 
Crater receives Outstanding Park of the Year for 1979.

5/1980 
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.

6/1980 
James Archer, of Nashville, AR uncovers his 241st gem at the Crater of Diamonds, a 3.27-carat silver cape diamond.

7/1980 
Joe Trombello is hired as a new ranger at Crater of Diamonds State Park.

10/27/1980 
Sam Barkley, of North Little Rock, discovers a 5.15-carat white diamond on the surface after 30 minutes of searching.

2/2/1981
Charles Newman, of Little Rock, AR, finds a 6.25-carat white diamond.

2/3/1981 
Martin Griffin, of Carmi, IL, finds a 5.90-carat brown diamond.

4/9/1981 
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.

4/23/1981 
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.

6/23/1981 
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.

9/1981 
Marcel Hanzlik is hired as a new ranger.

11/14/1981 
Ray Schall, of Murfreesboro, finds a 6.7-carat flawless white diamond.

6/1982 
Tom Stolarz of Hammond, IN recently named Park Interpreter at the Crater of Diamonds.

1/28/1983 
Film crew from Ripley’s Believe it or Not films at the Crater. The program airs on February 20.

10/1/1983
Grady Snearly, of El Dorado, AR, discovers a 5.63-carat white diamond.

10/13/1983
Walter Stockton, of Topeka, KS, finds a white diamond weighing 6.20 carats.

6/7/1984
Jake Palermo, of Gretna, LA, finds a brown, 5.58-carat diamond.

4/8/1986
Keith and Kevin Connell, of Rockton, IL, find a 7.95-carat white diamond.

10/11/1988
Murfreesboro, AR resident Steve Lee discovers a 6.30-carat white diamond.

7/8/1990
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.

10/4/1990
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.

11/19/1991
Joe Fedzora, of Murfreesboro, discovers a yellow diamond weighing 6.23 carats.

7/19/1994
Nashville, AR resident James Archer finds a 5.25-carat yellow diamond.

1996
Phase II of the Evaluation Program begins. Mining companies process 9,600 tons of ore to determine the quantity of diamonds in the Crater.

3/14/1997
Richard Cooper, of Lockesburg, AR, discovers a 6-carat brown diamond.

6/27/1997
Richard Cooper, of Lockesburg, AR, finds a 6.72-carat brown diamond.

4/7/1998
Mary Dickinson and Carol Stevens, of Baton Rouge, LA, discover the 7.28-carat yellow Dickinson-Stevens Diamond.

5/13/2000
Marshall Rieff, of Fayetteville, AR discovers a 5.50-carat white diamond.

6/28/2000
Harold Lay, of Murfreesboro, finds a 5.57-carat white diamond.

1/8/2003 
James Archer, a longtime “regular” miner at Crater of Diamonds State Park, dies at age 77.

10/28/2003 
The new Arkansas State Quarter is officially released at Crater of Diamonds State Park.

5/29/2004 
Diamond Springs Aquatic Playground opens.

9/3/2004 
Don Hing Lo and Cecilia Cheung, of Peekskill, NY, find a 2.68-carat white teardrop-shaped diamond.

11/8/2004 
Aneesah Rasheed, of Shreveport, Louisiana, is hired as park interpreter.

11/22/2004 
Crater of Diamonds State Park receives 2003-2004 Region IV Park of the Year Award.

5/20/2005 
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.

8/25/2005 
Crater of Diamonds State Park excavates a large trench on the east side of the diamond search area to open new diamond-bearing ground.

9/13/2005 
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.

9/27/2005 
Crater of Diamonds State Park receives the 2004-2005 Park Maintenance Award.

3/12/2006 
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.

9/16/2006 
Crater of Diamonds State Park excavates a large trench on the west side of the diamond search area to open new diamond-bearing ground.

9/23/2006 
Donald and Brenda Roden, of Point, Texas, find the 6.35-carat brown Roden Diamond.

10/20/2006 
Bob Wehle, of Ripon, WI, finds the 5.47-carat yellow Sunshine Diamond.

10/24/2006 
Crater of Diamonds State Park receives the 2005-2006 Region IV Park of the Year Award.

4/28/2009
Michael Burns, of Arab, AL, discovers the 5.75-carat white Arabian Knight.

4/27/2011
Beth Gilbertson, of Salida, CO discovers an 8.66-carat white diamond while helping two other visitors learn how to wet sift.

11/29/2011
Daniel J. Kinney III, of Sault Ste. Marie, MI finds the 6.67-carat yellow Teamwork Diamond while searching with a group of friends.

7/31/2013 
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.

4/16/2014
David Anderson, of Murfreesboro, AR, finds a 6.19-carat white diamond on the surface of the diamond search area.

6/24/2015 
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.

3/11/2017
Kalel Langford, of Centerton, AR, finds the 7.44-carat brown Superman's Diamond.

10/2019
Crater of Diamonds State Park excavates a large trench on the south end of the diamond search area to open new diamond-bearing ground.

9/7/2020
Maumelle, AR resident Kevin Kinard finds a 9.07-carat brown diamond he names the Kinard Friendship.