Byebye, Airstream dream. See ya, Easy Living. Diamond mining was a bust. Zero. Zilch. After falling for the dream of diamonds for the picking, we spent about two hours trying to mine, sift, dig, or shuffle up a diamond. Any size, any color. Our conclusion? Diamond mining is hard! We were hot, unfocused, and kind of sniping at each other for our crappy technique. As miners, we suck!
So, here’s the deal at Crater of Diamonds SP in Murfreesboro, Arkansas. You pay $8/person to get into the 40 acre diamond area. Whatever you find, you keep. Need tools? Rent ’em! There are live demos on how to find diamonds, and an on-demand video to watch. After watching the demo, we decided that we would go for the double-screen water dip method. We brought with us a small bucket and a garden scoop (you don’t want to know why we had this with us in the Fireball), and also rented a miner’s shovel.
Here’s how it goes….
1. Our two screens fit on top of each other. The top one has a larger mesh, so the finer grit, stones (diamonds) fall into the bottom box. Of course, you have to carefully examine the top box to make sure you’re not discarding The Big One (providing you didn’t just stumble across it while walking to your chosen dig site). Swish the boxes around in the sluice tank (or the waist-high troughs in the other areas) until you have only rocks in the top box. Examine them for the obvious enormous diamond. Discard.
2. Using a Rock/Bounce/Turn technique, wash the lower screen of gravel in the sluice tank to wash away the excess clay, grit, dirt. This technique (supposedly) also sends the heavier diamonds and minerals to the bottom of the screen, so when you flip it over to empty the screen, the good stuff is on top for you to simply scoop up.
3. We never got any good stuff. Just gravel. Scraping the gravel into the screens or buckets was difficult with the tools we had. The ground was packed hard. The folly of the undertaking quickly became apparent, although the guy who found a 6 carat diamond just laying on the ground two weeks ago was working nearby. Here, in John’s distinctive left hand is a visualization of what we hoped to find. We opted for shade, diet Cokes, and wandering about to see how others were approaching the task.
John’s best find was in the Visitor’s Center store (each to his own).Oh well. It was fun, but I have to say that we really just flaked out on the deal. As we rode our bikes home to the campground (what a terrific place to camp!), we could hear distant thunder, and we caught a few raindrops. Got Jezzy bundled into her Thundershirt, grabbed quick showers, and sat out the next six hours of pretty intense storms.
Tuesday, we cycled into Murfreesboro (pop 1764), and wandered around. It’s pretty s-l-o-w here. There are a few ‘antique’ stores, a cemetery, hardware store, and Barry’s Hawg Town Cafe (unremarkable food by any standard, except for the interesting sticker vending machine)
We loved having a chance to slow down a bit and enjoy the perfect spring camping weather. After drying out in the Southwest for three months, the warm humid day and 80 degree temps were welcome. The crazy green colors of spring are everywhere here, a real feast for the eye. Two (of three) nights were perfectly still, so we enjoyed campfires until we were in danger of nodding off and falling into them.
Score? Diamond mining – 0. Camping – 10. Life in general – 8 (at least).