Guest Author - Alice Rienzo
Target Reading Level: Grade 8
Panning for gold was once a national pastime. Regular people spent hours upon hours sifting through river silt, in search of gold. Becoming rich is an American dream. As the years passed, and more people moved closer to the gold, companies formed and eventually took over and pushed the regular folks out of the rivers. That was the end of the Gold Rush.
At the Crater of Diamonds State Park located in Murfreesboro (mü-freez-bü-r), Arkansas, the American dream is once again becoming a reality. For $6.50 per day, a person can enter the State Park and sift through the dirt in the world’s first “finders keepers” diamond mine. Authorities say that approximately two diamonds are found each day.
The Crater of Diamonds State Park, a 37-acre plowed field, is a unique gem. 95 million years ago, the eroded surface of an ancient volcanic pipe brought the diamonds to the surface. Diamonds of all colors have been found at the Crater of Diamonds, but the three most common colors are white, brown, and yellow. The State Park is a rock hound’s delight because over 40 types of rocks and minerals exist at the mine, such as:
• lamproite (lamp-ro-t)
• amethyst (a-mə-thist)
• banded agate (a-gət)
• jasper (jas-pər)
• peridot (per-ə-dät)
• garnet (gär-nət)
• quartz (kworts)
• calcite (kal-sīt)
• barite (ber-īt)
• hematite (hē-mə-tīt)
Before it became a diamond mine, the State Park was a farm owned by the McBrayer family. In 1906, John Wesley Huddleston, also a farmer, purchased the 160-acre farm from the McBrayer’s to make a home for his own family.
One day, John Huddleston was crawling around the ground on his hands and knees. One can only speculate as to why he was down on all fours. Nevertheless, his eyes happened upon a glittering pebble. He inspected the pebble and noticed that it glittered no matter which way he turned. He set off for town on his mule. But before he could leave the property, he noticed another glittering pebble. He scooped that one up as well and hurried on his way. Both pebbles turned out to be diamonds, which earned him a lot of money. He eventually sold his farm for $36,000 and sadly, he died a poor man.
Mr. Huddleston’s story was just the first of many similar stories of regular people digging in the dirt for diamonds and finding their American dream.