Sher and I had discussed going to the diamond mine in Arkansas for some time. We’d read about this place, and it sure sounded like a fun and adventurous outing. The site is a 95 million year old inactive volcano crater. The first diamonds were discovered in 1906. Various mining enterprises have been attempted over the years. In 1972 the Craters of Diamonds State Park was established.
A small portion of the 37 acres for diamond hunting
We were able to plan a stop at the State Park on one of our trips to Austin to see family. We were of course exicited at the prospect of finding a diamond, or at least some of the other intersting and colorful stones in the park. This park is the only diamond hunting areas open to the public in the world. You keep what you find.
Getting ready to head for the diamond field.
The ground was muddy and slick so we had to watch our footing. The 37 acres open for diamond hunting is plowed about once every month, thus opening up more chances for finds. A fairly large amount of 1 carat plus sized diamonds have been found at the park.
Ready to dig! There is a sign picturing a huge diamond found.
Shed for washing dirt for diamonds and gemstones
We did not find any diamonds, but we did find some nice rocks for our landscaping at home. It was a fun way to spend a couple of hours. We enjoyed seeing some of the gear that others had. Pulled wagons filled with shovels, rakes, buckets and even sieves and screens. These are serious diamond hunters!
Original 1910 orphanage
We found a wonderful and historic location in North Little Rock, Arkansas. The St. Joseph Center is a non-profit organization based on a historic building that was once a children’s orphanage run by the Catholic Church. The impressive structure was built in 1910 and currently there are several Artist’s Studios inside the spacious old building that houses other functions.
Currently the St. Joseph Center is an educational and working farm. The grounds are really beautiful. The first thing Sher and I did was to take a stroll around the main building, enjoying the old statuary and flower beds. We also got our first look at the garden plots. Turns out that there is a large citizen garden space where locals can come and, for a modest fee, have their own personal garden plot.
Bull, right and cow
Recently sheared sheep
The Farm Stand, in other words the store, offers locally sourced goods ranging from in season produce to canned veggies, jams and jellies, pickles and cheeses. Local sourced flour, grains, and even meats are for sale. We certainly took advantage of Michelle’s opening the store for us and we made several purchases including pickles, pickled green beans and peppered Colby Cheese.
Raised garden boxes
View of the lovely grounds
There are quite a few head of livestock on the farm. Steve directed us to pastures and pens where goats, sheep and beef cattle make their homes. The sheep had recently been sheared ready for the hot summer. I enjoyed seeing the good quality cross bred cattle. Several calves were still on their mothers and would have been fall calves. There are also chickens supplying a great supply of free range eggs.
We bought honey. This is where it was made.
Sher and I liked visiting this educational farm. Owner’s Steve and Michelle made our visit to this sustainable operation very enjoyable. Oh, least we forget, there are two sets of beehives, and we purchased some very, very good honey, produced by the honey bees right there on the St Joseph Center. Here is the farm website.
Today Sher and I gambled on the threatening rain and went to the Crater Of the Diamonds State Park. We had an absolute blast even though the ground was very very muddy and hard to walk in.
Getting ready to head to the muddy field and begin our search for diamonds
Here I am shovel in hand and ready to find one of those huge diamonds shown in the picture next to me
The shed in the background is where you screen the soil for diamonds and gems stones
Nashville TV last night was kind of going nuts over overnight lows in the low 20’s. It was another very cold and very windy day. Today’s travels took us across I-40 past Memphis into Arkansas, the home state of that famous (or to some infamous) Clinton family.
An RV park downtown on the river
Little Rock is the state capitol, and what a pretty city it is. When you follow I-30 south through town you can easily drop down into the city and go to the Clinton Presidential Library. Just follow the brown signs and you can easily get to the library. The parking lot was plenty big, and there was lots of room for RV’s. We actually met a nice couple from Ohio who were also on the way to the Austin area. Sher and I had seen them on the road at least a couple of times today.
Clinton Presidential Library
The formal name of the Presidential Library
Anyway, the Clinton Library was a huge building, however I was not really impressed with the architecture. And I was surprised that there was not a statue or at least a bust of Bill out front. The area around the library has lots of green space, trails, benches and other amenities.
We went on from Little Rock to Texarkana. Seems this town can’t decide whether it is in Texas or Arkansas. The Post Office is actually on the state line!