The Last Private Ventures

    As tourism developed after 1950, several commercial interests tried to exploit the diamond field.  John St. Clair’s plan to mine industrial diamonds never drew enough support to move beyond the initial proposal.  After that, in 1958-1962, a former Texas oil man, Arthur G. Slocum, leased part of the Trust A property and hired a small local crew to help him process surface gravel deposits around the southeast slope.  In 1959 the adventuresome wildcatter told the Wall Street Journal he was “just breaking even on his $15,000 initial investment, plus $1,000 a month operating expenses for his three-man crew.”[1]  Then a “lack of sufficient working capital” forced him to return to Texas.[2]

    In the late 1960s, Austin Millar’s dream of consolidating the diamond field under one owner finally materialized, although in the end someone else achieved the goal.    The first stage of consolidation involved a new Diamond Properties, Inc., a small group incorporated in Arkansas to gather land for certain interests in Dallas, Texas.  The Mauney Mine, the Consolidated Diamond Corporation’s Ozark Mine, and the Trust A holdings all were sold to Diamond Properties in November 1968 and then were immediately reassigned to General Earth Minerals, Inc. (GEM).[3]


    GEM’s highly misleading literature suggests it was essentially a promotional effort rather than a serious attempt to test the Crater.[4]  Yet, in February 1969, the venture got a $550,000 loan from the Dallas-based GF Industries, in exchange for a one-year promissory note secured by its Pike County properties.[5]  Defaulting on the loan, GEM deeded its properties to GF Industries, Inc., in July 1971.[6]



[1] Neil Maxwell, “Arkansas Diamonds Bring a Bonanza-Of Tourist Dollars,” Wall Street Journal, Southwest Edition, 23, No. 91 (May 11, 1959), clipping in IV.H.  Cf. Gross,Diamond Mine Mystery,” 102.


[2] A. G. Slocum, Mill Valley California, letter to Richard Davies, Department of Parks and Tourism, Little Rock, June 13, 1986.  Said Slocum, “I would still be there this very minute (and loving it)” if the money had not run out.  This letter conveyed the “Vitt Report” Slocum had gotten with his lease.

    Interviews of Al Terrell, a descendant of MM Mauney, provided details about Slocum’s operation, particularly the “mining” of surface gravel beds.  Sue McClarty, general office manager for General Earth Minerals’ tourist operation in 1970-1971 told how one of Slocum’s former crew members, Dicky Hughes, would run down to the base of the southeast slope with a front-end loader and bring back diamond-bearing gravel to spread around Beatty’s Hill, a primary hunting area, when GEM’s diamond count fell (notes of interviews, 1986-1996, in author’s possession).

    Hugh Leiper, a writer, also noted that Slocum’s crew gathered its gravel “from the surface” (Leiper, “Celebrating the 69th Anniversary of America’s Only Diamond-Bearing Peridotite Pipe,” Lapidary Journal [September 1966], 726).


[3] Pike, 92, 40, Warranty Deed, Howard A. Millar and Modean Millar (trustees), Consolidated Diamond Corporation of Arkansas to Diamond Properties, Inc., November 8, 1968; ibid., 42-45, Trust Deed, conveying Trust A properties to Diamond Properties, Inc., November 18, 1968; ibid., 46, Quit Claim Deed (Mauney property), J. B. and Jay Warmack to Diamond Properties, Inc., November 21, 1968; ibid., 34, Warranty Deed, Diamond Properties, Inc., to General Earth Minerals, November 26, 1968.  J. B. Warmack signed as president of Diamond Properties.


[4] See especially Neal H. Potts, President, General Earth Minerals, “Geological and Feasibility Report,” undated (by early 1970), Parks and Tourism vertical files, Little Rock.  Potts’s nine-page sales pitch concluded that with new techniques the “known recovery at the site of 0.123 carats per ton could probably be increased at least 50% or up to 0.184 carats per ton” (5).  Displaying questionable research effort, he said, “the Bureau of Mines in 1949 with incomplete sampling and recovery techniques collected .08 to .413 carats per ton” (ibid.).  Potts treated the entire pipe, not merely the volcanic breccia, as a vast commercial reserve extending “to depths of at least 3,000 feet” and holding perhaps “310 million tons of ore” (4-5, citing “the state geological office” as the source of data about depth).  Moreover, Potts said, there were “extensive alluvial deposits down stream from the pipe where diamond recoveries have been made in the Little Missouri River by panning” (ibid.).  A handwritten note attached to the report, “from the desk of Neal H. Potts,” said “Harold Branch has handled 100,000 diamonds from Murfreesboro . . ..”  Branch was a diamond merchant in New York City.

    Potts estimated that $500,000 was needed for “pilot operations.”  A full-scale operation would require “a $6,000,000 investment” (2).

    The Parks and Tourism file on GEM contained a second report almost identical to this first one, along with other items.  Correspondence, December 1, 1969 to March 17, 1970, shows an effort to enlist Kerr-McGee Corporation of Oklahoma City as a principal investor or buyer, before a previous loan forced GEM into bankruptcy (infra).


[5] Pike, Mortgage Deeds, 54, 49, Deed of Trust, GEM to Carl Abramson, Trustee, Dallas County, February 26, 1969.  The sixteen-page document left no loopholes.  The listing of properties totaled 828.03 acres.  As all preceding deeds, this one excluded long strips of land–one-foot wide–along the west edge of the former Ozark tract:  accidentally or otherwise, this remained with the Millars’ Consolidated Diamond Corporation.


[6] Pike, Deeds, 100, 272, GEM to GF Industries, Inc., July 23, 1971.  The one-foot strips were still omitted.


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