Transition to Recreational Mining

    Regardless of all the controversy over commercial potential, it was always evident the diamond field was suited for public recreation.  MM Mauney had recognized this in 1909 when he opened the first tourist attraction.  Local citizens had underscored it continually after 1906 as they persisted in visiting the property to find those precious gems, sometimes by sneaking in.[1]

    In the late 1940s there had been some interest in making the diamond field a centerpiece of a new state park.  As a national magazine put it in 1949, a “lottery-minded Arkansas legislator” recently proposed the State buy the property, “and plans were actually drawn for a public park to charge $1 admission and advertise:  ‘What you find, you keep.’”[2]  Talbot Feild, Jr., a lawyer and state representative from Hope, Arkansas, was among those pursuing such ideas.



[1] In 1943, for instance, an official of the North American Diamond Company merely exaggerated while complaining about locals picking up “thousands” of diamonds (Robert J. Arthur, Secretary of NADC, to Solon W. House, overseer of the property, September 23, 1943, I.P, Crater archive; cf. supra, “Beginnings of Recreational Diamond Hunting”).  Although a few writers have suggested the former ADC property was fenced to keep people out, the evidence generally supports the comment in a magazine article of 1951:  “The facts are that the several successive owners and operators have displayed a singular indifference to the intrusions of the curious” (Domer L. Howard, “Diamond Mines of Arkansas,” Lapidary Journal, 5, No. 4 [October 1951], 253-254).  Exceptions included the case in 1943 and the Millar’s earlier effort to keep uninvited visitors off the Ozark property (photographs in the Crater archive, unnumbered; one undated but early photo shows a small shack with a sign warning, “The Ozark Diamond Mine.  No Searching Permitted—Keep Off—H. A. Millar.”


[2] Wood, “America’s 35 Acres of Diamonds,” 60ff.  Wood was in Murfreesboro gathering information while discussions were underway.  The Arkansas Gazette, March 9, 1947, pp. 1, 19, reported the initial interest in developing a tourist industry at the big pipe:  the State publicity director and Ethel P. Wilkinson (majority holder in Trust A) were involved.  Cf. Howard Millar, Finders Keepers, pp. 71ff., which is generally reliable on the subject of tourism, except for specific dates.


© 2006 All rights reserved. Brief citations may be used in writings or other presentations if this source is properly identified. No part of this study may be photocopied or otherwise reproduced without written permission of the author. Address inquiries to: