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As fall quickly fades into winter, you may be thinking that it’s time to head inside for a few months. Although Arkansas’s winters bring more rain and cold than snow and cold, that doesn’t mean we have to give up on fun outdoor activities. Ski slopes may not be calling, but the crystal mine is. This winter, Ron Coleman Mining will be providing a good kind of dirty family fun.
Artifacts indicate that quartz crystal has long been an important mineral in the state of Arkansas. This includes an arrowhead found in Garland County estimated to be over 11,000 years old. Mining has been taking place since the 1800s in a handful of counties in the west-central area of the state. Arkansas is one of the few places in the world that has enough quartz to warrant commercial mining.
The rough texture and irregular white and translucent qualities of quartz contribute to its beauty. With properties that help regulate the flow of electricity, the mineral also plays a vital role in electronics. Small pieces of quartz can be found in watches, radios, TV and computers. On a larger scale, quartz is a common material in the construction of countertops. Some people collect quartz for its appearance, while others believe quartz has healing properties and can alter one’s state of mind.
Henry Rowe Schoolcraft, early Arkansas Explorer (link), made a note of the abundance of quartz in several of his writings. In 1906, a 40-acre tract of land which would eventually become Ron Coleman Mining was being mined for commercial and industrial purposes. Commercial mining continued until World War II when the demand for quartz for military use led to the Blocker Lead No. 4 Quartz Mine (also known as the Old Coleman Mine) being placed under federal control.
Following the war, the mine returned to a commercial operation and was leased by various companies from Canada, Japan and Germany. In the late 1980s, Ron Coleman, whose family had been digging in the mines for years, purchased the mine from the German government and opened the public digging area in 1991. In 2014, Kevin (Ron’s son) and Kathy Coleman, along with their sons Josh and Alexander, took over the mining operation.
Left to right Alex Coleman, Josh Coleman, Kathy Coleman, Kevin Coleman
Although commercial and industrial mining is a significant portion of what goes on here, the public digging area has flourished in the last few years, making it a more popular Arkansas experience for family fun.
Public Crystal and Quartz Mining
The public digging area is open year-round, no reservations needed. For adults and seniors, Ron Coleman Mining offers guaranteed digs. You will leave with stunning and unique crystals and get to keep everything you find. Staff members train on how to dig and what to look for. Bring your own tools, or purchase what you need on site.
The mine tour begins with a brief history. Participants will then climb aboard old army trucks for a trip into the working mine to view the crystal veins and the mine’s water source. The adventure concludes in the processing area, where crystals are cleaned and sorted.
Enjoy the incredible thrill of flying high above the ground where you’ll get a crystal clear view of the mine and surrounding scenery. The side-by-side zipline is nearly a quarter-mile long. To inquire about zipline rates and hours, contact them at 800-291-4484.
The Ron Coleman Mining Crystal Ridge RV Park offers 24 full-size sites with water and electric hookups. About half of the sites also provide sewer. There is a washing station for cleaning crystals, a laundromat and a bathhouse with hot showers. The park usually has a few sites available if you happen to be passing through, but they do recommend calling for reservations if you plan to stay several nights or want a guaranteed spot.
The gift shop is open to the public and offers a wide variety of decorative quartz and other minerals, T-shirts and other gifts. You can also shop online.
Hours and Information
Open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Winter hours may vary.
Closed on Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.
Children ages 7 to 16: $5
Children ages six and under are free.
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