Gem of a park
Blues traveling : the holy sites of Delta blues
Steve Cheseborough.
Jackson : University Press of Mississippi, c2009.
At a crossroads in the Mississippi Delta, Robert Johnson is said to have sold his soul to the Devil so that he could become a guitar virtuoso and King of the Delta Blues.Blues Traveling: The Holy Sites of Delta Blues will tell you where that legendary deal was supposed to have been made and guide you to all the other hallowed grounds that nourished Mississippi's signature music.Johnson, Mississippi John Hurt, Memphis Minnie, Jimmie Rodgers, Bessie Smith, Muddy Waters, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Howlin' Wolf, B. B. King, Little Milton, Elvis Presley, Bobby Rush, Junior Kimbrough, R. L. Burnside-the list of great artists with Mississippi connections goes on and on.A trip through Mississippi blues sites is a pilgrimage every music lover ought to make at least once in a lifetime, to see the juke joints and churches, to visit the birthplaces and graves of blues greats, to walk down the dusty roads and over the levee, to eat some barbecue and greens, to sit on the bank of the Mississippi River, and to hear some down-home blues music.Blues Traveling is the first and only guidebook to Mississippi's musical places and blues history. With photographs, maps, easy-to-follow directions, and an informative, entertaining text, this book will lead you in and out of Clarksdale, Greenwood, Helena (Arkansas), Rolling Fork, Jackson, Natchez, Bentonia, Rosedale, Itta Bena, and dozens of other locales that generations of blues musicians have lived in, traveled through, and sung about. Stories, legends, and lyrics are woven into the text so that each backroad and barroom comes alive.Touring Mississippi with Blues Traveling is like having a knowledgeable and entertaining guide at your side. Even people with no immediate plans to visit Mississippi will enjoy reading the book for its photos, descriptions, and lore that will broaden their understanding and enhance their appreciation of the blues.Steve Cheseborough is an independent scholar and blues musician. His work has been published in Living Blues, Blues Access, Mississippi, and the Southern Register.
Climber's guide to the Midwest's metamorphic forms
Marcus Floyd '98.
Columbia, Mo. : Metamorphic Forms, c1998.
As a guide to the midwest's forever changing physical geography, seasonal conditions, and philosophy, "Metamorphic Forms" is designed to provide you with descriptive theory bending route information, detailed maps, and aesthetic perspectives from a climber's point of view. The book comes with a multi-outdoor activity guide, including: rock climbing, mountain biking, caving, kayaking, and great hiking areas.
Roadside history of Arkansas
Alan C. Paulson.
Missoula, Mont. : Mountain Press Pub., 1998.
Roadside History of Arkansas explores how the Land of Opportunity went from success to tragedy back to hope restored. This book is enhanced by historical photographs and several easy-to-read maps that help visitors and residents understand what happened where and when.
Ozark whitewater : a paddler's guide to the mountain streams of Arkansas and Missouri
by Tom Kennon.
Birmingham, Ala. : Menasha Ridge Press, c1989.
In the heartland of America rise the Ozark Mountains, verdant, rugged, and teeming with cascading, free-flowing streams. Situated astride the Missouri/Arkansas border, the Ozarks represent a canoeing and kayaking wonderland to paddlers from twelve states. Now for the first time, with photos, maps, data sheets, and detailed stream descriptions, whitewater veteran Tom Kennon catalogs the varied rivers of the Ozarks. Comprehensive, accurate, and eminently readable, Ozark Whitewater will become the definitive sourcebook for Ozark river sport. (6 x 9, 286 pages, maps, b&w photos)

Arkansas is the only diamond-producing state in the U.S.  Less than 550 miles south of St. Louis visitors can dig for diamonds at the Crater of Diamonds State Park. Pay a fee, put on a pair of old shoes, grab a shovel, and start prospecting.  It is finders' keepers.

Some prospectors do not even need a shovel.  In June 2007 a girl from Missouri bent over to pick up something shiny as she walked along a park road. What she found was 2.93-carat diamond.  She named it the 'Pathfinder Diamond'. 

In 1906 diamonds were discovered on the surface of this ancient volcanic crater near Murfreesboro. For a while the town had a boomtown atmosphere as many came to make their fortune.  And some did. 

  • The "Uncle Sam' diamond, a 40.23-carat white diamond was discovered in 1924.  This diamond is the largest ever found in North America.  It was named after its finder, W.D. Bassum, who went by the nickname, "Uncle Sam".  
  • In 1977 George Steppes uncovered the 4.25-carat 'Kahn Canary' diamond worn by Hillary Clinton to Bill Clinton's presidential inauguration.

The quality of a diamond is determined by the "4 Cs."

Carat weight

4 C's

In 1972 the State of Arkansas bought the privately owned site and turned it into a state park.  Over 60,000 visit each year to try their luck prospecting for diamonds and other precious stones. 

Those who cannot get to Crater of Diamonds this year need not worry. Geologists believe these diamonds that formed millions of years ago make up the eighth largest diamond reserve in the world.  There are still plenty to be found. 

Crater of Diamonds is a gem of a park.  But it is just one of the many 'natural gems' waiting for you in Arkansas.

More about diamonds

Article by: St. Louis Public Library staff