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Spend some time digging in the dirt and you can find some pretty interesting things. Arkansas’s soil is a treasure trove just waiting to be discovered. Across the state, you can search for bauxite, dig for diamonds and go mining for crystals. If you’d rather keep your hands clean, you can let someone else do the dirty work for you and visit one of Arkansas’s Rock Shops.
Photo courtesy of Talya Tate Boerner of Grace Grits and Gardening.
I first became interested in rocks in the third grade. A neighbor of mine collected all sorts of gems and there was just something about seeing the sparkle and shine all lined up with little handwritten cards identifying each stone that was utterly intriguing. When my neighbor handed me a piece of pyrite (fool’s gold), I was hooked and began my collection of rocks, which I added to for many years. As is the way with many interests in our lives, rock collecting eventually fell to the wayside as I moved on to other enjoyments. The hobby resurfaced when my preschool son began to show an interest in rocks that went beyond throwing them or trying to eat them.
The spring of 2020 provided my family with an opportunity to explore parts of Arkansas we don’t get to often. We were taking long drives, hiking and exploring the natural beauty of Arkansas. I began to take notice of small shops along the highways and off the beaten path between attractions. Some shops appeared with no warning, and some were advertised on signs miles in advance. For a preschooler that recently learned to read the word “rock,” nothing is more alluring than sign after sign announcing a rock shop ahead.
As we stepped out of the car and into that quirky, other-worldly environment of a rock shop, I was instantly transported back to my childhood and the excitement of the hunt for the perfect gem to add to my collection came flooding back. The wooden tables filled with hundreds upon hundreds of stones must have been magical in my son’s eyes. He squealed with excitement and ran from table to table and I watched as the spark of interest came alive inside his tiny head.
Across the state exist many rock shops. Some specialize in stone used in building and masonry, while others specialize in gems. Around Arkansas, there are a lot of great stones, several of which are considered gemstones due to their intrinsic beauty and monetary value, and minerals like quartz. Arkansas is a terrific place for rockhounding and you may find amber, diamond, onyx, amethyst, jasper, garnet, turquoise and several varieties of quartz. It’s also possible to find freshwater pearls in Arkansas.
The next time you’re traveling about the state you may want to pull over and visit one of these quirky shops. Take home a treasure or two or simply enjoy browsing the sparkly gems and crystals.
Coleman Rock Shop – Jessieville
5837 N, AR-7
Arkhoma Hobbies and Lapidary – Gentry
209 E Main St.
Woodgrove Antique Mall & Tea Room – Heber Springs
314 W Main St.
Mystic Forest – Mountain Home
Crystal Waters – Eureka Springs
7 Spring St.
Photos courtesy of Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism, unless otherwise noted. The cover photo depicts Miners Camping and Rock Shop which closed in 2018.
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