We’ve struck gold in Arkansas. Actually, we’ve struck just about every mineral you can think of at some point or another in the state. The mining industry has a long withstanding history here and we’ve surveyed the state for interesting mineral deposits and quarries.
Pickaxes at the ready as we uncover yet another way Arkansas really rocks.
1. Quartz - Wegner Quartz Crystal Mines - Mt. Ida
Arkansas is one of the only places in the world with a large enough quartz supply to justify commercial mining. Mines have been established all along the "quartz belt" that runs through the Ouachita Mountains. It's believed that only 4% o the state's quartz have been removed. The crystals are used for computers, radios, and clocks. In 1967, quartz became the official state mineral.
2. Bauxite - Bauxite
Bauxite had been a boom town during WWII for their production of the mineral that was made into aluminium used in the military's aircrafts. The state rock of Arkansas lead to an interesting discovery; smelting bauxite into aluminum requires adding fluoride, which would leach into the drinking water. This turned the townspeople's teeth a disturbing brown but left them surprisingly strong. This lead to the introduction of fluoride in toothpastes in trace amounts that didn't leave the stains.
3. Gold/Silver - Hell's Half Acre - Hot Springs
Hell's Half Acre is shrouded in mystery. It's either an ancient Native American quarry sight or the entrance point for the devil. For the purposes of this article, we'll assume the former. The area is part of an extinct volcano crater and is thought to have been rich in gold and silver deposits. The quarry has been mined dry except for the remaining quartzitic sandstone rubble.
4. Coal - Paris
In the late 1800s, coal was Arkansas' first mineral export. It was used for steam-powered machines and locomotives. Convict labor was first used for the coal mines then changed to central European immigrants before settling into labor union work. Demand decreased as oil became the more popular fuel source and pushed Arkansas production to be used as charcoal briquettes instead.
5. Gypsum - Briar Gypsum Plant - Dierks
Gypsum was first mined in Arkansas in 1922. The Briar Gypsum plant opened in 1963, mining the material as a cement additive. In the plant's early years it ranked in the world's top ten largest producers of wallboard. CertainTeed currently owns the mining operation and production has cut back to a limited schedule until demand increases.
6. Vanadium - Wilson Mineral Springs - Hot Springs
Vanadium is a fairly rare alloy element that's used in steel manufacturing. The Wilson Springs was the first place to be mined purely for vanadium in the United States and is one of the leading producers in the whole country. The area has been prospected since 1950 and the mine has changed operators throughout the years (currently it's Stratcor).
7. Novaculite - Magnet Cove Stone Quarry - Hot Spring County
Novaculite mining is Arkansas' oldest industry, dating back to prehistoric Native Americans. Tribes such as the Quapaw, Osage, Caddo, Tunica, Chickasaw, and Natchez mined novaculite for weapons and jewelry. Magnet Cove Stone Quarry is the only known location of quality novaculite, which was determined to be pure to 99.9% silica. This high quality is used for gold testing as a polish material for space and aircraft industries.
8. Chalk - Foreman Quarry - Foreman
The chalk and lime rich sediment surrounding Foreman was formed million of years ago by a shallow sea covering the southwestern corner of the state. Chalk mining for the manufacture of cement in Foreman has been going strong since 1958. After recent renovations to the facility, it is now the largest-capacity cement plant in the country.
9. Diamonds - Crater of Diamonds State Park - Murfreesboro
Probably the most well known mineral deposit in the state, the Crater of Diamonds is the world's only diamond-bearing site accessible to the public. The 37 1/2-acre plowed field is actually the eroded surface of an ancient volcanic crater. The only perfect grade diamond every certified by the American Gem Society came from here.
10. Zinc - Rush
Arkansas' most famous ghost town. During WWI, Rush was the most prosperous city in the state for its zinc mine. Unfortunately once the war was over the prices declined as did Rush. The town is fairly well preserved and has a trail for tours.