Gold Occurrences in Arkansas

A view of the Ouachita Mountains from outer space.   NASA 

There is more then gold in Arkansas it also contains the Crater of Diamonds as a state park.  This is found in the Crater of Diamonds state park where the public can find real diamonds in a former diamond mine and are allowed to keep what they find.  This park is just to the south of Murfreesboro.  The state also contains a mineralized area ranging from thirty to forty miles wide and about 150 miles long that offer many chances for the collector to find beautiful quartz crystals.

Quartz crystals from the State of Arkansas
Photo by Rob Lavinsky

Gold in Arkansas was originally discovered by the early Spanish explorers during the 1500s.  Reportedly the Spanish Miners mined gold in the state during their time.  The other time when gold mining occurred was during the period from 1800 to 1830.  Most of the gold in the state exists as small flakes of the type called “pickers” or fine grains.  You can find this gold in the many rivers and creeks draining the central Ouachita Mountains.   This gold is found in roughly the same area where you can find the quartz crystals. The best place to look is in places where there is extensive black staining caused by manganese.  At the time this mining was occurring it was reported they didn’t find much gold.

After the Ouachita Mountains were examined by geologists they came to the conclusion that little gold was to be found in these mountains.  The prospects for placer gold were considered to be better however since gold is weathered from bedrock and is concent-rated into the streambeds as enriched deposits. A similar type of deposit was encountered during the Klondike Goldrush in 1897 where all the gold discovered was in the form of placer deposits that had weathered from the surrounding schist.

Even though gold is scarce in Arkansas doesn’t mean that other mining didn’t occur for many years the state was the largest producer of cadmium in the United States.  This production came from Mississippi type deposits of lead and zinc that were found in the Tri-State Area of Arkansas, Missouri and Arkansas.

In order to make any prospecting venture worthwhile is a real good idea to read everything that you can find about the area where you are going. A good source is your local historical society and library. Among the prospectors of Canada there is a saying that more valuable mines are found in the shadow of a preceding mines headframe.

There are even small deposits of turquoise associated with copper in the Ouachita Mountains. This is then worked sporadically for its value as a gemstone for making jewelry.