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Hidden Treasure

Diamond mine the main attraction at Crystal Grove

April 26, 2008
By RICHARD NILSEN, The Leader-Herald
OPPENHEIM — When Evan and Cecily Myers of Philadelphia decided they wanted to run a small, quiet campground away from the bustle of big-city life, they didn’t expect to have a diamond mine thrown into the bargain.

“We saw it on a real estate brokers Web site and it sounded perfect,” Cecily Myers said. “It was a small, private campground that two people could run with the added attraction of a diamond mine.”

Her husband, Evan Myers, said the business, Crystal Grove Diamond Mine and Campground, has grown each year, even in spite of the access road being knocked out just before the big Fourth of July weekend in 2006 because of the flood of June 28 that year.

“The flood was major,” he said. “We cater to tourists out of the area mostly, and we did have some cancellations.”

With help from friends, they were able to repair the road enough for entry from Route 29, and it was business as usual for the couple.

“The campground even has a trout stream,” he said. “But we like that the place is small. Small and quiet is our thing.”

He said the main part of his business is the diamond mine.

“Everyone wants to dig rocks if they come here,” Myers said.

“Herkimer Diamonds” are actually quartz crystals and only found in certain locations in New York state. Many enthusiastic “rock hounds” travel from out of the area to search for the gems, he said.

“We get some folks who come back year after year,” Myers said.

David Hanson and his son Chris, 14, from Connecticut were rock hunting Tuesday.

“We’ve been coming for five years,” David Hanson said. “It’s our favorite place to come. You can find more stuff here easier than most places.”

Hanson said he also likes to be able to camp at the facility.

“[The Myers] are great hosts,” Hanson said.

The Sweeney family from New York City also were “pounding rock” for what gems they could find last week.

“It’s out first time,” Liz Sweeney said. “We saw it on the Learning Channel on TV, and it looked like fun.”

With Liz were her husband, Colin, and sons Dylan, 7, and Cameron, 10. Colin Sweeney said searching for the diamonds is an activity the family can enjoy.

Cecily Myers said she and her husband are the fifth owners of the diamond mine and campground. They found the place after first looking for campgrounds in Virginia.

“Local legend has it that farmers in the area would find people picking rocks after they plowed the fields,” she said. “A couple of the farmers decided to make some extra money by charging the rock hounds.”

No reservations are needed for day visits to Crystal Grove. The rates are $10 for adults and $8 for children ages 5 to 14. Camping rates are $25 per night for tents, $32 per night for RVs and $60 to $85 per night for cabins. Accommodations include hot showers, electricity and water at camp sites, ice, firewood, a dumping station, snacks, gift shop, playground, horseshoe pit, volleyball, basketball and ping pong.

“Prospectors” can bring their own tools or they can rent or purchase tools at the site. For more information, call 568-2914 or visit'>

Article Photos

The Leader-Herald/Richard Nilsen
Colin and Liz Sweeney of New York City with their sons Dylan, 7 and Cameron, 10, dig for diamonds at the Crystal Grove Diamond Mine Tuesday.



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