Covering Kentucky

Jul 1, 2012 3:03 PM

Gem Mining Offered At Cumberland Falls State Park

CORBIN, Ky. (AP) - People visiting Cumberland Falls State Park can try their hand at gem mining.

The park in southeastern Kentucky has added a gem mining sluice as a new attraction, according to The Times-Tribune. The sluice can handle 32 gem miners at a time, said park manager Dave Jordan. Each gem bag contains 20 types of precious and semi-precious stones.

The attraction offered since Memorial Day weekend has educational value, Jordan said. Children not only can receive some gems during the experience, but they also learn about fossils, the types of rocks at the falls and even something about Kentucky's coal history.

"We have had nothing but positive feedback about the attraction and I am extremely happy with the quality of the product and the quality of the gems," Jordan said.

The park draws an estimated 650,000 visitors yearly, he said.

"We based our projected profit numbers on getting 5 percent of those attending the park to participate in the attraction, and so far we have met or exceeded that projection," Jordan said.

Construction and materials for the gem sluice were provided by Sandy Creek Mining out of Ohio, said Gil Lawson, a spokesman for the Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet. The construction, materials and installation of the gem mine sluice cost $15,000, while the bags of mining rough containing gem stones cost $6,840, Lawson said.

"It is going very well," Jordan said of attendance at the attraction. "Our joke around here is that it is a gold mine, not a gem mine."

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