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June 25, 2012

Cumberland Falls adds gem mining attraction

CORBIN — By Charlotte Underwood / Staff writer

In the mood for a little gem mining?

Cumberland Falls State Park has a new educational attraction, according to park manager Dave Jordan.

The park added a large gem mining sluice, which was up and running by Memorial Day weekend, according to Jordan.

He said the purpose of the attraction is really educational.

“We have a lot of interaction with the schools and we built this to go along with part of those programs,” Jordan said, explaining the park would provide discounted prices to schools attending the attraction.

He said the attraction is educational because children can not only receive some gems during the experience, but they will also learn about fossils, the types of rocks at the falls and even something about Kentucky’s coal history.

The sluice can handle 32 gem miners at a time, according to Jordan, and each gem bag contains 20 types of precious and semi-precious stones.

“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 receives an estimated 650,000 visitors yearly, according to Jordan.

“We based our projected profit numbers on getting five 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 company out of Ohio, according to Gil Lawson, director of communications for the Kentucky Tourism, Art 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 for a total package cost of $21,840, according to Lawson.

“It is going very well, our joke around here is that it is a gold mine, not a gem mine,” Jordan said of the attendance to the attraction.

For more information, contact the park at 606-528-4121.

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