BY MELANIE BUCK –
The last week of May, the town of Mena was abuzz with sightings of Josh Gates, host of the Travel Channel’s shows Expedition Unknown and Destination Truth. Although no one could figure out why he was here, we can now announce that Gates and his Travel Channel crew were in town to film at the Board Camp Crystal Mine, owned by Orville and Cheryl Murphy.
The couple has been in touch with producers since March, however, they were not allowed to announce the plans to film. Cheryl Murphy said the Travel Channel contacted them a few months ago, after they were referred by someone for the mine’s special attributes. Those attributes are being kept under wraps for now, but will be announced on the show when it airs this fall on an episode of Expedition Unknown. Cheryl said, “We were amazed at such an offer, but then we couldn’t tell a soul! People asked why we were temporarily closing the mine, and the filming was the actual reason. It was the most challenging task to keep this a secret for so long!”
Orville added, “It’s an absolute honor that our crystal mine was selected for this filming. We are not to disclose any information about the story line. Viewers should follow the Travel Channel to learn more.”
While in town, Gates visited several points around the county including the Talimena Scenic Drive, which was filmed from an aerial view for extra footage of the area, and the Skyline Café, where he unexpectedly met Brian Ingram, of Mena, who has a connection to the infamous DB Cooper case that Gates has filmed shows on previously (see side story for details). They were also given the ‘southern hospitality’ treatment as friends and family of the Murphy’s stepped in to help show them around, feed them, and provide security.
The Murphys said Gates and crew were “polite, courteous, and downright good people” and they hope the visit and the broadcast of the show causes a huge boost in tourism in Polk and surrounding counties.
When the filming was completed about 1 a.m. on May 27, and the cameras and equipment were packed into the truck, Gates and the film crew stated to the Murphys that they absolutely loved Polk County and appreciated the warm hospitality from everyone they met. Board Camp Crystal Mine plans to reopen in July with a different “theme” than from its past.
For more information, follow the crystal mine’s website and Facebook page by the same name. Follow Expedition Unknown and the Travel Channel for more information regarding the show.