As many in the collector community already know, but few in the general public yet realize, a new multi-year series of coins is set to debut in 2010 from the United States Mint. Known as the America the Beautiful Quarters Program, the series highlights the beauty of the nation by showcasing sites of national interest throughout the land.
Even though this program is just premiering, the US Mint is no stranger to multi-year quarter campaign. The America the Beautiful Program follows the immensely successful 50-State Quarters series which ran from 1999 to 2008, which was right before the District of Columbia & U.S. Territories Program in 2009.
In keeping with tradition, the new series follows the same general format as its predecessors. Namely, five quarters (each with new reverse designs) will be issued annually until the end of the promotion which is slated to be 2021. (See the 2010 Quarter Design Candidates.)
According to the provisions in the law authorizing the series (America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008), each new reverse will feature a national park or other site of national interest with the proviso that there is one from each state, the District of Columbia and the five United States territories. The law also stipulates that the coins be released in the order in which the honored site came under the direct control of the United States government.
All of the sites for the entire program have already been chosen along with their scheduled year of release. (To see a complete list go to America the Beautiful Quarters Release Schedule.)
The obverse of each circulating clad quarter (struck from 91.67% copper and 8.33% nickel) features an image of the first President of the United States, George Washington, who has been on the quarter dollar since 1932. The portrait of Washington was originally done by John Flanagan, but slight modifications were made by William Cousins when the State Quarter series premiered.
Along with the circulating coins to be struck, the Mint will also be releasing numismatic proof and uncirculated versions to collectors.
A new bullion coin containing the same images as those featured on the America the Beautiful Quarters was also authorized by Congress. However, these coins will be quite different from anything the Mint usually strikes. They are to contain five ounces of .999 fine silver and will have a massive diameter of three inches. The Mint is calling them the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins.
Information on the 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters is provided below:
2010 Hot Springs National Park Quarter – In 1832, the United States Congress set aside the Hot Springs area, located in Arkansas, as a reservation. Its goal was to prevent abuse to the Hot Springs and to insure its continued availability to the general public.
Unfortunately, Congress failed to create any sort of oversight on the land, and it continued to be abused for decades by both those seeking its rejuvenating waters as well as those wanting to capitalize on it. This changed in the 1870′s when the government started regulating the bathhouses and controlling the flow of the hot water.
At one point, an Army and Navy General Hospital was even built to use the hot springs as aids in the treatment of those wounded in the military. In 1921, the area officially became Hot Springs National Park.
2010 Yellowstone National Park Quarter – While truly the first national park of the country (and the world for that matter), Yellowstone only came under the control of the federal government in 1872. Thus, it is the second location to be honored in the new America the Beautiful Quarters Program.
The park is located primarily in present-day Wyoming, but its 2.2 million acres stretch into Montana and Idaho as well.
Yellowstone is known primarily for its geothermal features (like the Old Faithful Geyser), but also hosts an abundance of wildlife and plant life along with its amazing scenery. Over 3 million visitors are estimated to see the park each year.
2010 Yosemite National Park Quarter – With its pristine beauty, Yosemite was first put in the national spotlight in 1864 when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant after having never seen the location himself.
While the grant did afford Yosemite some protection, it put the management of it in the hands of Yosemite’s host state, California. Succumbing to the local pressures, compromises on its use were granted by the state which resulted in the over-grazing and over-logging of its resources.
Then, in 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt, who had befriended naturalist and Yosemite lover John Muir, took control back from the state and it eventually became a national park in 1916.
2010 Grand Canyon National Park Quarter – Located in Arizona, the Grand Canyon National Park sees approximately 5 million visitors annually. Many of those are foreign tourists who have heard of the massive canyon and traveled to see it for themselves.
At the base of the canyon is the Colorado River which is said to have cut the massive gorge over millions of years through the erosive effects of its water. President Theodore Roosevelt initiated the process of federally protecting the land in the early 1900′s by first declaring it a federal game preserve and then a national monument.
It became a national park in 1919 and today consists of approximately 1.2 million acres.
2010 Mount Hood National Forest Quarter – Mount Hood is named after a famed British admiral, but is truly one of America’s best treasures. It is located only minutes from Portland, Oregon and sees millions of visitors a year.
Those visitors not only take in the forest’s beauty, but also the many recreational activities that are offered. Some of these include boating, skiing, camping, etc.
The area first came under federal control in 1892 as part of the Bull Run Forest Reserve with its name changing to Mount Hood National Forest in 1924.
For more details on the specific 2010 quarters and the sites they honor, click on the links above.