The 2011 America the Beautiful Quarters are the second year of coins to be issued under an 11-year program dedicated to honoring some of the most scenic or historic sites in the country, and U.S. territories. Featured coins, and in the order they will be released during the year are:
Pennsylvania – 2011 Gettysburg National Military Park Quarter
Montana – 2011 Glacier National Park Quarter
Washington – 2011 Olympic National Park Quarter
Mississippi – 2011 Vicksburg National Military Park Quarter
Those somewhat familiar with American coinage may recall the recent 50-State Quarter Program which the United States Mint ran from 1999-2008 (with the D.C. & U.S. Territories program in 2009). Capitalizing on the success of those series, the America the Beautiful Quarters Program will be run in the same fashion.
Run by the US Mint, the program was authorized by Congress under the America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008. The Act requires the production of five quarters a year, each with a new reverse design, to run from the years 2010-2021.
The reverses will feature a design emblematic of a national park of other site of national interest. (See the 2011 America the Beautiful Quarters Design Candidates.) One site has been chosen from each state as well as the District of Columbia and the five U.S. territories, making a total of 56 new quarters to be issued. All of the sites for the program have already been chosen, and will be released in the order upon which the chosen site came under the direct control of the federal government.
George Washington, the first President of the United States, will still be featured on the obverse of the new quarters. His portrait, designed by John Flanagan, has been on the quarter dollar since 1932. That same image was slightly modified by William Cousins for the release of the State Quarters, and it will be used again on the new series.
In addition to the circulating quarters, the US Mint has also been authorized to create massive three inch bullion coins with the same America the Beautiful designs. These bullion coins will be struck from five ounces of .999 fine silver.
Also look for proof and uncirculated versions of the quarters to be offered by the Mint.
Some details on the 2011 America the Beautiful Quarters and the sites they honor is shown below:
Gettysburg National Military Park
Anyone familiar with the history of the American Civil War will know the name of Gettysburg. It has the unfortunate distinction of being the site of a battle which cost the greatest number of American lives.
An estimated 50,000 soldiers were killed when confederate forces, under the command of General Robert E. Lee, invaded northern territory and were met by union forces under the command of Major General George Meade. It is the consensus of most that the battle was the turning point of the war, swinging momentum to an eventual union victory.
Four and a half months after the battle, the site hosted President of the United States Abraham Lincoln who gave his now famous Gettysburg Address. Beginning “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation…”, the speech ranks as one of the best known in American history.
Glacier National Park
Containing one million acres, Glacier National Park also boasts over 300 lakes and pristine mountain scenery. Located in the northern part of Montana, it connects to Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada.
In 1891, the Great Northern Railway crossed the Continental Divide located in the area. In order to boost business, the company touted the beautiful sites to potential tourists and even lobbied Congress to dedicate the area as a forest preserve. In 1910, it was rededicated as a national park.
Today, many visitors take in the scenery by driving the Going-To-The-Sun Road which was completed in the 1930’s.
Olympic National Park
Located in the state of Washington, President Theodore Roosevelt created Olympic National Monument in 1909. It was officially changed to a national park in 1938.
The 900,000 acre park can be divided into three sections owing to its location; a pacific coastline, the Olympic Mountains and a temperate rainforest. All three have their own unique characteristics and offer something different for the visitor.
The coastline runs for 73 miles while the mountains are dominated by Mount Olympus, peaking at 7,695 feet.
Vicksburg National Military Park
Honoring the 47-day American Civil War battle on the edge of Vicksburg, Mississippi, the national park was not established until 1899, some 35-plus years after the battle took place.
Intent on wresting the last strong confederate presence on the Mississippi River, Union General Ulysses S. Grant led his men to the edge of Vicksburg where they began to besiege the city. After several weeks, and with few supplies and no reinforcements, the Confederate forces were forced to surrender.
Along with the confederate defeat at Gettysburg (occurring just one day before), the Vicksburg surrender is seen by many as the turning point of the war.
Chickasaw National Recreation Area
Named after the Chickasaw Indian Nation who were relocated to this area in the 1830’s from the Southeastern United States, the recreation area today consists of almost 10,000 acres.
Water covers almost 1/4 of the area providing lush landscape and many recreational opportunities for those that choose to visit. In keeping with an agreement with the Chickasaw tribe, no entrance fee is charged and many partake in boating, fishing, hiking, camping, etc. in the area.