The United States Mint’s America the Beautiful Quarters Program begins its seventh year with the 2016 America the Beautiful Quarters that honor the sites of a forest, monument and three parks. The coins released for the year, the location of the site, and in the order they will be available are:
Illinois – 2016 Shawnee National Forest Quarter
West Virginia – 2016 Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Quarter
North Dakota – 2016 Theodore Roosevelt National Park Quarter
South Carolina – 2016 Fort Sumter National Monument Quarter
Each of these national parks or nationals sites will be featured on the reverse, or tails side, of a new quarter dollar issued in intervals throughout 2016. The final design selections will probably not be released until shortly before the year’s first coin is launched, although design candidates are likely to be available for review by 2015. The obverse, however, will still contain a portrait of George Washington, the first President of the United States, who has been featured on the quarter since 1932.
Under the series program, which was authorized by the America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-456), one site of national interest has been chosen from each state, the District of Columbia and the five territories — the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the United States Virgin Islands, or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. In total, 56 new quarter dollars will be struck between the years of 2010 and 2021, with five released annually.
More information on the sites the 2016 America the Beautiful Quarters celebrate can be found below:
Shawnee National Forest
Shawnee National Forest is located in the Ozark and Shawnee Hills of southern Illinois. Unlike most of the rolling plains of the state, this area was not completely covered by glacial sheets leaving its topography full of rich stone bluffs and scenic overlooks to the lowland areas below.
The Forest encompasses about 265,000 acres and ranges in elevation from 325 feet above sea level (the flood plains of the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers) up to the highest point in the park at 1,064 feet, Williams Hill.
Visitors to the forest enjoy activities such as camping, hiking, fishing, picnicking and even horse-back riding on the trails.
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Established in 1940, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park in Kentucky honors the gateway to the American West that was used for centuries by both the Native Americans and later the European settlers.
The Gap is located at the border between Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia and features a prominent break in the otherwise tough to traverse Appalachian Mountains. Through this break, hundreds of thousands of settlers journeyed westward into Kentucky and beyond during the early years of the United States.
Today, an estimated one million visitors are attracted to the park by its history as well as the scenery and trails which the park has to offer.
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Scenery is not the only thing that Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in in West Virginia has to offer as it also has a rich history.
Located on the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, the Park is only 50 miles from the nation’s capital. The town around which the Park is located was named after Robert Harper who operated a ferry service on the river.
In later years, the town would serve as a federal armory (in fact Meriwether Lewis outfitted the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition here) which was overtaken by a group led by Abolitionist John Brown in what was known as John Brown’s raid. He meant to arm the slaves to fight for freedom in 1859, but failed and was hung.
An interesting Civil War note, Harpers Ferry was such a strategic location that is changed hands 8 times during the War.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Located in North Dakota, Theodore Roosevelt National Park consists of two separate units totaling approximately 70,000 acres.
The park is named after the 26th President of the United States who operated a ranch on the land in the late 1800’s before heading back east and entering the world of politics. His love of nature that was fostered in the prairies of North Dakota helped to shape his policies as President that led to the creation of many national parks.
Today, both park units are surrounded by 7-foot fences to help keep a population of American Bison in the park boundaries. Aside from the wildlife, over 100 miles of trails and prairie views are offered to the estimated 400,000 annual visitors.
Fort Sumter National Monument
Fort Moultrie was the first fort built on Sullivan’s Island to protect the port city of Charleston, South Carolina.
It is said that when the British forces fired on the yet to be completed or named fort in 1776, the soft palmetto logs absorbed the shock and little damage occurred forcing the British warships to retire nine hours later. In honor of his successful defense of the fort, it was named in honor of the American commander of the battle, William Moultrie.
Today, the area is better remembered for the nearby Fort Sumter which played a pivotal role in the American Civil War.
Massive five ounce .999 fine silver bullion coins will also be struck as companion pieces to the quarter dollars. Called the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin Program by the United States Mint, each bullion coin will feature the same designs as those found on the quarter dollars.