The second United States Mint America the Beautiful Quarters® Program strike to appear in 2012 was the 2012 Chaco Culture National Historical Park Quarter. The quarter was released into circulation on April 2, 2012. It is the twelfth quarter to been seen under the program since it debuted in 2010.
Each of the America the Beautiful Quarters has a common reverse design which is the 1932 portrait of George Washington by John Flanagan. The obverses also include the inscriptions UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, LIBERTY, IN GOD WE TRUST and QUARTER DOLLAR.
Before a final reverse design was selected for the Chaco Culture National Historical Park Quarter, four proposed or candidate designs were created by United States Mint artists and offered up for review. Among other parties, the Citizen’s Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC) and the Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) were tasked to critique the designs and offer their recommendations. From the four available designs and based on input from all parties involved, the Treasury Secretary made a final selection. That selection with a provided image was announced by the United States Mint on December 8, 2011.
The quarter’s reverse, designed by Donna Weaver and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill, depicts the west of two elevated kivas that are part of the Chetro Ketl Complex and features the north wall of Chetro Ketl and the north wall of the canyon. Inscriptions include CHACO CULTURE, NEW MEXICO, 2012 and E PLURIBUS UNUM.
Additional 2012 America the Beautiful Quarter releases for the year include:
- El Yunque National Forest Quarter
- Acadia National Park Quarter
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Quarter
- Denali National Park Quarter
The United Mint will also be issuing investment America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Bullion Coins and collectible America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coins honoring Chaco Culture National Historic Park. The five ounce coins will feature the exact same designs as the quarters.
Chaco Culture National Historic Park in New Mexico
Hosting the best concentrations of pueblos in the southwest of the United States, Chaco Culture National Historic Park of New Mexico honors the ancient pueblo people who lived in the region a thousand years ago.
The park is located in northwestern New Mexico between Albuquerque and Farmington, but fears of erosion caused by tourism has led to several areas being declared off limits to the public. Despite this, the park system works closely with the Hopi and Pueblo descendants to insure their concerns are taken into account while maintaining access to most areas.
By 1050, the Chaco area was being abandoned in favor of other locations leaving its ruins for future generations to ponder on. No one knows for sure why the native population left Chaco, but climate change may have had some affect. A 50-year drought (circa 1150 A.D.) in the region would certainly have played a part.
Today, the area seems to be subject to many extremes. Temperature swings of 60 degrees in one day are not unheard of. The heat of summer routinely reaches into the upper 90’s and late summer thunderstorms are a common occurrence.