The first 2014 coin from United States Mint’s America the Beautiful Quarters® Program is the 2014 Great Smoky Mountains National Park Quarter. It also marks the 21st of 56 strikes of the program which began in 2010 and goes until at least 2021.
As seen in the quarter image above, the reverse design honors Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee.
This 2014 America the Beautiful Quarter entered circulation beginning on January 27, 2014 with the United States Mint offering bags and rolls of the coins on the same day. An official quarter launch ceremony was held by the United States Mint and the National Park Service a few days later, on January 29, at the Gatlinburg Convention Center.
Designs for each of the 2014 America the Beautiful Quarters were revealed by the United States Mint in December 2013.
Found on the quarter’s reverse is a historic log cabin found within Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It features a segment of the lush green forest and hawk circling above. Around the image are the inscriptions: GREAT SMOKY MOUNTAINS, TENNESSEE, 2014 and E PLURIBUS UNUM.
This design, created by Chris Costello and sculpted by Renata Gordon, was selected from among a total of four design candidates. The candidates were reviewed by various officials, the Citizen’s Coinage Advisory Committee and the United States Commission of Fine Arts with the United States Mint making a recommendation to the Secretary of Treasury who is responsible for selecting final America the Beautiful Quarter designs.
Additional 2014 America the Beautiful Quarter releases for the year include:
- Shenandoah National Park Quarter
- Arches National Park Quarter
- Great Sand Dunes National Park Quarter
- Everglades National Park Quarter
Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee
Located in Tennessee, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is said to be the most visited park in the nation with approximately 9 million annual visitors. This number is over twice the amount shown visiting any other national park
Elevation in the park ranges from 800 feet to over 6,000 feet, making the 800 miles of mountain trails in the park both challenging and rewarding. Visitors do need to take precautions for changing weather and the wildlife — an estimated 1500 bears reside within the park boundaries.
Bird watchers enjoy the park for the wide variety of breeds they can find with estimates of about 240 species. 120 of those species actually breed in the area, 52 of them from the neo-tropics. The rest just use the location as a stop-over during migrations.
Unfortunately, the park also has the distinction of being one of the most air polluted in the nation. In a four year period, 150 days of unhealthy air were recorded and a veil of smog is not uncommon.
The site was added to the national park system in 1934 through a generous $5 million contribution of philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr.