The first coin to be issued in the America the Beautiful Quarters™ Program, which begins in 2010, is the Hot Springs National Park Quarter. It will be released into circulation on April 19, 2010.
Hot Springs, located in the state of Arkansas, has the distinction of being the first land set aside by the federal government for public use. That occurred on April 20, 1832.
The design for the reverse of the coin was selected by U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner after receiving recommendations from U.S. Mint Director Ed Moy. The Mint made the design announcement on March 24, 2010.
The quarter’s reverse features the park’s headquarters building with the National Park Service emblem to the right — all are in the background. The park’s fountain is in the foreground. Inscriptions include HOT SPRINGS, ARKANSAS, 2010 and E PLURIBUS UNUM. The reverse was designed by United States Mint Sculptor-Engraver Don Everhart and sculpted by Sculptor-Engraver Joseph Menna.
Prior to the final design selection, several candidates, shown immediately below, were presented to both the United States Commission of Fine Arts (CFA) and the Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee (CCAC). The CFA and CCAC have the duty of reviewing American coin designs and themes.
The CFA chose the quarter design candidate featuring the doorway of the main Park’s building with a fountain in front of it, designated as AR-02. It was this candidate that became the model for the final design.
The CCAC opted for just an image of the fountain, designated as AR-04.
Also issued by the US Mint containing the same designs as this strike is the Hot Springs America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins.
Additional 2010 America the Beautiful Quarter releases for the year include:
- Yellowstone National Park Quarter
- Yosemite National Park Quarter
- Grand Canyon National Park Quarter
- Mount Hood National Forest Quarter
Hot Springs National Park information
Known as the "the Valley of the Vapors" by Native Americans for centuries long before being "discovered" by European settlers, the Hot Springs area is thought to have been a peaceful location where tribes came together to enjoy the waters. It first came to the attention of others in 1541 when explorer Hernando DeSoto and his group ventured into the area.
Over the next few hundred years, the area experienced little change as it passed under the control of both Spain and France, to be finally ceded to the United States as part of the vast Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Slowly the area began to draw visitors as they came to experience the "healing powers" of the hot springs.
Then, in 1832, 12 years after the Arkansas Territorial Legislature had requested it, the United States Congress officially set aside the land as a reservation area giving it federal protection. This marked the first time the US Government had reserved part of the country for public use, with the intent to prevent its destruction or abuse by private individuals.
The next few decades found the area both enjoyed and yes, abused, by those interested in its benefits and the people who wanted to get rich off of them. Hot spring water (which averaged 143 degrees) was diverted and directed to several bathhouses which where constructed to provide a place for paying customers to enjoy the water, after it had been cooled some.
In 1877, the federal government started exercising control over the area and initiated the process of both cleaning it up and preserving it for future generations. Bathhouses were still allowed, but the government controlled water flows with a plumbing system it created. It even got in the bathhouse business itself, offering free baths to the poor and later building the Army and Navy General Hospital.
Hot Springs remained a reservation area until 1921, when Congress officially renamed it Hot Springs National Park. It eventually came to encompass over 5,000 acres including the surrounding hillsides. Baths are still offered by local businesses which utilize the hot springs water that they purchase from the Park.