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Thursday, 21 June 2012

68) America The Beautiful Quarters (1): Quarters issued by the US Mint in 2010 :

68) America The Beautiful Quarters (1):
 Quarters issued by the U.S. Mint (2010):

Commencement of the America the Beautiful Quarters Programme (2010):

After the successful completion of and popularity gained by the “50 State Quarters and the 2009 D.C. & the 5 U.S. Territories Quarters Programme” which converted nearly half of the USA population into active or passive coin collectors and made them aware of/take pride in each State’s heritage/history/icons, the US Mint was authorized by Congress to embark on a similar Programme, where quarters would be issued celebrating/commemorating  National Parks and National sites in the USA under the “America The Beautiful Quarters” programme.  In all, 56 National Parks and National sites have been identified to be honoured.  

 The Programme requires that the coin reverse be emblematic and “honor the national park or other national site in each host jurisdiction deemed most appropriate in terms of natural or historic significance”. The Programme is authorized under the America and the beautiful Quarters National Quarter Dollar Coin Act, 2008.

The Programme got off to a enthusiastic response with three US Mints – San Francisco (mint mark “S”), issuing Proof coin/sets, Denver (mint mark “D”) issuing uncirculated and circulating coins/ sets and Philadelphia (mint mark “P”) issuing uncirculated and circulating coins/ sets for collectors. In addition the quarters are being released as circulating coins for daily use. 

The series features five different designs to be releases every year beginning 2010. The Programme is to continue until at least 2021. The series may be extended thereafter upon assessing the success of the Programme upto 2033 to cover more National Parks and National Sites.

I have started collecting these America and the Beautiful Quarters sets ab initio from 2010 onwards and propose  to collect all the coins issued under this series. In a way, collecting these coins has made me aware of the Parks and the heritage/history covered by these coins, not to mention the enormous effort put in by the designers of each individual coin and the sculptors/engravers who have given us these beautiful mementos as timeless keepsakes for our collections.

The following five quarters were released by the US Mint in 2010:

The above is a collection of 14 uncirculated coins issued by the US Mint Philadelphia, (Mint mark "P", below the motto "In God We Trust" on all five quarters given here) which shows the obverse of five quarters . The obverse shows a portrait of George Washington and is designed by John Flanagan.

 The reverse of these five quarters, included in the set and explained in detail below.

 The Composition of all these five quarters is: 8.33% nickel, balance copper. Weight: 5.67 gms. Diameter: 24.30 mm or 0.955 inch: edge: reeded. Mints: Philadelphia (P), Denver (D) Uncirculated coins .
1)      Hot Springs National Park (Arkansas):

The Hot Springs National Park quarter is the first quarter of 2010 and has the privilege of being the first quarter to kick off the America and the Beautiful Quarters Programme in 2010. It was identified for being the first quarter in “America and the beautiful Quarters series” because it is the oldest Federal Reserve. 

The Hot Springs were known to several Native American tribes for thousands of years and one of the first Europeans to reach it was the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1541. In 1804, the Dunbar – Hunter Expedition was sent by President Thomas Jefferson to locate the Hot Springs near which were located pre-historic American Indian quarries. Later, a town came up around the hot springs to provide health services and therapy. Still later Hot Springs was established as a National site on 20th April 1832. 

The Hot Springs Reservation was set aside for public use as a park on 16th June 1880 and was made a National Park on 4th March 1921, with a focus on conserving the water from the 47 springs that come out of the Hot Springs Mountain and to ensure that water was made available for drinking and therapy. 

It is the smallest National Park in the USA having an area of about 900 acres only. The Hot Springs flow from the western slope of Hot Springs Mountain which is part of the Ouachita Mountain Range. The springs are all grouped around the base of the Hot Springs Mountain, discharging over half a million gallons of water daily. 

The Hot springs have not been preserved in their natural state, instead they have been managed artificially to conserve the emanating hot water for the visitors, who have been bathing in these waters for over two centuries, taking advantage of its therapeutic properties/qualities. 

The entire Bathhouse Row area is, itself, a National Historic Landmark district containing the grandest collection of bathhouses of its kind in Northern America, including that styled in the Golden Age architecture.

The Northern slopes of the ridges and basins provide a habitat for deciduous forest dominated by oak and hickory. Pines are found abundantly on the Southern side of the ridges.  The Forest provides shelter to Coyotes, Raccoon, American Mink, frogs, nine banded Armadillo, squirrels, rabbits, Opossum, Foxes and migratory birds following the Mississippi Flyway, among others.

The park attracts over 4 to 5 million visitors annually.

The quarter’s reverse design shows the façade of the Hot Springs National Park Headquarters building with a thermal fountain in the foreground. The headquarters building itself has a fascinating architecture, having been built in the Spanish colonial revival style and completed in 1936. The National Service emblem is shown on the right of the door, when one faces the coin.

      On the periphery of the coin are the inscriptions “HOT SPRINGS”, “ARKANSAS”, “E.PLURIBUS UNUM” (One Out Of Many) and the year of issue “2010”. The initials of the designer “DE” (Don Everhart) and sculptor/engraver “JFM” (Joseph Menna) are placed on the lower portion of the design.

2)      Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming):

The Yellowstone National Park Quarter is the second quarter of 2010 and the second overall in the America and the Beautiful Quarters Programme. It was established as a National site on 1st March 1872. The Park has an extra-ordinary collection of the World’s most amazing geysers. Native Americans lived here for more than 11000 years. 

 Yellowstone National Park covers an area of about 3500 square miles. It has several lakes, canyons, rivers and mountain ranges. Yellowstone Lake is one of the largest high-altitude lakes in North America and is situated over the “Yellowstone Caldera”, the largest supervolcano on the continent. Half of the World’s geothermal features are in Yellowstone, fueled by the volcanism of the caldera. The Park has one of the world’s largest petrified forests (trees which long ago were buried in ash and soil and transformed from wood to minerals. 

The Park sits atop the Yellowstone Plateau at about 8000 feet above sea-level, and is bounded on all sides by the mountain ranges of the Middle Rocky Mountains. The highest point in the park is Eagle Peak at 11,350 feet and the lowest point is along Reese Creek at 5300 feet.  The most prominent summit on the Yellowstone plateau is Mount Washburn at 10200 feet. There are 290 waterfalls, the highest being the “Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River” at over 300 feet. 

The Park is home to several varieties of Wildlife. Several species of animals, fishes and reptiles are found in this Park, the more well-known species being Grizzly Bears, wolves, bison, lynx, deer, mountain goat, pronghorn, elk and mountain lion. Interestingly, the park is home to the “Yellowstone Park Bison Herd” which is the oldest and largest public bison herd in the USA. 

Nearly 2 million visitors come to the Park annually. 
On the reverse of this coin is seen the “Old Faithful Geyser”, which is the most famous of all the geysers found in this Park, with a mature/full grown bull Bison in the foreground.

On the periphery of the coin are the inscriptions “YELLOWSTONE”, “WYOMING”, “E.PLURIBUS UNUM” (One Out Of Many) and the year of issue “2010”. The initials of the designer and sculptor/engraver “DE” (Don Everhart) are placed on the lower portion of the design.
 The above is an image of a quarter received in general circulation exhibiting the above features.

3)  Yosemite National Park (California):

The Yosemite National Park quarter is the third quarter of 2010 and the third overall in the America and the Beautiful Quarters Programme. The Park spans over Eastern sections of Tuolumne, Mariposa and Madera counties in the Central Eastern portion of California. It is spread over 1200 square miles and is one of the first wilderness parks in the country. It was first established as a national site on 1st October 1890. It was designated as a World Heritage site in 1984.

Yosemite is internationally recognized for its spectacular granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, Giant Sequoia groves and bio-diversity. Almost 95% of the Park is designated wilderness. The Park offers rock-climbing, hiking, exploring and knowing about the natural and cultural history of Yosemite, walking around the Giant Sequoia groves among other activities. 

About 10 million years ago, the Sierra Nevada was uplifted which resulted in the mountain slopes, steep streams and river beds and deep canyons. About a million years ago, the glaciers formed in the location of the Park and sculpted a U-shaped valley which is a tourist attraction. It has several deep valleys, grand meadows and ancient giant sequoias and waterfalls. 

Almost all of the landforms in the Yosemite area are cut from the granite rock of the “Sierra Nevada Batholith”, (a batholiths is a large mass of intrusive igneous rock that formed below the Earth’s surface).

”El Capitan” is a prominent granite cliff that looms over the Yosemite Valley and is one of the most popular rock climbing destinations in the World because of its diverse range of climbing routes, as well as accessibility throughout the year. Yosemite also has beautiful areas like the Tuolumne Meadows, Dana Meadows/Mountain, Clark Range, Cathedral range, Kuna Crest, Sierra crest, Pacific crest and granite peaks such as Mount Conness. Mount Lyell is the highest point in the park. The largest glacier is the Lyell Glacier and covers 160 acres.

Over 3.7 million visitors come to the Park annually.

The reverse of this coin depicts the “El Capitan” which is the largest granite monolith in the World and has a height of over 3000 feet above the valley floor where it is situated.

On the periphery of the coin are the inscriptions “YOSEMITE”, “CALIFORNIA”, “E.PLURIBUS UNUM” (One Out Of Many) and the year of issue “2010”. The initials of the designer “JFM” (Joseph Menna) and sculptor/engraver “PH” (Phebe Hemphill) are placed on the lower section of the design. 

The Park has five major Vegetation zones:  chaparral /oak woodland, lower montane forest, upper montane forest, subalpine zone and alpine. There are more than 1400 plant species in the Park. A large number of animal and bird species are also living in the Park. Some of the prominent ones are American Black Bear, Bobcat, Cougar, Gray Fox, Mountain Kingsnake, Marmots, Jackrabbits, Nutcrackers Blach Rosy Finch, White-headed Woodpeckers, Spotted owls etc. 

4)  Grand Canyon National Park Arizona):

The Grand Canyon National Park quarter is the fourth quarter of 2010 and the fourth overall in the America and the Beautiful Quarters Programme. Located in Arizona, the Grand Canyon is the 15th oldest National Park in the USA.  It was established as a National site on 20th February 1893. It was declared a Grand Canyon Game Preserve in 1906 and in 1908 it was designated as a National Monument. It was only in 1919 that it was established as the Grand Canyon National Park. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. 

The Park covers 1900 sq. miles of area in the Coconino and Mohave counties. It attracts nearly half a million visitors annually.

The creation of the National Park helped thwart proposals to dam the Colorado River within its boundaries and the Glen Canyon Dam was only built upriver later on.  In 1975, the Marble Canyon National Monument was made a part of the Grand Canyon National Park.

The Grand Canyon has an immense and awe-inspiring landscape and size which is upto 277 river miles long and upto 18 miles wide and a mile deep. The Park’s main attraction is the Grand Canyon, a gorge of the Colarado River, often considered as one of the seven “Natural Wonders of the World”. The Grand Canyon  and its extensive distribution of tributary canyons is valued because of its size, depth and exposed layers of colourful rocks dating back to the Precambrian times. 

The Canyon itself was created by the incision of the Colorado River and its tributaries after the Colorado Plateau was uplifted, causing the Colorado River system to develop along its present course. The main tourist areas are the North and the South Rims of the Grand Canyon itself. The rest of the Park is rugged and can be accessed by pack trail and back-country roads.

The reverse of this coin depicts a view of the granaries above the Nankoweap Delta in Marble Canyon (the Northernmost section of the Grand Canyon) near the Colorado River. These granaries were used for storing food and seeds between 1050 and 1150 A.D. 
On the periphery of the coin are the inscriptions “GRAND CANYON”, “ARIZONA”, “E.PLURIBUS UNUM” (One Out Of Many) and the year of issue “2010”. The initials of the designer and sculptor/engraver “PH” (Phebe Hemphill) are placed on the lower section of the design on the right hand side. 

5)      Mount Hood National Forest (Oregon): 

The Mount Hood National Forest is the fifth quarter to be issued in 2010 and the fifth overall in the America and the Beautiful Quarters Programme. Located 20 miles East of Portland, Oregon, which lies in the northern part of the Willamette River Valley, Mount Hood National Forest extends South from the scenic Columbia River Gorge across more than 60 miles of forested mountains, lakes and streams to the Olallie Scenic Area, a high lake basin under the slopes of Mount Jefferson. The Forest covers more than one million acres of property. It was first established as the “Bull Run Forest Reserve” in 1892. It was established as a National site on 28th September 1893. Then again, it was merged with part of “Cascade National Forest” on 1908. Later, in 1924, it was renamed as “Mount Hood National Forest”. 

Mount Hood National Forest is one of the most visited National Forests in the USA attracting over four million visitors annually.  Two of its main highlights are the Timberline Lodge and the Clackamas Wild and Scenic River. Some other places of tourist interest are Lost Lake, Burnt Lake, Trillium Lake, Timothy Lake and the Old Oregon Trail. Visitors can also go fishing, boating, hiking, rafting, camping, skiing, biking etc.

The reverse of this coin depicts an imposing  snapshot of Mount Hood in all its glory togetherwith with Lost Lake in the foreground.

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