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Sunday, 16 June 2013

105) America The Beautiful Quarters -2013: (4) Fourth Annual quarters set issued by US Mint:

105) America The Beautiful Quarters -2013: (4) Fourth Annual quarters set issued by US Mint:

The Proof coin set issued by the US Mint in the America and the Beautiful Quarters – 2013 (San Francisco Mint – “S” mint mark) and the Uncirculated Annual Coin sets, including the America and the Beautiful Quarters - 2013 ( Denver mint “D” mint mark and Philadelphia mint “P” mint mark) have been booked by me on 6th June 2013 this year. My coin bookings got delayed this year because the Uncirculated Annual sets were announced only on 05.06.2013 this year, unlike in the previous three years.

The consignment has moved through Continents – via US cities, Koeln (Germany), Dubai and has reached Mumbai and is scheduled to be delivered to me by UPS Couriers in Pune, India by 17.06.13. This will add to my collection of the previous three years on which I have written articles last year (links given at the end of this post). I will be putting up image scans of these sets on receiving them.

I have not booked silver issues under this programme, as I am not sure of the policies followed by the Indian Foreign Post Customs (Imports) Authorities, who let some packets through with a “Duty Free” stamp, while they charge an import duty on identical consignments.

I landed into this kind of trouble on the Annual coin set - 2013 imported this year from the Royal Mint U.K. which got marked “Prohibited item-needs import licence”, with no intimation to me regarding the objection raised and releasing it only when I raised a “stink”, after imposing a hefty “import duty” (immediately climbing down from the “Prohibited item objection – needs import licence” objection), while another set which was received by me thereafter, has  got through Foreign Post Customs with the “Duty Free” stamp.

My Right to Information Application (RTI application) queries have been stone-walled by the Mumbai Customs (Imports) Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) who has not been very helpful in the matter, while the Mumbai Foreign Post Office CPIO has explained the position very nicely laying the entire ambiguity in handling of foreign mail on the Customs officials.

The America The Beautiful Quarters Set – 2013:
This coin set includes the fourth annual release of five quarters in the America and the Beautiful Quarters programme, from the sixteenth to twentieth coin releases. This coin series features a national park or site from each state, territory and the District of Columbia. These coins are struck using greater force than circulating coins, producing a sharp, intricately designed image.

The five "America and the Beautiful Quarters" coin set issued in 2013, represent  White Mountain National Forest (New Hampshire), Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial (Ohio), Great Basin National Park (Nevada), Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine (Maryland) and Mount Rushmore National Memorial (South Dakota).

              The cover of the America and the Beautiful Quarters Proof set 
               showing the Mount Rushmore National Memorial.

                          The Back of the above Proof set
              The obverse of the Proof set showing the image of George 
                     Washington. Below the inscription "In God we Trust" is the
                      San Fancisco Mint mark "S" on each quarter.

 The obverse of each quarter depicts the 1932 portrait of George Washington designed by John Flanagan, which has been restored to bring out subtle details and the beauty of the original model. The inscriptions on this face of the coin read “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”, “LIBERTY”, “IN GOD WE TRUST” and “QUARTER DOLLAR”.

                 The reverse of the Proof set showing the themes chosen for
                  the five Quarters issued this year.  
The specifications of the Proof coins are:
Metal Composition: Nickel: 83.33%, Copper: 16.67%;

Weight: 5.670 gms; Size (Diameter): 0.955 inch (24.3 mm);

Edge: Reeded; Mint: San Francisco.

Uncirculated Coin set - 2013:

For this year, the US Mint has redesigned the folders which now display a red, white and blue flag image on the front, as a coin has been issued on Fort McHenry this year which is regarded as the birth place of the US National Anthem “The Star Spangled Banner”.

 The Philadelphia folder is accented in blue, while the  Denver folder is accented in red. 

         The cover of the Denver Folder accented in red

              The cover of the Philadelphia folder accented in blue

             Denver Mint Uncirculated coin set 2013 showing the "D" mint Mark.
              Philadelphia Mint Uncirculated coin set 2013 showing the "P" mint mark.            

        Reverse of the Uncirculated coins set of Denver Mint.
         Reverse of the Uncirculated coins set issued by Philadelphia Mint .
The specifications of the Uncirculated "America and the Beautiful Quarters" coins are:
Metal Composition: Copper: 91.67%, Nickel 8.33%

Weight: 5.567 gms; Size (Diameter): 0.955 inch (24.3 mm);

Edge: Reeded; Mints :Denver, Philadelphia.

White Mountain National Forest in New Hampshire:
The White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) situated within the White Mountains in New Hampshire partially spills over into the State of Maine.

It is one of America’s most visited National Forests for its wide array of recreational opportunities and rich Natural resources and unique and strikingly beautiful landscapes. The WMNF includes unique features such as Mt. Washington, the highest peak north of the Smokey Mountains and East of the Mississippi. It was established as a National site on 16.05.1918.

It has a total area of 3039 sq.kms. It is a popular destination for hiking, camping and skiing. The WMNF has about 1900 km. of hiking trails, 23 campgrounds and large number of Ski areas. Over 160 km. of the Appalachian Trail traverses the WMNF.

The National Forest consists of 3 main Areas: one, the Region surrounding Cannon Mountain, Kinsman Mountain and Mount Moosilauke, two, the Presidential Range area and three, the Franconia, Twin, Bond, Sandwich, Willey and Carter-Moriah ranges.

The WMNF also has six designated Federal Wilderness Areas within the Forest:

The Presidential Range/Dry River Wilderness, the Great Gulf Wilderness, the Pemigewasset Wilderness, the Sandwich Range Wilderness, the Sandwich Range Wilderness and the Wild River Wilderness.

Mount Chocorua, named after a Native American in the 18thCentury, is situated at about 1064 metres and is the easternmost peak of the Sandwich Range in the White Mountains.

Chocorua’s summit is a picturesque rocky cone and the mountain is said to be one of the most photographed in the world from the Chocorua Lake because the mountain top casts a perfect reflection in the Lake. 

The Commemorative coin:
The White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) quarter is the first of 2013 and the 16th overall in the America and the Beautiful Quarters Programme. 
The reverse of this coin shows Mt. Chocorua, the easternmost peak of the Sandwich Range, framed by birch trees, which is an iconic view of the White Mountain National Forest System lands. On the periphery of the coin are the inscriptions: “WHITE MOUNTAIN”, NEW HAMPSHIRE, 2013” and “E.PLURIBUS UNUM” (meaning “One out of many”).
 A quarter received in general circulation showing the above features.

Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial in Ohio:
The Memorial:

Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial located near Ohio’s South Bass Island, commemorates the Battle of Lake Erie, which was one of the most significant naval battles of the War of 1812.

It also celebrates the lasting peace between Britain, Canada and the United States, that followed the war. The memorial site was established to honour those who fought in the Battle of Lake Erie and bears the name of Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry.

The International Peace Memorial is the World’s largest Doric column, measuring 352 feet and was constructed from 1912-1915 in Put-in-Bay Ohio. It stands 47 feet taller than the statue of Liberty in New York Harbour. The upper deck platform is 12 feet taller than the statue of Liberty’s torch.

The remains of three American officers (John Brooks, Henry Laub and John Clark) and three British officers (Robert Finnis, John Garland and James Garden) are buried beneath the stone floor of the monument.

The Memorial was established as a National site on 03.03.1919, declared a National Monument in 1936 and redesignated as a National Memorial in 1972.

The Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812:
The United States went to war against Great Britain in an unprepared state. When war was declared on 18.06.1812, the British Navy outnumbered the U.S. Navy 17 to 1.

Perry’s fleet had successfully blocked the British supply route from Fort Malden to Port Dover, leaving the British with no choice other than to abandon Fort Malden or put up a fight.

The British squadron commanded by Commander Robert Heriot Barclay (who had fought at Trafalgar with Lord Nelson) consisted of six ships with sixty-three cannon, while the American flotilla had nine ships fitted with fifty-four cannon.

The British cannon were long range guns which could throw cannonballs up to one mile, while the American fleet had carronades which could fire for about half of that distance and could inflict severe damage only at close range.

On 10.09.1813, when the British fleet was spotted, Perry’s squadron sailed from Put-in-Bay harbour at 7.00 a.m. Perry’s best bet was to sail with a favourable wind to close the distance between the two fleets so that his guns could rake the enemy ships, but the wind stayed unfavourable. Just before Perry issued orders to his fleet to scuttle the engagement, the wind turned favourable to Perry’s advantage.

 Perry’s battle plan was that the American schooners “Ariel” and “Scorpion” were to be placed off the Flagship’s weather bow to engage the first British ship, so as to prevent the enemy from raking the US Flagship, the “Lawrence”, a 20 gun brig, which sailed third in line, and which was to engage the “Detroit” a British 19 gun flagship.

Fourth in line was the “Caledonia”, a small brig with three guns. Fifth in the American line of battle was the “Niagara” a 20 gun Brig and the Lawrence’s sister ship which was to engage the “Queen Charlotte” a 17 cannon and the second largest ship in the British Fleet. The last in the American battle formation were smaller schooners and a sloop which were to engage the smaller British vessels.

Perry hoisted his battle flag with the message inscribed on his flag “DON’T GIVE UP THE SHIP”. These were the dying words of a fallen comrade Captain James Lawrence, in whose honour Perry’s Flagship was named.

The “Detroit” opened fire first, striking the Lawrence and injuring a few American sailors. The American ships were still far out of firing range, nevertheless, the “Scorpion” with one long 24 pounder and the “Ariel” with four long 12 pounders returned the fire. Perry’s flagship struggled to get within close range but suffered severe damage as it was raked by three enemy ships.

The smaller American schooners and the sloop fell far behind upto two km despite their best efforts and were temporarily out of the battle.

Perry manoeuvred to get up close to the British ships and the “Lawrence” fired a broadside volley of 32 pounders, from its starboard guns severely damaging the British ships. The “Niagara” which was sailing closely behind the Lawrence and was supposed to follow up the advantage gained by the American Flagship, instead of closing in, shortened its main sail which held the ship dead in the water because the Captain’s orders were to hold his position in the line of battle.

The “Caledonia commander” too shortened its sails unwilling to engage the vastly superior “Queen Charlotte” whose vastly superior broadside would cripple his ship. At this point the Niagara Captain shifted out of the rigid “line of battle” tactic and sailed away from the British ships, as his guns were still out of range and he too feared severe damage from the British ships.

Presuming that the American fleet was on the run, the “Charlotte” and “General Hunter” once again started pounding the isolated Lawrence which by now was completely overwhelmed by superior firepower and became a floating wreck with 80% of its crew killed or disabled.
 Perry leaving the Lawrence for taking command of the Niagara in one of the Flagship's cutters. This image is from "An outline of American History" received by my father (Late) Dr. J.N. Prasad from the United States Information Service in December 1983.
 A Forever Stamp was issued by the US Postal Service commemorating Perry's heroic feats in the Sea Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812, in 2013 to celebrate the bicentennial of the Battle.

Perry saw that the Niagara was still out of range and collecting four able bodied men, he rowed in one of the Lawrence’s cutters under withering fire to reach the Niagara. The Niagara’s petrified Captain who had been reluctant to engage in battle seeing the fate of the Lawrence, was despatched in the same cutter to get the lagging smaller ships to hasten to the battle theatre.

Meanwhile, the Lawrence with its remaining firepower and men continued to pound the British ships like a wounded lion and they too suffered terribly in the exchange. 

Perry sailed the Niagara into the British fleet, firing both broadsides. He shortened the main topsail holding the Niagara stationary, while her carronades demolished the enemy decks. The sluggish gunboats meanwhile reached the scene of battle and raked the enemy from the other side.

The entire British fleet consisting of two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop had been captured.

The battle of Lake Erie proved to be one of the most resounding triumphs of the US Navy. It forced the British to abandon Fort Malden and retreat far back upto the Thames River where they were decisively defeated in the Battle of the Thames. Both the victories of Lake Erie and the Thames ensured that the States of Ohio and Michigan would remain Sovereign territories of the USA.

The bicentennial of the victory fell in 2013 and is being celebrated at the Memorial, with tributes to Perry and his brave men who fought on that day. 

The Commemorative coin:
Perry’s Victory and International Peace Memorial quarter is the second of 2013 and 17th overall in the America and the Beautiful Quarters Programme. 

The reverse of this coin depicts the statue of Master Commandant Oliver Hazard Perry with the Peace Memorial located in the background. The inscriptions on the periphery are “PERRY’s VICTORY, OHIO, 2013” and “E. PLURIBUS UNUM” (meaning “One out of many”).
 A quarter received in general circulation, inscribed "Perry's Victory" and showing the above-mentioned features.

Great Basin National Park (GBNP) in Nevada:
Location and Attractions:
GBNP is located in East-Central Nevada near the Utah border and takes its name from the dry and mountainous region between the Sierra Nevada and the Wasatch Mountains. It is located about 470 kms north of Las Vegas.

It was originally created by a Presidential proclamation on 24.01.1922 as Lehman National Caves National Monument and was incorporated into the National Park in 1986.

GBNP has exceptional geology, biodiversity and scenic grandeur. 

GBNP is like an oasis in the desert with more than 40 miles of perennial streams and 400 springs. The park also contains a variety of cultural resources dating back to prehistoric times, as well as structures and sites related to mining, western surveys and ranching.

Native Americans settled the Great Basin some 10000 years ago.

Several distinct tribes have historically occupied the Great Basin. Some of them are the Western Shoshone (a sub-group of Shoshone), the Goshute, the Ute, the Paiute and the Washoe.

The Fremont culture:
Remnants of an archaeological culture called Fremont, (named after the Fremont River in Utah) have been discovered. The Fremonts differed from their famous contemporaries in the 11th to 14thcentury, the ancestral Puebloan people who built Mesa Verde and the Chaco Canyon.

The Westernmost Fremont site, Baker village is located a few miles from the GBNP. It is an organised cluster of over 15 buildings built to a specific plan and aligned to a single compass direction. In the centre, a larger mud-walled structure shows interesting alignments with sunrise on the winter and summer solstices.

The Fremonts culture had a very unique “one rod and bundle” basketry construction, moccasins made from the hock of deer or sheep leg, trapezoidal shaped figures found as clay figurines and in rock art, and the unique materials used to make gray coiled pottery. Fremont people left Art on the rock walls at Upper Pictograph Cave.

Fremont culture disappeared sometime between 1300-1500 A.D. This is the period when the Pueblo cultures seem to have forced the Fremonts out of the area.

Early Pioneers:
Early pioneers arrived in the great basin in the 1800s. Ranching became a livelihood and mainstay for settling the region. Land and public land grazing permits were accorded to the Ranchers. Even with the creation of GBNP in 1986, grazing within the Park continued under permit which has raised several objections from the tourists.

The Lehman Caves:
The Lehman Caves are about 550 million years old and made of marble and limestone which form the most heavily decorated limestone solution caverns in the Western US. These natural cave decorations are found throughout the caverns.

The Caves (named after Absalom Lehman – 1827-1891 – who was variously a gold miner in California and Australia, rancher, politician etc. who owned several pastures, orchards, cultivated fields, stables, blacksmith, carpenter, butcher shops etc. He not only helped settle the area with several families coming in to live there, but also developed the caves which were near his ranch into a tourist attraction by 1885) at the base of Wheeler Peak, the second highest peak in Nevada. Around the Wheeler Peak, 4000 to 5000 year old bristlecone pine trees grow on rocky glacial moraines.

GBNP also has the Lexington Arch, one of the largest limestone arches in western United States. This type of above ground limestone arch is rare. This six-storey arch was created by Natural forces over the millennia.
 Flora and Fauna of the GBNP:
The Park is known for its groves of ancient bristlecone pines. A bristlecone pine tree-trunk cut down for research purposes, known as Prometheus contained 4700 rings, indicating that the tree was 4700 years old.
The park is home to 11 species of conifer trees and over 800 species of plants, including sagebrush, saltbush, single-leaf Pinyon and the Utah juniper.
There are 61 recorded species of reptiles, 238 species of birds, 2 species of amphibians and 8 species of fish in the GBNP area, including jackrabbits, pygmy rabbits, mountain cottontails, ground squirrels, chipmunks, coyotes, badgers, mountain lions bobcats, mountain sheep, mule deer, spotted skunk, ringtail cats etc. Bird species include the hawk, sparrow, wren, chickadee, eagle, magpie, swallow etc.
The Bonneville cutthroat trout is the only trout native to Great Basin National Park and have been there from some 18000 years ago.
Aspen Art or Arborglyphs:
 Aspen trees throughout the GBNP bear carvings known as arborglyphs, dendroglyphs or aspen Art, a practice which started in the late 1800s by Basque sheepherders and later continued by Peruvian sheepherders. Recreational campers and cattlemen also followed the practice, which has since been prohibited by Park Authorities. 
Some interesting insights into the life and cultures of the people who have made these carvings have been recorded. Aspens have a life span of 70-100 years. These aspen carvings have helped establish dates as to when the carvings were made and find out the carver’s names and their home-towns and countries. This has helped archaeologists in establishing the history of land use for the Area. GBNF has documented the information culled from these carvings since 2006.
The Park has 12 Nature Trails – the shortest being Mountain View Nature trail (6825 feet) and the longest being Wheeler Summit trail (10,160 feet).
The Commemorative coin:
Great Basin National Park (GBNP) quarter is the third of 2013 and the 18th overall in the America and the Beautiful Quarters Programme. 

The reverse of this coin features a single Bristlecone Pine tree and the rocky glacial moraines where the trees grow. These trees grow at higher elevation in the park and are some of the oldest in the World today. The Great Basin National Park contains numerous Bristlecone Pine groves with trees older than 4000-5000 years. The inscriptions on the periphery are “GREAT BASIN, NEVADA, 2013” and “E. PLURIBUS UNUM” (“One out of many”).
 A quarter received in general circulation, inscribed "Great Basin" and showing the above-mentioned features.

Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine in Maryland:
The introduction:

Fort McHenry, named after a Scots-Irish statesman James McHenry (1753-1816), USA’s second Secretary of War, is situated in Baltimore, Maryland and is a star shaped fort which played a significant role in the War of 1812.

It was built between 1798 and 1800 in the form of a five pointed star surrounded by a dry moat. In the event of an attack, each point was positioned to provide a cross fire on the attacking troops. The Fort successfully defended Baltimore Harbour against the British Navy in Chesapeake Bay on 13-14.09.1814.

The War of 1812 – The Defence of Fort McHenry:
The British believed that Baltimore was a vital port from where privateers were attacking their shipping. Accordingly, after the successful ransacking/burning of Washington, a two-pronged attack on Fort McHenry was planned with Major General Robert Ross landing at North Point and advancing overland, while Vice Admiral Sir Alexander Cochrane would attack the Fort and harbour defences from the Sea.

The Fort was defended by 1000 men under Major General Samuel Smith and Garrison Commander Major George Armistead and had 20 guns at their disposal. In addition, it also had batteries at several strategic points outside the Fort, which were positioned to hamper the enemy advance, in addition to about 12000 irregulars from Baltimore City.

The British Navy under Cochrane had 19 ships and 5000 men.

Ross had 4500 soldiers at his disposal.

On 12.09.14, on one front, Ross landed at North Point and encountered American forces under Brigadier General John Stricker whose main objective was to delay the British forces while the Fort reinforced its fortifications. Ross was killed and his forces took heavy casualties. Leaderless, they preferred to remain on the field through the night under Colonel Arthur Brooke.

Brooke in the morning of 13.09.1814 advanced towards the city and was stunned to encounter a force of about 12000 American irregulars behind substantial earthworks east of the city.

Under orders only to attack the Fort only if he had a good chance of success, he was forced to hold his line without any success.

On the other Front, from 6.00 A.M. on 13.09.1814, the British warships began to continuously bombard the Fort for the next 25 hours, although hampered by the shallow waters, they managed to stay out of range of the Fort guns.

The Fort had 18, 24 and 38 pounder cannon with a maximum range of 1.5 miles (2.4 km). The British guns had a range of 2 miles (3 km) and their rockets could go up to 1.75 miles (2.8 km). The British guns despite their long distance fire-power could not take Fort McHenry and penetrate the defences which included a chain of 22 sunken ships, apart from the cannon defending the Fort.

Due to lack of accuracy of the British weapons and the limited range of American weapons, very little damage was done on either side before the British ceased firing on the morning of 14.09.1814 due to lack of ammunition.

Only one British warship received a direct hit from the Fort’s fire which wounded one crewman. On the American side the casualties were four dead and 24 wounded in the cannonade.

In between, an assault force of 1200 men from the ships, in small boats rowed ashore and thinking that they were safe, fired signal rockets which gave away their position. They had to withdraw after taking heavy casualties from Forts Covington and Babock near the Fort McHenry, where they were not expecting any defences.

On the ground, the consolidated British losses were heavy with about 330 casualties - killed, wounded or captured.

By the evening, Armistead lowered the Fort’s small storm flag and replaced it with a standard garrison flag measuring 42x30 feet clearly visible to all ships in the river indicating that the Fort had been successfully defended on all fronts.

 Cochrane became disheartened and withdrew from the engagement. On shore, Brooke too decided to back off instead of attempting a suicidal attempt to breach the American defences.

The Fort was, thus, successfully defended which was an important morale booster for the Americans after the burning of Washington D.C. by the British. 

 The American Flag flying at Fort McHenry after the successful defence inspires the composition of The US National Anthem “The Star Spangled banner”:

Francis Scott Key, a poet-lawyer witnessed the September 13-14 bombardment of Fort McHenry while under British Guard on an American truce ship in the Patapsco River, on seeing the American flag still flying over the fort the next morning composed the poem “The Defence of Fort McHenry” which was, later, renamed “The Star Spangled Banner” and became the US National Anthem. 

 Fort McHenry: A National Memorial:
 Fort McHenry was placed on the National Register of historic Places on 15.10.1966 and established as a National site on 03.03.1925. The first official 49 and 50 star American Flags were hoisted at the Fort and are still located on the premises. 

The Fort is a prominent Tourist attraction, as thousands of visitors flock every year to see the birthplace of the Star Spangled Banner.

Every September, Baltimore commemorates “Defender’s Day” to honour the memory of the brave men who fought in the battle. The bicentenary celebrations are scheduled to commence in September 2013.
The Commemorative coin:
Fort McHenry National Monument and historic Shrine quarter is the fourth of 2013 and the 19th overall in the America and the Beautiful Quarters Programme.

The design represents the site during the “Defender’s Day” celebration, considered the main annual event held at Fort McHenry. The fireworks symbolise the “rocket’s red glare”, linking the fort to its historic past. The inscriptions on the periphery are “FORT McHENRY, MARYLAND, 2013” and “E.PLURIBUS UNUM” (“One out of many”).
 A quarter received in general circulation, depicting the above-mentioned features.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota:
The controversy over the name of the Mountain:

This mountain was earlier known to the Lakota Sioux as Six Grandfathers. The mountain was part of the route that Lakota Chief Black Elk took in a spiritual journey that culminated at Harney Peak.

From 1876 to 1878, a series of military campaigns were undertaken by the US Army to assert control over the Area, an action which is still disputed, as the Treaty of Fort Laramie had granted the Black Hills to the Lakota in perpetuity.

Early American settlers called the mountain Cougar Mountain, Sugarloaf Mountain, Slaughterhouse Mountain and Keystone Cliffs.

It was named Mount Rushmore during a prospecting expedition led by an attorney Charles Rushmore, who came to the Black Hills in 1884-85 to check legal titles on properties. As the mountain did not have a “confirmed” name, the expedition named it after the attorney, and the name stuck for posterity.

In pursuit of the Lakota Indians claim, when the Mount Rushmore National Memorial was created in the Black Hills, an American Indian Movement, accordingly, wanted to name this site “Mount Crazy Horse” as a protest. The Crazy Horse Memorial is now being constructed elsewhere in the Black Hills to commemorate the famous Native American leader as a response to Mount Rushmore through funding sponsored by the Lakota Chiefs.

The Memorial:
Mount Rushmore National Memorial is a sculpture carved into the face of Mount Rushmore near Keystone, South Dakota, USA. The Memorial is located 23 miles southwest of Rapid City.
It was sculpted by Gutzon Borglum. Mount Rushmore features 60 foot (18m) granite sculptures of the heads of four US Presidents. The sculptures are scaled to men who would stand 465 feet tall. That makes each head as tall as a six-storey building.

The entire Memorial covers 1278.45 acres (5.17 km) and is 5725 feet (1745 m) above sea level.

Mount Rushmore receives about 3 million visitors every year from across the World. The U.S. National Park service took control of the Memorial in 1933. Over the years, Mount Rushmore has grown in fame as a symbol of America – a symbol of freedom and hope for people from all cultures and backgrounds.

It was first established as a National site on 03.03.1925.

The history of the Memorial:
In 1924, South Dakota historian Doane Robinson is credited with conceiving the idea of carving the likeness of famous people into the Black Hills region of South Dakota so as to promote tourism. He accordingly, contacted Sculptor Gutzon Borglum to discuss his proposal.

Several suggestions were made to carve famous western personalities like Buffalo Bill, Lewis and Clarke, Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea.

But, a Special group, a “Commission” instead chose these Presidents because they best represented the “foundation, expansion and preservation of the United States.

The significance of the selection of these four Presidents:
There has been considerable debate on why Presidents George Washington (1st President), Thomas Jefferson (3rd President), Abraham Lincoln (16th President), Theodore Roosevelt (26th President) have been chosen to have their sculptures carved out on Mount Rushmore. However, the influencing factors over the selection were:

George Washington (1732-1799): He led the colonists in the Revolutionary War which won Independence from Great Britain. He is considered to be the father of the new country and he laid the foundation of American democracy. He thus becomes the most important personality to find a place on Mount Rushmore.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826): He was the author of the Declaration of Independence, a document which inspires democracies around the world. He also purchased the Louisiana Territory from France in 1803 which doubled the size of the country, adding all or part of the present day fifteen states.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865): He held the nation together during the American civil War. He believed that his most sacred duty was the preservation of the Union. It was also his firm conviction that slavery must be abolished and he always worked towards that end.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919): He provided leadership when America experienced rapid economic growth as it entered the 20th Century. He was instrumental in negotiating the construction of the Panama Canal, linking the east to the west. He was known as the “trust buster” for his work to end large corporate monopolies and ensure the rights of the common working man.

In the words of the Project Sculptor Borglum, “The purpose of the memorial is to communicate the founding, expansion, preservation and unification of the United States with the colossal statues of Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln and Roosevelt.”

Over the years, Mount Rushmore has grown in fame as a symbol of America – a symbol of freedom and hope for people from all cultures and backgrounds.

The execution of the Project:
After obtaining due permission through Congress and South Dakota Legislature, Borglum found it difficult to get the project started due to lack of funding. He managed to rope in President Calvin Coolidge who in the dedication ceremony promised federal support for the project.

Borglum wanted to limit the Federal Funding to half the project cost, as he was confident that private funding/donations would meet the other half. Strangely, while, Robinson had mooted the project, he was sidelined in the actual execution and management of the project.

From 04.10.1927 to 31.10.1941 about 400 workers worked hard at building the Memorial. Workers had to endure conditions varying from blazing hot to bitter cold and windy. They had to climb 700 steps to the top of the mountain from where 3/8 inch thick steel cables would lower them over the front of the 500 foot face of the mountain in a “bosun chair”.

About 90% of the mountain was carved by placing charges of dynamite of specific sizes to remove precise amounts of rock. Dynamite was used until only three to six inches of rock was left to remove to get to the final carving surface. At this point, the drillers and assistant carvers drilled holes into the granite very close together in a “honeycombing” pattern.

After the honey combing operation, the workers smoothed the surface of the faces with a hand facer or bumper tool and air hammers. As a last step, the bumper tool would even the granite, creating a smooth surface.

Washington’s face was completed in 1930, Jefferson in 1936, Lincoln in 1937 and Roosevelt in 1939. The initial plan was to depict the four Presidents from head to waist, but because of lack of funding construction was forced to end in October 1941. Just before a final dedication of the Project Borglum died.
His son Lincoln Borglum completed the remaining project thereafter on 31.10.1941.
Visitors, during the execution of the Project, in their zeal to possess a part of this historical memorial as a special souvenir paid up to six dollars after hard bargaining with the workers.
There was, also, a plan to carve the head of Civil Rights leader Susan B. Anthony, but a rider was passed on an appropriations bill requiring Federal funds to be used to finish only those heads that had already been started at that time. The entire project cost a little less than US$ 100000.
Interestingly, no worker died during the carving.
The commemorative coin:

The Mount Rushmore National Memorial (MRNM) is the fifth quarter of 2013 and the 20th overall in the America and the Beautiful Quarters Programme.
This design has been inspired by photos of men who are adding the finishing touches to Thomas Jefferson’s face.

Mount Rushmore has earlier featured on three 1991 Mount Rushmore Golden Anniversary Commemorative Coins and on the 2006 South Dakota quarter issued under the 50 State Quarters Programme.

This new design is distinctly different and offers a unique and educational perspective on how Mount Rushmore was created and sculpted. The inscriptions on the periphery are “MOUNT RUSHMORE, SOUTH DAKOTA, 2013” and “E.PLURIBUS UNUM” (“One out of many”).
  A quarter received in general circulation, depicting the above-mentioned features.
 The above is the reverse of a State quarter issued for South Dakota in 2006, under the State Commemorative quarters programme. Mount Rushmore is the only National Memorial to figure on the reverses of both the State commemorative quarter as well as the America the Beautiful quarter.

The Hall of Records – An abandoned project:
A man-made opening called the “Hall of Records” was created in the mountain behind the heads on Mount Rushmore. Gutzon Borglum and his carvers worked on the Hall of Records from July 1938-1939, but it was never finished.
A chamber cut 70 feet (21 m) into the rock, there is a vault with sixteen porcelain enamels panels. The panels include the text of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, biographies of the four Presidents and Borglum and the history o the US. The chamber was created as the entrance-way to a planned “Hall of Records”; the vault was installed in 1998.
Interesting titbits on the Mount Rushmore National Memorial:

-      Geologists estimate that the granite at Mount Rushmore National Memorial will erode about one inch only every 10000 years.

-      Since its completion in 1941, Mount Rushmore has joined the Statue of Liberty and the Stars and Stripes as one of America’s most inspiring symbols of democracy.


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