The 2016 America the Beautiful Quarters are some of the most beautiful coins that have been released this year, with two more to go. In this post, we are looking at the origin of the term 'America the Beautiful' and what each of these 2016 Quarters represent.

Katherine Lee Bates, an English professor from Wellesley College wrote the poem America the Beautiful in 1893. She had been asked to teach a summer school session in Colorado College that year [1] and she travelled nearly 3000 miles by train to reach Colorado. Just imagine how the sights and sounds of a 19th century Nebraska and Colorado would have captured her imagination! The endless plains and grasslands, the untamed land and the beauty of the vast skies compelled her to write what would become one of the most celebrated songs, next only to the Star Spangled banner!

O beautiful for halcyon skies, For amber waves of grain, For purple mountain majesties Above the enameled plain!

If Bates time travelled to this century she would be surprised that whatshe wrote has been immortalized many times over but none better than in America the Beautiful quarters.

2016 America the Beautiful Quarters

Every year from 2010 sees the mint release five quarters honoring our National parks and sites. The obverse of all the coins depict George Washington based on his original portrait done for the 1932 Washington quarter. The reverse depicts stunning designs representing a location from each of the 50 states, five U.S. territories and the District of Colombia in the order they were deemed National parks or sites. This year three coins have already been released and two more are in the offing.

SHAWNEE NATIONAL FOREST

The Shawnee National Forest is a successfully reforested region in Ozark and Shawnee hills of Southern Illinois. [2] In the 1930s, this region was mostly exhausted farmland with poor quality soil. After much lobbying and support from local groups, institutions and organizations, an area covering 280,000 acres was methodically reforested over the years. The forest boasts naturally occurring sandstone sculptures with the more popular ones named Camel Rock, Mushroom Rock and Anvil Rock. It became a National Historical Park in 1939.

The 2016 Shawnee National Forest coin representing Illinois in America the Beautiful series depicts a close view of Camel Rock with natural vegetation in the foreground and a redtailed hawk soaring in the sky overhead. It was released on the 1st of February and around 105,000 have beensold so far.

CUMBERLAND GAP NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK

The Cumberland Gap National Historical Park is a natural break formed in the Appalachian Mountain range covering 20,508 acres of land. It encompasses the Kentucky-Virginia-Tennessee tri-state area. [3] The Cumberland Gap was used to cross over to the Kentucky wilderness by Native Americans and was a gateway for early settlers to move to the west. Even migratory animals passed through the Gap from North to South. It was declared a National Historical Park in 1940.

The 2016 Cumberland Gap National Historical Park coin representing Kentucky in America the Beautiful series depicts a frontiersman gazing across the mountains to the West. It was released on the 4th of April this year and around 75,000 of these 5 oz. coins have beensold.

HARPERS FERRY NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK

The Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is located in the junction of the two rivers, Potomac and Shenandoah in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. [4] While the area was inhabited by Native Americans 8000 years ago, it got its name from a European immigrant Robert Harper who ran a ferry business in the river. George Washington constructed a Harper Ferry armory in the lower part of the park for military purposes. Just before the Civil War, an abolitionist John Brown raided the armory for the purpose of arming slaves. Though he was hanged later on, the firehouse in the armory where John Brown resisted capture became known as John Browns Fort. It was declared a National Historical Park in the year 1944.

The 2016 Harpers Ferry National Historical Park quarter design features John Browns Fort, the site of Browns last stand during his raid on the Harpers Ferry Armory. The coin was released in the 1st week of June this year and around 33,000 of these coins have been sold so far.

THEODORE ROOSEVELT NATIONAL PARK

Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of United States was interested in hunting big game and loved the outdoors. When he first came to North Dakota in September 1883 to hunt bison, he got hooked to the west and its rugged lifestyle. His experiences influenced him to pursue conservationist policies. After his death in 1919, the three geographically separated badlands were designated the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The Park covered nearly 70,446 acres of land and was given National status in 1946.

The 2016 Theodore Roosevelt National Park quarter design depicts a young Theodore Roosevelt on horseback surveying the terrain near the Little Missouri River.This coin is planned for release on 29th of August this year.

FORT MOULTRIE (FORT SUMTER NATIONAL MONUMENT)

Fort Moultrie traces its history from the American Revolution to the Civil War and then to its current status of a National Park. In the Revolution days, Commander William Moultrie of the 2nd South Carolina Regiment along with his 400 men fought with the British from the Fort (then called Fort Sullivan). During the battle, one of the British ships had shot down the flag that Moultrie had himself commissioned for the Fort. A brave Sergeant, William Jasper recovered the flag and held it aloft in the parapet till a new staff was procured and installed. The colonists won the day long battle. It was named Fort Moultrie in the Commanders honor and the Sergeant was presented with a sword by Governor John Rutledge. Jasper was later immortalized with different counties named after him. [5]

The 2016 Fort Moultrie quarter depicts Sergeant William Jasper returning the regimental flag to the ramparts. This coin is planned for release inNovember 14th 2016.

These quarters are 5 oz. representations of America. When you hold the 2016 America the Beautiful Quarters in your hand, you hold a rare beauty that speaks volumes about the high skies, the lush green forests, the mountains, the stark and untamed great plains; it is the rare spirit that embodies all that is great about the United States.Come, let's celebrate our country!

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REFERENCES
[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/America_the_Beautiful [2]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shawnee_National_Forest [3]https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cumberland_Gap_National_Historical_Park [4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harpers_Ferry_National_Historical_Park [5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Jasper

This entry was posted in Silver coins and tagged national historical forest, national forests, america the beautiful quarters on June 20, 2016 by lavanya kannan