The United States Mint is debuting a completely new series of circulating coins this year with the America the Beautiful Quarters Program. Following on the heels of the highly successful 50 State Quarters Program and the D.C. & U.S. Territories Program, it also follows the same format.
The complete program will consist of 56 new quarters, each having a completely unique design. Five of them will be issued annually with the last coming out in 2021.
Under the provisions of the America's Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008, one national park or other national site of interest is chosen from each state, the District of Columbia and from the five United States Territories.
With those sites already chosen, a coin honoring them will be issued in the order upon which the site came under the control of the federal government. (For more information on selected sites and release years, see the America the Beautiful Quarters Release Schedule.)
Each quarter dollar's reverse will feature a design of the chosen site while the obverse still showcases a portrait of George Washington, the first President of the United States. The portrait of Washington is based on John Flanagan's original work, but was modified by William Cousins. Also seen on the obverse are the inscriptions "United States of America," "Quarter Dollar," "Liberty," "In God We Trust" and the mintmark, if any.
The clad quarters are composed of 91.67% copper and 8.33% nickel.
More information on the 2010 America the Beautiful Quarters releases is provided below.
Hot Springs National Park Quarter - Located in the state of Arkansas, Hot Springs National Park has the unique distinction of being the first land set aside by the United States government for continued public use. The final reverse design for this quarter has not been announced by the US Mint.
The "Valley of the Vapors" as it was known by Native Americans has been used for centuries for its 'recuperative powers.' The area was ceded to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 but did not receive national attention until 1832 when the US Congress declared the area a reservation.
Unfortunately, the government did not seize control of it until 1877 when it started cleaning up the area and regulating the water's use. It became Hot Springs National Park in 1921.
Yellowstone National Park Quarter - The second coin released for the year and the series honors the first national park ever created, declared as such in 1872. A final reverse design has not yet been announced by the US Mint.
Located primarily in Wyoming, Yellowstone has long been a source of intrigue and excitement for both Native Americans and European settlers. In order to prevent its abuse, President Grant signed the law creating the Park, but the government failed to provide any resources for its protection.
Intent on preventing lawless abuse, the US Army established Camp Sheridan (later renamed Fort Yellowstone) in the area and maintained a level of control until it handed over the reigns to the newly created National Park Service in 1918.
Yosemite National Park Quarter - Due mid-summer from the Mint is the Yosemite Quarter honoring the pristine park located in California. As of this writing, the Mint has not released a final design.
The US government first recognized the importance of Yosemite in 1864 when President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant after never having seen the land himself. While intent may have been honorable, the grant left control of Yosemite in the hands of the state of California.
Succumbing to local pressures, several encroachments on Yosemite were allowed by California until President Theodore Roosevelt demanded a return of Yosemite to federal control in 1906.
Grand Canyon National Park Quarter - Expected in September of 2010, the Grand Canyon Quarter honors the national park located in Arizona. Final design information has not yet been released by the US Mint.
The canyon itself is said to be the work of millions of years of erosive affects on the landscape, mostly that of the Colorado River which winds its way through the bottom of the canyon. Aside from Native Americans, the area was relatively unknown to most until expeditions in the mid 1800's started charting the territory.
President Theodore Roosevelt set about the task of protecting the area in the early 1900's, but due to opposing forces it was not declared a national park until 1919.
Mount Hood National Forest Quarter - The Mount Hood Quarter is the first in the series to recognize a site other than a National Park. Due out in November, the Mint has not yet released a design for it.
Mount Hood National Forest is located only minutes from Portland, Oregon and receives millions of visitors annually to take in its pristine scenery and resources. Activities such as camping, skiing and boating are just a few of what Mount Hood has to offer.
The area first came under the control of the federal government in 1892, but obtained the name Mount Hood National Forest in 1924.
Millions of each of these designs will be struck for circulation, but the Mint will also include the designs in several special sets such as Proof and Uncirculated Mint Sets. Also, the law creating them dictates that the Mint shall also strike exact duplicate 3-inch .999 fine silver coins which the Mint has dubbed the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins.
For more information on any of the 2010 quarters, click on the provided links above. Additional information on the program is also available on a sister site dedicated to the series at America the Beautiful Quarters.