The 2010 America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins mark the first year of the 11-year fifty-six coin program designed to showcase the beauty of the United States. Coins in the series are scheduled to be released at a rate of five per year until 2021 when the last strike will appear. The 2010 coins of the program and the order in which they will be issued are:
California – 2010 Yosemite National Park Silver Bullion Coin
All five 2010-dated coins of the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin series went on sale on December 10, 2010. Like all bullion products of the US Mint, they were initially sold to the Mint’s network of authorized purchasers. Within three weeks, the purchasers had ordered the entire 2010-dated bullion mintage (33,000 of each coin). Coins were then re-sold to the public in the following months.
The silver bullion coins were authorized by the America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008. As the name of the act implies, it also created a series of circulating quarter dollars. In fact, both of these programs are to be run in a similar fashion to the previous 50-State Quarter Program from the United States Mint which ran from 1999-2008 (with the D.C. & U.S. Territories program in 2009).
One of the main stipulations of the act which created the bullion coins requires that the images on them be "exact duplicates of the quarter dollars issued." As such, the obverse (heads side) of each of the coins will contain a portrait of George Washington, the First President of the United States. His image has been on the quarters since 1932 with the original artwork being completed by John Flanagan. When the 50-State Quarters were released, the Flanagan portrait was slightly modified by William Cousins. That same design will be used on this new series.
The reverses (tails side) are to feature designs emblematic of a national park or other site of national interest. In order to adequately disperse the selected locations, only one was allowed per state, the District of Columbia and the five U.S. Territories totaling 56 new strikes. The order of each coins release is based on the order upon which that site came under the direct control of the federal government.
Aside from the obverse and reverse designs being identical to those found on the circulating quarters, the bullion coins will be different in several ways. First, instead of being struck from clad, these bullion coins will be struck from five ounces of .999 fine silver. Second, with that much metal in them, these coins will have a diameter of three inches making them the largest bullion pieces produced by the Mint. Third, since the obverse and reverses need to be identical, the coin’s weight and fineness will be edge inscribed on each piece.
Some details on the 2010 America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin sites that were chosen is shown below:
Hot Springs National Park
Known as the “the Valley of the Vapors” by Native Americans for centuries long before being “discovered” by European settlers, the Hot Springs area (located in the state of Arkansas) 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.
In 1832, 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.
Yellowstone National Park
Native Americans had lived in the area for millennia before white explorers ever ventured near Yellowstone. In the early 1800’s, the famous Lewis and Clark expedition would pass by but chose not to investigate. For the next several decades only a few fur trappers would experience the natural wonders that the Indian tribes had known for thousands of years.
In 1872, President Ulysses S. Grant signed the law creating Yellowstone National Park. This marked the first time a park area was created for the protection of its natural resources.
Eventually, the U.S. Army established Camp Sheridan (later renamed Fort Yellowstone) and started policing and caring for the area. When the Army turned over control to a new National Park Service in 1918, many of these policies were adopted for use by the new agency.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park in California is best known for its waterfalls, granite cliffs, ancient giant sequoias, deep valleys, and grand meadows. The park has nearly 1,200 square miles of natural beauty.
Around 10 million years ago, the Yosemite area was uplifted and tilted, forming the relatively gentle slope of the land. Then, around 1 million years ago giant glaciers started to contour the massive valleys out of the granite hills.
The Yosemite Grant was signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864, setting aside the land for public use. However, it failed to protect the area as much as was hoped because it left control to the State of California. Powerless to evict homesteaders, the board controlling Yosemite achieved little to aid the fragile area.
Grand Canyon National Park
“Modern man” would first discover the beauties of the Grand Canyon in 1540 when Captain Garcia Lopez de Cardenas and his Spanish solders would visit the area along with some Hopi Indian guides. Not being what they were searching for, the Spanish soldiers left and it would be over 200 years before the area would be “discovered” again.
It was not until the mid 1800’s that explorers made any meaningful advances in understanding the area. Several expeditions, some of the military in nature, were dispatched in the 1850’s but the most scientifically credible one occurred in 1869, with an expedition led by Major John Wesley Powell. Powell was an accomplished explorer who took nine men and four boats down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon. He repeated his trip again in 1871, creating a detailed map of the river and had multiple photos taken of the area.
In 1903, President Theodore Roosevelt visited the area and was decidedly impressed. He took the first steps to protect the Grand Canyon by making it a Federal Game Preserve in 1906. However, he, along with other area supporters, was not happy with the protection this afforded and made it a National Monument in 1908.
Mount Hood National Forest
The snow-clad volcanic peak of Mount Hood, a very popular mountain climbing destination, can be seen from the Portland metropolitan area. It is just one of the many distinctive geographic features of the Mount Hood National Forest. Other popular spots in the forest include the Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah Falls, and Barlow Road of the Old Oregon Trail. Mount Hood National Forest has over four million visitors annually, making it one of the most-visited National Forests in the United States.
Mount Hood received its name in 1792 when Lt. William Broughton named the peak after Lord Samuel Hood, a respected admiral of the British Royal Navy.
The area was first placed under the protection of the federal government in 1892 as the Bull Run Forest Reserve. In 1908, Bull Run was merged with Cascade National Forest and the two became the Oregon National Forest. Finally, in 1924, the whole area was renamed Mount Hood National Forest.