The 2010 America the Beautiful Silver Uncirculated Coins will be the inaugural year strikes of a new series of five ounce silver coins to be issued by the United States Mint. The 2010 releases of the program and the order in which they will be issued are:
California – 2010 Yosemite National Park Silver Uncirculated Coin
These coins will be collector grade versions of the US Mint’s America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins™ Program, which themselves are similar to the Mint’s America the Beautiful Quarters® Program. All three series of coins will feature obverse and reverse designs nearly identical to one another.
Owing to initial production difficulties with these strikes and the associated bullion series, the 2010 coins of the series were not actually issued until well into 2011. In fact, the Hot Springs Silver Uncirculated Coin was not released until April 28, 2011 with the Mount Hood Coin not appearing until July 28, 2011.
The obverse of each strike will contain a portrait of George Washington. This portrait had been used on the circulating quarter dollar since 1932 (at times with some slight modifications), and was originally designed by noted sculptor John Flanagan.
Reverse designs are to be emblematic of a selected site of national interest from around the United States. One site was chosen from each state, the District of Columbia and the five US territories to insure a broad variety of honored locations. The program will see releases honoring national parks, national forests, national seashores, etc. Coins in the program will be released in the order upon which the honored sites came under the direct control of the federal government.
Each coin in the series will be struck from five ounces of .999 fine silver. The 2010 strikes have a diameter of three inches as that diameter was initially required by law for the similar bullion strikes. That law has been modified now, however, to allow the bullion coins to have a diameter in the 2.5 inch to 3 inch range, which these uncirculated strikes will also follow. The initial law for the bullion coins (America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008) also required the bullion strikes to have an edge inscription showing the coin’s weight and fineness which will be found on the 2010 uncirculated silver coins too. But, just like the size requirement, the law has also been changed for the edge inscription which could result in future year’s strikes weight and fineness being placed on the obverse or reverse instead.
Uncirculated quality coins like these are typically struck by the Mint using greater force than used on the bullion coins. This results in a more intricately detailed, sharper image.
This series of coins is struck under the authority granted the Treasury Secretary in 31 U.S.C. §5111(a) (3) which allows the Secretary the discretion to strike and release numismatic items.
Some details on the 2010 America the Beautiful Silver Uncirculated Coin sites that were chosen is shown below:
Hot Springs National Park
Hot Springs National Park, located in the state of Arkansas, was originally created by the United States Congress as Hot Springs Reservation on April 20, 1832 in response to a request by the Arkansas Territorial Legislature for federal protection of the area. It marked the first time the United States government set aside land for protection. The status of the reservation was changed to that of a national park on March 4, 1921.
The park consists of 5,550 acres which makes it the smallest national park by area in the United States. Diverging somewhat from the standard national park, the thermal waters that flow through it from Hot Springs Mountain, part of the Ouachita Mountain range, are not preserved in their natural flowing state, but instead are conserved for the public use.
That use attracts over 1.2 million annual visitors to the park. Many of those partake of the hot waters available from the park to bath or swim in.
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park, located mostly in the state of Wyoming, has the distinction of being the first national park in the United States, and the world as well. It was created as such on March 1, 1872 by an Act of Congress signed by President Ulysses S. Grant.
Covering an area of 3,472 square miles, the park is one of the largest in the national park system. Found within its borders are many different species of plants and animals which themselves are a draw to the 3 million plus annual visitors.
However, most that visit come to the park to see the pleasing scenery and the many geothermal features that made the park famous. Perhaps the best-known of these is Old Faithful Geyser which erupts to a height of between 106 and 185 feet for 1.5 to 5 minutes. The frequency of those eruptions can be approximately determined which allow for scheduled viewing.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park, located in the state of California, was originally created as part of the Yosemite Grant signed by President Abraham Lincoln on June 30, 1864. Its status was elevated to that of a national park on October 1, 1890.
The 761,268 acre park receives an estimated 3.5 million plus annual visitors, most of whom spend their time in Yosemite Valley. The valley was created by the Merced River and is eight miles long and up to a mile deep. Flanking the valley are the iconic granite summits for which the park is probably best known for. These include El Capitan, Half Dome and Cloud’s Rest.
Animal life within the park consists of over 250 species of vertebrates including the American black bear, cougar, bobcat and gray fox. Those creatures, along with the beautiful scenery attract most of the visitors to the park, however, many also come to participate in the rock climbing adventures offered on the granite cliffs.
Grand Canyon National Park
Grand Canyon National Park, located in the state of Arizona, went through several steps before becoming a national park on February 26, 1919. It was initially created as the Grand Canyon Forest Reserve in 1893. The status was changed to that of Grand Canyon Game Preserve by Presidential proclamation in 1906 and then Grand Canyon National Monument in 1908.
The park is one of the best known around the world owing to the massive size of the canyon itself. It stretches for 277 miles reaching depths of one mile and widths of eighteen miles. The awe inspiring views afforded in the canyon draw over 4 million annual visitors.
Many of those who do visit participate in several activities aside from looking at the scenery. This includes hiking down to the canyon floor and back (or portions thereof), riding mules down and back, rafting on the Colorado River below, or taking helicopter or plane rides over the canyon.
Mount Hood National Forest
Mount Hood National Forest, located in the state of Oregon, was created as part of Bull Run Forest Preserve in 1892. It took on the name of Oregon National Forest in 1908 before becoming Mount Hood National Forest in 1924.
The forest is located within an hours drive of Portland, Oregon which results in the forest being one of the most visited in the national forest system. In fact, over 4 million people visit the area annually participating in many different activities.
Some of those activities include camping, hiking, boating, fishing, skiing, etc., which are all offered within the boundaries of the 1 million plus acre forest.