Marking the second year of the program, the 2011 America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins continue the United States Mint’s series of coins dedicated to the beauty of the United States. A total of fifty-six new coins will be created in the completed program with a release rate of five per year until 2021. The 2011-dated coins of the series are:
Pennsylvania – 2011 Gettysburg National Military Park Silver Bullion Coin
Washington – 2011 Olympic National Park Silver Bullion Coin
The 2011-dated strikes of the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin Program featured a staggered release schedule. The Gettysburg and Glacier Silver Bullion Coins debuted on April 25, 2011. The Olympic strike first appeared on May 23, 2011. The Vicksburg Silver Bullion Coins were released on June 20,2011 and the Chickasaw Coin was offered for sale on July 18, 2011. All five featured mintage caps of 126,700.
These bullion coins were authorized by the America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008 along with a companion series of circulating quarter dollars. It is the quarter dollars, in fact, which were the main driving force behind the new programs.
That is because the two America the Beautiful series were preceded by the US Mint’s 50-State Quarter Program which was deemed to be highly successful for the Mint. In order to continue that success, the new series was created. Then, as a means of expanding the investment and collector opportunities offered to the public, the silver bullion coins were authorized.
Both the quarters and the bullion pieces are required to have identical obverses (heads side) and reverses (tails side) to each-other. As George Washington, the first President of the United States, has been on the quarter dollar since 1932, it is no surprise that his image will be found on the obverses of these strikes as well. The original artist for the 1932 design was John Flanagan, but his work was slightly modified by William Cousins when the 50-State Quarters were issued. That same modified image will be used on the new coins.
The program requires that the reverses are emblematic of a national park or other site of national interest. These sites could also include national monuments, national forests, national wildlife refuges, national seashores, etc. In continuing the tradition of fairly representing the nation that was started by the 50-State Quarter Program, one site was chosen from each state, the District of Columbia and the five U.S. Territories for a total of fifty-six locations. The release order of the coins is dictated by the order upon which the site came under the direct control of the federal government.
Specifications for the silver bullion coins require that each is struck from five ounces of .999 fine silver to a diameter of three inches. This massive size makes these coins the largest bullion pieces produced by the Mint. To signify the coins content, its weight and fineness will be edge inscribed on each piece.
Details on the chosen 2011 America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin sites is shown below:
Gettysburg National Military Park
Most know the vague history involved with the American Civil War, but few are aware of any of the details. Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania reminds all of the tragedy inherent in a war of this nature and of a battle which many consider to be a turning point of that war.
Hostilities between the United States of America and the recently seceded Confederate States of America began on April 12, 1861 when the Union held Fort Sumter in South Carolina was attacked by Confederate forces. Since that day, many bloody battles had occurred between the two opposing sides, but none could match the bloodshed that was about to occur near the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
Battle between the two armies commenced on July 1, 1863 when the advanced units of each began to collide. Initial positions of the North were quickly over-run by Lee’s men and Union forces retreated. By the second day, the mass of both armies had arrived with Union soldiers numbering almost 94,000 while Lee’s Army consisted of a bit less than 72,000 men.
Glacier National Park
Native Americans frequented the lands for millennia before European explorers ever set eyes on the pristine landscape that would one day become Glacier National Park in Montana. The famed Lewis and Clark Expedition came within a mere 50 miles of the area in their early 1800’s trip, but it was not until the 1850’s before explorations truly started to map and document the beauties that were found.
The Great Northern Railway finally crossed the Continental Divide at Marias Pass (5,213 feet) in 1891 at what would become the southern boundary of the national park. This specific railroad had slowly been built over the years by only constructing new lines as the company deemed they would be profitable. As such, this stretch into the mountains of Montana was no exception.
Wanting to capitalize on their investment, the Great Northern immediately began advertising the beauty of the land to Easterners in the big cities and invited them to travel aboard their trains to see it for themselves. The company even lobbied Congress to take steps to protect the area and it was declared a forest preserve in 1897. Not content with that designation, individuals as well as the Railroad continued to promote the area and in 1910 it was re-classified a national park.
Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park in the state of Washington was originally created as Olympic National Monument in 1909. Of course, Native Americans had known of the area’s beauty for centuries before the United States Congress decided it was a natural resource worth protecting.
In the decades just before the creation of the National Monument, settlers began to move into the Olympic peninsula. As more people lived there, more resources were demanded of Mother Nature, particularly from the trees. Logging became a lucrative industry and clear-cut hillsides became a common site.
In an effort to stop this mass destruction, Lieutenant Joseph O’Neil and Judge James Wickersham partnered up to lobby the State of Washington to restrict man’s encroachment on the area. There endeavors were not successful with the State, but soon President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt stepped in and created the National Monument, mostly to protect and encourage the breeding of a large population of Roosevelt Elk herds living in the area.
By the 1930’s, continued pressure to elevate the protection afforded the area finally was successful and President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the law re-designating it a national park.
Vicksburg National Military Park
Commemorating not only the famous battle, but the entire campaign that led up to it as well as the attempted defense of the city is the Vicksburg National Military Park in Mississippi.
Vicksburg was considered one of the most strategic locations in all of the Confederate territory during the first years of the American Civil War. Located in the western theater of the war, continued control of Vicksburg not only prevented Union shipping on the Mississippi River, it also ensured a flow of information and much-needed agricultural supplies from the states west of the river.
Union forces had been attempting to gain control of Vicksburg for more than a year, mostly through an ineffective naval bombardment. With limited men, an invasion of the city was impossible and the bombardments were ceased.
Chickasaw National Recreation Area
The history of Chickasaw National Recreation Area in Oklahoma is almost as varied as the landscape which the area protects. The location gets its name from the Chickasaw Indian Nation which sold the original 640 acres to the federal government.
These Native Americans were not indigenous to this section of the country, but were relocated here in the 1830’s from the Southeastern United States. In their desire to help protect the beautiful springs, streams, and lakes scattered profusely in the area, they sold a portion of their reservation to the federal government in 1902, upon which the Sulphur Springs Reservation was created. Only a few years later, it was renamed Platt National Park in 1906.
As a national park, the area saw significant development, at least as it pertains to visitor facilities. In cooperation with the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in the 1930’s, roads, trails, picnic grounds, campgrounds, dams, etc. were all created to enhance the access ability of the region.