Appearing as the second year of a series of silver coins from the United States Mint will be the 2011 America the Beautiful Silver Uncirculated Coins. The five coins to be issued as part of the series during the year are shown below along with the state they represent:
Washington – 2011 Olympic National Park Silver Uncirculated Coin
Each coin in the series is the numismatic version of a strike in the US Mint’s America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins™ Program. Both series feature coins struck from five ounces of .999 fine silver that contain obverse and reverse designs similar to those found on a third series of strikes also from the US Mint – the circulating America the Beautiful Quarters® Program.
Consequently, all three programs contain an obverse portrait of George Washington, the first President of the United States. This portrait was originally completed by sculptor John Flanagan and has been in use on the quarter dollar since 1932 making it a familiar image to most who have seen American coinage.
Reverse designs in the programs are to be emblematic of fifty-six different locations of national interest from around the United States. One site was chosen to represent each state as well as the District of Columbia and the five territories of the United States. Honored locations will include national parks, national memorials, national forests, etc.
Five strikes per program will be minted per year with the release order dictated by the order in which the selected sites came under the direct control of the federal government.
The bullion and quarter dollars were authorized by the America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008. However, these uncirculated coins were struck under the authority granted to the Treasury Secretary in 31 U.S.C. §5111(a) (3). That authority allows the Treasury Secretary the power to "prepare and distribute numismatic items."
Since these coins are struck for collectors, each strike will include a mintmark of ‘P’ indicating it was struck at the US Mint’s facility in Philadelphia. The bullion silver coins are also struck in Philadelphia but contain no mintmark. Also differentiating the series is the fact that the collector grade coins will have an uncirculated finish usually resulting in a much higher level of detail than will be present on the bullion strikes.
When available, the America the Beautiful Silver Uncirculated Coins will be sold directly to the public by the United States Mint.
Some details on the 2011 America the Beautiful Silver Uncirculated Coin sites that were chosen is shown below:
Gettysburg National Military Park
Gettysburg National Military Park of Pennsylvania was initially created to preserve the location of the American Civil War Battle of Gettysburg which was fought on July 1st – July 3, 1863 between forces of the United States of America and the Confederate States of America. It establishment was authorized by Congress and signed into law on February 11, 1895 by President Grover Cleveland.
The park was originally operated under the War Department but ownership was transferred to the National Park Service in 1933 which operates under the U.S. Department of the Interior. Preserved at the location are over 1,400 monuments and markers dedicated to the battle and those who fought it.
An estimated two million people visit the military park annually which today consists of 5,990 acres.
Glacier National Park
Glacier National Park of Montana was created by an Act of Congress signed into law by President William Howard Taft on May 11, 1910. A strong proponent of the park was the Great Northern Railway, and its president Louis W. Hill, who saw a park as a great way to promote tourism to the area on its rail service.
The park itself consists of over 1 million acres that includes two sub-ranges of the Rocky Mountains and over 700 lakes. Of those lakes, only 131 have been named, the largest of which is Lake McDonald which 9.4 miles long and 464 feet deep.
Most who visit the park do so on the 53-mile long Going-to-the-Sun Road, which was initially completed in 1932. It is the only road which goes through the park and is generally open from early June until mid-October. The rest of the year, the road can be covered with snow which at times reaches depths of many feet.
Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park of Washington can be found on the Olympic Peninsula and was initially created as Mount Olympus National Monument by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1909. Congress opted to re-designate it a national park which it was when President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the legislation on June 29, 1938.
The park consists of 922,561 acres which includes a Pacific coastline, a temperate rainforest and the Olympic Mountains. The wide variety of landscapes and climates found there hosts hundreds of different species of plants and animals. In fact, owing in large part to the isolation of the peninsula with the Olympic Mountains cutting off the rest of it from the mainland, many of the species are endemic to the area. One of those species includes the Roosevelt Elk which serves as an icon for the park.
Over one-third of the park is estimated to be covered in old-growth forest.
Vicksburg National Military Park
Vicksburg National Military Park, found mostly in the state of Mississippi, was created on February 21, 1899 and administered for the first few decades by the War Department. Oversight of the park was transferred to the National Park Service on August 10, 1933, where it still remains today.
The purpose of the park was to "commemorate the siege and defense of Vicksburg" which it does by preserving over 1,800 acres including 1,325 monuments and markers, trenches and other earthworks, a tour road, a walking trail, several structures, 144 cannon and even a restored Civil War era gunboat.
That gunboat is the USS Cairo which sank on December 12, 1862, but was recovered in 1964.
Chickasaw National Recreation Area
Chickasaw National Recreation Area of Oklahoma was established originally as the Sulphur Springs Reservation on July 1, 1902 from an initial 640 acres of land bought from the Chickasaw Indian Nation. It was renamed to its current status on March 17, 1976.
The Area consists of 9,888,83 acres with approximately 25% of that amount covered in water including springs, streams and lakes. Those waterways offer abundant opportunities for recreational activities including boating, fishing, canoeing, etc.
As part of the original agreement with the Chickasaw Indian Nation, there is no admission fee charged to the Recreation Area by the National Park Service.