The seventh year of the US Mint’s series of coins dedicated to the beauty of the United States is the 2016 America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins. The five coins slated to appear in 2016 as part of the program are:
West Virginia – 2016 Harpers Ferry National Historical Park Silver Bullion Coin
North Dakota – 2016 Theodore Roosevelt National Park Silver Bullion Coin
A total of fifty-six coins will be included in the completed 11-year America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin Program which launched in 2010 and ends in 2021. Those fifty-six strikes will all honor a separate site of national interest located in the United States. One site was selected from each state, the District of Columbia and the five territories of the United States including Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Northern Mariana Islands and the US Virgin Islands. Selected sites are all of national interest and include locations such as national parks, national memorials, national forests, etc.
The America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008 which authorized the coins also authorized a series of circulating quarter dollars to be issued at approximately the same time. The quarter program (and consequently they silver bullion coins) are to be run by the US Mint in a fashion similar to the previous 50-State Quarters Program which proved to be a highly successful series for the Mint. Five coins will be issued each year for each program with the order of the coins release dictated by the order upon which the honored site came under federal ownership.
The authorizing act requires that both the circulating quarters and the silver bullion coins contain the exact same obverse (heads side) and reverse (tails side) designs. With this in mind, it is easy to understand why George Washington, the first President of the United States, will be seen on the obverse of all of the coins. His image has been on the quarter dollars since 1932 with a design completed by artist John Flanagan. That design was slightly modified in 1999 by William Cousins for the debut of the 50-State Quarters Program. The modified design will be used again on these America the Beautiful strikes.
On the reverse, designs honoring the beauty of the American nation will be shown. The designs for the 2016 coins should be unveiled early in that year by the US Mint shortly before the first coin in the series is released. Design candidates for each 2016 strike are most likely to be released for review early in the previous year to allow time for comment and adjustments to the possible designs. Once all changes and comment have been completed, the US Mint will forward the information to the Treasury Secretary who will make the final selection to appear on the coins.
Each America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin will be struck from five ounces of .999 fine silver to a diameter of three inches. That size makes these bullion coins the largest produced by the Mint. As the obverse and reverse designs of the bullion coins must be identical to the circulating quarter dollars, the only place left for the Mint to show the bullion coins content is on the edge. Consequently, an edge inscription will be used for the coin’s weight and fineness.
Information on the selected 2016 America the Beautiful sites is shown below:
Shawnee National Forest
President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared two separately purchased units of land in the southern portion of Illinois as the Shawnee National Forest in September of 1939. This declaration was the culmination of almost a decade of work which included not only obtaining the desired acres, but also in the creation of a forest from old farmland.
Trees once covered much of this area, but through a century of both logging and farming the old-growth had been stripped from the land. Farmers needed to have clear wide-open spaces so that they could plow and plant their crops while loggers sold the trees they cut-down for lumber. But, by the 1930’s, most farming was deemed un-productive due to the soil being over-used or eroded away. Also, logging had practically died out in the area as few large trees were left.
Today, the forest consists of over a quarter of a million acres that provides visitors with countless opportunities for outdoor recreation. Those interested in wildlife can find hundreds of different species within the forest’s boundaries including 48 mammal species, 237 bird species, 52 reptile species, 57 amphibian species and 109 fish species.
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park located in Kentucky not only preserves a location important to American history, but also the memory of the pioneers who passed through it.
The park is located on the border between Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia but its use far pre-dates those border distinctions. For centuries, the gap was used by Native Americans and even large groups of migratory animals such as herds of buffalo. This is because the Gap is a natural break in the Appalachian Mountains which were tough to traverse, especially in less technologically advanced times.
By the time of the American Revolutionary War, pioneers wanting to settle further west than the original thirteen colonies began to use the Gap for their own passage. This continued for decades with a rail-road soon following. The strategic value of the Cumberland Gap became apparent with the start of the American Civil War and both sides took enormous steps to try and gain control of it. Under the possession of the Confederate States of America, many military improvements and fortifications were made, some of which can still be seen today.
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park
Few places in the United States can claim such an integral role in the history of the country as can Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in West Virginia. From Native American tribes living in the region thousands of years ago to the desegregation of American schools in just the last century, Harpers Ferry has been there prominent in one form or another.
Traces of the presence of Native Americans in the Harpers Ferry area date back millennia, but by the early 1700’s they had been driven out by the encroachment of European settlers. In 1751, a man named Robert Harper applied for a patent for the land deciding that the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers made an ideal location to build and harness the ample waterpower.
Under order of the first President of the United States George Washington, a federal armory was constructed at this location in 1799 – once again based on the waterpower that the nearby rivers could provide to aid in the creation of weaponry. The armory continued to produce weapons over the next several decades and was even able to assist in the outfitting of the famed Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park
Theodore Roosevelt National Park located in the badlands of North Dakota is named after the 26th President of the United States who spent a few years of his life running a cattle ranch in the vicinity. While definitely not the first person to visit the area, Roosevelt will long be remembered not only for his influence on the area, but the area’s influence on him.
Roosevelt made his first trip to the region in 1883. It was his intent to hunt a buffalo and hired a guide to help him in his quest. Unfortunately for him, but his time the buffalo were becoming much harder to find as they had been slaughtered en masse by commercial hunters for years. Still, Roosevelt pursued on and in doing so started to appreciate the beauty and possibilities that the badlands area had to offer.
Deciding that a ranching interest in the area would be a profitable venture, Roosevelt invested $14,000 in the Maltese Cross Ranch before returning to New York. After both his mother and his wife died within hours of each-other, Roosevelt returned to his ranch to find solace. Wanting an even more peaceful environment, Roosevelt established a second ranch 35 miles north of the local town of Medora and named it the Elkhorn Ranch.
Fort Moultrie (Fort Sumter National Monument)
Fort Moultrie is located on Sullivan’s Island in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina and has played an integral role in American history since the country’s founding.
The first fort on Sullivan’s Island was still incomplete and nameless when naval forces of the British Empire began attacking it on June 28, 1776. Under the command of Colonel William Moultrie, the Continental forces withstood the attack – owed in large part to the new Palmetto logs that were used in the forts construction. Many reports even stated that cannon ball actually bounced off of the soft wood instead of shattering it to bits as the British intended.
Recognizing the ineffectiveness of their bombardment, British forces retired after nine hours of battle. To show the country’s gratitude for his leadership, the new fort was named after the Colonel who had defended it – Moultrie.