The third strike in 2015 to be part of the US Mint’s America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin™ Program will be the 2015 Blue Ridge America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin. It will also be the twenty-eighth strike in the series which debuted in 2010 and ends in 2021.
All of the coins in the series were authorized as part of the The America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008. As such, they will feature similar designs as those found on the circulating quarter dollars issued at approximately the same time. However, these coins will be struck from five ounces of .999 fine silver to a large diameter of three inches.
As these coins feature similar designs to the quarter dollars, George Washington, the first President of the United States will be seen on the obverse of each coin. Different from the quarters, however, is the fact that the coin’s weight and fineness will be edge inscribed on the bullion strikes.
On the reverse of this coin, a design showcasing a portion of Blue Ridge Parkway will be featured. Design candidates should appear in the first part of 2014 for review by the Citizen’s Coinage Advisory Committee and the Commission of Fine Arts. Then, in early 2015 the final design should be unveiled by the US Mint.
Each state in the union, the District of Columbia and the five US territories – Guam, US Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands will all be featured on a coin in this new series. The reverses of these coins will honor a site of national interest located within that jurisdiction and may include a national park, national forest, national monument, etc.
Only the US Mint’s network of authorized purchasers will be allowed to buy the bullion coins directly from the Mint. They will then resell these coins to coin dealers and the public for a small premium over the spot price of the five ounces of silver contained within them.
Coins showcasing Homestead National Monument of America located in Nebraska and Kisatchie National Forest of Louisiana will precede this strike in 2015. It will be followed by two coins honoring Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware and Saratoga National Historical Park in New York.
Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina
Consisting of 469 miles of roadway, the Blue Ridge Parkway is located in both Virginia and North Carolina with well over 50% of its distance in the latter state. The scenic drive follows mostly along the Blue Ridge range which is part of the larger Appalachian Mountains.
The Parkways starts on its southern end at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park which straddles North Carolina and Tennessee. It then runs through a significant portion of North Carolina before entering the state of Virginia and finally becomes Shenandoah National Park’s Skyline Drive.
The entire parkway has the distinction of being the most visited unit in the entire National Park System, of which it is a part. It is not uncommon for the scenic road to see annual visitors in the range of well over 15 million. This popularity is owed in great part to its pristine beauty, but also to its proximity to a large portion of the American population.
Work on the Appalachian Scenic Highway, as it was originally called, began in the 1930’s as one of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s national work programs. Most of the construction was carried out by private companies but several agencies also contributed including the Works Progress Administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Emergency Relief Administration.
Due to its elevation, areas of the parkway can be closed to through traffic if snow and ice conditions warrant such action. Also, most of the Parkway’s facilities are closed in the winter.
One final note, in an effort to protect the watersheds in the area the parkway is mostly void of gas stations requiring travelers to plan ahead for their day’s activities.