Released by the United States Mint as the second of five 2016-dated strikes in the America the Beautiful Five Ounce Silver Uncirculated Coin™ series will be the 2016 Cumberland Gap America the Beautiful Silver Uncirculated Coin. Showcased on the reverse of the coin will be a design emblematic of Cumberland Gap National Historical Park located in the state of Kentucky.
Like other coins of the series, the Cumberland Gap Silver Uncirculated Coin will be struck from five ounces of .999 fine silver. It will also have an extremely large diameter of three inches.
These specifications are also the same for the related America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins™ Program. That similarity is not coincidental as the US Mint created the America the Beautiful Silver Uncirculated Coins as the numismatic versions of the America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coins.
This means the strikes not only feature the same basic specifications, but also the same imagery. The obverse and reverse designs for the coins are actually even originally created for a third US Mint series – the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program.
Shown on the obverse of each America the Beautiful related coin is a portrait of George Washington, the first President of the United States. This image of Washington was originally designed by John Flanagan. It is a familiar portrait to many as it has been featured (with minor variations) on the obverse of circulating quarter dollars since 1932.
The reverse of each strike contains the design emblematic of the selected site of national interest – in this case Cumberland Gap National Historical Park of Kentucky. Each coin in the series honors a different site of national interest with one site chosen from each state, the District of Columbia and the five US territories.
Coins of the program debuted with five 2010-dated releases and continue to be offered at a release rate of five per year until the final coin is scheduled to appear in 2021. Sites featured in the program are honored in the order in which they came under the direct control of the federal government.
The final design for this Cumberland Gap Coin should be unveiled by the United States Mint in late 2015.
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park in Kentucky
Cumberland Gap National Historical Park of Kentucky is located along the border of the state where it meets Tennessee and Virginia. It was officially established on June 11, 1940.
The site is of importance because of the role it played throughout American history. As a sizeable natural break in the Appalachian Mountains, wildlife and Native Americans had been using the gap for centuries before White settlers came to the region.
Settlers used the gap to travel westward in their quest for the frontier regions of the country. Its strategic importance was also well-known during the American Civil War as it was fought for by both Union and Confederate forces.
The National Park Service uses this paragraph to describe Cumberland Gap National Historical Park:
"At Cumberland Gap, the first great gateway to the west, follow the buffalo, the Native American, the longhunter, the pioneer… all traveled this route through the mountains into the wilderness of Kentucky. Modern day explorers and travelers stand in awe at this great gateway and the many miles of trails and scenic features found in the park."