The last of five strikes of 2019 to appear as part of the US Mint’s America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin™ Program will be the 2019 Frank Church River Of No Return America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin. The coin also number fifty out of fifty-six due to appear as part of the program which debuted in 2010 and runs until 2021.
The reverse (tails side) of the coin will showcase a portion of Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness which is located in Idaho. Design candidates for the strike should appear in early 2018. At that time, they will be reviewed by the Citizen’s Coinage Advisory Committee, the Commission of Fine Arts, the governor of Idaho and the Interior Secretary. Their comments, along with the recommendation of the Mint Director will be sent to the Treasury Secretary who will make the final selection. That choice should be unveiled by the Mint in early 2019 before the first America the Beautiful coin is released that year.
George Washington, the first President of the United States, will be featured on the obverse (heads side) of all of the America the Beautiful coins. This is due mostly to the fact that these bullion coins are issued as a companion series to the America the Beautiful circulating quarter dollars issued at approximately the same time with Washington having been on the obverse of the quarter since 1932.
The America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008 which authorized both series also requires an edge inscription to be placed on the bullion coins showing its content and purity. Consequently, five ounces and .999 fine silver will be placed there. Also, these bullion strikes will have a diameter of three inches making them the largest bullion coins produced by the Mint.
The completed program will have fifty-six new coins included in it, with each coin representing a site of national interest from a different state, the District of Columbia or one of the five US Territories (American Samoa, Puerto Rico, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands & US Virgin Islands). Sites of national interest could include national monuments, national forests, national parks, etc.
The Mint’s network or authorized purchasers will be the only ones allowed to buy the bullion coins directly from the Mint. The network will then resell them at a small premium over the spot price of the silver in them to coin dealers and individuals.
Four other America the Beautiful coins will precede the Frank Church River of No Return strike in 2019 – Lowell National Historical Park of Massachusetts, American Memorial Park of the Northern Mariana Islands, War in the Pacific National Historical Park of Guam and the San Antonio Missions Historical Park of Texas.
Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho
The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho has the distinction of being the largest section of wilderness area in the continental United States with total land area of 2,366,757. The area was established in 1980 and was named after four-term U.S. Senator from Idaho Frank Church.
Banked by the Salmon River Mountains, the Clearwater Mountains and the Bighorn Crags, the Wilderness encompasses steep jagged mountain ranges, deep canyons and white-water rivers to give visitors to the area scenery which they can experience no where else in the world. In fact the Salmon River Canyon is one of the deepest gorges in North America – deeper even than the much more famous Grand Canyon located in Arizona.
The Salmon River running through the mountains was known by many throughout the years as the "The River of No Return" which explains part of the Wilderness areas name. It was called the River of No Return because early settlers to the region could easily navigate down the river, but its swift current and many rapids made it impossible to return up-river.
In fact, when the Wilderness area was first created, it was known as just The River of No Return Wilderness, but due to his diligent work during his career towards environmental concerns, the area was renamed the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness only a few weeks before Church succumbed to the effects of a pancreatic tumor.
Due to its remoteness, many species call the area home including black bears, coyote, red fox, lynx, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, grey wolves, mountain lions and many more.
Atypical for a wilderness area, jet-boats and several air-strips are permitted within the Wildernesses boundaries because they were grandfathered in.