The 2014 Great Smoky Mountains America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin will be the first issue of the US Mint’s America the Beautiful Silver Bullion Coin™ Program to appear in that year. This coin is also the twenty-first strike of the program which launched in 2010 and will include a total of fifty-six new coins upon its completion in 2021.
The America’s Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008, which authorized the bullion coins, dictates that each will be struck from five ounces of .999 fine silver to a diameter of three inches. The coins weight and fineness will be edge inscribed.
All of the America’s Beautiful Bullion Coins will feature an image of George Washington on the obverse (heads side). He was the first President of the United States.
The reverse will showcase part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, located in Tennessee. Design candidates for this strike should be released in early 2013 for review and comment. Then, in early 2014, sometime before the strike is actually released, the final design should be unveiled by the US Mint.
According to the terms of the program each state, 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 represented on a coin in the series. This will be accomplished by the selection of a site of national interest located within the jurisdiction of each of those governments. The site could be a national park, a national forest, etc.
A network of authorized purchasers will be the only ones able to buy the bullion coins directly from the US Mint. Coin dealers and individuals will then be able to purchase the coins from that network for a small mark-up over the spot price of the silver they contain.
The Great Smoky Mountain bullion coin is first America the Beautiful bullion piece to appear in 2014 and will be followed by four other strikes honoring Shenandoah National Park in Virginia, Arches National Park in Utah, Great Sand Dunes National Park of Colorado and Everglades National Park in Florida.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee
Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee was officially established in 1934, but the area has a rich history that precedes that date. Since prehistoric times the mountains in the area have been home to native Americans.
By the time European settlers encroached on the region, the highly advanced Cherokee Indians already had established a well-developed political system, towns and even trails connecting them throughout the Smoky Mountains. Their way of life was about to change, however, as the American government began a process in 1830 to forcibly move all Native American tribes east of the Mississippi River to land in Oklahoma. The Cherokee tribes of the Smoky Mountains were no exception and their "trail of tears" is still well remembered today.
With most of the Indians removed, white settlers started to homestead in the region and unfortunately this led to a boom in the logging industry resulting in many clear-cut sections of forest land. By the early 1900′s, a movement had begun to protect the landscape but it met with little success owing to a lack of funds.
Congress authorized a park in the mountains in 1926, but did not appropriate sufficient funds to establish it. But with a generous contribution by philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. of $5 million dollars, the creation of the park was in the works. Unfortunately, this once again resulted in the forced removal of the citizens living there, but by 1934 the park was officially created.
Today, the park is believed to be the most visited national park in the United States with well over 9 million estimated to visit annually. Aside from the historical attractions found here, the park also offers activities such as hiking, camping and fishing.