The United States Mint debuted Arizona’s Grand Canyon quarter to visitors of all ages on Tuesday, September 21, during an outdoor launch ceremony at the Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim, not far from the El Tovar Hotel. The new quarter-dollar is the fourth release of the America the Beautiful Quarters™ Program.
Superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park Steve Martin emceed the function and was joined by several others in introducing the new Grand Canyon National Park Quarter. Other dignitaries on the dais included Arizona State Parks Board Executive Director Renée Bahl, historian and author Scott Thybony, Arizona Office of Tourism Director Sherry Henry, and United States Mint Director Ed Moy.
Before starting off with the Pledge of Allegiance, Albert Brent Chase and the Pollen Trail Dancers entertained guests with Native American music. Superintendent Martin was first to praise the United States Mint for their exemplary job of depicting the canyon on the new coin. A few comments from United States Senator John McCain were read, as well as a proclamation from Arizona Governor Janice Brewer, who were unable to attend the ceremony in person.
Martin expressed pleasure that a scared Native American spot in the canyon was picked. The image gave a fantastic view of the site’s historical significance and the Colorado River, and if closely scrutinized, the outline of a person on a canyon trail is visible, which represented its contemporary use.
"The introduction of a Grand Canyon quarter is a momentous occasion in the human story of the park; so we were thrilled when the Nankoweap granaries were chosen as the design for the reverse side," said Martin. "The use of the granaries really seems to connect the coin and today’s event to the thousands of years of human history reflected in archeological sites throughout the canyon."
Scott Thybony, historian and author, also discussed the importance of the Nankoweap granaries when he took to the podium. He spent a lot of time writing and exploring the Grand Canyon, and he described the first time he saw the granaries and the clues left behind by the inhabitants.
Following a performance by the Pollen Trail Dancers and closing out the program was the Director of the US Mint Ed Moy. He thanked the National Park Service for their involvement with the program and expressed his hope that the coin reminds people worldwide why we are known as America the Beautiful. Moy’s comments were closed with an unveiling of the new quarter along with Superintendent Martin.
"The United States Mint is honored to be connecting America to its most significant natural treasures through the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program," Moy said. "The new Grand Canyon National Park quarter design echoes the ancient grandeur of this wondrous place."
Immediately after the ceremony ended, Director Moy and other officials handed out shiny new strikes of the Grand Canyon quarters to all of the children in attendance. Chase Bank provided a cash exchange for $10 rolls containing 40 circulation-quality strikes for those willing to stand in line.
The Grand Canyon National Park ( http://www.nps.gov/grca/) was established in 1893 and is known worldwide as one of the world’s seven natural wonders. The canyon is said to be up to 18 miles wide and a mile deep, while it stretches about 277 "river miles" long. The park welcomes nearly 5 million visitors annually.
Five new quarter dollars will be released annually under the America the Beautiful Quarters series. The program will run until at least 2021. Each coin will have an image of President George Washington on the obverse, however, the reverse will feature designs of select national parks, sites, and forests throughout the United States, showcasing the beauty of the country. One site was selected from each state, the District of Columbia and the five territories of the United States.
The Grand Canyon quarter reverse design features a view of the granaries above the Nankoweap Delta Trail in Marble Canyon and the Colorado River below. Marble Canyon is found in the northernmost part of the Grand Canyon. Inscriptions included are "Grand Canyon," " Arizona," "2010" and "E PLURIBUS UNUM." The coin was both designed and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill.
Grand Canyon National Park Quarters were actually released into circulation on Monday, September 20, 2010, along with Two-roll Sets and 100-Coin Bags available directly from the Mint. The sets contain one roll of 40 circulation quality strikes from the United States Mint facility in Philadelphia and one roll of 40 strikes from the United States Mint facility in Denver and sell for $32.95. The 100-coin bags offer buyers the choice of either Denver or Philadelphia strikes for $35.95.
This year’s four National Park Quarters have now been issued. The next America the Beautiful coin to appear from the United States Mint will be the Mount Hood National Forest Quarter which will premier November 15, 2010. Previous strikes for 2010 include Hot Springs National Park Quarter in April, Yellowstone National Park Quarter in June, and Yosemite National Park Quarter in July.
Later in the fall, the United States Mint will begin introducing the 2010 National Park Silver Bullion Coins, which are 5-oz duplicates of the quarters struck in .999 fine silver and distributed through its network of authorized buyers.