The Shawnee National Forest Quarter represented the first release of the year and the thirty-first release overall within the America the Beautiful Quarters Program. The ambitious multi-year program features rotating reverse designs honoring national parks and sites from each of the states and its territories with America.
The reverse design of the quarter features a close view of Camel Rock with natural vegetation in the foreground and a soaring red-tailed hawk overhead. The inscriptions read “Shawnee”, “Illinois”, “E Pluribus Unum”, and “2016”. The obverse of the coin features the restored portrait of George Washington designed by John Flanagan with the inscriptions “United States of America”, “Liberty”, “In God We Trust”, and “Quarter Dollar”.
The Shawnee Quarters were officially released for circulation on February 1, 2016. On the same date, the United States Mint opened sales of numismatic bags and rolls containing circulating quality examples of the coins from the Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco Mint facilities. While the Denver and Philadelphia coins had also been released for circulation, the San Francisco coins were exclusive to the products. The Mint offered 100-coin bags for $18.95, single rolls from the San Francisco Mint for $18.95, two roll sets for $32.95, and three roll sets for $46.95.
An official launch ceremony for the coin was hosted by the United States Mint and National Forest Service on February 4, 2016. The event was attended by more than 300 school children and dignitaries assembled at the Southeastern Illinois College Deaton Gymnasium. After the ceremony, a coin exchange event allowed attendees to exchange currency for freshly minted rolls of the Shawnee National Park Quarters.
Additional numismatic products featuring the quarter included a clad proof and 90% silver proof version struck at the San Francisco Mint and bullion and collectible uncirculated five ounce silver versions struck at the Philadelphia Mint.
About Shawnee National Forest
Although Illinois is one of the largest states in the United States in terms of land mass, it ranks forty eighth in the amount of land that has been set aside for preservation of natural resources and recreation areas. This makes the Shawnee National Forest a treasured area in the minds of most Illinois residents. For those that are looking to slow down, relax and reconnect with the wildness of nature, Shawnee National Forest acts as an oasis in their state.
Although friends and advocates of a federally protected forest area in Illinois had tried once before, it was not until September of 1939 that the Shawnee National Forest was officially recognized as a public wilderness area. Now the national forest contains not one, but seven congressionally designated wilderness areas which include six rivers that are candidates for the Wild and Scenic designation as well as four National Natural Landmarks.
Visitors to the park are mostly residents of urban and suburban Illinois that are looking for places to camp, hike, ride horses and enjoy the waterways of untouched Illinois landscape. Supporters of the forest are dedicated to keeping it preserved for human recreation as well as scientific research and the promotion of sustainable practices.