The second release of the year and the thirty-second release overall for the America the Beautiful Quarters Program featured Cumberland Gap National Historical Park in Kentucky. As with the other releases of the series, this location was selected before the launch of the program in 2009.
The reverse design of the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park Quarter features the image of a frontiersman gazing across the mountains to the West, with the Cumberland Gap in view. Many pioneers used this passage on their journey into the western frontiers of Kentucky and Tennessee. The reverse inscriptions include “Cumberland Gap”, “Kentucky”, “First Doorway to the West”, “E Pluribus Unum”, and “2016”. The reverse was designed by Barbara Fox and engraved by Joseph Menna.
On the obverse of the coin is the John Flanagan portrait of George Washington, which has been used in common throughout the series. The inscriptions read “United States of America”, “Liberty”, “In God We Trust”, and “Quarter Dollar”.
On April 4, 2016, the United States Mint officially released into circulation examples of the coin struck at the Philadelphia and Denver mint facilities. On the same date, the Mint made available numismatic bags and rolls containing circulation quality examples of the coins. In addition to the Philadelphia and Denver minted coins, there were also circulating quality examples struck at the San Francisco Mint, which were exclusive to the numismatic products.
A launch ceremony was held for the Cumberland Gap Quarter on April 11, 2016 at the park’s visitor center. The event included the mass swearing in of more than 2,200 junior rangers and a coin exchange where members of the public were allowed to exchange currency for rolls of newly minted quarters.
Additional products associated with this release included proof and silver proof coins struck at the San Francisco Mint as well as bullion and numismatic five ounce silver coins struck at the Philadelphia Mint.
About Cumberland Gap National Historical Park
One of the most significant features of the historical Appalachian Mountain chain is the area where it is not. The Cumberland Gap National Historical Park is a celebration of the major break in the mountain chain where it extends into Kentucky. Almost four miles in width in some areas, the Cumberland Gap is a unique nature preserve that extends for almost twenty six miles along Cumberland Mountain. Home to a diverse population of wildlife and breathtaking vistas, the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park is a place that national park enthusiasts must visit.
First established as a protected area by the federal government in June of 1940, the Park is a showcase of the best and most beautiful features that the Appalachians have to offer. Visitors to the park are invited to enjoy the lush vegetation that is indicative of the immense amount of moisture that falls every year in the Appalachian region.
The Park is also home to many unique types of wildlife, like white-tailed deer, wild turkey, black bear and rabbit; any of which are likely to be spotted by observers that visit the park. The park also acts as a haven for the endangered Indiana Bat as well as fifty nine state-listed rare plant species. One of the most unique features of the Park has to be its extensive cave system, which gives visitors a chance to experience life underground.