The 2011 Olympic National Park Quarter was the eighth release of the new quarter series featuring National Parks and sites of the United States. The order of release is determined based on the date each location was first federally designated.
The quarters were first released on June 13, 2011, when the coins were made available through the channels of circulation and offered by the United States Mint within numismatic bags and rolls.
At the time, the Olympic National Park Quarter marked the lowest mintage for a release of the series to date with 61 million produced across the Philadelphia and Denver facilities. Subsequent issues of the series would have even lower mintages.
The reverse design for the quarter carries a depiction of a Roosevelt Elk stepping into the Hoh River with Mount Olympus in the background. Other design candidates featured broad landscapes without the elk present and a sea scape scene. Both the Commission of Fine Arts and Citizens Coinage Advisory Committee preferred the design incorporating the animal life, and the Treasury Secretary followed these recommendations with his official selection. The revere was Barbara Fox and sculpted by Charles Vickers.
In addition to the quarter dollars issued for circulation and coin collectors, a 5 ounce silver bullion coin bearing the same design was available for precious metals investors.
About Olympic National Park
The mountains of Washington State and their close proximity to the sea made them particularly interesting to early explorers looking for a passage across the American continent to the Pacific Ocean. Although many records exist claiming that seafaring men took expeditions up into the slopes of the Olympic Mountains in the mid-1800s, the first documented ascent took place in 1885 in an expedition led by Melbourne Watkinson.
After this, expedition parties became much more prepared for the treacherous journey up into the slopes of the Olympics, and many started documenting the passes and trails that they had taken so that others could follow in their footsteps. Two such explorers were Lieutenant Joseph O’Neil and Judge James Wickersham who met while exploring the range in the 1890’s.
When asked to report on what he had seen in the Olympics, O’Neil would write that he found them to be of high value, and highly recommended that they be incorporated into a National Park to protect their beauty, and the sanctity of the endangered species they contained, most notably the elk.
In 1897 the majority of the forested land of the peninsula was incorporated into the Olympic Forest Reserve by Congress. As soon as the national park service was officially formed, the area was officially designated a National Park in 1938.
Olympic National Park Quarter Launch Ceremony
To coincide with Flag Day on June 14, 2011, the United States Mint hosted a launch ceremony for the Olympic National Park Quarter. Similar ceremonies had been held for each precious release of the series.
In attendance were B.B. Craig, US Mint Director for Sales and Marketing, Karen Gustin, the Olympic National Park Superintendent, and Mike Gregoire, Washington’s First Gentleman. Craig said, “The beauty of Olympic National Park is in its biodiversity, three distinct ecosystems of sub-alpine, coastal and forest. There is no other national site like it, and the new Olympic National Park quarter will connect America to its natural splendor.”
The master of ceremonies declared the day “Quarter Day in the Classroom.” Children in attendance at the ceremony received a freshly minted Olympic National Park Quarter to commemorate the event.