It was a beautiful sunny day as the United States Mint and the National Park Service (NPS) unveiled Arizona’s 2010 Grand Canyon National Park Quarter. A few clouds in the blue sky and the colorful canyon provided the perfect backdrop for the outdoor ceremony on the edge of the South Rim.
School age children watched Peter The Mint Eagle while officials from the US Mint and National Park Service made ready for the ceremony. A Native American in full dress played songs on a wooden flute before the event kicked off with the Pledge of Allegiance.
The ceremony took place on Tuesday, September 21, 2010, at 1:30 PM Mountain Standard Time, which was 4:30 Eastern Daylight Time. The Grand Canyon does not participate with Daylight-Saving Time, and so it operates on Mountain Standard Time all year round.
Steve Martin, Superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park, welcomed everyone to the ceremony and called out some of the dignitaries in attendance. He said the park was lucky to receive the commemoration of the Grand Canyon park quarter, and it will be recognized worldwide as the park receives about 4.5 million visitors every year. Martin described the chosen location within the Grand Canyon that was depicted on the quarter. He complimented the United States Mint for doing a fantastic job in representing the canyon, noting how the coins can be used to trace historical events significant to the nation.
"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."
Next Superintendent Martin read a note written by U.S. Senator John McCain. Senator McCain expressed regret for not attending the ceremony and extended his congratulations to the park for being honored. He also commended the U.S. Mint for their wonderful job of capturing a truly representative image of the Grand Canyon’s boldness.
The design on the coin’s reverse (tails side) portrays a view of Marble Canyon, a section of the Grand Canyon’s north side, above the Nankoweap Delta where the granaries that were used for storing food and seeds ages ago can be seen. The angle of the view also includes the Colorado River, which carved the Grand Canyon. The reverse was designed and sculpted by Phebe Hemphill.
Renee Bahl, Director of the Arizona State Parks, spoke next. She said a few words about the history of how the Grand Canyon received federal protection and preservation, and then she read a proclamation from Arizona’s Governor, Janice K. Brewer.
Superintendent Martin then introduced Sherry Henry, Director of the Arizona Office of Tourism. She also thanked the Mint for the Grand Canyon quarter and designing an image that was a wonderful representation. She pointed out how the quarter was a great way to promote the park and the state.
Scott Thybony, writer and historian — author of The Incredible Grand Canyon, talked about the Nankoweap Delta in the canyon and its significance. He described his first hand experience of the area, as well as the historic evidence left behind by its archaic inhabitants. In his speech, he included an excerpt from Major John Wesley Powell’s expeditions and discoveries.
Albert Brent Chase and the Pollen Trail Dancers performed a native dance next, complete with drums, bells, singing and chanting in native tongue. A talented dancer wore a large feather costume. The Pollen Trail Dancers are a well-known Native American troupe that have been performing at the Rim for roughly a decade.
Afterwards, Superintendent Martin introduced United States Mint Director Ed Moy, who thanked the National Park Service, Brent Chase — the native flute performer, and the many native tribes in the Grand Canyon area. In Moy’s speech, he acknowledged the sacredness of the Grand Canyon and why it was entered into the quarters program.
"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."
Director Moy said he hopes all Americans enjoy the quarter and become inspired to visit the canyon. This special coin program can introduce a new generation to America, he explained, helped through lesson plans set up by the Mint to inspire interest in conservation, geography, and heritage. Director Moy hoped the new quarters connect Americans to the nation’s parks and remind everyone worldwide that we are known as America the Beautiful.
Finally, Director Moy presented Superintendent Martin with a framed plaque containing two Grand Canyon National Park Quarters, the actual first strikes from each mint facility, Philadelphia and Denver. Then Moy and Martin ceremoniously poured the Grand Canyon National Park Quarters to represent its official release.
Superintendent Martin thanked everyone for attending and asked that they enjoy the cake and the quarters.
Immediately following the ceremony, Director Moy handed out quarters to the children while Chase Bank exchanged cash for $10 rolls of the new quarter-dollars for adults who wanted them. (The public can now purchase bags and rolls of the coins directly from the US Mint.)
The Grand Canyon National Park Quarter marks the fourth release in the America the Beautiful Quarters™ Program, which debuted earlier this year with the Hot Springs National Park Quarter from Arkansas. The Yellowstone National Park and Yosemite National Park quarters also came before the Grand Canyon National Park Quarter. The final quarter release for 2010 will be the Mount Hood National Forest Quarter. It will be launched in November. Also, versions of the quarters, the five-ounce .999 fine bullion America the Beautiful Silver Coins, are expected to be released beginning this fall.
The America the Beautiful Quarters series will honor five national sites per year, until every state and U.S. territory, including the District of Columbia, is represented. The program will be finished in 2021, unless it is extended by the Treasury Secretary. (See all the quarters release dates.)
About the US Mint
The United States Mint, created by Congress in 1792, is the Nation’s sole manufacturer of legal tender coinage. Its primary mission is to produce an adequate volume of circulating coinage for the Nation to conduct its trade and commerce. The United States Mint also produces proof, uncirculated and commemorative coins; Congressional Gold Medals; and silver, gold and platinum bullion coins.