Cumberland Gap National Historical Park quarters were introduced to the public Monday, April 11, at an event held at the park’s visitor center in Middlesboro, Kentucky.
About 3,600 people attended the official launch ceremony, including some 2,700 school kids.
Highlights included an en masse swearing in of more than 2,200 junior rangers followed by a coin exchange.
Guest speakers included U.S. Representative Hal Rogers, NPS Deputy Director Peggy O’Dell, NPS Director for the Southeast Region Stan Austin, Cumberland Gap National Historical Park Superintendent Sula Jacobs, and Marc Landry, plant manager of the U.S. Mint at Philadelphia.
"Modern day explorers and travelers stand in awe at this great break in the Appalachian Mountain chain, which gave passage to thousands seeking something new beyond the horizon," said Marc Landry. "Millions of Americans will now have a reminder of the important role this mountain pass has played in the settlement of our Nation."
Hattie Landen and Makaya Patterson, both fourth-grade students at Middlesboro Elementary School, shared master-of-ceremony duties.
Immediately following the event, the schoolchildren received a free Cumberland Gap quarter, and adults swapped cash for $10 rolls of the new coin. Sponsored by Home Federal Bank, about $26,000 in quarters was exchanged according to U.S. Mint spokesman Michael White.
Those who missed the launch ceremony do not have to wait to find the coins in change, because the U.S. Mint started selling Cumberland Gap quarters on April 4. Buying options include rolls and bags of them in circulating quality from U.S. Mint facilities in San Francisco, Denver and Philadelphia. Prices for the products range from $18.95 for a roll of 40 quarters to $46.95 for a set of three-rolls. (Visit the Mint’s online store for quarters.)
On the day before the ceremony, the U.S. Mint hosted a free coin forum that drew 40 collectors. Coin forums offer a venue to express views and ask questions about existing, new, and upcoming U.S. Mint products.
The U.S. Mint’s America the Beautiful Quarters® Program debuted in 2010. It will honor 56 national parks and other national sites in the U.S. and its territories through 2021. The Cumberland Gap National Historical Park quarter is the 32nd release. The U.S. Mint video below shows how it was produced.
The first 2016-dated release commemorated Shawnee National Forest in Illinois. The next three for this year honor Harpers Ferry National Historical Park in West Virginia, Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, and Fort Moultrie in South Carolina.