The United States Mint have now officially released the Ozark National Scenic Riverways Quarter Dollar Coin as a part of the America the Beautiful Coin Program. The coin is the 38th overall for the program, which begun in 2010, and the third to be issued for 2017.
The America the Beautiful program pays homage to America's national parks and historic sites at a pace of five new coins per year, and is set to run until 2021 and issue 56 coins – although the legislation governing the program(Public Law 110-456) allows for it to be extended until 2032.
The Ozark National Scenic Riverways is an 80 000 acre or 324 km2 national park in southern Missouri. Created in 1964 by an act of Congress to protect the Jaks Fork and Current rivers and surrounding natural areas. Upon signing the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, then President Lyndon Johnson remarked that :
“An unspoiled river is a very rare thing in this Nation today. Their flow and vitality have been harnessed by dams and too often they have been turned into open sewers by communities and by industries. It makes us all very fearful that all rivers will go this way unless somebody acts now to try to balance our river development.”
Today the park is renowned for it's pristine waterways and has become a prime destination for nature lovers of all ilks. The National Parks Service reports that the Ozark National Scenic Riverways receive over two million visitors each year.
The activities that the site offers include canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, hunting, hiking, fishing, camping, bird watching, nature photography, and sightseeing. Apart from preserving the waterways the site also manages several historic sites and over 300 caves and natural springs.
Some of the more well know of these include the Round Spring Cave, Big Spring and Devils Well. The Alley Spring Mill was a working merchants mill established in 1894 and used to turn wheat into flour. It was chosen by the coin's designer Ronald D. Sanders to feature on the coin's reverse.
The official launch ceremony for the coin took place at the Old Red Mill, as it is also known to locals, attended by U.S. Mint Senior Advisor Michele Satchell as well as the coin's designer Ronald D Sanders. Michele Satchell commented on the symbolism of the design by saying :
“Vital to the community here a century ago, the mill stands as a tribute to our ability to harness the power of the environment and reminds us of a way of life heavily shaped by the remote and rugged landscape in which it endured”.
The coin features a depiction of the Alley Mill on the reverse of the coin including the surrounding natural environment and the river ways from which the park takes it's name. The words “OZARK RIVERWAYS” appear to the top, with “MISSOURI” and “E LPURIBUS UNUM” flanking the scene to the left and right. Finally the date, “2017”, is inscribed to the bottom of the coin.
The obverse features the slightly updated 1932 effigy of George Washington by John Flanagan, which has been a constant feature on the quarter dollar coin for more than 80 years now. “UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and “QUARTER DOLLAR” are seen in a semi-circle along the rim, with “LIBERTY” and “IN GOD WE TRUST” flanking the portrait on either side. The mint mark appears to the lower right of the coin.
The coin will be available in circulation as well as in special numismatic products from the US Mint. These include special 100 coin bags, US Mint wrapped coin rolls, proof sets, silver proof sets and the 5oz silver version of the design.