This year marks the Centennial Celebration of the National Park Service – 100 years since the system was created. But 2016 is also special for another reason – it marks the release of a new quarter honoring one of West Virginia's best known National Parks.
Hundreds of people gathered in Harpers Ferry for the official launch of the America the Beautiful Quarters Program honoring Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.
This new quarter recognizes one of the most historic towns in West Virginia – known for its significant role during the Civil War. The quarter’s reverse side depicts John Brown’s Fort, the site of John Brown’s last stand during his raid on the Harpers Ferry Armory.
“This quarter brings a lot of pride to a state, to an area; the pride that’s in here,” said Bill Norton, Director of Legislative and Intergovernmental Affairs at the United States Mint, “If you look around, there are people here from Illinois, California, Montana, Florida, and they come up, and it’s important. It’s important to keep us and keep Americans connected with this history.”
West Virginia’s quarter is one of five that will be released this year as part of the America the Beautiful Quarters Program that began in 2010.
A total of 56 new quarters will be released through 2020 honoring 56 national sites in each of the 50 states, Washington D.C., and five U.S. territories – Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
Harpers Ferry’s quarter is 33rd in the series.
Thomas Hipschen is the artist behind the design of this new quarter. Hipschen is a member of the Artistic Infusion Program at the United States Mint and has been a regular visitor to Harpers Ferry for the past 40 years.
This is the first time one of his designs will appear on a circulating coin, and Hipschen says he chose John Brown’s Fort because it’s so iconic.
“It’s the only part of the original arsenal that still exists," Hipschen explained, "It’s a major point in history; it was almost a trigger point for the Civil War. Later on, it became a meeting place for black groups that turned into the NAACP organization. It just has so many different points in history that makes it important.”
Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is one of four other national park sites in West Virginia and one of 411 sites in the country.
Those interested in getting the new Harpers Ferry quarter may visit any Jefferson Security Bank to exchange cash for rolls of coins until stock runs out. According to a representative from the United States Mint, other banks around the country may have the coins in stock, and individuals are encouraged to reach out and check with their local banks for availability.