Custer hosts Rushmore quarter launch
Published: Thursday, November 14th, 2013
At the strike of noon last Tuesday, the United States Mint released the newest quarter for the “America the Beautiful” Quarters Program, honoring Mount Rushmore National Monument and South Dakota. A day after the quarters were released, over 2,000 people gathered at the Armory in Custer to officially launch the quarter in style.
The America the Beautiful Quarters Program is a multi-year initiative to honor 56 national sites in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and five U.S. territories. Through this program, five quarters with new reverse-side designs began appearing on the quarter-dollar in 2010 and will continue through 2021. South Dakota’s Mount Rushmore is the last coin of the year — and 20th coin overall — to be released in the program, which introduces coins in the order by which the feature site was first established. Mount Rushmore was established as a national site in 1925.
Inspiration for the coin's reverse design was drawn from photos of men putting the final details to Thomas Jefferson's face, offering a unique and educational perspective on how Mount Rushmore was created and sculpted. The coin was designed and sculpted by U.S. Mint sculpture-engraver Joseph Menna.
“This new quarter reflects our continued fascination with the majestic Mount Rushmore National Memorial and the enduring legacies of the four leaders whose faces have become one with the Black Hills,” said David Croft, acting associate director for manufacturing at the U.S. Mint. “America the Beautiful Quarters connects America through coins to our most treasured places, our national parks and recreation areas, forests, fish and wildlife refugees and other national sites. At each event, we celebrate our nation’s wisdom in conserving beautiful and historical national sites for all Americans.”
In January 2011, officials at Mount Rushmore received notice that the monument was selected by the state governor and the U.S. Mint to be depicted on the back of the quarter.
Mount Rushmore provided ideas, photographs and other sources to the Mint for the artist to prepare five designs. Those designs were reviewed for historical accuracy and authenticity to make sure it represented the site. The director of the U.S. Mint also offered his comments before the final decision was made by the secretary of the treasury.
“What would be more memorable than the representation of the carving of Mount Rushmore and the workers who endured the hardships who worked to create this iconic structure and sculpture and shrine of democracy?” asked Mount Rushmore superintendent Cheryl Schreier, who also said everyone at the monument wanted to ensure the design was unique, historical and memorable. “It was a great process and partnership to be involved in.”
Among the 2,000 people in attendance of the launching ceremony was Don “Nick” Clifford, who at 92 years old, is the only worker who helped carve the mountain still living. At 17 years old, Clifford began working at Mount Rushmore, where he helped wherever he could — splitting wood to heat the buildings, assisting the stone masons in wall and fireplace construction and helping build the current sculpture’s studio. On the mountain, he was a winch operator, lowering and raising the men over the mountain. In 1940, he was a driller, removing rock below Roosevelt’s chin.
Other attendees of the coin launch were representatives from the offices of Sen. Tim Johnson, Sen. John Thune and Rep. Kristi Noem, as well as representatives from the Custer City Council, Keystone Town Board, Rapid City Council, Rapid City mayor Sam Kooiker and Custer Area Chamber of Commerce director Dave Ressler, who was the launching’s master of ceremonies. Also in attendance were hundreds of local students, who received a quarter after the ceremony. Members from the Custer High School band performed during and before the show while members from the choir performed the National Anthem and a song during the ceremony. Two representatives from the sixth grade also led the crowd in the Pledge of Allegiance and the Crazy Horse Squadron of the Civil Air Patrol brought in the flags at the beginning of the ceremony.
Towards the end of the ceremony, Croft presented Schreier with two commemorative quarters, one minted at the first day of production at the mint in Denver, Colo., on Aug. 14, and the second minted on the first day of production at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, Pa., on Aug. 29.
Afterwards, members of the public exchanged their currency for $10 rolls of newly minted Mount Rushmore National Memorial coins.
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