The Blue Ridge Parkway, now in its 80th year, is the most visited of all the National Park Service destinations. Here in Blowing Rock, it is easy to take the scenic roadway for granted as so many of us use it to commute to Boone or Deep Gap.
We'll soon receive a reminder of just how special the parkway is, a reminder that we might find when a cashier hands us our change at the grocery store.
The U.S. Mint announced this week that the Blue Ridge Parkway will be commemorated with a special quarter-dollar coin as part of its ongoing series honoring “America the Beautiful.” The coin will have the standard image of George Washington on the obverse (heads) side and an image of the Blue Ridge Parkway on the reverse (tails) side.
"We are thrilled that the Blue Ridge Parkway is featured on the new quarter,” said Rita Larkin, communications specialist with the Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation. “The new coin is a great representation of an incredibly beautiful and enriching place that helps define our state. Just think, these coins will travel all over the world as mini-ambassadors for the Blue Ridge Parkway.
“We also hope it will inspire more people to visit and experience the Parkway and become involved in its care."
The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is the primary private fund-raiser for the Parkway, completing projects ranging from historic and cultural preservation to environmental protection and enhanced visitor amenities.
According to a press release from the U.S. Mint, “(the) Blue Ridge Parkway is a scenic byway with natural attractions, a unit of the park system with numerous recreational opportunities and a cross-section of Appalachian mountain history. Stretching 469 miles along the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains through North Carolina and Virginia, it encompasses some of the oldest settlements of both pre-historic and early European settlement in the U.S. It was established as a national site in 1936.
“The reverse design depicts the grace and curvature of the road hugging the side of a mountain, with the North Carolina state flower in the foreground. Design candidates were developed in consultation with representatives of Blue Ridge Parkway.”
The Blue Ridge Parkway commemorative quarter is one of five to be released this year in the ongoing National Park series, also referred to as the “America the Beautiful” series. The others 2015 quarters commemorate Homestead National Monument of America, Kisatchie National Forest, Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge and Saratoga National Historical Park.
The Blue Ridge Parkway quarter features the state flower, the dogwood, in the foreground and a winding stretch of the Blue Ridge Parkway leading into a tunnel with the Appalachian Mountains in the background.
The image was designed by Frank Morris and engraved by Joseph Menna.
The release of the Blue Ridge Parkway quarter is approximately in the middle of the America the Beautiful Quarters series. When it concludes in 2021 it will have honored 56 different scenic and historic sites.
All of the quarters commemorating the Blue Ridge Parkway will be minted at the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia.
According to a press release from the U.S. Mint, a Blue Ridge Parkway Quarter Launch and Coin Exchange event will be held at Park Square in Asheville beginning at 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 25. Attendees will be able to purchase up to a maximum of 10 rolls of the new quarters at their face value of $10 per roll. Grammy Award-winning musician David Holt is set to be the emcee of the quarter launch event, which will include a flag presentation by an Asheville-area Girl Scout Troop.
After the quarter launch, the musical quartet David Holt and the Lightning Bolts will perform.