A little bit of northern Wisconsin will soon find its way into pockets, purses, and coin collections across the country, with the U.S. Mint’s official release of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Quarter on April 9.
The launch is part of an eleven year rollout of America the Beautiful Quarters, which began in 2010 and will continue until 2021. The U.S. Mint has released five designs per year since 2010, with 56 separate quarter designs total. This year’s releases are the most local to Wisconsin, and include Michigan’s Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Quarter, released on Feb. 5, and Minnesota’s Voyageurs National Park Quarter, scheduled for release on June 11.
In its background of the coin the U.S. Mint notes that the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore was established in 1970 to protect “certain significant islands, shoreline, and light stations of the U.S. and their related geographic, scenic, historic, and scientific values.”
“The park includes 21 islands in Lake Superior and a 12-mile-long strip of mainland shoreline encompassing more than 69,000 acres,” the U.S. Mint explains. “The park features pristine stretches of sand beaches and coves; spectacular sea caves; remnant old-growth upper forests; a diverse population of birds, mammals, amphibians, and fish; and a number of lighthouses and lighthouse complexes.”
The quarter’s design, chosen from among nine candidates, depicts the sea caves at Devils Island with the lighthouse in the background and a kayaker paddling in the foreground. The U.S. Mint says that the design was developed in consultation with representatives of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
A crowd of 650 people including several hundred school children gathered at the Legendary Waters Resort in Red Cliff for an official launch ceremony on April 11. The event included performances by the Bayfield High School Choir, Red Cliff VFW, Wiigiwaam Express, Red Cliff Youth Drum Group and the Washburn High School Jazz Band. Larry MacDonald, former mayor of Bayfield, served as master of ceremonies. Guest speakers Rick Peterson, Tribal Chairman of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa; Mike Wiggins, Tribal Chairman of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa; Henry Buffalo, Elder of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and descendant of Chief Buffalo; and Bob Krumenaker, Superintendent, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
Marc Landry, Associate Director of the Numismatic and Bullion Directorate, United States Mint, who represented the organization at the event said, “Just as the guiding light beacons from the Devil’s Island lighthouse—as it has done for decades—the Apostle Islands Quarter will serve as a shining example of the inherent value of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, and the people that protect it and frequent it…shedding light on its splendor, beauty and purpose, for future generations to follow.”
A coin exchange immediately followed the ceremony, where attendees could purchase rolls of the new quarter. The U.S. Mint notes that it can often take months or years for the newly released quarters to find their way into circulation. Those interested in getting their hands on the quarter may be better off purchasing it directly through the U.S. Mint.
The coin has another noteworthy Wisconsin connection. Richard Masters, an art professor with the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh who has since retired and moved to New York City, designed the Apostle Islands quarter, along with many other quarters in the program. The design was sculpted by Renata Gordon, sculptor and engraver for the U.S. Mint.