Thursday, July 29, 2010

Showing you the Money

The director of the US Mint is in Yosemite Valley this morning to release the new California quarter into public circulation. Park staff has erected a stage in front of the visitor center, the mounted ranger honor guard is standing by, and a great treasure chest of new currency is available to be traded for old. (Kids can get a free quarter this morning!) This is all happening here because for the second time in five years we have put Yosemite on our money. You may recall the 2005 California quarter featured John Muir, Half Dome and a California Condor. Now the mint is initiating a new series of 56 quarters focused on 'America the Beautiful.' The Golden State's design is among the first five quarters being released this year, because of the early date (8 years before Yellowstone) at which Yosemite was first set aside as a protected reserve. George Washington (of Washington's Column fame) is still on the 'heads' side; the reverse is an image of El Capitan seen from the west at Valley View, that spot along Northside Drive where the Merced River comes up against a parking lot and you have a nice view of Bridalveil and the Captain.
As much as I like the new design, I'm disappointed that one of the alternates wasn't chosen. The candidate image I preferred was of Yosemite Falls viewed down the long walkway to the base of Lower Yosemite Falls. In a branch of one of the bordering trees was a Steller's Jay, a creature surely deserving representation on our currency.
At any rate, it is a great testament to the importance of Yosemite National Park to the state and the nation that we've chosen to put it on our currency again. Of all the beautiful things in California, this is the one place that rates that highly. We are a lucky land, indeed, to have such a treasure to care for and to share.

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