Eminence, MO - On June 5, 2017, the 38th coin in the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program was released at Alley Spring in Ozark National Scenic Riverways. The coin depicts the iconic Alley Mill, which sits at the edge of Alley Spring. The official quarter launch ceremony and accompanying interpretive special event drew a crowd of over 2,250 visitors, including more than 600 school children.
The Ozark National Scenic Riverways quarter is the third from the America the Beautiful series to be released in 2017. It was designed by artist Ron Sanders and sculpted by Renata Gordon. The quarter’s reverse design features Alley Mill, a steel roller mill built in 1894. The mill was used to convert wheat into flour, and corn into cornmeal for local residents. Much of the original milling equipment is still in place, and the mill is open daily for visitors from May through October.
The official launch ceremony was led by Master of Ceremonies Tom Akers, a former NASA astronaut and National Park Service Park Ranger, who is a native of the Eminence area. U.S. Mint Senior Advisor Michele Satchell represented the Mint. She was joined by speakers including Congressman Jason Smith; Patricia Trap, Deputy Regional Director for the Midwest Region; Ozark Riverways Superintendent Larry Johnson; State Representative Paul Fitzwater, representing Missouri Governor Eric Greitens; David Stokely, District Director for Senator Claire McCaskill; and Darren Lingle, District Director for Senator Roy Blunt.
The Baker Family, an award-winning bluegrass band from southern Missouri, entertained the crowd with pre- and post-ceremony music, as well as a moving rendition of the national anthem. The National Park Service Honor Guard conducted the Presentation of Colors and local Boy Scouts of America Troop #43 led the Pledge of Allegiance.
The ceremony included a special recognition for artist Ron Sanders, an artist in the Mint’s Artistic Infusion Program. For the first time in the America the Beautiful Quarters Program history, the designer attended both the coin forum, held on June 4, and the quarter launch ceremony. Coin forum attendees were treated to a special discussion by Mr. Sanders who gave them a behind-the-scenes look at the process of designing the Ozark Riverways quarter.
During the quarter launch ceremony, Ms. Satchell presented a shadow box with newly minted coins from both Denver and Philadelphia to Superintendent Johnson and Deputy Regional Director Trap. Then, she invited Johnson, Trap, Congressman Smith, and Representative Fitzwater to join her for the ceremonial coin pour to launch the new quarter. The coin pour featured a river channel carved from wood, flowing into a basin containing a hand-crafted miniature jonboat. Following the coin pour, the group distributed newly minted coins to school children in attendance.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, attendees were the first to acquire the coins by exchanging currency for rolls of quarters. Security Bank of the Ozarks exchanged approximately $30,000 in quarters. All children 18 and under received an Ozark Riverways quarter in a special commemorative case, courtesy of the U.S. Mint.
As an addition to the official quarter launch, staff and volunteers from Ozark National Scenic Riverways, Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield, the Midwest Archeological Center, Missouri Department of Conservation and Missouri State Parks conducted a special interpretive event featuring a living timeline of the natural and cultural history of Alley Spring, entitled “A Gathering Place for over 10,000 Years”. The interpretive event and quarter launch ceremony were both well-attended, as visitors “milled around” on the grounds – reminiscent of the days when Alley was a bustling mill hamlet.