Bass Harbor lighthouse, Acadia to appear on new quarter

Posted Jan. 01, 2012, at 6:44 p.m.
Courtesy of U.S. Mint

BASS HARBOR, Maine — For the second time in a decade, an iconic Maine lighthouse will soon start appearing in the pockets and pocketbooks of people across the country.

Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse on Mount Desert Island will be featured on the back of a U.S. quarter to be issued in 2012 as part of the U.S. Mint’s “America the Beautiful Quarters Program.”

Bass Harbor’s lighthouse was the location chosen to represent Acadia National Park, which will be the 13th park, national forest or historic site featured in a U.S. Mint series that continues through 2021. One site in each state plus Washington, D.C., and the five U.S. territories will be featured through the program.

Mint officials worked with senior staff at Acadia to narrow down potential candidate sites to be featured on the quarter. Designers and engravers with the U.S. Mint then came up with a rendering of the final candidate sites. The Secretary of the Treasury made the final choice with feedback from state, federal and park officials.

“Overall, it’s a collaborative process,” said Mike White, a spokesman with the Mint.

Located on the southernmost tip of Mount Desert Island, Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse has been in operation since 1858 and is one of the most popular stops for tourists visiting the “quiet side” of the island. The adjacent house still serves as a home to the commander of the local U.S. Coast Guard station.

And while the lighthouse and house are not typically open to tours, public trails at its base offer views of the lighthouse as well as of the ocean and the rocky shoreline that is emblematic of Acadia National Park. President Obama and his family toured the lighthouse and hiked the surrounding trails during their 2010 summer vacation on MDI.

The Bass Harbor quarter — likely be released around summertime — “captures many representative elements of Acadia: the coastline, the lighthouse, the pine trees and the ocean,” according to the U.S. Mint. The words “Acadia” and “Maine” appear above and to the left, respectively, of the depiction of the lighthouse and rocky coastline.

Bass Harbor Head is the second Maine lighthouse to be featured on the reverse side of a quarter. In 2003, Pemaquid Point Light in Bristol represented Maine as part of the Mint’s series depicting scenes or symbols from all 50 states.

Then-Gov. John Baldacci, the director of the U.S. Mint and more than 1,000 people gathered at the lighthouse in June 2003 to formally unveil the new quarter. But did Pemaquid Point’s inclusion on a piece of currency translate into additional tourist dollars for the region? And could the same thing happen around Bass Harbor?

“It certainly helped, I’m sure,” George Benner, a member of Bristol’s Parks Commission, said Sunday.

Launched in 2010, the “America the Beautiful” quarters series is commemorating parks or other significant national sites in the order in which they were established. Past featured sites include Yellowstone, Yosemite and Grand Canyon national parks as well as Gettysburg National Military Park.

The other four quarter designs being released in 2012 depict El Yunque National Forest in Puerto Rico, Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Denali National Park in Alaska.

For more information, go to www.usmint.gov/mint_programs/atb.

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