The Effigy Mounds National Monument on the bluffs of the Mississippi River in northeast Iowa has been chosen for the U.S. Mint’s "Beautiful Quarters" program. Effigy Mounds director, Phyllis Ewing, says they applied immediately upon learning the mint would honor national monuments on quarters, and were excited to learn they’ve been chosen.
"I think my first comment was, ‘this is really cool,’ but we are terribly excited by it. When the idea came we were really hopeful that we would be included in it. And Effigy Mounds happens to be the first national park in Iowa," Ewing said. Ewing says the park tells the story of early American history through the burial mounds of Native Americans.
She says there are a lot of conical or linear mounds, but there are also mounds in the shape of birds and bears, and that’s where the name effigy comes from, as they are in the shape of something that was living. The Beautiful Quarters program follows the success of the state quarters program, and will feature the national parks on the backs of quarters beginning in 2010. The parks will be featured based on the year they became a park.
Effigy Mounds was named a national monument in 1949 by President Harry Truman. Iowa’s state quarter featured a Grant Wood painting of a school house, but Ewing isn’t sure exactly how Effigy Mounds will be portrayed. Ewing says they have not been told yet what will be on the quarter, but they anticipated receiving a drawing that they will be able to review and see if it is what the park represents.
Ewing says the burial mounds are the main feature of the area, but says it’s location along the river is something that is also an important part of the park that visitors appreciated.
Ewing says visitors all visualize Iowa as flat cornfields and they are taken by the bluffs and the beauty, and she says many say it is as pretty as any other national park they’ve visited.
Ewing says the park is entering it’s busy time of the year. The park is open year round and only closes for Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s and is open from eight until 4:30 and in the summer and fall they extend the hours until six p.m.
Ewing says October is the busiest month of the year as people come to see the fall foliage. The complete list of monuments chosen for the quarter program will be released Wednesday on the U.S. Mint’s website . Find out more about Effigy Mounds at the park’s website here .