DENVER — After turning “ant hills” back into mountains, the commission appointed to pick designs for the Colorado quarter unveiled five potential images that all include rocky peaks Wednesday.
Commission members reviewed about 1,500 submissions and discussed ideas on visits to schools, civic groups and banks around the state. However, the final designs were drafted by U.S. Mint artists in Washington, D.C., based on the commission’s descriptions.
Barb McTurk, a former superintendent at Denver’s Mint, unsuccessfully fought for a Western artist to be appointed to the project, fearing Easterners wouldn’t understand their request for “majestic mountains.” First Lady Frances Owens, who headed the Colorado Commemorative Quarter Advisory Commission, admitted the first designs shipped back were a little disappointing.
“We really did have little ant hills,” she said.
The designs went back and forth several times before a decision was made. The final images include an actual mountain, Pikes Peak, near Colorado Springs on the “Pikes Peak or Bust” design and some generic peaks, including one range that is reminiscent of Maroon Bells near Aspen on the “Centennial State” design. That design also includes a columbine, the state flower.
There also are some designs that fall in between. The actual Cliff Palace at Mesa Verde National Park is featured on one proposal but soaring mountains are shown in the background even though they’re not part of the actual view.
The other two finalists include a view of mountains from the Front Range along with the “Colorful Colorado” motto and a 10th Mountain Division skier racing down a mountain. He represents the group of skier-soldiers who trained in the mountains of Colorado to fight in World War II.
Some images rejected by the commission included a can of Coors beer and someone blowing through a stop sign in a Suburban while talking on a cell phone. Owens said a student in Lamar wanted to find a way to represent the Eastern Plains on the quarter but expressed frustration with how to represent dirt.
Heather and Charles Roberts of Midland, Texas, who were touring the state Capitol with their two children, said the 10th Mountain Division design was their favorite.
“When you think about Colorado, you think about skiing,” said Charles Roberts, who planned to hit the slopes before heading back home.
The final decision will be made by Gov. Bill Owens in May. The new quarter will be minted beginning in the fall and circulated starting next summer.
Colorado’s quarter will be the 38th quarter issued as part of the Fifty States Commemorative Coin Program Act passed by Congress in 1997. The quarters are being issued in the order in which the states joined the union. Colorado joined in 1876 when the United States celebrated its centennial anniversary.