Friday, May 25, 2012

The Maine Quarter

When summer arrives and one thinks of Maine, sailing ships and lighthouses are two of the first images that come to mind.  In 2001, when a Rockland family began a design for the Maine quarter, they also had in mind these images.

The US Mint began its state quarter program in 1999 with plans to mint a representative quarter for each state in the sequence they became part of the union. In May, 2001, the Maine Arts Commission began the process to decide what image would represent Maine on the Maine State Quarter to be minted in May, 2003.  A Rockland family presented a design concept that included the Victory Chimes sailing by the Pemaquid Lighthouse. The commission chose it as one of four finalists in the design competition. Governor Angus King asked the citizens of Maine to choose the design that would grace their state quarter. In August, 2002 the people of Maine voted and made their choice. They chose the Victory Chimes, which recently left our railway, as one of the enduring images along with the Pemaquid Lighthouse and the White Pine that will forever represent Maine on the quarter. 

The Pemiquid lighthouse is one of 60 lighthouses that dot the Maine coast.  It receives more than 100,000 visitors each year.  The name “Pemaquid” is said to have had its origins in an Abenaki Indian word for “situated far out.”  In May 1826, as maritime trade, fishing, and the shipping of lumber were increasing in midcoast Maine, Congress appropriated $4,000 for the building of a lighthouse at Pemaquid Point.

The land was purchased from Samuel and Sarah Martin— descendants of survivors of the Angel Gabriel—for $90.  The Angel Gabriel was a 240 ton English passenger galleon, which was commissioned for Sir Walter Raleigh’s last expedition to America in 1617. She sank in a storm off Pemiquid Point, near the newly established town of Bristol, Maine on August 15, 1635.  Since then, the lighthouse has seen many lighthouse keepers and their families and saved many ships from shipwrecks on the rocky Maine coast.

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