Friday, February 17, 2012

I Make Fun of State Quarters: Colorado

Ah yes, Colorado. Another one of those states that you just know is packed to the very edges of its square borders with snow-capped peaks, pine forests, scampering wildlife, burbling brooks, and just about every other beautiful aspect of nature you can imagine. It's known as the Centennial State because it gained its statehood in 1876, but if it had been a year earlier or later it may well have been the Landscape State or some such thing. So the state quarter will surely have to take in some of the-

Oh come on.

All right, so it did at least take in a scenic landscape, even if it is just the one mountain. But when you put it on a quarter it still looks like a desolate, gray, apocalypse-blasted wasteland. I half expect Viggo Mortensen and Kodi Smit-McPhee to be trudging along in the foreground in a futile journey to find salvation. The mountains are pretty much gray anyway, although the surrounding landscape tends to be a beautiful mixture of greens and blues when you actually see it. You have to use a bit of imagination to see this as the "Colorful Colorado" it is in reality.

Like this! (

Norman Nemeth designed and engraved this quarter, which portrays a scene in the Rocky Mountains. According to, it won out of a field of 1,500 entries and got final approval from the Colorado governor and U.S. Mint. The other options also seemed to be mostly nature-based, although one would have portrayed the 10th Mountain Division.

Since several other quarters have used state symbols as a way of garnishing their coins, I also thought to look at the list of Colorado's symbols. These include the greenback cutthroat trout, which would be perfect because hey, it's already got money in its name. And there's even a state grass: blue grama grass. Thrilling stuff. And in 1992 the state adopted square dancing as the official folk dance of Colorado, because apparently the legislature had nothing better to do than weigh in on the fierce rivalries among the different factions of folk dancing.

These two were high-kicked down by a rival Bulgarian dance troupe soon after this photo was taken (

It makes sense to include the Rockies, though it did risk a demand for more garnishing features. The Aspen community may have insisted that there be an addition of ski lifts and time-share condos to the slopes of the featured mountain. Frat boys may have wanted a shout-out to the brewing history of Golden by having giant Phi Beta Kappa members "tap the Rockies." Or maybe they would have asked to just scrub the whole thing and have a Coors logo as the design, with the unforgettable Coors slogan: "It's cold, and we're taking credit for what the refrigerator did."

In the end, though, as long as quarters are always going to have that bleak end-of-world color to them, perhaps the Colorado could have gone with a theme from Stephen King's apocalyptic plaque novel The Stand. Hey, maybe they could have even made the official design Mother Abigail Freemantle and redone George Washington a bit to make him Randall Flagg. Need to choose between good and evil but aren't sure where you stand? Flip a coin!

Mother Abigail Freemantle, official state seer of Colorado (