Uncovering America's Heritage... Coin by Coin
2008 New Mexico Quarter
The coin I've chosen for April is New Mexico's new quarter. Of course, there's lots of info about this design on the coin's own quarter page in Coin News, but I'd like to look at the relief map of the state behind the Zia sun symbol. That points us to New Mexico's geography.
At the northwestern corner of this southwestern state is the only place in the United States where the corners of four different states meet. At the "four corners," New Mexico touches Colorado, Arizona, and Utah. I hear there's an exact spot where you can stand in all four states at once!
Some parts of New Mexico are extremely flat while others are extremely mountainous. The mountains are part of the Rocky Mountain range. They run north and south through central New Mexico on either side of the Rio Grande, pretty much right down the middle of the state.
There are also mesas, deserts, and forests in New Mexico. The plains in the east are the beginning of the Great Plains, which continue into Texas and northward. In the south, the plains grow desert plants like cactus, yucca, creosote bush, sagebrush, and grasses.
In New Mexico's heat, the little rain that falls evaporates quickly. That means farms have to depend on rivers for water. Two major rivers besides the Rio Grande are the Pecos and the San Juan, though the Rio Grande is the major source of irrigation. "Dry" land is still used for grazing cattle and sheep and growing crops like hay, sorghum grains, onions, and potatoes. Many minerals are mined in this state as well.
Millions of these beautiful acres are part of national forests and monuments. Tourists enjoy sites like the Carlsbad Caverns and the Aztec Ruins. So the tiny map on this quarter gives us just a glimpse of the treasures of New Mexico!