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Coin Of the Month

Uncovering America's Heritage... Coin by Coin

2005 Kansas Quarter

Allow me to present to you the Kansas quarter.

Most of Kansas lies in the Great Plains, a vast flat and dry area east of the Rocky Mountains that stretches from Texas to Canada.  The state's quarter uses sunflowers and a bison (also called a "buffalo") to stand for this prairie state.

Bison and the prairie go together.  Here's what I mean:

  • Bison roamed far and wide (even beyond Kansas), eating mostly grass and sage.  Native prairie grasses don't mind being grazed by the buffalo because it makes them sprout new growth.
  • The bison's sharp hooves turn up the soil, keeping it fresh.
  • Bison roll in the dirt to keep insects away. The places where they wallow make little ponds in the spring where frogs gather.
  • Unlike farm cattle, bison don't usually eat woody shrubs, so the shrubs can provide winter shelter and nesting areas for other wildlife.

But bison were eventually replaced with cattle.  In 1822, the Santa Fe Trail brought hundreds of wagons full of settlers through and into Kansas.  Kansas became a state in 1861.  Cattle drives and railroads changed the state even more, and Dodge City became the world's largest cattle well as a rough cowboy town.

Kansas is nicknamed the Sunflower State because of the sunflowers that grow wild there, but it is also known as the Midway State (the exact middle of the 48 states that touch each other is in Kansas) and the Wheat State (Kansas grows more wheat than any other state in the Union).  Cattle, corn, and soybeans are also part of the state's agricultural economy.

As for a famous September in Kansas history?  Let's see...How about 1806?  That's when they say the American flag was raised in Kansas for the first time.  According to the story, a Pawnee Indian chief lowered the Spanish flag and raised the American flag at the insistence of explorer Zebulon Pike.

—Inspector Collector

Image of Kansas quarter reverse.
Reverse:  The state animal and flower of Kansas (bison and sunflower) stand side-by-side on a grassy plain.

Image of new quarter obverse. On mouseover, the former obverse.
Obverse:  All the new quarters show the traditional portrait of George Washington, with some minor changes. The bust is smaller and the legends have been moved. Place your mouse over the image to see the former design.

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