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January Coin of the Month

White Mountain National Forest Quarter

As January is the first month of the new year, the White Mountain National Forest quarter is the first new quarter of 2013.  And something else is new: I learned some new information about the differences between a national park and a national forest.

I always thought they were pretty much the same, but they're not.  Forest rangers work for the national forest service and park rangers work for the National Park Service.  Both agencies protect wilderness and provide recreational help, but a park tries to preserve the area untouched while a forest oversees various uses for the area as well as preserving it.

National forests can provide many services and products including lumber, land for cattle grazing, and mineral products.

  • National parks usually forbid hunting, while forests usually allow it.
  • Dogs can be taken on trails in national forests, but not in national parks.
  • National forests may provide trails for motorcycles while national parks do not.
  • National parks are usually formed from pristine land that's never been settled.  National forests often used to be farmland.

White Mountain National Forest is such a forest.  It contains many basements from former farm houses and stretches of stone walls.  What happened to all these farms?

Much of New England forest was cleared for farming in the 1800s, with wood for fires harvested from the remaining forests.  As the nation expanded and farming moved westward, Eastern farmers became manufacturers and the abandoned farmland gradually returned to forest.

Some of White Mountain's most fascinating features are several houses that have been preserved from days gone by.  The Russell-Colbath House, for example, is a 19th-century farmhouse turned into a museum.  A guide tells you all about the families who lived there, describes their daily life, and shows you newly-discovered artifacts.

In August 2011, Tropical Storm Irene arrived in New England and damaged the forest's streams, roads, bridges, and hiking trails.  Repair work was far from finished when Hurricane Sandy came through in October 2012 and did even more damage.  Although nature takes its course, a national forest (or park) doesn't take care of itself and still remain safe and useful.

Find out more about this treasured site on the White Mountain National Forest page.


Image shows the back of the White Mountain National Forest quarter.
Reverse:  A mountain and lake shores are framed by birch trees.

Image shows the front of the quarter-dollar coin.
Obverse:  George Washington's profile is surrounded by the inscriptions "United States of America," "Liberty," "In God We Trust," a mint mark, and "Quarter Dollar."

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