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The Oregon Trail Memorial half dollar was a fifty-cent piece struck intermittently by the United States Bureau of the Mint between 1926 and 1939. The coin commemorates those who traveled the Oregon Trail and settled the Pacific Coast of the United States in the mid-19th century.
Ohio-born Ezra Meeker had traveled the Trail with his family in 1852 and spent the final two decades of his long life before his death in 1928 publicizing the Oregon Trail, that it should not be forgotten. In 1926, at age 95, he appeared before a Senate committee, requesting that the government issue a commemorative coin that could be sold to raise money for markers to show where the Trail had been.
Despite having one of the most beautiful design in the series, the Oregon Trail Half Dollar is usually cited as the best example of the abuses which began to take place within commemorative coin programs. Between the years 1926 and 1939, the coins were minted with eight different dates at three different mint facilities for varying prices, in an attempt to make as much money as possible.
Depicts a covered Conestoga wagon drawn by two oxen moving west, towards the setting sun. The inscription “In God We Trust” appears above with “Oregon Trail Memorial” and the date below. The designers’ initials appear behind the wagon; five stars appear below the vehicle.
IN GOD WE TRUST
Depicts a Native American, standing erect with outstretched arm in a gesture of peace. The Native American wears a headdress, has a blanket and bow, and is superimposed on a map of the United States, with a line of Conestoga wagons heading west. The design is carried to the rim of the coin; Hudson Bay is visible in the upper right.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA