The striking of a commemorative coin for Harley-Davidson owners on Wednesday drew a host of Nevada dignitaries and legions of motorcycle owners from around the country to the Northwest Territorial Mint in Dayton.
Capitalizing on the tradition of military "challenge" coins and Nevada's rich history in minting coins, Northwest Territorial Mint struck a coin for Harley Owners Group members. More than 500 motorcycle enthusiasts, the majority of them retracing the Pony Express route from St. Joseph, Mo., to San Francisco, descended on the mint's 118,000-square-foot facility to get their commemorative coin.
The coin features the official Harley Owners Group logo on one side and the HOG shield on the other. Edge detail includes the words, "Pony Express Ride 2009." HOG members - which number more than 1.2 million - are supposed to carry the coin with them at all times. If another HOG member challenges them to produce the coin, the HOG member must either show the coin or buy a round of drinks or a meal.
The 1.75-inch-diameter high-relief coin retails for $12 on the HOG Web site.
"It is going to be essential, just like in the military," said Ross Hansen, owner of Northwest Territorial Mint. "You gotta keep your coin on you."
Gov. Jim Gibbons, as well as members of the Lyon County Board of Commissioners, the Nevada Commission on Economic Development and Northern Nevada Development Authority also were on hand. Gibbons is a former Harley-Davidson owner.
"The minting of this Harley-Davidson coin typifies a symbol of respect for motorcycle riding and the tradition that is so unique to Harley-Davidson," Gibbons said. "It shows the dedication the people who go on these rides have. Harley-Davidson has been a part of the history of this country for a long time and has such a loyal fan base.
"The re-enactment of the Pony Express Ride and Northwest Territorial Mint minting a coin brings together the history of Nevada and the minting of coins in Nevada."
Benny Suggs, general manager of the Harley Owners Group/Rider Services, said the coin serves as a tangible reminder of the nearly 2,000 miles riders logged retracing the route of the Pony Express Trail.
"This is something they can take with them and hopefully remember as one of the most rewarding experiences they have had," Suggs said. "And if they see one of their friends on the ride, the challenge is always there for a beverage, or lunch, or whatever the treat might be. It is about riding, and it is about fun."
Jeff Wisch, a Harley-Davidson rider from Manassas, Va., already logged more than 3,500 miles one way to reach Dayton, his first trip to Nevada.
"It is pretty exciting," Wisch said about the new coin.
Northwest Territorial Mint acquired Medallic Art Company several months ago and still is in the process of relocating operations from its former headquarters in Auburn, Wash. The company employs 150 people at a 45,000-square-foot facility just outside of Seattle. Hansen, who expects to keep only 15 people at the Auburn facility, said the move has been challenging.
"Any time you are trying to move 150 jobs and technical people from Seattle to here, and get another group of people hired here, there is a lot of work. But the good news is that everyone has been very accommodating and willing to work with us to make the move work for us and for the state of Nevada."
Gibbons said that the addition of Northwest Territorial Mint helps diversify the area's economic job base.
"They are bringing with them high-tech jobs and a new type of economy that is historic for Nevada. We have the Carson City Mint, and now we have the Northwest Territorial Mint," he said.