August 5, 1893: Death of Duluth Parks visionary William K. Rogers

On this day in 1893, Duluth parks visionary William King Rogers died in his home in Chicago. Rogers, who served as President Rutherford B. Hayes’s private secretary, is credited with the plan for Duluth’s park system to build corridor parks along the streams and rivers that flowed down Duluth’s hillside and connect them with boulevards along the top (today’s Skyline Parkway) and the Lake Superior Shore (London Road and Congdon Boulevard). Because of his wild spending, the first parks board was dissolved shortly after the Duluth News Tribune wrote that “Duluth will honor itself by trusting Mr. Rogers, for no city ever had a more loyal and capable promoter of its true progress in all directions, especially as regard to parks.” He was named president of the second parks board as well, but resigned soon after due to health concerns. A story from the 1916 News Tribune summed up Rogers’s tenure as the park board’s president: “Once upon a time the parks were run blindly. That was the Rogers regime. When they gave him a dollar he spent ten. When he was authorized to acquire a foot he took an acre. He drove his boulevard across city property if he could get it and slapped it across private property if he couldn’t. He was so perniciously active that they wanted a park board and made him secretary [sic] so they could hold him down. Whereupon he began expanding the park system as though he owned the whole city.” Read a complete biography of Rogers here.


illiam K. Rogers. (Image: Hayes Presidential Library)rogers