July 30, 1891: Duluth parks visionary William K. Rogers resigns from Parks Commission.

On this day in Duluth in 1891, William K. Rogers resigned from his post as the president of Duluth’s Board of Park Commissioners. Rogers had been president of the group since its inception and is credited as the man behind the plan of Duluth’s amazing park system: A collection of corridor parks along streams and rivers feeding Lake Superior and the St. Louis River connected by boulevards along the top of the hillside and the lake shore. Rogers, who served as personal secretary to his friend Rutherford B. Hayes when Hayes was the U.S. president, had lived in Duluth in the early 1870s and returned to the Zenith City two years after it regained city status in 1887. A few months before his departure from the board, the Duluth News Tribune gushed with praise for Rogers: “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.” But apparently Rogers and the first park board had too much enthusiasm and too much power (and not enough oversight) when it came to spending money. The state legislature soon revised and narrowed the board’s powers, particularly those pertaining to finances. Three new board members were appointed. Rogers was the only member reappointed. Rogers, who had been sickly all his life, said that health concerns were the cause of his departure from the board—and Duluth. He returned to his native Ohio and died there two years later. Read much more about the life of this remarkable man here.

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