October 14, 1829: Birth of William King Rogers

On this day in 1829, Duluth park system visionary William King Rogers was born in Circleville, Ohio. While at Kenyon college Rogers first met future U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes when the latter returned to his alma mater to give the commencement speech. The two became fast friends then and there, strengthening the bond over the years at monthly meetings at the Cincinnati Literary Club, as partners in business, and as participants in each other’s family life. The relationship, for Rogers, bordered on hero worship. As Hayes noted, “[Rogers] thinks well of almost anything I do.” Hayes, for his part, counted Rogers among his closest friends, “a man of fine culture, noble sentiments, a true friend” whom he loved “better than most brothers are loved.” After receive a law degree from Harvard, Rogers joined Hayes to form the Cincinnati law firm of Corwine, Hayes and Rogers. When Jay Cooke turned his attention to Duluth, Hayes asked Rogers to move to the Zenith City to see if there were any financial opportunities. Shortly thereafter, Hayes and Williams built the Hayes Block at Superior Street and First Avenue East (it still stands today). After Duluth suffered through the Panic of 1873 and Hayes became president, Rogers went to Washington to serve as the president’s personal secretary. he returned to DUluth in the 1880s and helped develop the initial plan for Duluth’s park system: parks along stream and river corridors connected by a parkway built along the ancient shoreline of Glacial Lake Duluth. That road has been called Carriage Drive, Roger’s Boulevard, and Terrace Parkway, and we know it today as Skyline Parkway. You can read much more about Rogers here.

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