"Of course, I am very much pleased over the beautiful and substantial reconstruction of the roadway along the west branch of the Lester river, which 15 years ago I planned and built.
I was then impressed with the beauty of this stream, its winding course, its dells and falls, and with the feature that its channel, after extending northerly from the lake at Lester Park for about a mile and a half, had a southwesterly course directly towards the city and practically parallel with the shore of the lake, though of course, north of the ridge existing between it and the lake. It so extended until within a mile of Glen Avon where it again took a northerly direction.
I then felt that the city should possess a right of way along this stream so varied in interest and scenery as well as a right of way therefrom to Glen Avon, to a junction with the contemplated easterly extension of the Rogers boulevard.
I knew the ownerships of the different tracts of land through which this roadway would extend, and thought it probable to secure this right of way on the theory of having communications with other existing roadways.
The owners of the land were Charles Davis of New York City, then and now owning nearly a section of land in that vicinity. J. Cooke, owning 160 acres; Richard H. Dana of Boston owning 80 acres; W.H. Watts of Pittsburgh owning 40 acres, and a Mr. Hale of New Hampshire, owning 80 acres. After much writing and explaining the right of way was pledged but on condition that the road should be built.
This being assured, I appealed to the different owners above named for financial aid, and this again took a great deal of writing and explaining, but it gave me a chance to properly present the merits of the enterprise to these different owners or to such of their local representatives who went with me over the proposed route and passed upon the wisdom of the proposed work.
This however resulted in all cheerfully dedicating the right of way and subscribing money to the extent, in the aggregate of $1200. Then I asked assistance from the city and they pledged me $1500, the same to be paid when the road was completed and turned over to the city.
Later George C. Stone, then president of the Lakeside Land company, gave me in behalf of this company the sum of $400. This contribution of about $3100 was indeed an important factor in this undertaking.
It was a very costly and difficult road to build, for amid the dead and down timber the brush and trees had grown and there were many trees and stumps all difficult of removal, and the nature of the creek demanded long and high bridges and there was also the important feature of building the road to assure the best scenic and park development without regard to the ease of construction.
The working crew composed mainly of men living in the adjacent country was all that I could wish for in the way of efficiency, for they worked faithfully and with interest and made great progress under many difficulties.
We built the road north from Lester Park, including the bridges, and for a distance of about two and a half miles beyond and then stopped suddenly in a heavy bank of clay, feeling the need of financial refreshment. This part of the work, however, gave many of our citizens an opportunity to view and appreciate the beauty of the creek scenery and to realize the desirability of carrying through the work as I had originally planned and connecting it with the streets of the city.
Many of them supported this plan with substantial assistance, each subscribing 50 dollars, among the subscribers being: A. D. Thomson, T. D. Merrill, W. J. Olcott, A. M. Marshal, J. B. Cotton, Morton Miller, A. H. Comstock, H. M. Peyton, George H. Crosby, O. C. Hartman, J. B. Adams, C. A. Congdon, G. G. Hartley, Louis Rouchleau, L. Mendenhall, F. A. Patrick, T. F. Cole, Joseph Sellwood and others whose names I cannot recall, the subscriptions aggregating $12,000 to which the city added the sum of $450.
With this assistance I extended the road to within a mile of Glen Avon or to what is known as the East Duluth and Lester River road, though I left unconstructed a portion of the right of way along the westerly part of the river, and used temporarily a roadway from the river to the East Duluth and Lester River road.
It was of much importance to all those living in the country adjacent to the East Duluth and Lester River road to have a roadway leading therefrom along the brow of the ridge of Glen Avon, as the road leading directly to the lake or to London road had a very long and steep grade and was difficult of travel.
This again meant a contribution of money and work, rather an expenditure thereof, but outside of Messrs Williams and Craig for the Jean Duluth farm the other contributions were few and small, being chiefly given to work.
As it is, the right of way for the road from Lester Park to Glen Avon, covering a distance of five miles, is secured, the most important and expensive part of the road is constructed, there remaining yet to be built on the right of way along the river about three quarters of a mile of road, which the park board will work out later on, right of way along the river about five miles to the Duluth boulevard system and incorporates therein scenery of a nature quite different form that which predominates in other parts of the city.
I have often felt that I was not justified in spending so much money and time in this work and had I in the beginning fully appreciated the magnitude of the task, I would most certainly not have undertaken it, for the same energy and expenditure appropriated in other fields of possibilities would certainly have given something of a personal financial reward.
However, it was not in this spirit that I conceived and helped to completion this enterprise. I felt the city should not only possess a right of way along this stream but should secure it in advance of settlement and that it should have all the natural park spots and property adjacent to and along it, and it was my good fortune and pleasure to secure for the park board as late as 1910 and 1911 from the owners of lands above named, excepting Mr. Davis, a contributor in lands comprising the natural and desirable park location adjacent to the river and driveway, amounting to over 40 acres.
These contributions or dedications were made by Mr. Hale, Mr. Dana, Rev. J. Cooke, and Mr. Watts, having a combined ownership of about 360 acres. Louis Loeb of this city also made a minor contribution where the driveway cut through a small portion of his land.
The board is now treating with Charles Davis for certain parts of his land along the driveway essential to the parking of this thoroughfare. He is a man of large and generous ideas, one of Duluth's largest property holders, and the board has every reason to hope that he will act as generously as have the others and especially so as he owns upward of a section of land all of which must be so greatly benefited and beautified by such an elegant improvement to which the city has contributed.
When the park board decided to take over and improve this roadway, it greatly pleased me, for it assured the consummation of the very purpose I had in view, the appropriation by the city for park and boulevard purposes of some of the most scenic and natural park property in and about the city. And it is also a pleasure to have done something of this nature and to this small extent have been a factor in the development of the city where I have lived now for over 25 years, and in this, apart from the pleasure I had in working out this driveway, I feel amply compensated for the expenditure of time and money.
The park board have, in this work, made a very elegant and substantial improvement and the strong artistic stone and concrete bridges will last, needless of repairs, for ages.
They were designed by and constructed under the supervision of A. M. Morell of Minneapolis, whose artistic conceptions have in so many instances, and to so great advantage, supplemented and graced many of our city's natural parks and beauty spots. In this work Mr. Morell was supported by C. F. Myers, a young engineer of marked ability, now in the employ of our city's engineering department, and who rendered a most efficient and faithful service in this splendid work.
During this construction by the park board I had occasion in the prepatory steps to render some assistance, and during the progress of the work was brought more or less in contact with the members of the board of park commissioners, in their meetings, in personal conferences and in visitations over the roadway from time to time, and I was above all things impressed with the painstaking, conscientious service this official body is rendering the City of Duluth.
They fully comprehend that nature has in our midst in physical characteristics given an opportunity for the finest and most comprehensive park and boulevard system of all cities in this country. They appreciate the importance of acquiring now, before the city fully develops its residential proportions, the natural park locations, but they are met with the utterly inadequate financial provision to meet the requirements of the situation.
In the words of Mr. Jenswold, our possible park system rightly developed will be the city's greatest asset and advertisement, and in accordance with his ideas, it seems to me that a full and comprehensive system of parks and boulevards for our city should, under the most expert talent available to secure the property at a moderate price; for this very work along the west branch of the Lester river shows the importance of having some well defined plan to work to and upon.
When it becomes recognized what, in the way of parks and boulevards this city should have, then the importance of its acquisition can be intelligently presented to our city at large and to those of our citizens who are able to help and who will cheerfully give to so meritorious a project their influence and financial support. Our people are loyal and full of public spirit which has been repeatedly demonstrated when that spirit has been concentrated to or upon some proposition of great value and benefit to our city.
The very fact that the different members of the park board so highly regard a position where, without pay, they can give so much of their time and thought for the public welfare, is simply representative of the spirit prevailing among our people.
Think of Mr. Mendenhall giving already 25 years of faithful and devoted service and to my knowledge considerable personal financial aid in the development of our park and boulevard system. He looked after the work which has just been completed along the west branch of the Lester river with the greatest of enthusiasm and interest, repeatedly visiting the work while under construction and frequently arranging the finances, advancing his own money at times, so that there might be no delay in the early completion of the work nor in the substantiality of its construction.
And this same spirit was manifested in every member of the board and its secretary, Mr. Cleveland, who though a paid employee does not base the extent of his service and interest upon his monthly salary, but manifests beyond this a great pride and interest in a work that is at once to him so pleasant and important."
--Samuel Snively. July 6, 1912
BACK TO History of Seven Bridges Road PAGE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Questions or comments to: Mark Ryan