A hundred years ago, talk of forming a “rocky mountain” club, a local counterpart to the Sierra and Appalachian mountain Clubs, ebbed and owed across the social circles of Denver. ere had been other Colorado-based climbing clubs, but none with the scope and reach of those on the coasts.
Finally in the summer of 1911, Denver high school teacher Mary Sabin, and former pupil Jim rogers, began the steps that led to the formation of the Colorado mountain Club.
Rogers' participation was fortuitous. born in 1883 into the family of a prominent Denver physician, rogers was the eldest of ve children. Though well-to-do and respected, Dr. and Mrs. rogers were also fun in a manner opposite those of their Victorian-era neighbors.
Elizabeth Young, a childhood friend of the youngest rogers children, remembered them as “a big, easy-going family,” with their “large, comfortable” house as an escape from her own “quiet” and “sedate” upbringing. “ They took me in and counted me as one of their own,” she wrote.
One activity from which young Elizabeth was excluded—at her parents insistence—was the rogers family camping trips.
Wrote young, “ They set out at 7 in the morning, dressed in their heavy mountain clothing.... they all piled into the heavy wagon loaded to the breaking point, the frying pans rattling and the tent poles sticking out behind. e doctor picked up the reins, clicked to the horses, and started the cavalcade slowly westward down Colfax avenue, at the end of which, fifteen miles away, the peaks of the Rockies glittered in the bright morning sun.”
It was likely on one of these family trips in 1894 that 11-year-old Jim climbed his first Fourteeners, mounts Elbert and Massive.
In 1899, Rogers went east to attend prep school in new Hampshire, then Yale university (1901-05). At Yale, his writing talents earned him the title of Class Poet. He also climbed mounts Washington and Katahdin, the highest points in new Hampshire and Maine.
After a year as a reporter with the New York Sun, rogers was back in Colorado, unsure of his future profession. at the urging of a family friend Rogers began studying law at the university of Denver. He finished the three-year program in two. He also finished first in the statewide bar exams for 1908. in 1909 he was appointed Colorado's assistant attorney General. in 1910 he married Cora Peabody, who just happened to be the daughter of former Governor James Peabody (1903-05). Rogers also became a part- time professor at the D.U. law School. In 1911 he entered private practice with Judge Platt Rogers (no relation), the first of many in influential partners.
In April 1912 Rogers helped organize the Colorado mountain Club. He served as club president until January 1917 when he refused renomination. in 1914 he began serving on the first Colorado Geographic (names) board. He proposed several familiar high country names including mounts Cirrus, Cumulus, and nimbus in the never Summer range.
It was against this background of achievement and relative privilege that, on a rainy summer day in 1914, rogers crossed paths with Denver dressmaker Beth Roberson, and found himself at the mercy of her will (see accompanying trip report). Their hike began with a train ride from Denver into the foothills west of rocky Flats to Pinecliffe. From there the route was north and east into boulder, with another train ride home. e incident speaks well of Rogers' nature. He was a substitute leader, willing to go out in bad weather to avoid disappointing a member of the hiking club he founded. and while the trip report took over a year to submit—he was busy—the task was completed.
Certainly one swell guy.
Rogers went on to hold several government posts, including assistant Secretary of State in the Hoover administration, and spy chief with the O.S.S. during World War ii. He also served two terms as mayor of Georgetown (1953-55 and 1957-59) and president of the Colorado Historical Society (1949-59). He passed away in Denver in 1971 at the age of 88.
<em>The author would like to thank David Hite and Richard Hart for their assistance with this article.</em>