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'Duluth's First Tourist Attraction' is celebrating a birthday this weekend

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Before there was a Grandma's Marathon ... before there was a Canal Park or even an Aerial Lift Bridge, visitors were coming to Duluth to admire the view from the road 500 feet above Lake Superior.

In the early days it was called Rogers Boulevard but now it's known as Skyline Parkway and its friends are throwing a party for the venerable road on Sunday to celebrate its 125th birthday.

As the Duluth Budgeteer relates, it was the city's first Park Board president, William Rogers, who led the movement to build a road up on the ridge where folks could admire a panorama of Duluth, Lake Superior, and the St. Louis River.

When Rogers Boulevard opened in 1891 it was only five miles long. But that was just right for the "Tally-Ho parties" of horse and carriage days when Duluthians would cruise the boulevard, historian Doug Stevens tells the Budgeteer.

Expansion during the '20s

It was Mayor Samuel Snively who turned the original five-mile boulevard into a 28 mile parkway consisting of seven segments that we know today. He gave it the Skyline Parkway name in 1929, according to a timeline on Duluth's website.

Cruising along the road remains an attraction today. Minnesota named it a State Scenic Byway in 2001. Both Duluth Parks and Recreation and Superior Scenic Byways offer suggestions for what to see and do during a day on the Parkway (There's also an interactive map here.)

Sunday's birthday event organized by the Friends of Skyline Parkway is a family picnic at Chester Bowl. They've arranged for live music but you bring your own picnic from 1 to 3 p.m.

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