Virginia’s Highest Peak Officially Dedicated to MIT Founder

by Amy Marcott on June 23, 2011 · 1 comment

in Alumni Life

MIT’s sesquicentennial touched off celebrations around the world, and Mouth of Wilson, Virginia was no exception. There, members of the MIT Club of the Blue Ridge gathered to officially dedicate Virginia’s highest peak to MIT founder William Barton Rogers. In addition to installing commemorative signage, club members celebrated a gubernatorial proclamation declaring June 11, 2011 to be William Barton Rogers Day.

Dedication Ceremony

Present during the dedication ceremony were some two dozen alumni and guests, including Club President Roger O’Dell ’68, Vice President Bob Summers MBA ’07, Jim Bier PhD ’71, and John Krout ’75, each of whom was instrumental in organizing the event. At the trailhead, Summers read portions of the governor’s proclamation, which acknowledged Rogers’s tenure at the College of William and Mary and the University of Virginia, as well as his appointment to be the first state geologist in 1835. The proclamation concluded:

William Barton Rogers used his novel educational theories to found a world-class institute of learning…that is unique in its far-reaching impact and success, and this year MIT celebrates the 150th anniversary of its founding… The highest peak in Virginia is named Mt. Rogers, a testament to the enduring vision of William Barton Rogers. Now, therefore I do hereby recognize June 11, 2011 as William Barton Rogers Day.

Members also heard a message from Virginia State Geologist David Spears, and Doug Ogle, a retired college teacher and writer, spoke about the legacy of William Barton Rogers–and his wife, Emma Savage Rogers–in the fields of geology, natural science, and higher education.

Barbecue and Hike

Following the ceremony, the club headed to a nearby picnic shelter for a barbecue. Talk ranged from former living groups–evidently several in attendance were proud Senior House alumni–to recent hiking trips and family histories. An oversized cutout of William Barton Rogers was propped up near the shelter along with informational brochures about him (written by Krout) and a framed copy of the governor’s proclamation. Later, some alumni and guests went for a walk to Rhododendron Gap, which was particularly stunning due to visits by the (somewhat) wild local ponies and the vibrancy of the rhododendron blooms at the peak of their season. On Sunday, several adventurous alumni hiked to the top of Mt. Rogers.

More about the Mountain

Mt. Rogers was formed by volcanos that were active about 760 million years ago during Late Proterozoic time. Evidence of the ancient volcanic activity is detectable in the mountain’s predominantly light-colored, fine-grained, high-silica rhyolite rocks. The 5,729-foot mountain also shows evidence of glaciers and glacial lakes. Diamictite, for example, is one particular rock that forms when mud and pebbles are dragged along the underside of a glacier; rhythmite forms from fine sediments deposited on a lake bottom. Since 1975, the mountain has been home to grazing wild ponies and the northernmost example of high-altitude southern spruce-fir forest.


Special thanks to the MIT Club of the Blue Ridge for bringing together alumni and guests to celebrate MIT’s sesquicentennial and honor the great contributions of founder William Barton Rogers.

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