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Samuel F. Snively papers

 Collection
Identifier: S6016

Scope and Contents

The papers consist of six inches of material and four scrapbooks. Specifically, folders of photographs (1929-32, not dated) and political materials, a brief personal diary, and Duluth promotional items (1916-1937), and four scrapbooks of newspaper clippings (1924 October-1935 January) pertaining to information on Snively’s political life and public service including important initiatives for Duluth: zoo, parks, libraries, celebrity visits, structures, airport, roads, fraternal organizations, hospitals, boat club, churches, sports, tourism, seaway, shipping.

Dates

  • 1882-1958

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

Open for use in the Kathryn A. Martin Library, Archives and Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

This collection may be protected by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, U.S. Code). It is the user's responsibility to verify copyright ownership and to obtain all necessary permissions prior to the reproduction, publication, or other use of any portion of these materials. Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law.

Biographical / Historical

Samuel Frisby Snively was the mayor of Duluth, Minnesota from 1921–1937. His legacy as mayor will be largely remembered for the tremendous effort he put into the creation of numerous parks and boulevards throughout the city, particularly Seven Bridges Road and Skyline Parkway.

Snively was born on a farm in the Cumberland Valley of Pennsylvania in 1859. He attended Dickinson College from 1878 to 1882, graduating with a degree of Bachelor of Arts, also obtaining a degree of Master of Arts in 1885. During the 1882–83 school year, he taught in an academy in Path Valley, Pennsylvania. In the fall of 1883, He entered the law office of Benjamin Harris Brewster in Philadelphia. At the time, Brewster was the United States Attorney General in the cabinet of Chester A. Arthur. After taking a two year course of law in the University of Philadelphia, graduating 1885, Snively passed the Philadelphia Bar exam, as well as the Bar of his home county of Franklin.

On March 26, 1886 at the age of 26, he came to Duluth. Snively practiced law in partnership with Charles P. Craig for about six years under the name Snively and Craig. However they became separated in the national financial panic of 1893. Soon after, he began farm land development. In 1900, together with Duluthians Jed L. Washburn and John G. Williams, they purchased over 200,000 acres of land from the Northern Pacific Railway Company in Carlton and St. Louis county. The three were involved with the sale and development of the land for several years.

In the winter of 1921, Snively ran for mayor of Duluth, was elected, and kept the position for a total of sixteen years—the longest term for a Duluth mayor. Snively was sixty-one years old when he was elected to the office, and his first proclamation as mayor was his promise to make Duluth the most beautiful city in the Northwest, if not the country. The completion and promotion of Skyline Parkway, the city's hilltop boulevard, became Snively's personal project throughout his four terms in office. The idea for the city-wide boulevard is credited to the president of the first Duluth park board, William King Rogers (left Duluth for Ohio), who oversaw construction of its initial segment from 1889 to 1891. After that, work on the boulevard fell off until Snively came into office. During his administration, the boulevard's expansion served as both a way to beautify the city, and provide jobs during tough economic times in the 1920s and 1930s. Today, Skyline Parkway is a 25-mile stretch of road running northeast along the crown of the city from Becks Road to Lester Park. The system's only gap is the 2-mile break where motorists return to city streets between Chester Park and the short section still bearing Snively's name. Portions of the eastern and western extremes remain unpaved and closed during winter.

Snively owned a 400 acre farm above the Duluth neighborhoods of Lester Park and Lakeside. He envisioned a park drive that would rival any other in Duluth. After donating 60 acres of his own property, Snively contacted all the other area landowners, successfully garnering donations of the necessary rights-of-way for his road, as well as some of the necessary funds to build it.

Workers began construction on Snively's road in the late fall of 1899 and continued into the following summer. During the road's construction phase, Snively was also building a house to serve as a centerpiece to his hilltop farm. By the Spring of 1900 the road reached about a mile up from its starting point just north of Lester Park. Snively built the road in a way that it crossed the Amity creek in nearly a dozen places, creating the need for the construction of many rustic wooden bridges. Upon its completion, Snively presented his new road to the city of Duluth as a designated parkway.

Despite its popularity as a scenic parkway, the city of Duluth did not maintain Snively's road, and within a decade the wooden bridges had deteriorated, making the road impassable to vehicle traffic. In 1910, the road was taken on by Duluth's park commission, and a plan for its rejuvenation was developed. The park board hired an architectural landscaping firm to design a new series of bridges for the road. During 1911, the roadway was regraded and graveled. Snively involved himself in the planning and building of the new bridges. Over the next year, nine stone-arch bridges were built simultaneously. When Snively's road reopened on July 6, 1912, it was renamed Amity Parkway, and became a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Years later, when a route change threw two of the bridges into disuse, it became known as Seven Bridges Road.

For more than ninety years, seven of the original nine bridges remained structurally sound. However, decades of weather, vandalism, and car accidents took their toll on the aesthetics of the bridges. Realizing the historic value of the structures and using state and federal funds, the city of Duluth began restoring the bridges in 1996, completing the last one in 2008.

Mayor Snively never married, but was close to family, including his great-nephew Douglas Overland. His farm and home were destroyed in the Moose Lake-Cloquet 1918 forest fire. He later sold the property. He died in Duluth.

See also: http://www.amitycreek.com/sevenbridges/page1.html

Extent

4.00 Volumes

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

The papers consist of six inches of material and four scrapbooks. Specifically, folders of photographs (1929-32, not dated) and political materials, a brief personal diary, and Duluth promotional items (1916-1937), and four scrapbooks of newspaper clippings (1924 October-1935 January) pertaining to information on Snively’s political life and public service including important initiatives for Duluth: zoo, parks, libraries, celebrity visits, structures, airport, roads, fraternal organizations, hospitals, boat club, churches, sports, tourism, seaway, shipping.

Physical Location

This collection is located at the University of Minnesota Duluth Archives. For more information about this collection or to make an appointment, contact us at libarchives@d.umn.edu or 218-726-8526.

General

This collection is owned by the Minnesota Historical Society, but is housed at the University of Minnesota Duluth Archives.
Title
Guide to the Samuel F. Snively papers
Author
Finding Aid Authors: P. Maus, M. Carol.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Collecting Area Details

Contact The University of Minnesota Duluth Archives and Special Collections Collecting Area

Contact:
Kathryn A. Martin Library
University of Minnesota Duluth
416 Library Drive
Duluth MN 55812-3001
(218) 726-8526