MIT founder William Barton Rogers has a mountain named after him.
Yup — Rogers Mountain is the highest peak in Virginia — 5,729 feet. It’s located in southwest Virginia in the 120,000-acre Mt. Rogers National Recreation Area. “It’s a good family place,” says Bob McKinney of the U.S. Forest Service, adding that a million people visit each year.
The mountain was named for Rogers because he was Virginia’s first state geologist from 1835 to 1842, before founding MIT. “This area is still untouched and naturally beautiful,” McKinney says. “Just the way it was when Rogers was alive.”
Mt. Rogers has no great view from the top because the summit is covered with Fraser firs, but McKinney says, “We have 400 miles of trails, wild ponies, and a greater diversity of plants than in the rain forests of Brazil.”
Often, McKinney says, he tells visitors this true story about the Institute’s founding father.
“At MIT’s graduation in 1882, Rogers began to speak and died in mid-sentence. His last words were ‘bituminous coal.’ You see,” he says, “he was a geologist right to the very end.”