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Identifier: CONS220

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of items related to the professional and personal life of Roger W. Toll. The collection partly reflects Toll’s life between 1884 and 1896, however, the bulk of the collection covers his professional life between 1910 and 1936, specifically, his work in evaluating proposed and existing National Parks and Monuments. Included are official reports, news clippings, correspondence, scrapbooks, maps, and photographs. Very few personal items exist in the collection. Some items relate to his son Donald.


The series comprises professional records for Roger W. Toll during his career with the National Park Service. The bulk of the series contains Toll’s reports and evaluations of trips taken through the Rocky Mountain National Park, as well as his reports of both proposed and existing National Parks and Monuments. Some annotated manuscripts written by Toll have also been included. The original filing structure of the reports has been retained.


This series pertains to the Roger W. Toll’s personal life, along with a few items from his son Donald. Items relate to Toll's experience during World War I, his early life, death and family. Included are correspondence, vital records, news clippings, programs, photographs, and Donald's elementary school assignments on nature. Also included are publications referencing Toll’s life and work for conservation of natural areas.


This series consists of three items. The first is a scrapbook pertaining to Toll’s professional career during his time at Rocky Mountain National Park. The scrapbook includes news clippings, correspondence, photographs, brochures and programs relating to developments at Rocky Mountain National Park, and the whole National Park system. The second item is a topographic map of the Rocky Mountain National Park with annotations made by Roger Toll marking his trips within the park; a report of these trips is located in Series 1. The final item is a newspaper discussing a reunion at Yellowstone National Park during its centennial year in 1972.


  • 1884-2004

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.


All requests for permission to publish, reproduce, or quote from material in the collection should be discussed with the appropriate librarian or archivist. Permission for publication may be given on behalf of the Denver Public Library as the owner of the physical item. It is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which also must be obtained by the customer. The Library does not assume any responsibility for infringement of copyright or publication rights of the manuscript held by the writer, heirs, donors, or executors. Reproduction restrictions are decided on a case-by-case basis.

Biographical / Historical

Roger Wolcott Toll was born October 17, 1883 at 1801 Welton Street in Denver, Colorado. He was the second of four sons born to Charles Hansen Toll and Katherine Wolcott Toll. Roger’s mother, Katherine, came to Colorado in the 1870s with four siblings. In 1901 Charles Toll suffered a fatal heart attack at his law office. That same year, Roger graduated from Denver’s Manual Training High School.

Roger Toll attended college at the University of Denver for a year before transferring to Columbia University in New York City. After receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in 1906, he began work with the Massachusetts State Board of Health. After resigning early in of 1908, he joined the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey to Alaska, where he surveyed the southern half of Cook Inlet.

Toll returned to Denver in the later part of 1908 and began work for the Denver Tramway Company. On September 21, 1910, he married Marguerite Cass in Denver, Colorado. In 1916, he left his position as Chief Engineer to sell investment bonds for Sweet, Causey, Foster & Co. Active in mountaineering in Colorado, in 1912 he was one of twenty-four founding members of the Colorado Mountain Club, serving on its first board of directors. He was still involved with the club in 1915 when the Rocky Mountain National Park was established, and helped to edit the Data on Colorado Mountaineering report published that same year. He also occasionally wrote articles for the club’s periodical, Trail and Timberline.

In November 1917, Toll joined the United States Army as a Captain in the Ordnance Department where he met assistant director of the National Park Service, Horace Albright. Toll had risen to the rank of Major when he was discharged. After World War I, Horace Albright introduced Toll to Stephen Mather, director of the newly established National Park Service. Mather hired Toll to be Superintendent of Mount Rainier National Park in 1919. Toll remained in the position for two years, and in June 1920, he claimed to be the first man to climb Mount Rainier.

In 1921, Toll was promoted to Superintendent of Rocky Mountain National Park. As Superintendent, he worked to make park improvements, assisted with recovery and rescue efforts, and publicized conservation efforts. One of his greatest achievements was the advocacy and planning for the construction of Trail Ridge Road. When he researched and wrote The Mountain Peaks of Colorado in 1923, he determined the number of named peaks, their relative order of height, and named several mountains in the Park. In January 1925, he joined a search party to retrieve the remains of his cousin, Agnes Wolcott Vaille, who died on the mountain in a shelter, following a Long’s Peak climbing accident.

In 1929, Toll succeeded Horace Albright as Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. At Yellowstone, Toll worked to reduce the impact of visitors to the park’s ecosystem. From 1929 to 1936 he made trips throughout the United States to evaluate proposed and existing locations for National Park and Monument status, creating extensive reports on each location he visited.

On February 18, 1936, Toll was appointed one of six commissioners to negotiate with the Mexican government to form an international park area along the United States/Mexico border. On February 25, 1936, the six commissioners were traveling in two cars from Big Bend, Texas to Deming, New Mexico, to meet the Mexican delegation. The car Toll was driving was involved in a head-on collision. Toll, his passenger George Wright, Director of Wildlife Research for the Park Service, and a 17 year old driver of the other car were killed instantly. The other four members of the Commission witnessed the accident from a nearby vehicle.

Roger and Marguerite had three children: Donald (born about 1923), Natalie (born about 1924), and Roger W., Jr. (born about 1927). Toll was buried at Riverside Cemetery in Baldwinsville, New York. His wife Marguerite passed away on Oct. 27, 1961, in Denver, Colorado, and is buried at Fairmont Cemetery.

Toll was remembered as an avid mountain climber and conservationist. In 1941, the United States Board on Geological Names announced that a mountain near Trail Ridge Road to be named Mount Toll in his honor. Later, Toll Mountain in Big Bend National Park, Texas, was also named in his honor.


1 box

1 oversize box

1 Oversize file folder

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Some items were donated by an unidentified source prior to 2004. The remainder of the collection was donated in 2005 by Giles Toll, Roger Toll’s grandson.

Related Materials

The Western History/Genealogy Department has additional collections with material related to Roger W. Toll and the organizations in which he played a leading role, including:

Enos Mills Papers, 1896-1954: CONS250

National Parks Conservation Association Records, 1898-2003: CONS225

Rocky Mountain National Park Report, 1913: -M1403


Sally McDonald

September 2013


Abby Hoverstock

September 2013
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the Denver Public Library, Western History and Genealogy Repository

10 W. 14th Ave. Pkwy
Denver CO 80204 United States