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1875-1878 47 


1880 97 


1881 137 

XV. WINNING A COMPETENCE, 1881-1891 193 

XVI. TREES AND TRAVEL, 1891-1897 252 

I. 1897-1905 304 

II. 1905-1914 351 


INDEX 425 


JOHN MUIR IN 1890 Frontispiece 



Photograph by Herbert W. Gleason 


1890 252 


Photograph by J. N. Le Conte 






THE ten months interval of Muir s Oakland 
sojourn made a complete break in his accus 
tomed activities. It was a storm and stress 
period to which he refers afterward as "the 
strange Oakland epoch," and we are left to in 
fer that the strangeness consisted chiefly in the 
fact that he was housebound by his own 
choice, to be sure, but nevertheless shut away 
from the free life of the mountains. It is not 
surprising, perhaps, that this period is marked 
by an almost complete stoppage of his corre 
spondence, though he never was more con 
tinuously busy with his pen than during these 

Easily the foremost literary journal of the 
Pacific Coast at that time was the "Overland 
Monthly." It had been founded in 1868, and 
Bret Harte was the man to whom it owed both 



its beginning and the fame it achieved under 
his editorship. The magazine, however, was 
not a profit-yielding enterprise, for John H. 
Carmany, its owner, professed to have lost 
thirty thousand dollars in his endeavor to 
make it pay. In a sheaf of reminiscences writ 
ten years afterward, he reveals the double 
reason why the magazine proved expensive 
and why so many distinguished names, such 
as those of Mark Twain, Joaquin Miller, Am 
brose Bierce, Edward Rowland Sill, Bret 
Harte, and John Muir, appear on its roll of 
contributors. "They have reason to remember 
me," he wrote, "for never have such prices 
been paid for poems, stories, and articles as I 
paid to the writers of the old Overland/ 

Bret Harte, balking at a contract designed 
to correct his dilatory literary habits, left the 
magazine in 1871, and, after several unsatis 
factory attempts to supply his place, Benja 
min P. Avery became editor of the "Overland." 
In March, 1874, he wrote a letter acknowledg 
ing the first number of Muir s notable series 
of "Studies in the Sierra," thereby disclosing 
what the latter had been doing during the 
winter months. "I am delighted," he tells 
Muir, "with your very original and clearly 
written paper on Mountain Sculpture which 
reveals the law beneath the beauty of moun- 



tain and rock forms." This article, accom 
panied by numerous illustrative line drawings, 
appeared as the leading contribution in May 
and was followed in monthly succession by six 
others, in the order given in an earlier chapter. 1 

Not many weeks after the receipt of this 
initial article, Mr. Avery accepted an appoint 
ment as Minister to China. "Not ambition 
for honors," he wrote to Muir, "but the com 
pulsion of broken health made me risk a foreign 
appointment, and I especially regret that the 
opportunity to share in the publication of your 
valuable papers, and to know you most inti 
mately, is to be lost to me." To the deep regret 
of his friends, Avery died in China the follow 
ing year. Mr. Carmany, despairing of the 
"Overland" as a financial venture, let it come 
to an end in 1875, and Muir, when his current 
engagements were discharged, formed new 
literary connections. 

There can be no doubt that during the clos 
ing years of the magazine, 1874-75, Muir s 
articles constituted by far the most significant 
contribution. It was in good measure due to 
Mrs. Carr that he was finally induced to write 
this series of "Sierra Studies." She had even 
suggested suspension of correspondence in 
order to enable him to accomplish the task. 

i Vol. i, p. 358. 


"You told me I ought to abandon letter writ 
ing," he wrote to her on Christmas day, 1872, 
"and I see plainly enough that you are right 
hi this, because my correspondence has gone 
on increasing year by year and has become far 
too bulky and miscellaneous in its character, 
and consumes too much of my time. Therefore 
I mean to take your advice and allow broad 
acres of silence to spread between my letters, 
however much of self-denial may be de 

In the same letter, which a strange combi 
nation of circumstances has just brought to 
light again after fifty-two years, he expresses 
pungently that distaste for the mechanics of 
writing which undoubtedly accounts in part 
for the relative smallness of his formal literary 

Book-making frightens me [he declares], because 
it demands so much artificialness and retrograding. 
Somehow, up here in these fountain skies [of Yose- 
mite] I feel like a flake of glass through which light 
passes, but which, conscious of the inexhaustibleness 
of its sun fountain, cares not whether its passing 
light coins itself into other forms or goes unchanged 
neither charcoaled nor diamonded ! Moreover, I 
find that though I have a few thoughts entangled 
in the fibres of my mind, I possess no words into 
which I can shape them. You tell me that I must 
be patient and reach out and grope in lexicon gran- 


aries for the words I want. But if some loquacious 
angel were to touch my lips with literary fire, be 
stowing every word of Webster, I would scarce 
thank him for the gift, because most of the words of 
the English language are made of mud, for muddy 
purposes, while those invented to contain spiritual 
matter are doubtful and unfixed in capacity and 
form, as wind-ridden mist-rags. 

These mountain fires that glow in one s blood are 
free to all, but I cannot find the chemistry that may 
press them unimpaired into booksellers bricks. 
True, with that august instrument, the English lan 
guage, in the manufacture of which so many brains 
have been broken, I can proclaim to you that moon 
shine is glorious, and sunshine more glorious, that 
winds rage, and waters roar, and that in terrible 
times glaciers guttered the mountains with their 
hard cold snouts. This is about the limit of what I 
feel capable of doing for the public the moiling, 
squirming, fog-breathing public. But for my few 
friends I can do more because they already know 
the mountain harmonies and can catch the tones I 
gather for them, though written in a few harsh and 
gravelly sentences. 

There was another aspect of writing that 
Muir found irksome and that was its solitari 
ness. Being a fluent and vivid conversational 
ist, accustomed to the excitation of eager hear 
ers, he missed the give-and-take of conversa 
tion when he sat down with no company but 
that of his pen. Even the writing of a letter to 
a friend had something of the conversational 



about it. But to write between four walls for 
the " Babylonish mobs" that hived past his 
window was another matter. Fresh from Cas- 
siope, the heather of the High Sierra, aglow 
with enthusiasm for the beauty that had burned 
itself into his soul, he could but wonder and 
grow indignant at the stolid self-sufficiency of 
"the metallic, money-clinking crowds," among 
whom he felt himself as alien as any Hebrew 
psalmist or prophet by the waters of Babylon. 
It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that 
this first sojourn in the San Francisco Bay 
region was for Muir a kind of exile under which 
he evidently chafed a good deal. His human 
environment was so unblushingly materialistic 
that, in spite of a few sympathetic friends, it 
seemed to him well-nigh impossible to obtain 
a hearing on behalf of Nature from any other 
standpoint than that of commercial utility. 
On this point he differed trenchantly with his 
contemporaries and doubtless engaged in a 
good many arguments, for his frankness and 
downright sincerity did not permit him to 
compromise the supremacy of values which by 
his own standard far exceeded those of com 
mercialism. It is by reference to such verbal 
passages of arms that we must explain his al 
lusion, in the following letter, to "all the mor 
bidness that has been hooted at me." 



The issue was one which, in his own mind, 
he had settled fundamentally on his thousand- 
mile walk to the Gulf, but which challenged 
him again at every street corner in Oakland, 
and he was not the man to retire from combat 
in such a cause. He was, in fact, an eager and 
formidable opponent. "No one who did not 
know Muir in those days," remarked one of 
his old friends to me, "can have any concep 
tion of Muir s brilliance as a conversational 
antagonist in an argument." The world made 
especially for the uses of man? "Certainly 
not," said Muir. "No dogma taught by the 
present civilization forms so insuperable an 
obstacle to a right understanding of the rela 
tions which human culture sustains to wildness. 
Every animal, plant, and crystal controverts 
it in the plainest terms. Yet it is taught from 
century to century as something ever new and 
precious, and in the resulting darkness the 
enormous conceit is allowed to go unchal 

Though grilling in his very blood over this 
huckster appraisement of Nature, Muir labored 
hard and continuously with his pen throughout 
the winter and the following spring and sum 
mer. When autumn came he had completed not 
only his seven " Studies in the Sierra," but had 
also written a paper entitled "Studies in the 



Formation of Mountains in the Sierra Nevada " 
for the American Association for the Advance 
ment of Science, and articles on "Wild Sheep 
of California" and "Byways of Yosemite 
Travel." About this time his health had begun 
to suffer from excessive confinement and ir 
regular diet at restaurants, so, yielding with 
sudden resolution to an overpowering longing 
for the mountains, he set out again for Yose 
mite. The following letter in which his cor 
respondence with Mrs. Carr reaches its highest 
level and, in a sense, its conclusion, celebrates 
his escape from an uncongenial environment. 

To Mrs. Ezra S. Carr 

YOSEMITE VALLEY, [September, 1874] 

Here again are pine trees, and the wind, and 
living rock and water! I ve met two of my 
ouzels on one of the pebble ripples of the river 
where I used to be with them. Most of the 
meadow gardens are disenchanted and dead, 
yet I found a few mint spikes and asters and 
brave, sunful goldenrods and a patch of the 
tiny Mimulus that has two spots on each 
lip. The fragrance and the color and the 
form, and the whole spiritual expression of 
goldenrods are hopeful and strength-giving 
beyond any other flowers that I know. A 


single spike is sufficient to heal unbelief and 

On leaving Oakland I was so excited over my 
escape that, of course, I forgot and left all the 
accounts I was to collect. No wonder, and no 
matter. I m beneath that grand old pine that 
I have heard so often in storms both at night 
and in the day. It sings grandly now, every 
needle sun-thrilled and shining and responding 
tunefully to the azure wind. 

When I left I was in a dreamy exhausted 
daze. Yet from mere habit or instinct I tried to 
observe and study. From the car window I 
watched the gradual transitions from muddy 
water, spongy tule, marsh and level field as we 
shot up the San Jose Valley, and marked as 
best I could the forms of the stream canons as 
they opened to the plain and the outlines of the 
undulating hillocks and headlands between. 
Interest increased at every mile, until it seemed 
unbearable to be thrust so flyingly onward 
even towards the blessed Sierras. I will study 
them yet, free from time and wheels. When we 
turned suddenly and dashed into the narrow 
mouth of the Livermore pass I was looking out 
of the right side of the car. The window was 
closed on account of the cinders and smoke 
from the locomotive. All at once my eyes 
clasped a big hard rock not a hundred yards 


away, every line of which is as strictly and out 
spokenly glacial as any of the most alphabetic 
of the high and young Sierra. That one sure 
glacial word thrilled and overjoyed me more 
than you will ever believe. Town smokes and 
shadows had not dimmed my vision, for I had 
passed this glacial rock twice before without 
reading its meaning. 

As we proceeded, the general glacialness of 
the range became more and more apparent, 
until we reached Pleasanton where once there 
was a grand mer de glace. Here the red sun 
went down in a cloudless glow and I leaned 
back, happy and weary and possessed with a 
lifeful of noble problems. 

At Lathrop we suppered and changed cars. 
The last of the daylight had long faded and I 
sauntered away from the din while the baggage 
was being transferred. The young moon hung 
like a sickle above the shorn wheat fields, Ursa 
Major pictured the northern sky, the Milky 
Way curved sublimely through the broadcast 
stars like some grand celestial moraine with 
planets for boulders, and the whole night shone 
resplendent, adorned with that calm imperish 
able beauty which it has worn unchanged from 
the beginning. 

I slept at Turlock and next morning faced 
the Sierra and set out through the sand afoot. 


The freedom I felt was exhilarating, and the 
burning heat and thirst and faintness could not 
make it less. Before I had walked ten miles I 
was wearied and footsore, but it was real earn 
est work and I liked it. Any kind of simple 
natural destruction is preferable to the numb, 
dumb, apathetic deaths of a town. 

Before I was out of sight of Turlock I found 
a handful of the glorious Hemizonia virgata and 
a few of the patient, steadfast eriogonums that 
I learned to love around the slopes of Twenty- 
Hill Hollow. While I stood with these old dear 
friends we were joined by a lark, and in a few 
seconds more Harry Edwards 1 came flapping 
by with spotted wings. Just think of the com 
pleteness of that reunion! Twenty-Hill Hol 
low, Hemizonia, Eriogonum, Lark, Butterfly, 
and I, and lavish outflows of genuine Twenty- 
Hill Hollow sun gold. I threw down my coat 
and one shirt in the sand, forgetting Hopeton 
and heedless that the sun was becoming hotter 
every minute. I was wild once more and let 
my watch warn and point as it pleased. 

Heavy wagon loads of wheat had been 
hauled along the road and the wheels had sunk 
deep and left smooth beveled furrows in the 
sand. Upon the smooth slopes of these sand 
furrows I soon observed a most beautiful and 

1 For the meaning of this allusion see vol. i, p. 263. 


varied embroidery, evidently tracks of some 
kind. At first I thought of mice, but soon saw 
they were too light and delicate for mice. Then 
a tiny lizard darted into the stubble ahead of 
me, and I carefully examined the track he 
made, but it was entirely unlike the fine print 
embroidery I was studying. However I knew 
that he might make very different tracks if 
walking leisurely. Therefore I determined to 
catch one and experiment. I found out in 
Florida that lizards, however swift, are short- 
winded, so I gave chase and soon captured a 
tiny gray fellow and carried him to a smooth 
sand-bed where he could embroider without 
getting away into grass tufts or holes. He was 
so wearied that he couldn t skim and was com 
pelled to walk, and I was excited with delight 
in seeing an exquisitely beautiful strip of em 
broidery about five-eighths of an inch wide, 
drawn out in flowing curves behind him as 
from a loom. The riddle was solved. I knew 
that mountain boulders moved in music; so 
also do lizards, and their written music, printed 
by their feet, moved so swiftly as to be invis 
ible, covers the hot sands with beauty wherever 
they go. 

But my sand embroidery lesson was by no 
means done. I speedily discovered a yet more 
delicate pattern on the sands, woven into that 


of the lizard. I examined the strange combina 
tion of bars and dots. No five-toed lizard had 
printed that music. I watched narrowly down 
on my knees, following the strange and beauti 
ful pattern along the wheel furrows and out 
into the stubble. Occasionally the pattern 
would suddenly end in a shallow pit half an 
inch across and an eighth of an inch deep. I 
was fairly puzzled, picked up my bundle, and 
trudged discontentedly away, but my eyes 
were hungrily awake and I watched all the 
ground. At length a gray grasshopper rattled 
and flew up, and the truth flashed upon me 
that he was the complementary embroiderer 
of the lizard. Then followed long careful ob 
servation, but I never could see the grass 
hopper until he jumped, and after he alighted 
he invariably stood watching me with his legs 
set ready for another jump in case of danger. 
Nevertheless I soon made sure that he was my 
man, for I found that in jumping he made the 
shallow pits I had observed at the termination 
of the pattern I was studying. But no matter 
how patiently I waited he wouldn t walk while 
I was sufficiently near to observe. They are so 
nearly the color of the sand. I therefore caught 
one and lifted his wing covers and cut off about 
half of each wing with my penknife, and car 
ried him to a favorable place on the sand. At 


first he did nothing but jump and make 
dimples, but soon became weary and walked in 
common rhythm with all his six legs, and my 
interest you may guess while I watched the 
embroidery the written music laid down in 
a beautiful ribbon-like strip behind. I glowed 
with wild joy as if I had found a new glacier 
copied specimens of the precious fabric into 
my notebook, and strode away with my own 
feet sinking with a dull craunch, craunch, 
craunch in the hot gray sand, glad to believe 
that the dark and cloudy vicissitudes of the 
Oakland period had not dimmed my vision in 
the least. Surely Mother Nature pitied the 
poor boy and showed him pictures. 

Happen what would, fever, thirst, or sun 
stroke, my joy for that day was complete. Yet 
I was to receive still more. A train of curving 
tracks with a line in the middle next fixed my 
attention, and almost before I had time to 
make a guess concerning their author, a small 
hawk came shooting down vertically out of the 
sky a few steps ahead of me and picked up 
something hi his talons. After rising thirty or 
forty feet overhead, he dropped it by the road 
side as if to show me what it was. I ran forward 
and found a little bunchy field mouse and at 
once suspected him of being embroiderer num 
ber three. After an exciting chase through 



stubble heaps and weed thickets I wearied and 
captured him without being bitten and turned 
him free to make his mark hi a favorable sand 
bed. He also embroidered better than he knew, 
and at once claimed the authorship of the new 
track work. 

I soon learned to distinguish the pretty 
sparrow track from that of the magpie and lark 
with their three delicate branches and the 
straight scratch behind made by the back- 
curving claw, dragged loosely like a spur of a 
Mexican vaquero. The cushioned elastic feet 
of the hare frequently were seen mixed with 
the pattering scratchy prints of the squirrels. 
I was now wholly trackful. I fancied I could see 
the air whirling in dimpled eddies from sparrow 
and lark wings. Earthquake boulders descend 
ing in a song of curves, snowflakes glinting 
songfully hither and thither. "The water in 
music the oar forsakes." The air in music the 
wing forsakes. All things move in music and 
write it. The mouse, lizard, and grasshopper 
sing together on the Turlock sands, sing with 
the morning stars.- 

Scarce had I begun to catch the eternal har 
monies of Nature when I heard the hearty god- 
damning din of the mule driver, dust whirled 
in the sun gold, and I could see the sweltering 
mules leaning forward, dragging the heavily 


piled wheat wagons, deep sunk in the sand. 
My embroidery perished by the mile, but grass 
hoppers never wearied nor the gray lizards nor 
the larks, and the coarse confusion of man was 
speedily healed. 

About noon I found a family of grangers 
feeding, and remembering your admonitions 
anent my health requested leave to join them. 
My head ached with fever and sunshine, and 
I couldn t dare the ancient brown bacon, nor 
the beans and cakes, but water and splendid 
buttermilk came hi perfect affinity, and made 
me strong. 

Towards evening, after passing through 
miles of blooming Hemizonia, I reached Hope- 
ton on the edge of the oak fringe of the Merced. 
Here all were yellow and woebegone with ma 
larious fever. I rested one day, spending the 
time in examining the remarkably flat water- 
eroded valley of the Merced and the geological 
sections which it offers. In going across to the 
river I had a suggestive time breaking my way 
through tangles of blackberry and brier-rose 
and willow. I admire delicate plants that are 
well prickled and therefore took my scratched 
face and hands patiently. I bathed in the 
sacred stream, seeming to catch all its moun 
tain tones while it softly mumbled and rippled 
over the shallows of brown pebbles. The whole 


river back to its icy sources seemed to rise in 
clear vision, with its countless cascades and 
falls and blooming meadows and gardens. Its 
pine groves, too, and the winds that play them, 
all appeared and sounded. 

In the cool of the evening I caught Browny 
and cantered across to the Tuolumne, the 
whole way being fragrant and golden with 
Hemizonia. A breeze swept hi from your Golden 
Gate regions over the passes and across the 
plains, fanning the hot ground and drooping 
plants and refreshing every beast and tired and 
weary, plodding man. 

It was dark ere I reached my old friend 
Delaney, but was instantly recognized by my 
voice, and welcomed in the old good uncivilized 
way, not to be misunderstood. 

All the region adjacent to the Tuolumne 
River where it sweeps out into the plain after 
its long eventful journey in the mountains, is 
exceedingly picturesque. Round terraced hills, 
brown and yellow with grasses and composite 
and adorned with open groves of darkly foli- 
aged live oak are grouped in a most open tran 
quil manner and laid upon a smooth level base 
of purple plain, while the river bank is lined with 
nooks of great beauty and variety in which the 
river has swept and curled, shifting from side to 
side, retreating and returning, as determined 



by floods and the gradual erosion and removal 
of drift beds formerly laid down. A few miles 
above here at the village of La Grange the wild 
river has made some astonishing deposits in its 
young days, through which it now flows with 
the manners of stately old age, apparently dis 
claiming all knowledge of them. But a thou 
sand, thousand boulders gathered from many a 
moraine, swashed and ground in pot-holes, re 
cord their history and tell of white floods of a 
grandeur not easily conceived. Noble sections 
nearly a hundred feet deep are laid bare, like a 
book, by the mining company. Water is drawn 
from the river several miles above and con 
ducted by ditches and pipes and made to play 
upon these deposits for the gold they contain. 
Thus the Tuolumne of to-day is compelled to 
unravel and lay bare its own ancient history 
which is a thousandfold more important than 
the handfuls of gold sand it chances to con 

I mean to return to these magnificent records 
in a week or two and turn the gold disease of 
the La Grangers to account in learning the 
grand old story of the Sierra flood period. If 
these hundred laborious hydraulickers were 
under my employ they could not do me better 
service, and all along the Sierra flank thousands 
of strong arms are working for me, incited by 



the small golden bait. Who shall say that I 
am not rich? 

Up through the purple foothills to Coulter- 
ville, where I met many hearty, shaggy moun 
taineers glad to see me. Strange to say the 
" Overland 7 studies have been read and dis 
cussed in the most unlikely places. Some 
numbers have found their way through the 
Bloody Canon pass to Mono. 

In the evening Black and I rode together up 
into the sugar pine forests and on to his old 
ranch in the moonlight. The grand priest-like 
pines held their arms above us in blessing. The 
wind sang songs of welcome. The cool glaciers 
and the running crystal fountains were in it. 
I was no longer on but in the mountains 
home again, and my pulses were filled. On and 
on in white moonlight-spangles on the streams, 
shadows hi rock hollows and briery ravines, 
tree architecture on the sky more divine than 
ever stars in their spires, leafy mosaic in 
meadow and bank. Never had the Sierra 
seemed so inexhaustible mile on mile on 
ward in the forest through groves old and 
young, pine tassels overarching and brushing 
both cheeks at once. The chirping of crickets 
only deepened the stillness. 

About eight o clock a strange mass of tones 
came surging and waving through the pines* 


" That s the death song," said Black, as he 
reined up his horse to listen. "Some Indian is 
dead." Soon two glaring watch-fires shone red 
through the forest, marking the place of con 
gregation. The fire glare and the wild wailing 
came with indescribable impressiveness through 
the still dark woods. I listened eagerly as the 
weird curves of woe swelled and cadenced, now 
rising steep like glacial precipices, now swoop 
ing low in polished slopes. Falling boulders and 
rushing streams and wind tones caught from 
rock and tree were in it. As we at length rode 
away and the heaviest notes were lost in dis 
tance, I wondered that so much of mountain 
nature should well out from such a source. 
Miles away we met Indian groups slipping 
through the shadows on their way to join the 
death wail. 

Farther on, a harsh grunting and growling 
seemed to come from the opposite bank of a 
hazelly brook along which we rode. "What? 
Hush! That s a bear," ejaculated Black in 
a gruff bearish undertone. Yes," said [I], 
"some rough old bruin is sauntering this fine 
night, seeking some wayside sheep lost from 
migrating flocks." Of course all night-sounds 
otherwise unaccountable are accredited to 
bears. On ascending a sloping hillock less than 
a mile from the first we heard another grunting 


bear, but whether or no daylight would trans 
form our bears to pigs may well be counted 
into the story. 

Past Bower Cave and along a narrow wind 
ing trail in deep shadow so dark, had to 
throw the reins on Browny s neck and trust to 
his skill, for I could not see the ground and the 
hillside was steep. A fine, bright tributary of 
the Merced sang far beneath us as we climbed 
higher, higher through the hazels and dog 
woods that fringed the rough black boles of 
spruces and pines. We were now nearing the 
old camping ground of the Pilot Peak region 
where I learned to know the large nodding 
lilies (L. pardalinum) so abundant along these 
streams, and the groups of alder-shaded cata 
racts so characteristic of the North Merced 
Fork. Moonlight whitened all the long fluted 
slopes of the opposite bank, but we rode in 
continuous shadow. The rush and gurgle and 
prolonged Aaaaaah of the stream coining up, 
sifting into the wind, was very solemnly im 
pressive. It was here that you first seemed to 
join me. I reached up as Browny carried me 
underneath a big Douglas spruce and plucked 
one of its long plumy sprays, which brought 
you from the Oakland dead in a moment. You 
are more spruce than pine, though I never defi 
nitely knew it till now. 



Miles and miles of tree scripture along the 
sky, a bible that will one day be read! The 
beauty of its letters and sentences have burned 
me like fire through all these Sierra seasons. 
Yet I cannot interpret their hidden thoughts. 
They are terrestrial expressions of the sun, 
pure as water and snow. Heavens! listen to 
the wind song! I m still writing beneath 
that grand old pine in Black s yard and that 
other companion, scarcely less noble, back of 
which I sheltered during the earthquake, is 
just a few yards beyond. The shadows of their 
boles lie like charred logs on the gray sand, 
while half the yard is embroidered with their 
branches and leaves. There goes a woodpecker 
with an acorn to drive into its thick bark for 
winter, and well it may gather its stores, for I 
can myself detect winter in the wind. 

Few nights of my mountain life have been 
more eventful than that of my ride in the woods 
from Coulterville, where I made my reunion 
with the winds and pines. It was eleven o clock 
when we reached Black s ranch. I was weary 
and soon died in sleep. How cool and vital and 
recreative was the hale young mountain air. 
On higher, higher up into the holy of holies of 
the woods! Pure white lustrous clouds over 
shadowed the massive congregations of silver 
fir and pine. We entered, and a thousand living 



arms were waved in solemn blessing. An in 
finity of mountain life. How complete is the 
absorption of one s life into the spirit of moun 
tain woods. No one can love or hate an enemy 
here, for no one can conceive of such a creature 
as an enemy. Nor can one have any distinctive 
love of friends. The dearest and best of you all 
seemed of no special account, mere trifles. 

Hazel Green water, famous among moun 
taineers, distilled from the pores of an ancient 
moraine, spiced and toned in a maze of fragrant 
roots, winter nor summer warm or cool it! 
Shadows over shadows keep its fountains ever 
cool. Moss and felted leaves guard from spring 
and autumn frosts, while a woolly robe of snow 
protects from the intenser cold of winter. 
Bears, deer, birds, and Indians love the water 
and nuts of Hazel Green alike, while the pine 
squirrel reigns supreme and haunts its incom 
parable groves like a spirit. Here a grand old 
glacier swept over from the Tuolumne ice 
fountains into the basin of the Merced, leaving 
the Hazel Green moraine for the food of her 
coming trees and fountains of her predestined 

Along the Merced divide to the ancient gla 
cial lake-bowl of Crane s Flat, was ever fir or 
pine more perfect? What groves! What com 
binations of green and silver gray and glowing 


white of glinting sunbeams. Where is leaf or 
limb awanting, and is this the upshot of the 
so-called "mountain glooms" and mountain 
storms? If so, is Sierra forestry aught beside 
an outflow of Divine Love? These round- 
bottomed grooves sweeping across the divide, 
and down whose sides our horses canter with 
accelerated speed, are the pathways of ancient 
ice-currents, and it is just where these crushing 
glaciers have borne down most heavily that 
the greatest loveliness of grove and forest ap 

A deep canon filled with blue air now comes 
in view on the right. That is the valley of the 
Merced, and the highest rocks visible through 
the trees belong to the Yosemite Valley. More 
miles of glorious forest, then out into free light 
and down, down, down into the groves and 
meadows of Yosemite. Sierra sculpture hi its 
entirety without the same study on the spot. 
No one of the rocks seems to call me now, nor 
any of the distant mountains. Surely this 
Merced and Tuolumne chapter of my life is 

I have been out on the river bank with your 
letters. How good and wise they seem to be! 
You wrote better than you knew. Altogether 
they form a precious volume whose sentences 
are more intimately connected with my moun- 



tain work than any one will ever be able to 
appreciate. An ouzel came as I sat reading, 
alighting in the water with a delicate and grace 
ful glint on his bosom. How pure is the morn 
ing light on the great gray wall, and how mar 
velous the subdued lights of the moon! The 
nights are wholly enchanting. 

I will not try [to] tell the Valley. Yet I feel 
that I am a stranger here. I have been gather 
ing you a handful of leaves. Show them to dear 
Keith and give some to Mrs. McChesney. 
They are probably the last of Yosemite that I 
will ever give you. I will go out in a day or so. 
Farewell ! I seem to be more really leaving you 
here than there. Keep these long pages, for 
they are a kind of memorandum of my walk 
after the strange Oakland epoch, and I may 
want to copy some of them when I have leisure. 

Remember me to my friends. I trust you 
are not now so sorely overladen. Good-night. 
Keep the goldenrod and yarrow. They are 
auld lang syne. 

Ever lovingly yours 


To take leave of Yosemite was harder than 
he anticipated. Days grew into weeks as in 
leisurely succession he visited his favorite 
haunts places to which during the preceding 




summer he had taken on a camping trip l a 
group of his closest friends, including Emily 
Pelton and Mrs. Carr. It was on this outing 
that bears raided the provisions cached by the 
party during an excursion into the Tuolumne 
Canon and Muir saved his companions from 
hardship by fetching a new supply of food 
from Yosemite, making the arduous trip of 
forty miles without pause and in an amaz 
ingly short time. 

YOSEMITE VALLEY, October 7th, 1874 

I expected to have been among the foothill 
drift long ago, but the mountains fairly seized 
me, and ere I knew I was up the Merced Canon 
where we were last year, past Shadow and 
Merced Lakes and our Soda Springs. I re 
turned last night. Had a glorious storm, and a 
thousand sa v cred beauties that seemed yet more 
and more divine. I camped four nights at 
Shadow Lake 2 at the old place in the pine 
thicket. I have ouzel tales to tell. I was alone 
and during the whole excursion, or period 
rather, was in a kind of calm incurable ecstasy. 
I am hopelessly and forever a mountaineer. 

How glorious my studies seem, and how 
simple. I found out a noble truth concerning 

1 See vol. i, p. 322. 2 Now called Merced Lake. 



the Merced moraines that escaped me hitherto. 
Civilization and fever and all the morbidness 
that has been hooted at me have not dimmed 
my glacial eye, and I care to live only to entice 
people to look at Nature s loveliness. My own 
special self is nothing. My feet have recovered 
their cunning. I feel myself again. 

Tell Keith the colors are coming to the 
groves. I leave Yosemite for over the moun 
tains to Mono and Lake Tahoe. Will be in 
Tahoe in a week, thence anywhere Shastaward, 
etc. I think I may be at Brownsville, Yuba 
County, where I may get a letter from you. I 
promised to call on Emily Pelton there. Mrs. 
Black has fairly mothered me. She will be 
down in a few weeks. Farewell. 


Having worked the Yosemite problem out of 
his blood he was faced with the question of the 
next step in his career. Apparently while de 
bating with others the character of the rela 
tion which Nature should sustain to man he 
had found his calling, one in which his glacial 
studies in Yosemite formed only an incident, 
though a large one. Hereafter his supreme pur 
pose in life must be "to entice people to look 
at Nature s loveliness" understandingly, of 


In the seventies, before lumber companies, 
fires, and the fumes from copper smelters had 
laid a blight upon the Shasta landscapes, the 
environs of the great mountain were a veri 
table garden of the Lord. Its famous mineral 
springs and abundant fish and game, no less 
than its snowy grandeur, attracted a steady 
stream of visitors. Clarence King had discov 
ered glaciers on its flanks and many parts of 
the mountain were still imperfectly explored. 
The year was waning into late October when 
Muir, seeking new treasuries of Nature s love 
liness, turned his face Shastaward. 

In going to Mount Shasta, Muir walked 
along the main Oregon and California stage- 
road from Redding to Sisson s. Unable to find 
any one willing to make the ascent of the 
mountain with him so late in the season, he 
secured the aid of Jerome Fay, a local resident, 
to take blankets and a week s supply of food as 
far as a pack-horse could break through the 
snow. Selecting a sheltered spot for a camp in 
the upper edge of the timber belt, he made his 
adventurous ascent alone from there on the 
2d of November, and returned to his camp be 
fore dark. Realizing that a storm was brewing, 
he hastily made a " storm-nest" and snugged 
himself in with firewood to enjoy the novel 
sensation of a Shasta storm at an altitude of 


nine thousand feet. The elements broke loose 
violently the next morning, and continued for 
nearly a week, while Muir, his trusty notebook 
in hand, watched the deposition of snow upon 
the trees, studied the individual crystals with 
a lens, observed a squirrel finding her stores 
under the drifts, and made friends with wild 
sheep that sought shelter near his camp. He 
was much disappointed when Mr. Sisson, con 
cerned for his safety, sent two horses through 
the blinding snowstorm and brought him down 
on the fifth day from the timber-line to his 
house. The following letter was written just 
before he began the first stage of the ascent: 

To Mrs. Ezra S. Carr 

SISSON S STATION, November 1st, 1874 

Here is icy Shasta fifteen miles away, yet at 
the very door. It is all close-wrapt in clean 
young snow down to the very base one mass 
of white from the dense black forest-girdle at 
an elevation of five or six thousand feet to the 
very summit. The extent of its individuality is 
perfectly wonderful. When I first caught sight 
of it over the braided folds of the Sacramento 
Valley I was fifty miles away and afoot, alone 
and weary. Yet all my blood turned to wine, 
and IJhaye not been weary since. 



Stone was to have accompanied me, but has 
failed of course. The last storm was severe and 
all the mountaineers shake their heads and say 
impossible, etc., but you know that I will meet 
all its icy snows lovingly. 

I set out in a few minutes for the edge of the 
timber-line. Then upwards, if unstormy, in 
the early morning. If the snow proves to be 
mealy and loose it is barely possible that I may 
be unable to urge my way through so many up 
ward miles, as there is no intermediate camping 
ground. Yet I am feverless and strong now, 
and can spend two days with their intermediate 
night in one deliberate unstrained effort. 

I am the more eager to ascend to study the 
mechanical conditions of the fresh snow at so 
great an elevation; also to obtain clear views of 
the comparative quantities of lava denudation 
northward and southward; also general views 
of the channels of the ancient Shasta glaciers, 
and many other lesser problems besides the 
fountains of the rivers here, and the living 
glaciers. I would like to remain a week or two, 
and may have to return next year in summer. 

I wrote a short letter l a few days ago which 
was printed in the Evening Bulletin, and I sup 
pose you have seen it. I wonder how you all 

1 "Salmon Breeding on the McCloud River," San Fran 
cisco Evening Bulletin, Oct. 29, 1874. 


are faring in your wildernesses, educational, 
departmental, institutional, etc. Write me a 
line here in care of Sisson. I think it will reach 
me on my return from icy Shasta. Love to all 
Keith and the boys and the McChesneys. 
Don t forward any letters from the Oakland 
office. I want only mountains until my return 
to civilization. Farewell. 

Ever cordially yours 


One of Muir s endearing traits was his gen 
uine fondness for children, who rewarded his 
sympathy with touching confidence and devo 
tion. The following letter, written to his ad 
miring little chum 1 in the McChesney house 
hold, sheds additional light upon his Shasta 
rambles and the mood, so different from mere 
adventure-seeking, in which he went questing 
for knowledge of Nature. 

To Alice McChesney 


November Sth, 1874 

It is a stormy day here at the foot of the big 
snowy Shasta and so I am in Sisson s house 

1 See vol. i, p. 372. 


where it is cozy and warm. There are four 
lassies here one is bonnie, one is bonnier, 
and one is far bonniest, but I don t know them 
yet and I am a little lonesome and wish Alice 
McChesney were here. I can never help think 
ing that you were a little unkind in sending me 
off to the mountains without a kiss and you 
must make that up when I get back. 

I was up on the top of Mount Shasta, and it 
is very high and all deep-buried in snow, and I 
am tired with the hard climbing and wading 
and wallowing. When I was coming up here on 
purpose to climb Mount Shasta people would 
often say to me, " Where are you going? " and 
I would say, "To Shasta/ and they would 
say, " Shasta City?" and I would say, "Oh, 
no, I mean Mount Shasta!" Then they would 
laugh and say, "Mount Shasta!! Why man, 
you can t go on Mount Shasta now. You re 
two months too late. The snow is ten feet deep 
on it, and you would be all buried up in the 
snow, and freeze to death." And then I would 
say, "But I like snow, and I like frost and ice, 
and I m used to climbing and wallowing in it." 
And they would say, "Oh, that s all right 
enough to talk about or sing about, but I m a 
mountaineer myself, and know all about that 
Shasta Butte and you just can t go noway and 
nohow." But I did go, because I loved snow 



and mountains better than they did. Some 
places I had to creep, and some places to slide, 
and some places to scramble, but most places I 
had to climb, climb, climb deep in the frosty 

I started at half -past two in the morning, all 
alone, and it stormed wildly and beautifully 
before I got back here and they thought that 
poor, crazy mountain climber must be frozen 
solid and lost below the drifts, but I found a 
place at the foot of a low bunch of trees and 
made a hollow and gathered wood and built a 
cheery fire and soon was warm ; and though the 
wind and the snow swept wildly past, I was 
snug-bug-rug, and in three days I came down 
here. But I liked the storm and wanted to 
stay longer. 

The weather is stormy yet, and most of the 
robins are getting ready to go away to a 
warmer place, and so they are gathering into 
big flocks. I saw them getting their breakfast 
this morning on cherries. Some hunters are 
here and so we get plenty of wild venison to eat, 
and they killed two bears and nailed their 
skins on the side of the barn to dry. There are 
lots of both bears and deer on Shasta, and 
three kinds of squirrels. 

Shasta snowflakes are very beautiful, and 
I saw them finely under my magnifying glass. 


Here are some bonnie Cratsegus leaves I 
gathered for you. Fare ye well, my lassie. I m 
going to-morrow with some hunters to see if I 
can find out something more about bears or 
wild sheep. 

Give my love to your mother and father and 
Carrie, and tell your mother to keep my letters 
until I come back, for I don t want to know 
anything just now except mount ains. But I 
want your papa to write to me, for I will be up 
here, hanging about the snowy skirts of Shasta, 
for one or two or three weeks. 

It is a dark, wild night, and the Shasta 
squirrels are curled up cozily in their nests, and 
the grouse have feather pantlets on and are all 
roosting under the broad, shaggy branches of 
the fir trees. Good-night, my lassie, and may 
you nest well and sleep well as the Shasta 
squirrels and grouse. JOHN MUIR 

During the following weeks he circled the 
base of the mountain, visited the Black Butte 
and the foot of the Whitney Glacier, as well as 
Rhett and Klamath lakes, and gathered into 
his notebook a rich harvest of observations to 
be made into magazine articles later. Some of 
the material, however, he utilized at once in a 
series of letters to the " Evening Bulletin" of 
San Francisco. 



In explanation of various allusions in some 
of the following letters to Mrs. Carr, it should 
be added that she and her husband had in 
view, and later acquired, a tract of land in 
what was then the outskirts of Pasadena. 
Both had been very active in organizing the 
farmers of California into a State Grange in 
1873. Two years later Dr. Carr was elected 
State Superintendent of Public Instruction, 
and during his incumbency Mrs. Carr served 
as deputy Superintendent, discharging most of 
the routine work of the office in Sacramento, 
besides lecturing before granges and teachers 
institutes throughout the State. There were 
many quarreling political factions in California, 
and the Grangers movement and the Depart 
ment of Public Instruction were never far from 
the center of the political storms. 

To Mrs. Ezra S. Carr 

SISSON S STATION, December Qth, 1874 

Coming in for a sleep and rest I was glad to 
receive your card. I seem to be more than 
married to icy Shasta. One yellow, mellow 
morning six days ago, when Shasta s snows were 
looming and blooming, I stepped outside the 
door to gaze, and was instantly drawn up over 
the meadows, over the forests to the main 


Shasta glacier in one rushing, come tic whiz, 
then, swooping to Shasta Valley, whirled off 
around the base like a satellite of the grand icy 
sun. I have just completed my first revolu 
tion. Length of orbit, one hundred miles; 
tune, one Shasta day. 

For two days and a half I had nothing in the 
way of food, yet suffered nothing, and was 
finely nerved for the most delicate work of 
mountaineering, both among crevasses and 
lava cliffs. Now I am sleeping and eating. I 
found some geological facts that are perfectly 
glorious, and botanical ones, too. 

I wish I could make the public be kind to 
Keith and his paint. 

And so you contemplate vines and oranges 
among the warm California angels ! I wish you 
would all go a-granging among oranges and 
bananas and all such blazing red-hot fruits, for 
you are a species of Hindoo sun fruit yourself. 
For me, I like better the huckleberries of cool 
glacial bogs, and acid currants, and benevolent, 
rosy, beaming apples, and common Indian 
summer pumpkins. 

I wish you could see the holy morning alpen- 
glow of Shasta. 

Farewell. I ll be down into gray Oakland 
some time. I am glad you are essentially hide- 
pendent of those commonplace plotters that 


have so marred your peace. Eat oranges and 
hear the larks and wait on the sun. 
Ever cordially 


To Mrs. Ezra S. Carr 
SISSON S STATION, December 21st, 1874 

I have just returned from a fourth Shasta ex 
cursion, and find your [letter] of the 17th. I 
wish you could have been with me on Shasta s 
shoulder last eve in the sun-glow. I was over 
on the head-waters of the McCloud, and what 
a head! Think of a spring giving rise to a 
river! I fairly quiver with joyous exultation 
when I think of it. The infinity of Nature s 
glory in rock, cloud, and water! As soon as I 
beheld the McCloud upon its lower course I 
knew there must be something extraordinary 
in its alpine fountains, and I shouted, "O 
where, my glorious river, do you come from?" 
Think of a spring fifty yards wide at the mouth, 
issuing from the base of a lava bluff with wild 
songs not gloomily from a dark cavey 
mouth, but from a world of ferns and mosses 
gold and green ! I broke my way through chap 
arral and all kinds of river-bank tangle in 
eager vigor, utterly unweariable. 

The dark blue stream sang solemnly with a 


deep voice, pooling and boulder-dashing and 
aha-a-a-ing in white flashing rapids, when sud 
denly I heard water notes I never had heard 
before. They came from that mysterious 
spring; and then the Elk forest, and the al 
pine-glow, and the sunset! Poor pen cannot 
tell it. 

The sun this morning is at work with its 
blessings as if it had never blessed before. He 
never wearies of revealing himself on Shasta. 
But in a few hours I leave this altar and all 
its Well, to my Father I say thank you, 
and go willingly. 

I go by stage and rail to Brownsville to see 
Emily [Pelton] and the rocks there and the 
Yuba. Then perhaps a few days among the 
auriferous drifts on the Tuolumne, and then to 
Oakland and that book, walking across the 
Coast Range on the way, either through one of 
the passes or over Mount Diablo. I feel a sort 
of nervous fear of another period of town dark, 
but I don t want to be silly about it. The sun 
glow will all fade out of me, and I will be 
deathly as Shasta in the dark. But mornings 
will come, dawnings of some kind, and if not, I 
have lived more than a common eternity al 

Farewell. Don t overwork that is not the 
work your Father wants. I wish you could 


come a-beeing in the Shasta honey lands. Love 
to the boys. [JOHN Mum] 

On one of the excursions to which he refers 
in the preceding letter, Muir accompanied four 
hunters, three of them Scotchmen, 1 who were 
in search of wild sheep. The party went to 
Sheep Rock, twenty miles north of Sisson s, 
and from there fifty miles farther to Mount 
Bremer, then one of the most noted strongholds 
of wild game hi the Shasta region. This expedi 
tion afforded Muir a new opportunity to study 
wild sheep and his observations were charm 
ingly utilized in the little essay "Wild Wool," 
one of his last contributions to the "Overland" 
in 1875, republished afterwards in "Steep 

A week after writing the above letter he was 
at Knoxville, also known as Brownsville, on 
the divide between the Yuba and Feather 
Rivers. It was a mild, but tempestuous, De 
cember, and during a gale that sprang up while 
he was exploring a valley tributary to the 
Yuba, he climbed a Douglas spruce in order to 

1 Among these Scots was G. Buchanan Hepburn, of Had- 
dingdonshire, on one of whose letters Muir made the memo 
randum, "Lord Hepburn, killed in Mexico or Lower Cali 
fornia." Twenty years later, during his visit to Scotland, 
Muir was by chance enabled to communicate the details of 
the man s unhappy fate to his relatives. 


be able to enjoy the better the wild music of 
the storm. The experience afterwards bore 
fruit in one of his finest descriptions an ar 
ticle entitled "A Wind Storm in the Forests 
of the Yuba," which appeared in "Scribner s 
Monthly" in November, 1878, and later as a 
chapter in "The Mountains of California." 
With the possible exception of his dog story, 
"Stickeen," no article drew more enthusiastic 
comments from readers who felt moved to 
write their .appreciation. 

From his earliest youth Muir had derived 
keen enjoyment from storms, but he had never 
tried to give a reason for the joy that was in 
him. The reaction he got from the reading 
public showed that they regarded his enthusi 
asm for storms as admirable, but also as singu 
lar. The latter was a surprise to Muir, who 
regarded all the manifestations of Nature as 
coming within the range of his interest, and 
saw no reason why men should fear storms. Re 
flecting upon the fact, he reached the conclusion 
that such fear is due to a wrong attitude 
toward nature, to imaginary or grossly exag 
gerated notions of danger, or, in short, to a 
"lack of faith in the Scriptures of Nature," as, 
he averred, was the case with Ruskin. As for 
himself, a great storm was nothing but "a 
cordial outpouring of Nature s love." 



By what he regarded as a fortunate coin 
cidence, he was still on the headwaters of the 
Feather and the Yuba rivers on the date of 
the memorable Marysville flood, January 19, 
1875. A driving warm rainstorm suddenly 
melted the heavy snows that filled the drainage 
basins of these rivers and sent an unprece 
dented flood down into the lowlands, submerg 
ing many homesteads and a good part of 
Marysville. One can almost sense the haste 
with which he dashed off the lines of the follow 
ing letter on the morning of the day of the 
flood impatient to heed the call of the storm. 

To Mrs. Ezra S. Carr 


January 19to, 1875 

Here are some of the dearest and bonniest of 
our Father s bairns the little ones that so 
few care to see. I never saw such enthusiasm in 
the care and breeding of mosses as Nature man 
ifests among these northern Sierras. I have 
studied a big fruitful week among the canons 
and ridges of the Feather and another among 
the Yuba rivers, living and dead. 

/ have seen a dead river a sight worth going 
round the world to see. The dead rivers and 
dead gravels wherein lies the gold form mag- 



nificent problems, and I feel wild and unman 
ageable with the intense interest they excite, 
but I will choke myself off and finish my glacial 
work and that little book of studies. I have 
been spending a few fine social days with Emily 
[Pelton], but now work. 

How gloriously it storms! The pines are in 
ecstasy, and I feel it and must go out to them. 
I must borrow a big coat and mingle in the 
storm and make some studies. Farewell. Love 
to all. 


P.S. How are Ned and Keith? I wish Keith 
had been with me these Shasta and Feather 
River days. I have gained a thousandfold more 
than I hoped. Heaven send you Light and 
the good blessings of wildness. How the rains 
plash and roar, and how the pines wave and 

Tradition still tells of his return to the Knox 
House after the storm, dripping and bedrag 
gled; of the pity and solicitude of his friends 
over his condition, and their surprise when he 
in turn pitied them for having missed "a storm 
of exalted beauty and riches." The account of 
his experience was his final contribution to the 
"Overland Monthly" in June, 1875, under the 


title, " A Flood-Storm in the Sierra." Nowhere 
has he revealed his fervid enjoyment of storms 
more unreservedly than in this article. 1 "How 
terribly downright," he observes, "must be 
the utterances of storms and earthquakes to 
those accustomed to the soft hypocrisies of 
society. Man s control is being extended over 
the forces of nature, but it is well, at least for 
the present, that storms can still make them 
selves heard through our thickest walls. . . . 
Some were made to think." 

There was a new note in his discourses, 
written and spoken, when he emerged from the 
forests of the Yuba. Fear and utilitarianism, 
he was convinced, are a crippling equipment 
for one who wishes to understand and appreci 
ate the beauty of the world about him. But 
meanness of soul is even worse. Herded in cit 
ies, where the struggle for gain sweeps along 
with the crowd even the exceptional individual, 
men rarely come in sight of their better selves. 
There is more hope for those who live in the 
country. But instead of listening to the earnest 
and varied voices of nature, the country resi 
dent, also, is too often of the shepherd type who 
can only hear "baa." "Even the howls and 

1 It was incorporated in part only as the chapter on "The 
River Floods" in The Mountains of California. The omitted 
portions are important to a student of Muir s personality. 


ki-yis of coyotes might be blessings if well 
heard, but he hears them only through a blur 
of mutton and wool, and they do him no good." 
Despite these abnormalities, Muir insisted, 
we must live in close contact with nature if we 
are to keep fresh and clean the fountains of 
moral sanity. " The world needs the woods and 
is beginning to come to them," he asserts in his 
flood-storm article. "But it is not yet ready 
... for storms. . . . Nevertheless the world 
moves onward, and it is coming yet, for a 
that/ that the beauty of storms will be as 
visible as that of calms." 



WHEN out of doors, Muir was scarcely con 
scious of the passage of time, so completely 
was he absorbed, almost physically absorbed, 
in the natural objects about him. The moun 
tains, the stars, the trees, and sweet-belled 
Cassiope recked not of time! Why should 
he? Nor was he at such periods burdened 
with thoughts of a calling. On the contrary, he 
rejoiced in his freedom and, like Thoreau, 
sought by honest labor of any sort only means 
enough to preserve it intact. 

But when he came out of the forests, or down 
from the mountains, and had to take account, 
in letters and personal contacts, of the lives, 
loves, and occupations of relatives and friends, 
he sometimes was brought up sharply against 
the fact that he had reached middle age and 
yet had neither a home nor what most men in 
those days would have recognized as a pro 
fession. Then, as in the following letter, one 
catches a note of apology for the life he is lead 
ing. He can only say, and say it triumphantly, 



that the course of his bark is controlled by 
other stars than theirs, that he must be free to 
live by the laws of his own life. 

To Sarah Muir Galloway 

OAKLAND, [February 26th,] 1875 

I have just returned from a long train of ex 
cursions in the Sierras and find yours and many 
other letters waiting, all that accumulated for 
five months. I spent my holidays on the Yuba 
and Feather rivers exploring. I have, of course, 
worked hard and enjoyed hard, ascending 
mountains, crossing canons, rambling cease 
lessly over hill and dale, plain and lava bed. 

I thought of you all gathered with your little 
ones enjoying the sweet and simple pleasures 
that belong to your lives and loves. I have not 
yet in all my wanderings found a single person 
so free as myself. Yet I am bound to my stud 
ies, and the laws of my own life. At times I feel 
as if driven with whips, and ridden upon. When 
in the woods I sit at times for hours watching 
birds or squirrels or looking down into the 
faces of flowers without suffering any feeling of 
haste. Yet I am swept onward in a general cur 
rent that bears on irresistibly. When, there 
fore, I shall be allowed to float homeward, I 
dinna, dinna ken, but I hope. 


The world, as well as the mountains, is good 
to me, and my studies flow on in a wider and 
wider current by the incoming of many a noble 
tributary. Probably if I were living amongst 
you all you would follow me in my scientific 
work, but as it is, you will do so imperfectly. 
However, when I visit you, you will all have to 
submit to numerous lectures. . . . 

Give my love to David and to Mrs. Galloway 
and all your little ones, and remember me as 
ever lovingly your brother, 


On the 28th of April he led a party to the 
summit of Mount Shasta for the purpose of 
finding a proper place to locate the monument 
of the Coast and Geodetic Survey. Two days 
later he made another ascent with Jerome Fay 
in order to complete some barometrical obser 
vations. While engaged in this task a fierce 
storm arose, enveloping them, with great sud 
denness, in inky darkness through which roared 
a blast of snow and hail. His companion 
deemed it impossible under the circumstances 
to regain their camp at timber-line, so the two 
made their way as best they could to the sput 
tering fumaroles or "Hot Springs 7 on the sum 
mit. The perils of that stormy night, described 
at some length in " Steep Trails," were of a 


much more serious nature than one might infer 
from the casual reference to the adventure in 
the following letter. 

To Mrs. Ezra S. Carr 

1419 TAYLOR ST., May 4h, 1875 

Here I am safe hi the arms of Daddy Swett 
home again from icy Shasta and richer than 
ever in dead river gravel and in snowstorms 
and snow. The upper end of the main Sacra 
mento Valley is entirely covered with ancient 
river drift and I wandered over many square 
miles of it. In every pebble I could hear the 
sounds of running water. The whole deposit is 
a poem whose many books and chapters form 
the geological Vedas of our glorious state. 

I discovered a new species of hail on the sum 
mit of Shasta and experienced one of the most 
beautiful and most violent snowstorms imagin 
able. I would have been with you ere this to tell 
you about it and to give you some lilies and 
pine tassels that I brought for you and Mrs. 
McChesney and Ina Coolbrith, but alack! I 
am battered and scarred like a log that has 
come down the Tuolumne in flood-time, and 
I am also lame with frost nipping. Nothing 
serious, however, and I will be well and better 
than before in a few days. 



I was caught in a violent snowstorm and 
held upon the summit of the mountain all night 
in my shirt sleeves. The intense cold and the 
want of food and sleep made the fire of life 
smoulder and burn low. Nevertheless in com 
pany with another strong mountaineer [Jerome 
Fay] I broke through six miles of frosty snow 
down into the timber and reached fire and food 
and sleep and am better than ever, with all the 
valuable experiences. Altogether I have had a 
very instructive and delightful trip. 

The Bryanthus you wanted was snow- 
buried, and I was too lame to dig it out for you, 
but I will probably go back ere long. I ll be 
over in a few days or so. [JOHN MUIR] 

With the approach of summer, Muir returned 
to the Yosemite and Mount Whitney region, 
taking with him his friends William Keith, 
J. B. McChesney, and John Swett. In the letters 
he wrote from there to the "San Francisco 
Evening Bulletin" one feels that the forest 
trees of the Sierra Nevada are getting a deep 
ening hold upon his imagination. " Through 
out all this glorious region," he writes, " there 
is nothing that so constantly interests and chal 
lenges the admiration of the traveller as the 
belts of forest through which he passes." 

Of all the trees of the forest the dearest to 


him was the sugar pine (Pinus Lambertiana) , 
and he frequently refers to it as the "King 
of the pines." "Many a volume/ 7 he declares 
in one of the letters written on this outing, 
"might be filled with the history of its develop 
ment from the brown whirling-winged seed-nut 
to its ripe and Godlike old age; the quantity 
and range of its individuality, its gestures in 
storms or while sleeping in summer light, the 
quality of its sugar and nut, and the glossy 
fragrant wood" all are distinctive. But, as 
his notebooks and some of the following letters 
show, he now begins to make an intensive study 
of all the trees of the Pacific Coast, particularly 
of the redwood. Thus, quite unconsciously, he 
was in training to become the leading defender 
of the Sierra forests during critical emergencies 
that arose in the nineties. 

To Mrs. Ezra S. Carr 

YOSEMITE VALLEY, June 3d, 1875 

Where are you? Lost in conventions, elec 
tions, women s rights and fights, and buried 
beneath many a load of musty granger hay. 
You always seem inaccessible to me, as if you 
were in a crowd, and even when I write, my 
written words seem to be heard by many that I 
do not like. 



I wish some of your predictions given in 
your last may come true, like the first you made 
long ago. Yet somehow it seems hardly likely 
that you will ever be sufficiently free, for your 
labors multiply from year to year. Yet who 

I found poor Lamon s 1 grave, as you di 
rected. The upper end of the Valley seems 
fairly silent and empty without him. 

Keith got fine sketches, and I found new 
beauties and truths of all kinds. Mack [Mc- 
Chesney] and Swett will tell you all. I send 
you my buttonhole plume. 



To Mrs. Ezra S. Carr 



July 31st, 1875 


I have just arrived from our long excursion 
to Mount Whitney, all hale and happy, and 
find your weary plodding letter, containing 
things that from this rocky standpoint seem 
strangely mixed things celestial and terres 
trial, cultivated and wild. Your letters set one 

1 James C. Lamon, pioneer settler of Yosemite Valley, 
who died May 22, 1875. See characterization of him in 

Muir s The Yosemite. 



a-thinking, and yet somehow they never seem 
to make those problems of life clear, and I al 
ways feel glad that they do not form any part 
of my work, but that my lessons are simple 
rocks and waters and plants and humble beasts, 
all pure and in their places, the Man beast 
with all his complications being laid upon 
stronger shoulders. 

I did not bring you down any Sedum roots 
or Cassiope sprays because I had not then re 
ceived your letter, not that I forgot you as I 
passed the blessed Sierra heathers, or the prim 
ulas, or the pines laden with fragrant, nutty 
cones. But I am more and more made to feel 
that my gardens and herbariums and woods 
are all in their places as they grow, and I know 
them there, and can find them when I will. Yet 
I ought to carry their poor dead or dying forms 
to those who can have no better. 

The Valley is lovely, scarce more than a 
whit the worse for the flower-crushing feet 
that every summer brings. ... I am not de 
cided about my summer. I want to go with the 
Sequoias a month or two into all their homes 
from north to south, learning what I can 
of their conditions and prospects, their age, 
stature, the area they occupy, etc. But John 
Swett, who is brother now, papa then, orders 
me home to booking. Bless me, what an awful 


thing town duty is! I was once free as any 
pine-playing wind, and feel that I have still a 
good length of line, but alack! there seems to be 
a hook or two of civilization in me that I would 
fain pull out, yet would not pull out 0, 0, 

I suppose you are weary of saying book, 
book, book, and perhaps when you fear me lost 
in rocks and Mono deserts I will, with Scotch 
perverseness, do all you ask and more. All this 
letter is about myself, and why not when I m 
the only person in all the wide world that I 
know anything about Keith, the cascade, 
not excepted. 

Fare ye well, mother quail, good betide your 
brood and be they and you saved from the 
hawks and the big ugly buzzards and cormo 
rants grangeal, political, right and wrongical, 
and I will be 

Ever truly 

"Only that and nothing more." 

To Sarah Muir Galloway 

YOSEMITE VALLEY, November 2nd, 1875 

Here is your letter with the Dalles in it. I m 
glad you have escaped so long from the cows 
and sewing and baking to God s green wild 


Dalles and dells, for I know you were young 
again and that the natural love of beauty you 
possess had free, fair play. I shall never forget 
the big happy day I spent there on the rocky, 
gorgey Wisconsin above Kilbourn City. What 
lanes full of purple orchids and ferns! Aspi- 
dium fragrans I found there for the first time, 
and what hillsides of huckleberries and rare 
asters and goldenrods. Don t you wish you 
were wild like me and as free to satisfy your 
love for whatever is pure and beautiful? 

I returned last night from a two and a half 
months excursion through the grandest por 
tion of the Sierra Nevada forests. You re 
member reading of the big trees of Calaveras 
County, discovered fifteen or twenty years ago. 
Well, I have been studying the species (Sequoia 
gigantea) and have been all this time wandering 
amid those giants. They extend in a broken, 
interrupted belt along the western flank of the 
range a distance of one hundred and eighty 
miles. But I will not attempt to describe them 
here. I have written about them and will send 
you printed descriptions. 

I fancy your little flock is growing fast to 
wards prime. Yet how short seems the time 
when you occupied your family place on Hick 
ory Hill. Our lives go on and close like a day 
morning, noon, night. Yet how full of purehap- 


piness these life days may be, and how worthy 
of the God that plans them and suns them! 

The book you speak of is not yet commenced, 
but I must go into winter quarters at once and 
go to work. While in the field I can only ob 
serve take in, but give nothing out. The 
first winter snow is just now falling on Yose- 
mite rocks. The domes are whitened, and ere 
long avalanches will rush with loud boom and 
roar, like new-made waterfalls. The November 
number of "Harper s Monthly" contains " Liv 
ing Glaciers of California." The illustrations 
are from my pencil sketches, some of which 
were made when my fingers were so benumbed 
with frost I could scarcely hold my pencil. 

Give my love to David and the children and 
Mrs. Galloway, and I will hope yet to see you 
all. But now, once more, Farewell. 

[JOHN Mum] 

In tracing out the main forest belt of the 
Sierra Nevada, as Muir did during these years, 
he became appalled by the destructive forces 
at work therein. No less than five sawmills 
were found operating in the edge of the Big 
Tree belt. On account of the size of the trees 
and the difficulty of felling them, they were 
blasted down with dynamite, a proceeding that 
added a new element of criminal waste to the 


terrible destruction. The noble Fresno grove 
of Big Trees and the one situated on the north 
fork of the Kaweah already were fearfully 
ravaged. The wonderful grove on the north 
fork of the Kings River still was intact, but a 
man by the name of Charles Converse had just 
formed a company to reduce it to cheap lumber 
in the usual wasteful manner. 

Hoping to arouse California legislators to at 
least the economic importance of checking this 
destruction he sent to the " Sacramento Record- 
Union" a communication entitled " God s 
First Temples," with the sub-heading, "How 
Shall we Preserve our Forests?" It appeared 
on February 5, 1876, and while it made little 
impression upon legislators it made Muir the 
center around which conservation sentiment 
began to crystallize. Few at this time had 
pointed out, as he did, the practical importance 
of conserving the forests on account of their 
relation to climate, soil, and water-flow in the 
streams. The deadliest enemies of the forests 
and the public good, he declared, were not the 
sawmills in spite of their slash fires and waste 
fulness. That unsavory distinction belonged 
to the " sheep-men," as they were called, and 
Muir s indictment of them in the above- 
mentioned article, based upon careful observa 
tion, ran as follows: 



Incredible numbers of sheep are driven to the 
mountain pastures every summer, and in order to 
make easy paths and to improve the pastures, run 
ning fires are set everywhere to burn off the old logs 
and underbrush. These fires are far more universal 
and destructive than would be guessed. They sweep 
through nearly the entire forest belt of the range 
from one extremity to the other, and in the dry 
weather, before the coming on of winter storms, are 
very destructive to all kinds of young trees, and 
especially to sequoia, whose loose, fibrous bark 
catches and burns at once. Excepting the Cala- 
veras, I, last summer, examined every sequoia grove 
in the range, together with the main belt extending 
across the basins of Kaweah and Tule, and found 
everywhere the most deplorable waste from this 
cause. Indians burn off underbrush to facilitate 
deer-hunting. Campers of all kinds often permit 
fires to run, so also do mill-men, but the fires of 
" sheep-men " probably form more than ninety per 
cent of all destructive fires that sweep the woods. 
. . . Whether our loose- jointed Government is 
really able or willing to do anything in the matter 
remains to be seen. If our law-makers were to dis 
cover and enforce any method tending to lessen even 
in a small degree the destruction going on, they 
would thus cover a multitude of legislative sins in 
the eyes of every tree lover. I am satisfied, however, 
that the question can be intelligently discussed only 
after a careful survey of our forests has been made, 
together with studies of the forces now acting upon 

The concluding suggestion bore fruit years 


afterward when President Cleveland, in 1896, 
appointed a commission to report upon the 
condition of the national forest areas. 

To Sarah Muir Galloway 


April 17th, 1876 

I was glad the other day to have the hard 
continuous toil of book writing interrupted by 
the postman handing in your letter. It is full 
of news, but I can think of little to put in the 
letter you ask for. 

My life these days is like the life of a glacier, 
one eternal grind, and the top of my head suf 
fers a weariness at times that you know nothing 
about. I m glad to see by the hills across the 
bay, all yellow and purple with buttercups and 
gilias, that spring is blending fast into summer, 
and soon 111 throw down my pen, and take up 
my heels to go mountaineering once more. 

My first book is taking shape now, and is 
mostly written, but still far from complete. I 
hope to see it in print, rubbed, and scrubbed, 
and elaborated, some tune next year. 

Among the unlooked-for burdens fate is 
loading upon my toil-doomed shoulders, is this 
literature and lecture tour. I suppose I will be 
called upon for two more addresses in San 



Francisco ere I make my annual hegira to the 
woods. A few weeks ago I lectured at San Jose 
and Oakland. 

I m glad to hear of the general good health 
and welfare of our scattered and multiplied fam 
ily, of Katie s returning health, and Joanna s. 
Remember me warmly to Mrs. Galloway, tell 
her I will be in Wisconsin in two or three years, 
and hope to see her, still surrounded by her 
many affectionate friends. I was pleasantly sur 
prised to notice the enclosed clipping to-day in 
the "N.Y. Tribune." I also read a notice of a 
book by Professor James Law of Cornell Uni 
versity, whom I used to play with. I met one 
of his scholars a short time ago. Give my love 
to David and all your little big ones. 

Ever very affectionately yours 


To Sarah Muir Galloway 

January 12ft, [1877] 


I received your welcome letter to-day. I was 
beginning to think you were neglecting me. 
The sad news of dear old Mrs. Galloway, 
though not unexpected, makes me feel that I 
have lost a friend. Few lives are so beautiful 
and complete as hers, and few could have had 



the glorious satisfaction, in dying, to know that 
so few words spoken were other than kind, and 
so few deeds that did anything more than 
augment the happiness of others. How many 
really good people waste, and worse than waste, 
their short lives in mean bickerings, when they 
might lovingly, in broad Christian charity, en 
joy the glorious privilege of doing plain, simple, 
every-day good. Mrs. Galloway s character 
was one of the most beautiful and perfect I 
ever knew. 

How delightful it is for you all to gather on 
the holidays, and what a grand multitude you 
must make when you are all mustered. Little 
did I think when I used to be, and am now, 
fonder of home and still domestic life than any 
one of the boys, that I only should be a bache 
lor and doomed to roam always far outside the 
family circle. But we are governed more than 
we know and are driven with whips we know 
not where. Your pleasures, and the happiness 
of your lives in general, are far greater than you 
know, being clustered together, yet independ 
ent, and living in one of the most beautiful 
regions under the sun. Long may you all live 
to enjoy your blessings and to learn to love one 
another and make sacrifices for one another s 

You inquire about [my] books. The others 



I spoke of are a book of excursions, another on 
Yosemite and the adjacent mountains, and 
another " Studies in the Sierra" (scientific). 
The present volume will be descriptive of the 
Sierra animals, birds, forests, falls, glaciers, 
etc., which, if I live, you will see next fall or 
winter. I have not written enough to compose 
with much facility, and as I am also very care 
ful and have but a limited vocabulary, I make 
slow progress. Still, although I never meant 
to write the results of my explorations, now I 
have begun I rather enjoy it and the public do 
me the credit of reading all I write, and paying 
me for it, which is some satisfaction, and I will 
not probably fail in my first effort on the book, 
inasmuch as I always make out to accomplish 
in some way what I undertake. 

I don t write regularly for anything, al 
though I m said to be a regular correspondent 
of the [San Francisco] "Evening Bulletin," 
and have the privilege of writing for it when I 
like. Harper s have two unpublished illus 
trated articles of mine, but after they pay for 
them they keep them as long as they like, some 
times a year or more, before publishing. 

Love to David and George, and all your fine 
lassies, and love, dear Sarah, to yourself. 
From your wandering brother 
[JOHN Mum] 



The following letter invites comment. Until 
far into the later years of his life Muir wrote 
by preference with quills which he cut himself . 
Over against his bantering remark, that the 
pen he sends her may be a goose quill after all, 
should be set the fact that among the mementos 
preserved by his sister Sarah is a quill-pen 
wrapped with a cutting from one of John s 
letters which reads, "Your letter about the 
first book recalls old happy days on the moun 
tains. The pen you speak of was made of a 
wing-feather of an eagle, picked up on Mount 
Hoffman, back a few miles from Yosemite." 
The book he wrote with it did not see the light 
of day, at least hi the form which he then gave 
it, and it is not certain what it contained 
beyond glowing descriptions of Sierra forests 
and scenery, and appeals for their preservation. 
That "the world needs the woods" has now 
become more than a sentimental conviction 
with him; the moral and economic aspects of 
the question begin to emerge strongly. One 
likes to think it a fact of more than poetic sig 
nificance that such a book by such a man was 
written with a quill from an eagle s wing, and 
that the most patriotic service ever rendered 
by an American eagle was that of the one who 
contributed a wing pinion to John Muir for the 
defense of the western forests. 


To Sarah Muir Galloway 

SAN FRANCISCO, April 23rd, 1877 

To thee I give and bequeath this old gray 
quill with which I have written every word of 
my first book, knowing, as I do, your predilec 
tion for curiosities. 

I can hardly remember its origin, but I think 
it is one that I picked up on the mount ains, 
fallen from the whig of a golden eagle; but, 
possibly, it may be only a pinion feather of 
some tame old gray goose, and my love of truth 
compels me to make this unpoetical statement. 
The book that has grown from its whittled nib 
is, however, as wild as any that has ever ap 
peared in these tame, civilized days. Perhaps 
I should have waited until the book was in 
print, for it is not absolutely certain that it 
will be accepted by the publishing houses. It 
has first to be submitted to the tasting critics, 
but as everything in the way of magazine and 
newspaper articles that the old pen has ever 
traced has been accepted and paid for, I 
reasonably hope I shall have no difficulties in 
obtaining a publisher. The manuscript has 
just been sent to New York, and will be re 
ported on in a few weeks. I leave for the moun 
tains of Utah to-day. 

The frayed upper end of the pen was pro- 


duced by nervous gnawing when some inter 
ruption in my logic or rhetoric occurred from 
stupidity or weariness. I gnawed the upper end 
to send the thoughts below and out at the other. 
Love to all your happy family and to thee 
and David. The circumstances of my life since 
I last bade you farewell have wrought many 
changes in me, but my love for you all has only 
grown greater from year to year, and whatso 
ever befalls I shall ever be, 

Yours affectionately 


The statement, hi the preceding letter, that 
he is leaving for the mountains of Utah, the 
reader familiar with Muir s writings will at 
once connect with the vivid Utah sketches that 
have appeared in the volume entitled "Steep 
Trails." In the same book are found the two 
articles on "The San Gabriel Valley" and 
"The San Gabriel Mountains," which grew out 
of an excursion he made into southern Cali 
fornia soon after his return from Utah. 

Mrs. Carr, who hi 1877 had suffered the loss 
of another of her sons, was at this tune prepar 
ing to carry out her long cherished plan to re 
tire from public life to her new home in the 
South. With her for a magnet, Carmelita, as 
she called it, became for a time the literary 


center of southern California. There Helen 
Hunt Jackson wrote the greater part of her 
novel "Ramona," and numerous other literary 
folk, both East and West, made it at one time 
or another the goal of their pilgrimages. In her 
spacious garden she indulged to the full her 
passion for bringing together a great variety 
of unusual plants, shrubs, and trees, many of 
them contributed by John Muir. Dr. E. M. 
Congar, mentioned in one of the following let 
ters, had been a fellow student of Muir at the 
University of Wisconsin. 

To Mrs. Ezra S. Carr 

SWETT HOME, July 23rd, [1877] 

I made only a short dash into the dear old 
Highlands above Yosemite, but all was so full 
of everything I love, every day seemed a meas 
ureless period. I never enjoyed the Tuolumne 
cataracts so much; coming out of the sun lands, 
the gray salt deserts of Utah, these wild ice 
waters sang themselves into my soul more en 
thusiastically than ever, and the forests breath 
was sweeter, and Cassiope fairer than in all my 
first fresh contacts. 

But I am not going to tell it here. I only 
write now to say that next Saturday I will sail 
to Los Angeles and spend a few weeks in getting 


some general views of the adjacent region, then 
work northward and begin a careful study of 
the Redwood. I will at least have tune this 
season for the lower portion of the belt, that is 
for all south of here. If you have any messages, 
you may have time to write me (I sail at 10 
A.M.), or if not, you may direct to Los Angeles. 
I hope to see Congar, and also the spot you 
have elected for home. I wish you could be 
there in your grown, fruitful groves, all rooted 
and grounded in the fine garden nook that I 
know you will make. It must be a great con 
solation, in the midst of the fires you are com 
passed with, to look forward to a tranquil se 
clusion in the South of which you are so fond. 

John [Swett] says he may not move to 
Berkeley, and if not I may be here this whiter, 
though I still feel some tendency towards an 
other whiter in some mountain den. 

It is long indeed since I had anything like a 
quiet talk with you. You have been going like 
an avalanche for many a year, and I sometimes 
fear you will not be able to settle into rest even 
in the orange groves. I m glad to know that 
the Doctor is so well. You must be pained by 
the shameful attacks made upon your tried 
friend LaGrange. Farewell. 

Ever cordially yours 


To Mrs. Ezra S. Carr 


August 12th, 1877 


I ve seen your sunny Pasadena and the 
patch called yours. Everything about here 
pleases me and I felt sorely tempted to take Dr. 
Congar s advice and invest in an orange patch 
myself. I feel sure you will be happy here with 
the Doctor and Allie among so rich a luxuriance 
of sunny vegetation. How you will dig and 
dibble in that mellow loam! I cannot think of 
you standing erect for a single moment, unless 
it be in looking away out into the dreamy West. 

I made a fine shaggy little five days excur 
sion back in the heart of the San Gabriel Moun 
tains, and then a week of real pleasure with 
Congar resurrecting the past about Madison. 
He has a fine little farm, fine little family, and 
fine cozy home. I felt at home with Congar 
and at once took possession of his premises 
and all that in them is. We drove down 
through the settlements eastward and saw the 
best orange groves and vineyards, but the 
mountains I, as usual, met alone. Although 
so gray and silent and unpromising they are 
full of wild gardens and ferneries. Lilyries ! 
some specimens ten feet high with twenty lilies, 


big enough for bonnets! The main results I 
will tell you some other time, should you ever 
have an hour s leisure. 

I go North to-day, by rail to Newhall, thence 
by stage to Soledad and on to Monterey, where 
I will take to the woods and feel my way in free 
study to San Francisco. May reach the City 
about the middle of next month. . . . 
Ever cordially 


To Mrs. Ezra S. Carr 


September 3d, [1877] 

I have just been over at Alameda with poor 
dear old Gibbons. 1 You have seen him, and I 
need give no particulars. "The only thing I m 
afraid of, John," he said, looking up with his 
old child face, "is that I shall never be able to 
climb the Oakland hills again." But he is so 
healthy and so well cared for, we will be strong 
to hope that he will. He spoke for an hour with 
characteristic unselfishness on the injustice 
done Dr. [Albert] Kellogg in failing to recog 
nize his long-continued devotion to science at 
the botanical love feast held here the other 

1 W. P. Gibbons, M.D., an able amateur botanist and 
early member of the California Academy of Sciences. 


night. He threatens to write up the whole dis 
creditable affair, and is very anxious to obtain 
from you a copy of that Gray letter to Kellogg 
which was not delivered. 

I had a glorious ramble in the Santa Cruz 
woods, and have found out one very interesting 
and picturesque fact concerning the growth of 
this Sequoia. I mean to devote many a long 
week to its study. What the upshot may be I 
cannot guess, but you know I am never sent 
empty away. 

I made an excursion to the summit of Mt. 
Hamilton in extraordinary style, accompanied 
by Allen, Norton, Brawley, and all the lady 
professors and their friends a curious con 
trast to my ordinary stiU hunting. Spent a week 
at San Jose, enjoyed my visit with Allen very 
much. Lectured to the faculty on methods 
of study without undergoing any very great 

I believe I wrote you from Los Angeles about 
my Pasadena week. Have sent a couple of 
letters to the " Bulletin" from there not yet 

I have no inflexible plans as yet for the re 
maining months of the season, but Yosemite 
seems to place itself as a most persistent candi 
date for my winter. I shall soon be in flight to 
the Sierras, or Oregon. 


I seem to give up hope of ever seeing you 
calm again. Don t grind too hard at these 
Sacramento mills. Remember me to the Doc 
tor and Allie. 

Ever yours cordially 


One of the earliest and most distinguished 
pioneer settlers of California was General John 
Bidwell, of Chico, at whose extensive and 
beautiful ranch distinguished travelers and 
scientists often were hospitably entertained. 
In 1877, Sir Joseph Hooker and Asa Gray were 
among the guests of Rancho Chico, when they 
returned from a botanical trip to Mount 
Shasta, whither they had gone under the guid 
ance of John Muir. This excursion, of wiiich 
more later, drew Muir also into the friendly 
circle of the Bidwell family, and the following 
letter was written after a prolonged visit at 
Rancho Chico. "Lize in Jackets," wrote the 
late Mrs. Annie E. K. Bidwell in kindly trans 
mitting a copy of this letter, " refers to my 
sister s mule, which, when attacked by yellow 
jackets whose nests we trod upon, would rise 
almost perpendicularly, then plunge forward 
frantically, kicking and twisting her tail with a 
rapidity that elicited uproarious laughter from 
Mr. Muir. Each of our riding animals had 



characteristic movements on this occasion, 
which Mr. Muir classified with much merri 
ment. " Just before his departure, on October 2, 
Muir expressed the wish that he might be 
able to descend the Sacramento River in a skiff, 
whereupon General Bidwell had his ranch car 
penter hastily construct a kind of boat in 
which Muir made the trip described in the 
f ollowing letter. 

To General John Bidwell, Mrs. Bidwell, and 
Miss Sallie Kennedy 

SACRAMENTO, October Wth, 1877 

The Chico flagship and I are safely arrived 
in Sacramento, unwrecked, unsnagged, and the 
whole winding way was one glorious strip of 
enjoyment. When I bade you good-bye, on the 
bank I was benumbed and bent down with 
your lavish kindnesses like one of your vine- 
laden willows. It is seldom that I experience 
much difficulty in leaving civilization for God s 
wilds, but I was loath indeed to leave you three 
that day after our long free ramble in the 
mountain woods and that five weeks rest in 
your cool fruity home. The last I saw of you 
was Miss Kennedy white among the leaves like 
a fleck of mist, then sweeping around a bend 
you were all gone the old wildness came 


back, and I began to observe, and enjoy, and 
be myself again. 

My first camp was made on a little oval is 
land some ten or twelve miles down, where a 
clump of arching willows formed a fine nest- 
like shelter; and where I spread my quilt on the 
gravel and opened the box so daintily and 
thoughtfully stored for my comfort. I began 
to reflect again on your real goodness to me 
from first to last, and said, "I ll not forget 
those Chico three as long as I live." 

I placed the two flags at the head of my bed, 
one on each side, and as the campfire shone 
upon them the effect was very imposing and 
patriotic. The night came on full of strange 
sounds from birds and insects new to me, but 
the starry sky was clear and came arching over 
my lowland nest seemingly as bright and famil 
iar with its glorious constellations as when be 
held through the thin crisp atmosphere of the 

On the second day the Spoonbill sprang a 
bad leak from the swelling of the bottom tim 
bers; two of them crumpled out thus [sketch] l 
at a point where they were badly nailed, and I 
had to run her ashore for repairs. I turned her 

1 After Mrs. Bidwell s death, the writer unfortunately was 
unable to obtain from her relatives the loan of this letter for 
the reproduction of the two included sketches. 


upside down on a pebbly bar, took out one of 
the timbers, whittled it carefully down to the 
right dimensions, replaced it, and nailed it 
tight and fast with a stone for a hammer; then 
calked the new joint, shoved her back into the 
current, and rechristened her "The Snag- 
Jumper." She afterwards behaved splendidly 
in the most trying places, and leaked only at 
the rate of fifteen tincupfuls per hour. 

Her performances in the way of snag- 
jumping are truly wonderful. Most snags are 
covered with slimy algae and lean downstream 
and the sloping bows of the Jumper enabled 
her to glance gracefully up and over them, 
when not too high above the water, while her 
lightness prevented any strain sufficient to 
crush her bottom. [Sketch of boat.] On one 
occasion she took a firm slippery snag a little 
obliquely and was nearly rolled upside down, 
as a sod is turned by a plow. Then I charged 
myself to be more careful, and while rowing 
often looked well ahead for snag ripples but 
soon I came to a long glassy reach, and my 
vigilance not being eternal, my thoughts 
wandered upstream back to those grand spring 
fountains on the head of the McCloud and Pitt. 
Then I tried to picture those hidden tribu 
taries that flow beneath the lava tablelands, 
and recognized in them a capital illustration 


of the fact that in their farthest fountains all 
rivers are lost to mortal eye, that the sources 
of all are hidden as those of the Nile, and so, 
also, that in this respect every river of know 
ledge is a Nile. Thus I was philosophizing, 
rowing with a steady stroke, and as the current 
was rapid, the Jumper was making fine head 
way, when with a tremendous bump she reared 
like "Lize in Jackets/ swung around stern 
downstream, and remained fast on her beam 
ends, erect like a coffin against a wall. She 
managed, however, to get out of even this 
scrape without disaster to herself or to me. 

I usually sailed from sunrise to sunset, row 
ing one third of the time, paddling one third, 
and drifting the other third in restful comfort, 
landing now and then to examine a section of 
the bank or some bush or tree. Under these 
conditions the voyage to this port was five days 
in length. On the morning of the third day I 
hid my craft in the bank vines and set off cross- 
lots for the highest of the Marysville Buttes, 
reached the summit, made my observations, 
and got back to the river and Jumper by two 
o clock. The distance to the nearest foothill of 
the group is about three miles, but to the base 
of the southmost and highest butte is six miles, 
and its elevation is about eighteen hundred 
feet above its base, or in round numbers two 


thousand feet above tidewater. The whole 
group is volcanic, taking sharp basaltic forms 
near the summit, and with stratified conglom 
erates of finely polished quartz and metamor- 
phic pebbles tilted against their flanks. There 
is a sparse growth of live oak and laurel on the 
southern slopes, the latter predominating, and 
on the north quite a close tangle of dwarf oak 
forming a chaparral. I noticed the white 
mountain spiraea also, and madrona, with a 
few willows, and three ferns toward the sum 
mit. Pellcea andromedcefolia, Gymnogramma 
triangularis, and Cheilanthes gracillima; and 
many a fine flower penstemons, gilias, and 
our brave eriogonums of blessed memory. The 
summit of this highest southmost butte is a 
coast survey station. 

The river is very crooked, becoming more 
and more so in its lower course, flowing in 
grand lingering deliberation, now south, now 
north, east and west with fine un-American in 
directness. The upper portion down as far as 
Colusa is full of rapids, but below this point 
the current is beautifully calm and lake-like, 
with innumerable reaches of most surpassing 
loveliness. How you would have enjoyed it! 
The bank vines all the way down are of the 
same species as those that festoon your beauti 
ful Chico Creek (Vitis calif ornica) , but nowhere 


do they reach such glorious exuberance of de 
velopment as with you. 

The temperature of the water varies only 
about two and a half degrees between Chico 
and Sacramento, a distance by the river of 
nearly two hundred miles the upper tem 
perature 64, the lower 66|. I found the tem 
perature of the Feather [River] waters at their 
confluence one degree colder than those of the 
Sacramento, 65 and 66 respectively, which is 
a difference in exactly the opposite direction 
from what I anticipated. All the brown dis 
coloring mud of the lower Sacramento, thus 
far, is derived from the Feather, and it is curi 
ous to observe how completely the two currents 
keep themselves apart for three or four miles. 
I never landed to talk to any one, or ask ques 
tions, but was frequently cheered from the bank 
and challenged by old sailors " Ship ahoy," etc., 
and while seated in the stern reading a maga 
zine and drifting noiselessly with the current, 
I overheard a deck hand on one of the steamers 
say, "Now that s what I call taking it aisy." 

I am still at a loss to know what there is in 
the rig or model of the Jumper that excited 
such universal curiosity. Even the birds of the 
river, and the animals that came to drink, 
though paying little or no heed to the passing 
steamers with all their plash and outroar, at 


once fixed their attention on my little flagship, 
some taking flight with loud screams, others 
waiting with outstretched necks until I nearly 
touched them, while others circled overhead. 
The domestic animals usually dashed up the 
bank in extravagant haste, one crowding on 
the heels of the other as if suffering extreme 
terror. I placed one flag, the smaller, on the 
highest pinnacle of the Butte, where I trust it 
may long wave to your memory; the other I 
have still. Watching the thousand land birds 
linnets, orioles, sparrows, flickers, quails, 
etc. Nature s darlings, taking their morning 
baths, was no small part of my enjoyments. 

I was greatly interested in the fine bank sec 
tions shown to extraordinary advantage at the 
present low water, because they cast so much 
light upon the formation of this grand valley, 
but I cannot tell my results here. 

This letter is already far too long, and I will 
hasten to a close. I will rest here a day or so, 
and then push off again to the mouth of the 
river a hundred miles or so farther, chiefly to 
study the deposition of the sediment at the 
head of the bay, then push for the mountains. 
I would row up the San Joaquin, but two weeks 
or more would be required for the trip, and I 
fear snow on the mountains. 

I am glad to know that you are really inter- 



ested in science, and I might almost venture 
another lecture upon you, but in the mean time 
forbear. Looking backward I see you three in 
your leafy home, and while I wave my hand, I 
will only wait to thank you all over and over 
again for the thousand kind things you have 
done and said drives, and grapes, and rest, 
"a that and a that." 
And now, once more, farewell. 

Ever cordially your friend 


During this same summer of 1877, and pre 
vious to the experiences narrated in the pre 
ceding letter, the great English botanist Sir 
Joseph Dalton Hooker had accepted an invita 
tion from Dr. F. V. Hayden, then in charge of 
the United States Geological and Geographical 
Survey of the Territories, to visit under his 
conduct the Rocky Mountain region, with the 
object of contributing to the records of the 
Survey a report on the botany of the western 
states. Professor Asa Gray was also of the 
party. After gathering some special botanical 
collections in Colorado, New Mexico, and 
Utah, they came to California and persuaded 
John Muir, on account of his familiarity with 
the region, to go with them to Mount Shasta. 
One September evening, as they were en- 



camped on its flanks in a forest of silver firs, 
Muir built a big fire, whose glow stimulated 
an abundant flow of interesting conversation. 
Gray recounted reminiscences of his collect 
ing tours hi the Alleghanies; Hooker told of 
his travels in the Himalayas and of his work 
with Tyndall, Huxley, and Darwin. "And of 
course," notes Muir, "we talked of trees, ar 
gued the relationship of varying species, etc.; 
and I remember that Sir Joseph, who in his 
long active life had traveled through all the 
great forests of the world, admitted, hi reply to 
a question of mine, that in grandeur, variety, 
and beauty, no forest on the globe rivaled the 
great coniferous forests of my much loved 

But the most memorable incident of that 
night on the flanks of Shasta grew out of the 
mention of Linncea borealis the charming 
little evergreen trailer whose name perpetuates 
the memory of the illustrious Linnaeus. "Muir, 
why have you not found Linncea in Califor 
nia? " said Gray suddenly during a pause in the 
conversation. "It must be here, or hereabouts, 
on the northern boundary of the Sierra. I have 
heard of it, and have specimens from Washing 
ton and Oregon all through these northern 
woods, and you should have found it here." 
The camp fire sank into heaps of glowing coals, 


the conversation ceased, and all fell asleep with 
Linncea uppermost in their minds. 

The next morning Gray continued his work 
alone, while Hooker and Muir made an excur 
sion westward across one of the upper tribu 
taries of the Sacramento. In crossing a small 
stream, they noticed a green bank carpeted 
with what Hooker at once recognized as Lin 
ncea the first discovery of the plant within 
the bounds of California. "It would seem," 
said Muir, "that Gray had felt its presence the 
night before on the mountain ten miles away. 
That was a great night, the like of which was 
never to be enjoyed by us again, for we soon 
separated and Gray died." 1 The impression 
Muir made upon Hooker is reflected in his 
letters. In one of them, written twenty-five 
years after the event, Hooker declares, "My 
memory of you is very strong and durable, and 
that of our days in the forests is inextinguish 

In the following letter to his sister Muir gives 
some additional details of the Shasta excursion, 
and makes reference to an exceedingly strenu 
ous exploring trip up the Middle Fork of the 
Kings River, from which he had just returned. 

1 Muir s article on Linnaeus in Library of the World s Best 
Literature, vol. 16 (1897). 



To Sarah Muir Galloway 


[November 29, 1877] 

I find an unanswered letter of yours dated 
September 23d, and though I have been very 
hungry on the mountains a few weeks ago, and 
have just been making bountiful amends at 
a regular turkey thank-feast of the old New 
England type, I must make an effort to answer 
it, however incapacitated by "stuffing," for, 
depend upon it, this Turkish method of thanks 
does make the simplest kind of literary effort 
hard; one s brains go heavily along the easiest 
lines like a laden wagon in a bog. 

But I can at least answer your questions. 
The Professor Gray I was with on Shasta is the 
writer of the school botanies, the most dis 
tinguished botanist in America, and Sir Joseph 
Hooker is the leading botanist of England. We 
had a fine rare time together in the Shasta 
forests, discussing the botanical characters of 
the grandest coniferous trees hi the world, 
camping out, and enjoying ourselves in pure 
freedom. Gray is an old friend that I led 
around Yosemite years ago, and with whom I 
have corresponded for a long time. Sir Joseph 
I never met before. He is a fine cordial Eng- 



lishman, President of the Royal Scientific 
Society, and has charge of the Kew Botanic 
Gardens. He is a great traveler, but perfectly 
free from all chilling airs of superiority. He 
told me a great deal about the Himalayas, the 
deodar forests there, and the gorgeous rhodo 
dendrons that cover their flanks with lavish 
bloom for miles and miles, and about the 
cedars of Lebanon that he visited and the dis 
tribution of the species hi different parts of 
Syria, and its relation to the deodar so widely 
extended over the mountains of India. And 
besides this scientific talk he told many a story 
and kept the camp hi fine lively humor. On 
taking his leave he gave me a hearty invitation 
to London, and promised to show me through 
the famous government gardens at Kew, and 
all round, etc., etc. When I shall be able to 
avail myself of this and similar advantages I 
don t know. I have met a good many of Na 
ture s noblemen one way and another out here, 
and hope to see some of them at their homes, 
but my own researches seem to hold me fast to 
this comparatively solitary life. 

Next you speak of my storm night on Shasta. 
Terrible as it would appear from the account 
printed, the half was not told, but I will not 
likely be caught in the same experience again, 
though as I have said, I have just been very 



hungry one meal in four days, coupled with 
the most difficult, nerve-trying cliff work. 
This was on Kings River a few weeks ago. 
Still, strange to say, I did not feel it much, and 
there seems to be scarce any limit to my en 

I am far from being friendless here, and on 
this particular day I might have eaten a score 
of prodigious thank dinners if I could have 
been in as many places at the same time, but 
the more I learn of the world the happier seems 
to me the life you live. You speak of your 
family gatherings, of a week s visit at Mother s 
and here and there. Make the most of your 
privileges to trust and love and live in near, 
un jealous, generous sympathy with one an 
other, for I assure you these are blessings scarce 
at all recognized in their real divine great 
ness. . . . 

We had a company of fourteen at dinner to 
night, and we had what is called a grand time, 
but these big eating parties never seem to me 
to pay for the trouble they make, though all 
seem to enjoy them immensely. A crust by a 
brookside out on the mountains with God is 
more to me than all, beyond comparison. 
Nevertheless these poor legs in their weariness 
do enjoy a soft bed at times and plenty of nour 
ishment. I had another grand turkey feast a 


week ago. Coming home here I left my boat 
at Martinez, thirty miles up the bay, and 
walked to Oakland across the top of Mount 
Diablo, and on the way called at my friends, 
the Strentzels, who have eighty acres of choice 
orchards and vineyards, where I rested two 
days, my first rest in six weeks. They pitied 
my weary looks, and made me eat and sleep, 
stuffing me with turkey, chicken, beef, fruits, 
and jellies in the most extravagant manner 
imaginable, and begged me to stay a month. 
Last eve dined at a French friend s in the city, 
and you would have been surprised to see so 
temperate a Scotchman doing such justice to 
French dishes. The fact is I ve been hungry 
ever since starving hi the mount ain canons. 

This evening the guests would ask me how 
I felt while starving? Why I did not die like 
other people? How many bears I had seen, and 
deer, etc.? How deep the snow is now and 
where the snow line is located, etc.? Then up 
stairs we chat and sing and play piano, etc., 
and then I slip off from the company and write 
this. Now it [is] near midnight, and I must slip 
from thee also, wishing you and David and all 
your dear family good-night. With love, 




To General John Bidwell 


December 3, 1877 

I arrived in my old winter quarters here a 
week ago, my season s field work done, and I 
was just sitting down to write to Mrs. Bidwell 
when your letter of November 29th came in. 
The tardiness of my Kings River postal is 
easily explained. I committed it to the care of 
a mountaineer who was about to descend to the 
lowlands, and he probably carried it for a 
month or so in his breeches pocket in accord 
ance with the well-known business habits of 
that class of men. And now since you are so 
kindly interested in my welfare I must give you 
here a sketch of my explorations since I wrote 
you from Sacramento. 

I left Snag-Jumper at Sacramento in charge 
of a man whose name I have forgotten. He has 
boats of his own, and I tied Snag to one of his 
stakes in a snug out-of-the-way nook above the 
railroad bridge. I met this pilot a mile up the 
river on his way home from hunting. He kindly 
led me into port, and then conducted me in the 
dark up the Barbary Coast into the town ; and 
on taking leave he volunteered the information 
that he was always kindly disposed towards 
strangers, but that most people met under such 



circumstances would have robbed and made 
away with me, etc. I think, therefore, that 
leaving Snag in his care will form an interesting 
experiment on human nature. 

I fully intended to sail on down into the bay 
and up the San Joaquin as far as Millerton, but 
when I came to examine a map of the river 
deltas and found that the distance was up 
wards of three hundred miles, and learned also 
that the upper San Joaquin was not navigable 
this dry year even for my craft, and when I 
also took into consideration the approach of 
winter and danger of snowstorms on the Kings 
River summits, I concluded to urge my way 
into the mountains at once, and leave the San 
Joaquin studies until my return. 

Accordingly I took the steamer to San 
Francisco, where I remained one day, leaving 
extra baggage, and getting some changes of 
clothing. Then went direct by rail to Visalia, 
thence pushed up the mountains to Hyde s 
Mill on the Kaweah, where I obtained some 
flour, which, together with the tea Mrs. Bid- 
well supplied me with, and that piece of dried 
beef, and a little sugar, constituted my stock 
of provisions. From here I crossed the divide, 
going northward through fine Sequoia woods 
to Converse s on Kings River. Here I spent 
two days making some studies on the Big Trees, 


chiefly with reference to their age. Then I 
turned eastward and pushed off into the glo 
rious wilderness, following the general direction 
of the South Fork a few miles back from the 
brink until I had crossed three tributary canons 
from 1500 to 2000 feet deep. In the eastmost 
and middle one of the three I was delighted to 
discover some four or five square miles of Se 
quoia, where I had long guessed the existence 
of these grand old tree kings. 

After this capital discovery I made my way 
to the bottom of the main South Fork Canon 
down a rugged side gorge, having a descent of 
more than four thousand feet. This was at a 
point about two miles above the confluence of 
Boulder Creek. From here I pushed slowly on 
up the bottom of the canon, through brush and 
avalanche boulders, past many a charming fall 
and garden sacred to nature, and at length 
reached the grand yosemite at the head, where 
I stopped two days to make some measure 
ments of the cliffs and cascades. This done, I 
crossed over the divide to the Middle Fork by a 
pass 12,200 feet high, and struck the head of a 
small tributary that conducted me to the head 
of the main Middle Fork Canon, which I 
followed down through its entire length, though 
it has hitherto been regarded as absolutely in 
accessible in its lower reaches. This accom- 


plished, and all my necessary sketches and 
measurements made, I climbed the canon wall 
below the confluence of the Middle and South 
Forks and came out at Converse s again; then 
back to Hyde s Mill, Visalia, and thence to 
Merced City by rail, thence by stage to Snell- 
ing, and thence to Hopeton afoot. 

Here I built a little unpretentious successor 
to Snag out of some gnarled, sun-twisted fenc 
ing, launched it in the Merced opposite the 
village, and rowed down into the San Joaquin 
- thence down the San Joaquin past Stockton 
and through the tule region into the bay near 
Martinez. There I abandoned my boat and 
set off cross lots for Mount Diablo, spent a 
night on the summit, and walked the next day 
into Oakland. And here my fine summer s 
wanderings came to an end. And now I find 
that this mere skeleton finger board indication 
of my excursion has filled at least the space of a 
long letter, while I have told you nothing of 
my gams. If you were nearer I would take a 
day or two and come and report, and talk in- 
veterately in and out of season until you would 
be glad to have me once more in the canons and 
silence. But Chico is far, and I can only finish 
with a catalogue of my new riches, setting them 
down one after the other like words in a spelling 



1. Four or five square miles of Sequoias. 

2. The ages of twenty-six specimen Se 

3. A fine fact about bears. 

4. A sure measurement of the deepest of all 
the ancient glaciers yet traced in the 

5. Two waterfalls of the first order, and cas 
cades innumerable. 

6. A new Yosemite valley!!! 

7. Grand facts concerning the formation of 
the central plain of California. 

8. A picturesque cluster of facts concerning 
the river birds and animals. 

9. A glorious series of new landscapes, with 
mountain furniture and garniture of the 
most ravishing grandeur and beauty. 

Here, Mrs. Bidwell, is a rose leaf from a wild 
briar on Mount Diablo whose leaves are more 
flowery than its petals. Isn t it beautiful? 
That new Yosemite Valley is located in the 
heart of the Middle Fork Canon, the most re 
mote, and inaccessible, and one of the very 
grandest of all the mountain temples of the 
range. It is still sacred to Nature, its gardens 
untrodden, and every nook and rejoicing cata 
ract wears the bloom and glad sun-beauty of 
primeval wildness ferns and lilies and grasses 


over one s head. I saw a flock of five deer in 
one of its open meadows, and a grizzly bear 
quietly munching acorns under a tree within a 
few steps. 

The cold was keen and searching the night 
I spent on the summit by the edge of a glacier 
lake twenty-two degrees below the freezing 
point, and a storm wind blowing hi fine hearty 
surges among the shattered cliffs overhead, 
and, to crown all, snow flowers began to fly a 
few minutes after midnight, causing me to fold 
that quilt of yours and fly to avoid a serious 
snowbound. By daylight I was down in the 
main Middle Fork in a milder climate and safer 
position at an elevation of only seventy-five 
hundred feet. All the summit peaks were 
quickly clad in close unbroken white. 

I was terribly hungry ere I got out of this 
wild canon had less than sufficient for one 
meal in the last four days, and this, coupled 
with very hard nerve-trying cliff work was 
sufficiently exhausting for any mountaineer. 
Yet strange to say, I did not suffer much. 
Crystal water, and air, and honey sucked from 
the scarlet flowers of Zauschneria, about one 
tenth as much as would suffice for a humming 
bird, w r as my last breakfast a very temperate 
meal, was it not? wholly ungross and very 
nearly spiritual. The last effort before reaching 



food was a climb up out of the main canon of 
five thousand feet. Still I made it in fair time 
only a little faint, no giddiness, want of 
spirit, or incapacity to observe and enjoy, or 
any nonsense of this kind. How I should have 
liked to have then tumbled into your care for 
a day or two ! 

My sail down the Merced and San Joaquin 
was about two hundred and fifty miles in length 
and took two weeks, a far more difficult and 
less interesting [trip], as far as scenery is con 
cerned, than my memorable first voyage down 
the Sacramento. Sandbars and gravelly riffles, 
as well as snags gave me much trouble, and in 
the Tule wilderness I had to tether my tiny 
craft to a bunch of rushes and sleep cold in her 
bottom with the seat for a pillow. I have 
gotten past most of the weariness but am 
hungry yet notwithstanding friends have been 
stuffing me here ever since. I may go hungry 
through life and into the very grave and beyond 
unless you effect a cure, and I m sure I should 
like to try Rancho Chico would have tried 
it ere this were you not so far off. 

I slept in your quilt all through the excur 
sion, and brought it here tolerably clean and 
whole. The flag I left tied to the bush-top in the 
bottom of the third F Canon. I have not yet 
written to Gray, have you? Remember me to 



your sister, I mean to write to her soon. I must 
close. With lively remembrances of your rare 
kindness, I am 
Ever very cordially yours 


To Dr. and Mrs. John Strentzel, and 
Miss Strentzel 


December 5th, 1877 

I made a capital little excursion over your 
Mount Diablo and arrived in good order in San 
Francisco after that fine rest hi your wee white 

I sauntered on leisurely after bidding you 
good-bye, enjoying the landscape as it was 
gradually unrolled in the evening light. One 
charming bit of picture after another came into 
view at every turn of the road, and while the 
sunset fires were burning brightest I had at 
tained an elevation sufficient for a grand com 
prehensive feast. 

I reached the summit a little after dark and 
selected a sheltered nook in the chaparral to 
rest for the night and await the coming of the 
sun. The wind blew a gale, but I did not suffer 
much from the cold. The night was keen and 
crisp and the stars shone out with better bril- 



liancy than one could hope for in these lowland 

The sunrise was truly glorious. After linger 
ing an hour or so, observing and feasting and 
making a few notes, I went down to that half 
way hotel for breakfast. I was the only guest, 
while the family numbered four, well attired 
and intellectual looking persons, who for a time 
kept up a solemn, quakerish silence which I 
tried hi vain to break up. But at length all 
four began a hearty, spontaneous discussion 
upon the art of cat killing, solemnly and de 
cently relating in turn all their experience in 
this delightful business in bygone time, em 
bracing everything with grave fervor hi the 
whole scale of cat, all the way up from sackfuls 
of purblind kittens to tigerish Toms. Then I 
knew that such knowledge was attainable only 
by intellectual New Englanders. 

My walk down the mountain-side across the 
valleys and through the Oakland hills was very 
delightful, and I feasted on many a bit of pure 
picture in purple and gold, Nature s best, and 
beheld the most ravishingly beautiful sunset 
on the Bay I ever yet enjoyed in the low 

I shall not soon forget the rest I enjoyed in 
your pure white bed, or the feast on your fruity 
table. Seldom have I been so deeply weary, 



and as for hunger, I ve been hungry still in 
spite of it all, and for aught I see in the signs of 
the stomach may go hungry on through lif e and 
into the grave and beyond 

Heaven forbid a dry year! May wheat 

With lively remembrances of your rare 
kindness, I am, 

Very cordially your friend 


The winter and the spring months passed 
swiftly in the effort to correlate and put into 
literary form his study of the forests. There 
were additional "tree days," too, and other 
visits with the congenial three on the Strentzel 
ranch. But when the Swetts, with whom he 
made his home, departed for the summer, tak 
ing their little daughter with them, he fur- 
loughed himself to the woods again without 
ceremony. "Helen Swett," he wrote to the 
Strentzels on May 5th, "left this morning, and 
the house is in every way most dolefully dull, 
and I won t stay in it. Will go into the woods, 
perhaps about Mendocino will see more 




DURING the summer of 1878 the United States 
Coast and Geodetic Survey made a reconnais 
sance along the 39th parallel of latitude in order 
to effect the primary triangulation of Nevada 
and Utah. The survey party was in charge of 
Assistant August F. Rodgers, and was making 
preparations to set out from Sacramento in 
June, when Muir returned from a trip to the 
headwaters of the north and middle forks of 
the American River. He decided immediately 
to accept an invitation to join the party, al 
though some of his friends, notably the Strent- 
zels, sought to dissuade him on account of the 
Indian disturbances which had made Nevada 
unsafe territory for a number of years. Idaho 
was then actually in the throes of an Indian 
war that entailed the destruction and abandon 
ment of the Malheur Reservation across the 
boundary in Oregon. 

But the perils of the situation were in Muir s 
view outweighed by the exceptional oppor 
tunity to explore numerous detached mountain 
ranges and valleys of Nevada about which little 


was known at the time. "If an explorer of 
God s fine wildernesses should wait until every 
danger be removed/ he wrote to Mrs. Strent- 
zel, "then he would wait until the sun set. The 
war country lies to the north of our line of 
work, some two or three hundred miles. Some 
of the Pah Utes have gone north to join the 
Bannocks, and those left behind are not to be 
trusted, but we shall be well armed, and they 
will not dare to attack a party like ours unless 
they mean to declare war, however gladly they 
might seize the opportunity of killing a lonely 
and unknown explorer. In any case we will 
never be more than two hundred miles from the 

Unfortunately Muir, becoming absorbed the 
following year in the wonders of Alaska, never 
found time to reduce his Nevada explorations 
to writing hi the form of well-considered arti 
cles. He did, however, write for the "San 
Francisco Evening Bulletin" a number of 
sketches during the progress of the expedition, 
and these, published in "Steep Trails," can 
now be supplemented with the following letters 
to the Strentzels the only extant series 
written during that expedition. 

Since Muir ultimately married into the 
Strentzel family, its antecedents are of interest 
to the reader and may be sketched briefly in 


this connection. John Strentzel, born in Lub 
lin, Poland, was a participant in the unsuccess 
ful Polish revolution of 1830. To escape the 
bitter fate of being drafted into the victorious 
Russian army he fled to Upper Hungary where 
he obtained a practical knowledge of viticul 
ture, and later was trained as a physician at 
the University of Buda-Pesth. Coming to the 
United States in 1840, he joined at Louisville, 
Kentucky, a party of pioneers known as 
Peters Colonization Company, and went with 
them to the Trinity River in Texas, where he 
built a cabin on the present site of the city of 
Dallas, then a wild Comanche country. When 
the colony failed and dispersed he removed to 
Lamar County hi the same state, was married 
at Honeygrove to Louisiana Erwin, a native of 
Tennessee, and in 1849, with his wife and baby 
daughter, came across the plains from Texas to 
California as medical adviser to the Clarkes- 
ville " train " of pioneer immigrants. Not long 
afterwards he settled in the Alhambra 1 Valley 

1 According to the journal of Dr. Strentzel, this was not 
the original name of the valley. A company of Spanish 
soldiers, sent to chastise some Indians, was unable to obtain 
provisions there, and so named it, "Canada de la Hambre," or 
Valley of Hunger. " Mrs. Strentzel, on arriving here," writes 
her husband, "was displeased with the name, and, remember 
ing Irving s glowing description of the Moorish paradise, 
decided to re-christen our home Alhambra." Ever since then 
the valley has borne this modification of the original name. 


near Martinez, and became one of the earliest 
and most successful horticulturists of Cali 

Miss Louie Wanda Strentzel, now arrived 
at mature womanhood, was not only the pride 
of the family, but was known widely for the 
grace with which she dispensed the generous 
hospitality of the Strentzel household. She had 
received her education in the Atkins Seminary 
for Young Ladies at Benicia and, according to 
her father, was " passionately fond of flowers 
and music." Among her admiring friends was 
Mrs. Carr, who at various times had vainly 
tried to bring about a meeting between Miss 
Strentzel and Mr. Muir. "You see how I am 
snubbed hi trying to get John Muir to ac 
company me to your house this week," wrote 
Mrs. Carr in April, 1875. Mount Shasta was 
in opposition at the time, and easily won the 

But so many roads and interests met at the 
Strentzel ranch, so many friends had the two 
in common, that sooner or later an acquaint 
anceship was bound to result. In 1878 Muir 
began to be a frequent and fondly expected 
guest in the Strentzel household, and he was 
to discover ere long that the most beautiful ad 
ventures are not those one deliberately goes 
to seek. 




Meantime, despite the dissuasion of his so 
licitous friends, he was off to the wildernesses 
of Nevada. Since the Survey had adopted for 
triangulation purposes a pentagon whose an 
gles met at Genoa Peak, the party first made 
its way to the town of the same name in its 
vicinity, where the first of the following letters 
was written. 

To Dr. and Mrs. John Strentzel 

GENOA, NEVADA, July 6, 1878 

We rode our horses from Sacramento to this 
little village via Placerville and Lake Tahoe. 
The plains and foothills were terribly hot, the 
upper Sierra along the south fork of the Amer 
ican River cool and picturesque, and the Lake 
region almost cold. Spent three delightful days 
at the Lake steamed around it, and visited 
Cascade Lake a mile beyond the western shore 
of Tahoe. 

We are now making up our train ready to 
push off into the Great Basin. Am well 
mounted, and with the fine brave old garden 
desert before me, fear no ill. We will probably 
reach Austin, Nevada, in about a month. 
Write to me there, care Captain A. F. Rodgers. 

Your fruity hollow wears a most beautiful 
and benignant aspect from this alkaline stand- 



point, and so does the memory of your ex 
travagant kindness. 



To Dr. and Mrs. Strentzel 


July llth, 1878 

We are now fairly free in the sunny basin 
of the grand old sea that stretched from the 
Wasatch to the Sierra. There is something 
perfectly enchanting to me in this young desert 
with its stranded island ranges. How bravely 
they rejoice in the flooding sunshine and en 
dure the heat and drought. 

All goes well in camp. All the Indians we 
meet are harmless as sagebushes, though per 
haps about as bitter at heart. The river here 
goes brawling out into the plain after breaking 
through a range of basaltic lava. 

In three days we shall be on top of Mount 
Grant, the highest peak of the Wassuck Range, 
to the west of Walker Lake. 

I send you some Nevada prunes, or peaches 

rather. They are very handsome and have a 

fine wild flavor. The bushes are from three to 

six feet high, growing among the sage. It is a 



true Prunus. Whether cultivation could ever 
make it soft enough and big enough for civilized 
teeth I dinna ken, but guess so. Plant it and 
see. It will not be ashamed of any pampered 
"free" or "cling," or even your oranges. 

The wild brier roses are in full bloom, sweeter 
and bonnier far than Louie s best, bonnie 
though they be. 

I can see no post-office ahead nearer than 
Austin, Nevada, which we may reach in three 
weeks. The packs are afloat. 


[JOHN Mum] 

To Dr. John Strentzel 

August 5th, 1878 


Your kind note of the 24th was received the 
other day and your discussion of fruits and 
the fineness in general of civilized things takes 
me at some little disadvantage. 

From the "Switch" we rode to the old Fort 
Churchill on the Carson and at the "Upper" 
lower end of Mason Valley were delighted to 
find the ancient outlet of Walker Lake down 
through a very picturesque canon to its con 
fluence with the Carson. It appears therefore 
that not only the Humboldt and Carson, but 



the Walker River also poured its waters into 
the Great Sink towards the end of the glacial 
period. From Fort Churchill we pushed east 
ward between Carson Lake and the Sink. 
Boo ! how hot it was riding in the solemn, silent 
glare, shadeless, waterless. Here is what the 
early emigrants called the forty-mile desert, 
well marked with bones and broken wagons. 
Strange how the very sunshine may become 
dreary. How strange a spell this region casts 
over poor mortals accustomed to shade and 
coolness and green fertility. Yet there is no 
real cause, that I could see, for reasonable be 
ings losing their wits and becoming frightened. 
There are the lovely tender abronias blooming 
in the fervid sand and sun, and a species of sun 
flower, and a curious leguminous bush crowded 
with purple blossoms, and a green saltwort, 
and four or five species of artemisia, really 
beautiful, and three or four handsome grasses. 
Lizards reveled in the grateful heat and a 
brave little tamias that carries his tail forward 
over his back, and here and there a hare. Im 
mense areas, however, are smooth and hard 
and plantless, reflecting light like water. How 
eloquently they tell of the period, just gone by, 
when this region was as remarkable for its lav 
ish abundance of lake water as now for its 
aridity. The same grand geological story is in- 



scribed on the mountain flanks, old beach lines 
that seem to have been drawn with a ruler, 
registering the successive levels at which the 
grand lake stood, corresponding most signifi 
cantly with the fluctuations of the glaciers as 
marked by the terraced lateral moraines and 
successively higher terminal moraines. 

After crossing the Sink we ascended the 
mountain range that bounds it on the East, 
eight thousand to ten thousand feet high. 
How treeless and barren it seemed. Yet how 
full of small charming gardens, with mints, 
primroses, brier-roses, penstemons, spiraeas, 
etc., watered by trickling streams too small to 
sing audibly. How glorious a view of the Sink 
from the mountain-top. The colors are in 
effably lovely, as if here Nature were doing her 
very best painting. 

But a letter tells little. We next ascended 
the Augusta Range, crossed the Desetoya and 
Shoshone ranges, then crossed Reese River 
valley and ascended the Toyabe Range, eleven 
thousand feet high. Lovely gardens in all. Dis 
covered here the true Pinus flexilis at ten 
thousand feet. It enters the Sierra in one or 
two places on the south extremity of the 
Sierra, east flank. Saw only one rattlesnake. 
No hostile Indians. Had a visit at my tent 
yesterday from Captain Bob, one of the Pah 


Ute plenipotentiaries who lately visited Mc 
Dowell at San Francisco. Next address for two 
weeks from this date, Eureka, Nevada. 

I m sure I showed my appreciation of good 
things. That s a fine suggestion about the 
grapes. Try me, Doctor, on tame, tame 

Cordially yours 


To Dr. and Mrs. John Strentzel 


August 2Sth, 1878 

I sent you a note from Austin. Thence we 
traveled southward down the Big Smoky 
Valley, crossing and recrossing it between the 
Toyabe and Toquima Ranges, the dominating 
summits of which we ascended. Thence still 
southward towards Death Valley to Lone 
Mountain; thence northeastward to this little 
mining town. 

From the summit of a huge volcanic table 
mountain of the Toquima Range I observed 
a truly glorious spectacle a dozen " cloud 
bursts" falling at once while we were cordially 
pelted with hail. The falling water cloud- 
drapery, thunder tones, lightning, and tranquil 
blue sky windows between made one of the 


most impressive pictures I ever beheld. One 
of these cloud-bursts fell upon Austin, another 
upon Eureka. But still more glorious to me 
was the big significant fact I found here, fresh, 
telling glacial phenomena a whole series. 
Moraines, roches moutonnees, glacial sculptures, 
and even feeble specimens of glacier meadows 
and glacier lakes. I also observed less manifest 
glaciation on several other ranges. I have long 
guessed that this Great Basin was loaded with 
ice during the last cold period; but the rocks 
are as unresisting and the water spouts to 
which all the ranges have been exposed have 
not simply obscured the glacial scriptures 
here, but nearly buried and obliterated them, 
so that only the skilled observer would detect 
a single word, and he would probably be called 
a glaciated monomaniac. Now it is clear that 
this fiery inland region was icy prior to the 
lake period. 

I have also been so fortunate as to settle that 
pine species we discussed, and found the nest 
and young of the Alpine sparrow. What do you 
think of all this " A that and a that"? The 
sun heat has been intense. What a triangle of 
noses! Captain Rodgers , Eimbeck s, and 
mine mine sore, Eimbeck s sorer, Captain s 
sorest scaled and dry as the backs of lizards, 
and divided into sections all over the surface 


and turned up on the edges like the surface 
layers of the desiccated sections of adobe 

On Lone Mountain we were thirsty. How we 
thought of the cool singing streams of the 
Sierra while our blood fevered and boiled and 
throbbed! Three of us ascended the mountain 
against my counsel and remonstrances while 
forty miles from any known water. Two of the 
three nearly lost their lives. I suffered least, 
though I suffered as never before, and was the 
only one strong enough to ascend a sandy canon 
to find and fetch the animals after descend 
ing the mountain. Then I had to find my two 
companions. One I found death-like, lying in 
the hot sand, scarcely conscious and unable to 
speak above a frightful whisper. I managed, 
however, to get him on his horse. The other 
I found in a kind of delirious stupor, voiceless, 
hi the sagebrush. It was a fearfully exciting 
search, and I forgot my own exhaustion in it, 
though I never for a moment lost my will and 
wits, or doubted our ability to endure and es 
cape. We reached water at daybreak of the 
second day two days and nights in this fire 
without water! A lesson has been learned that 
will last, and we will not suffer so again. Of 
course we could not eat or sleep all this time, 
for we could not swallow food and the fever 



prevented sleep. To-morrow we set out for the 
White Pine region. 

Cordially yours 

J. Mum 

To Mrs. John Strentzel 


August 31st, 1875 

I wrote you a note the other day before re 
ceiving your letter of the 14th which reached 
me this morning. The men are packing up and 
I have only a moment. We have been engaged 
so long southward that we may not go to 
Eureka. If not we will make direct to Hamil 
ton and the box the Doctor so kindly sent I 
will have forwarded. 

The fiery sun is pouring his first beams across 
the gray Belmont hills, but so long as there is 
anything like a fair supply of any kind of water 
to keep my blood thin and flowing, it affects 
me but little. We are all well again, or nearly 
so I quite. Our leader still shows traces of 
fever. The difference between wet and dry 
bulb thermometer here is often 40 or more, 
causing excessive waste from lungs and skin, 
and, unless water be constantly supplied, one s 
blood seems to thicken to such an extent that 
if Shylock should ask, "If you prick him, will 



he bleed?" I should answer, "I dinna ken." 
Heavens! if the juicy grapes had come manna- 
like from the sky that last thirst-night! 
Farewell. We go. 

Cordially and thankfully yours 


[The following note was written, probably 
the evening of the same day, on the reverse of 
the letter-sheet.] 

The very finest, softest, most ethereal purple 
hue tinges, permeates, covers, glorifies the 
mountains and the level. How lovely then, 
how suggestive of the best heaven, how unlike 
a desert now! While the little garden, the 
hurrying moths, the opening flowers, and the 
cool evening wind that now begins to flow and 
lave down the gray slopes above heighten the 
peacefulness and loveliness of the scene. 

To Dr. and Mrs. John Strentzel 


September 11, 1878 

All goes well in camp save that box of grapes 
you so kindly sent. I telegraphed for it, on ar 
riving at this place, to be sent by Wells Fargo, 
but it has not come, and we leave here to 
morrow. We had hoped to have been in Eureka 


by the middle of last month, but the unknown 
factors so abundant in our work have pushed 
us so far southward we will not now be likely 
to go there at all. Nevertheless I have enjoyed 
your kindness even in this last grape expres 
sion of it, but you must not try to send any 
more, because we will not again be within 
grape range of railroads until on our way home 
in October or November. Then, should there 
be any left, I will manifest for my own good 
and the edification of civilization a fruit ca 
pacity and fervor to be found only in savage 

Since our Lone Mountain experience we have 
not been thirsty. Our course hence is first 
south for eighty or ninety miles along the 
western flank of the White Pine Range, then 
east to the Snake Range near the boundary of 
the State, etc. 

Our address will be Hamilton, Nevada, until 
the end of this month. Our movements being 
so uncertain, we prefer to have our mail for 
warded to points where we chance to find our 
selves. In southern Utah the greater portion 
of our course will be across deserts. 

The roses are past bloom, but I ll send seeds 

from the first garden I find. Yesterday found 

on Mount Hamilton the Pinus aristata growing 

on limestone and presenting the most extra va- 



gant picturesqueness I have ever met in any 
climate or species. Glacial traces, too, of great 
interest. This is the famous White Pine mining 
region, now nearly dead. Twenty-eight thou 
sand mining claims were located in the district, 
which is six miles by twelve. Now only fifteen 
are worked, and of these only one, the Eber- 
hardt, gives much hope or money. Both 
Hamilton and Treasure City are silent now, 
but Nature goes on gloriously. 
Cordially yours 


To Dr. John Strentzel 


September 28th, 1878 

Your kind letter of the 8th ultimo reached 
me yesterday, having been forwarded from 
Hamilton. This is a little three-year-old mining 
town where we are making a few days halt to 
transact some business and rest the weary 
animals. We arrived late, when it was too dark 
to set the tents, and we recklessly camped in a 
corral on a breezy hilltop. I have a great horror 
of sleeping upon any trodden ground near 
human settlements, not to say ammoniacal 
pens, but the Captain had his blankets spread 
alongside the wagon, and I dared the worst and 



lay down beside him. A wild equinoctial gale 
roared and tumbled down the mountain-side 
all through the night, sifting the dry fragrant 
snuff about our eyes and ears, notwithstanding 
all our care in tucking and rolling our ample 
blankets. The situation was not exactly dis 
tressing, but most absurdly and d dly 

ludicrous. Our camp traps, basins, bowls, bags, 
went speeding wildly past in screeching rum 
bling discord with the earnest wind-tones. A 
heavy mill-frame was blown down, but we 
suffered no great damage, most of our runaway 
gear having been found in fence corners. But 
how terribly we stood in need of deodorizers! 
not dealkalizers, as you suggest. 

Next morning we rented a couple of rooms 
in town where we now are and washed, rubbed, 
dusted, and combed ourselves back again into 
countenance. Half an hour ago, after reading 
your letter a second time, I tumbled out my 
pine tails, tassels, and burrs, and was down on 
my knees on the floor making a selection for 
you according to your wishes and was casting 
about as to the chances of finding a suitable 
box, when the Captain, returning from the 
post-office, handed me your richly laden grape 
box, and now the grapes are out and the burrs 
are in. Now this was a coincidence worth 
noting, was it not? better than most people s 


special providences. The fruit was in perfect 
condition, every individual spheroid of them 
all fresh and bright and as tightly bent as 
drums with their stored-up sun-juices. The big 
bunch is hung up for the benefit of eyes, most 
of the others have already vanished, causing, 
as they fled, a series of the finest sensuous 
nerve-waves imaginable. 

The weather is now much cooler the 
nights almost bracingly cold and all goes 
well, not a thirst trace left. We were weather 
bound a week in a canon of the Golden Gate 
Range, not by storms, but by soft, balmy, hazy 
Indian summer, in which the mountain aspens 
ripened to flaming yellow, while the sky was 
too opaque for observations upon the distant 

Since leaving Hamilton, have obtained more 
glacial facts of great interest, very telling in the 
history of the Great Basin. Also many charm 
ing additions to the thousand, thousand pic 
tures of Nature s mountain beauty. I under 
stand perfectly your criticism on the blind 
pursuit of every scientific pebble, wasting a life 
in microscopic examinations of every grain of 
wheat in a field, but I am not so doing. The 
history of this vast wonderland is scarce at all 
known, and no amount of study in other fields 
will develop it to the light. As to that special 



thirst affair, I was in no way responsible. I was 
fully awake to the danger, but I was not in a 
position to prevent it. 

Our work goes on hopefully towards a satis 
factory termination. Will soon be in Utah. 
All the mountains yet to be climbed have been 
seen from other summits save two on the 
Wasatch, viz. Mount Nebo and a peak back 
of Beaver. Our next object will be Wheeler s 
Peak, forty miles east of here. 

The fir I send you is remarkably like the 
Sierra grandis, but much smaller, seldom at 
taining a greater height than fifty feet. In 
going east from the Sierra it was first met on 
the Hot Creek Range, and afterwards on all 
the higher ranges thus far. It also occurs on 
the Wasatch and Oquirrh Mountains. Of the 
two pines, that with the larger cones is called 
" White Pine 7 by the settlers. It was first met 
on Cory s Peak west of Walker Lake, and after 
wards on all the mountains thus far that 
reached an elevation of ten thousand feet or 
more. This, I have no doubt, is the species so 
rare on the Sierra, and which I found on the 
eastern slope opposite the head of Owens Val 
ley. Two years ago I saw it on the Wasatch 
above Salt Lake. I mean to send specimens to 
Gray and Hooker, as they doubtless observed 
it on the Rocky Mount ains. The other species 


is the aristata of the southern portion of the 
Sierra above the Kern and Kings Rivers. Is 
but little known, though exceedingly interest 
ing. First met on the Hot Creek Range, and 
more abundantly on the White Pine Mountains 
called Fox-Tail Pine by the miners, on ac 
count of its long bushy tassels. It is by far the 
most picturesque of all pines, and those of 
these basin ranges far surpass those of the 
Sierra hi extravagant and unusual beauty of 
the picturesque kind. These three species and 
the Fremont or nut pine and junipers are the 
only coniferous trees I have thus far met in the 
State. Possibly the Yellow Pine (ponder osa) 
may be found on the Snake Range. I observed 
it last year on the Wasatch, together with one 
Abies. Of course that small portion of Nevada 
which extends into the Sierra about Lake 
Tahoe is not considered in this connection, for 
it is naturally a portion of California. 
Cordially yours 


Upon his return from the mountains of Ne 
vada Muir found that sickness had invaded the 
family of John Swett, with whom he had made 
his home for the last three years, and it became 
necessary for him to find new lodgings! In a 
letter addressed to Mrs. John Bidwell, under 



date of February 17, 1879, he writes: "I have 
settled for the winter at 920 Valencia Street 
[San Francisco], with my friend Mr. [Isaac] 
Upham, of Payot, Upham and Company, 
Booksellers; am comfortable, but not very 
fruitful thus far reading more than writing." 
This remained his temporary abode until his 
marriage and removal to Martinez the follow 
ing year. The famous wooden clock shared 
also this last removal and continued its service 
as a faithful timepiece for many years to come. 

To Dr. and Mrs. John Strentzel 

January 28th, 1879 


The vast soul-stirring work of flitting is at 
length done and well done. Myself, wooden 
clock, and notebooks are once more planted 
for the winter out here on the outermost ragged 
edge of this howling metropolis of dwelling 

And now, well what now? Nothing but 
work, book-making, brick-making, the trans 
formation of raw bush sugar and mountain 
meal into magazine cookies and snaps. And 
though the spectacled critics who ken every 
thing in wise ignorance say "well done, sir, 
well done," I always feel that there is some- 



thing not quite honorable in thus dealing with 
God s wild gold the sugar and meal, I mean. 

Yesterday I began to try to cook a mess of 
bees, but have not yet succeeded in making 
the ink run sweet. The blessed brownies 
winna buzz in this temperature, and what can 
a body do about it? Maybe ignorance is the 
deil that is spoiling the the the broth 
the nectar, and perhaps I ought to go out and 
gather some more Melissa and thyme and 
white sage for the pot. 

The streets here are barren and beeless and 
ineffably muddy and mean-looking. How 
people can keep hold of the conceptions of New 
Jerusalem and immortality of souls with so 
much mud and gutter, is to me admirably 
strange. A Eucalyptus bush on every other 
corner, standing tied to a painted stick, and 
a geranium sprout in a pot on every tenth 
window sill may help heavenward a little, but 
how little amid so muckle down-dragging mud! 

This much for despondency; per contra, the 
grass and grain is growing, and man will be 
fed, and the nations will be glad, etc., and the 
sun rises every day. 

Helen [Swett] is well out of danger, and is 
very nearly her own sweet amiable engaging 
little self again, and I can see her at least once 
a week. 



I m living with Mr. Upham and am com 
fortable as possible. Summer will soon be again. 
When you come to the city visit me, and see 
how bravely I endure; so touching a lesson of 
resignation to metropolitan evils and goods 
should not be lightly missed. 

Hoping all goes well with you, I am, 
Cordially your friend 


Frequently, in letters to friends, Muir com 
plains that in town he is unable to compel 
the right mood for the production of readable 
articles. "As yet I have accomplished very 
nearly nothing," he writes some weeks after 
the above letter; he had only "reviewed a little 
book, and written a first sketch of our bee 
pastures! . . . How astoundingly empty and 
dry box-like ! is our brain in a house built 
on one of those precious lots one hears so 
much about!" 

The fact is that Muir s personal letters, like 
his conversation, flowed smoothly and easily; 
but when he sat down to write an article, his 
critical faculty was called into play, and his 
thoughts, to employ his own simile, began to 
labor like a laden wagon in a bog. There was 
a consequent loss of that spontaneity which 
made him such a fascinating talker. 



polishes his articles until an ordinary man slips 
on them," remarked his friend and neighbor 
John Swett when he wished to underline his 
own sense of the difference between Muir s 
spoken and written words. Such was the bril 
liance of his conversation during the decades 
of his greatest power that the fame of it still 
lingers as a literary tradition in California. 
Organizations and individuals vied with each 
other to secure his attendance at public and 
private gatherings, convinced that the an 
nouncement " John Muir will be there" would 
assure the success of any meeting. It was with 
this thought in mind that the manager of a 
great Sunday-School convention, scheduled to 
meet in Yosemite in June, 1879, offered him a 
hundred dollars just to come and talk. 

It seems a pity that in his earlier years 
no one thought of having his vivid recitals of 
observations and adventures recorded by a 
stenographer and then placed before him for 
revision. By direction of the late E. H. Harri- 
man, Muir s boyhood memoirs were taken 
down from his conversation at Pelican Lodge 
to be subsequently revised for publication. 
Though he often entirely rewrote the conver 
sational first draft, the possession of the raw 
material in typed form acted as a stimulus to 
literary production, and enabled him to bring 



to completion what otherwise might have been 
lost to the world. 

But, however much he chafed and groaned 
under the necessity of meeting his contracts 
for articles, the remarkable series which he 
wrote during the late seventies for " Harper s 
Magazine" and "Scribner s Monthly" are 
conclusive demonstrations of his power. Among 
them was "The Humming-Bird of the Cali 
fornia Waterfalls" which loaded his mail with 
letters from near and far, and evoked admira 
tion from the foremost writers of the time. 
Though Muir was not without self-esteem, the 
flood of praise that descended upon him gave 
him more embarrassment than gratification, 
especially when his sisters desired to know the 
identity of this or that lady who had dedicated 
a poem to him. 

Scarcely any one knew at this time that there 
was a lady not far from San Francisco who, 
though not writing poems, was playing rival 
to the bee pastures of his articles, and that 
when, during the spring of 1879, he disap 
peared occasionally from the Upham house 
hold on Valencia Street, he could have been 
found, and not alone, in the Strentzel orchards 
at Martinez. "Every one," writes John to Miss 
Strentzel in April "every one, according to 
the eternal unfitness of civilized things, has 



been seeking me and calling on me while I was 
away. John Swett, on his second failure to find 
me, left word with Mr. Upham that he was 
coming to Martinez some tune to see me during 
the summer vacation ! The other day I chanced 
to find in my pocket that slippery, fuzzy mesh 
you wear round your neck." The feminine 
world probably will recognize in the last sen 
tence a characteristically masculine description 
of a kind of head-covering fashionable in those 
days and known as a " fascinator." 

The same letter contains evidence that the 
orchards did not let him forget them when he 
returned to San Francisco, for after reporting 
that he had finished "Snow Banners" and is 
at work upon " Floods," he breaks off in the 
middle of a sentence to exclaim "Boo!!! aren t 
they lovely!!! The bushel of bloom, I mean. 
Just came this moment. Never was so blankly 
puzzled in making a guess before lifting the lid. 
An orchard in a band-box!!! Who wad ha 
thocht it? A swarm of bees and fifty hum 
ming-birds would have made the thing com 

Early in the year Muir had carefully laid his 
plans for a new exploration trip, this time into 
the Puget Sound region. There doubtless was 
something in the circumstances and uncer 
tainties of this new venture that brought to 


culmination his friendship with Miss Strentzel, 
for they became engaged on the eve of his de 
parture, though for months no one outside of 
the family knew anything about it, so closely 
was the secret kept. Even to Mrs. Carr, who 
had ardently hoped for this outcome, he 
merely wrote: "I m going home going to 
my summer in the snow and ice and forests of 
the north coast. Will sail to-morrow at noon 
on the Dakota for Victoria and Olympia. Will 
then push inland and alongland. May visit 

He did, as it turned out, go to Alaska that 
summer, and the first literary fruitage of this 
trip took the form of eleven letters to the " San 
Francisco Evening Bulletin." Written on the 
spot, they preserve the freshness of his first im 
pressions, and were read with breathless inter 
est by an ever-enlarging circle of readers. To 
ward the close of his life these vivid sketches 
were utilized, together with his journals, in writ 
ing the first part of his " Travels in Alaska." 
It was at Fort Wrangell that he met the Re 
verend S. Hall Young, then stationed as a 
missionary among the Thlinkit Indians. Mr. 
Young later accompanied him on various 
canoe and land expeditions, particularly the 
one up Glacier Bay, that resulted in the dis 
covery of a number of stupendous glaciers, the 



largest of which was afterwards to receive the 
name of Muir. In his book, " Alaska Days with 
John Muir," Mr. Young has given a most 
readable and vivid account of their experiences 
together, and the interested reader will wish to 
compare, among other things, the author s own 
account of his thrilling rescue from certain 
death on the precipices of Glenora Peak with 
Muir s modest description of the heroic part 
he played in the adventure. 

It is Young also who relates how Muir, by 
his daring and original ways of inquiring into 
Nature s every mood, came to be regarded by 
the Indians as a mysterious being whose mo 
tives were beyond all conjecture. A notable 
instance was the occasion on which, one wild, 
stormy night, he left the shelter of Young s 
house and slid out into the inky darkness and 
wind-driven sheets of rain. At two o clock in 
the morning a rain-soaked group of Indians 
hammered at the missionary s door, and begged 
him to pray. "We scare. All Stickeen scare," 
they said, for some wakeful ones had seen a 
red glow on top of a neighboring mountain and 
the mysterious, portentous phenomenon had 
immediately been communicated to the whole 
frightened tribe. "We want you play [pray] 
God; plenty play," they said. 

The reader will not find it difficult to imag- 



ine what had happened, for Muir was the un 
conscious cause of their alarm. He had made 
his way through the drenching blast to the top 
of a forested hill. There he had contrived to 
start "a fire, a big one, to see as well as to hear 
how the storm and trees were behaving." At 
midnight his fire, sheltered from the village by 
the brow of the hill, was shedding its glow upon 
the low-flying storm-clouds, striking terror to 
the hearts of the Indians, who thought they saw 
something that " waved in the air like the 
wings of a spirit." And while they were im 
ploring the prayers of the missionary for their 
safety, Muir, according to his own account, 
was sitting under a bark shelter in front of his 
fire, with " nothing to do but look and listen 
and join the trees in their hymns and prayers." 
Meanwhile Muir s " Bulletin" letters had 
greatly enlarged its circulation and were being 
copied all over the country, to the great de 
light of the editor, Sam Williams, who had long 
been a warm friend of Muir. The latter s de 
scriptions reflected the boundless enthusiasm 
which these newfound wildernesses of Alaska 
aroused in him. In the Sierra Nevada his task 
was to reconstruct imaginatively, from ves 
tiges of vanished glaciers, the picture of their 
prime during the ice period; but here he saw 
actually at work the stupendous landscape- 



making glaciers of Alaska, and in their action 
he found verified the conclusions of his " Stud 
ies hi the Sierra/ No wonder he tarried hi the 
North months beyond the time he had set for 
his return. " Every summer," he wrote to Miss 
Strentzel from Fort Wrangell in October 
" every summer my gains from God s wilds 
grow greater. This last seems the greatest of 
all. For the first few weeks I was so feverishly 
excited with the boundless exuberance of the 
woods and the wilderness, of great ice floods, 
and the manifest scriptures of the ice-sheet 
that modelled the lovely archipelagoes along 
the coast, that I could hardly settle down to 
the steady labor required hi making any sort 
of Truth one s own. But I m working now, and 
feel unable to leave the field. Had a most 
glorious time of it among the Stickeen glaciers, 
which hi some shape or other will reach you." 
Upon landing hi Portland on his return in 
January, he was persuaded to give several pub 
lic lectures and to make an observation trip 
up the Columbia River. At his lodgings hi San 
Francisco there had gathered meanwhile an 
immense accumulation of letters, and among 
them one that bridged the memories of a dozen 
eventful years. It was from Katharine Merrill 
Graydon, one of the three little Samaritans 
who used to visit him after the accidental 



injury to one of his eyes in an Indianapolis 
wagon factory. "The three children you knew 
best," said the writer, "the ones who long ago 
in the dark room delighted to read to you and 
bring you flowers, are now men and women. 
Merrill is a young lawyer with all sorts of as 
pirations. Janet is at home, a young lady of 
leisure. Your little friend Katie 7 is teacher in 
a fashionable boarding-school, which I know 
is not much of a recommendation to a man who 
turns his eyes away from all flowers but the 
wild rose and the sweet-brier." The main oc 
casion of the letter was to introduce Professor 
David Starr Jordan and Mr. Charles Gilbert, 
who were going to the Pacific Coast. "I send 
this," continued the writer, "with a little quak 
ing of the heart. What if you should ask, Who 
is Kate Graydon? Still I have faith that even 
ten or twelve years have not obliterated the 
pleasant little friendship formed one summer 
so long ago. The remembrance on my part was 
wonderfully quickened one morning nearly 
two years ago when Professor Jordan read to 
our class the sweetest, brightest, most musical 
article on the Water Ouzel from Scribner s. 
The writer, he said, was John Muir. The way 
my acquaintance of long ago developed into 
friendship, and the way I proudly said I knew 
you, would have made you laugh." 



This letter brought the following response: 

To Miss Katharine Merrill Graydon 


February 5th, 1880 

Professor of Greek and English Literature, 



I was delighted with your bright charming 
letter introducing your friends Professor [David 
Starr] Jordan and Charles Gilbert. I have not 
yet met either of the gentlemen. They are at 
Santa Barbara, but expect to be here in April, 
when I hope to see them and like them for your 
sake, and Janet s, and their own worth. 

Some tune ago I learned that you were teach 
ing Greek, and of all the strange things in this 
changeful world, this seemed the strangest, and 
the most difficult to get packed quietly down 
into my awkward mind. Therefore I will have to 
get you to excuse the confusion I fell into at the 
beginning of my letter. I mean to come to you 
in a year or two, or any time soon, to see you 
all in your new developments. The sweet 
blooming underbrush of boys and girls 
Moores, Merrills, Gray dons, etc. was very 
refreshing and pleasant to me all my Indiana 



days, and now that you have all grown up into 
trees, strong and thrifty, waving your out- 
reaching branches in God s Light, I am sure I 
shall love you all. Going to Indianapolis is one 
of the brightest of my hopes. It seems but 
yesterday since I left you all. And indeed, in 
very truth, all these years have been to me one 
unbroken day, one continuous walk in one 
grand garden. 

I m glad you like my wee dear ouzel. He is 
one of the most complete of God s small dar 
lings. I found him in Alaska a month or two 
ago. I made a long canoe trip of seven hundred 
miles from Fort Wrangell northward, exploring 
the glaciers and icy fiords of the coast and in 
land channels with one white man and four 
Indians. And on the way back to Wrangell, 
while exploring one of the deep fiords with 
lofty walls like those of Yosemite Valley, and 
with its waters crowded with immense bergs 
discharged from the noble glaciers, I found a 
single specimen of his blessed tribe. We had 
camped on the shore of the fiord among huge 
icebergs that had been stranded at high tide, 
and next morning made haste to get away, 
fearing that we would be frozen in for the 
winter; and while pushing our canoe through 
the bergs, admiring and fearing the grand 
beauty of the icy wilderness, my blessed favor- 



ite came out from the shore to see me, flew once 
round the boat, gave one cheery note of wel 
come, while seeming to say, "You need not 
fear this ice and frost, for you see I am here," 
then flew back to the shore and alighted on the 
edge of a big white berg, not so far away but 
that I could see him doing his happy manners. 
In this one summer in the white Northland 
I have seen perhaps ten times as many glaciers 
as there are in all Switzerland. But I cannot 
hope to tell you about them now, or hardly 
indeed at any time, for the best things and 
thoughts one gets from Nature we dare not 
tell. I will be so happy to see you again, not to 
renew my acquaintance, for that has not been 
for a moment interrupted, but to know you 
better in your new growth. 

Ever your friend 


Years afterwards Dr. Jordan, as he notes in 
his autobiography, "The Days of a Man," took 
the opportunity to bestow the name Ouzel 
Basin on the old glacier channel "near which 
John Muir sketched his unrivaled biography 
of a water ouzel." 

Any one who has heard the February merri 
ment of Western meadowlarks in the Alhambra 
Valley must know that winter gets but a slight 



foothold there, for it tilts toward the sun, and 
is in full radiance of blossom and song during 
March and April. John Muir and Louie Wanda 
Strentzel chose the fourteenth of the latter 
flower month for their wedding day and were 
ready to share their secret with their friends. 
" Visited the immortals Brown and Swett," 
confesses John to his fiancee in one of his notes, 
and the announcement was followed immedi 
ately by shoals of congratulatory letters. The 
one from Mrs. John Swett, in whose home he 
had spent so many happy days, is not only 
fairly indicative of the common opinion, but 
draws some lines of Muir s character that make 
it worthy of a place here. 

To Louie Wanda Strentzel 


April 8, 1880 

When Mr. Muir made his appearance the 
other night I thought he had a sheepish twinkle 
in his eye, but ascribed it to a guilty conscious 
ness that he had been up to Martinez again and 
a fear of being rallied about it. Judge then of 
the sensation when he exploded his bomb 
shell! At first laughing incredulity it was 
April. We were on our guard against being 
taken in, but the mention of Dr. DwinelTs 



name and a date settled it, and I have hunted 
up a pen to write you a letter of congratulation. 
For John and I are jubilant over the match. It 
gratifies completely our sense of fitness, for you 
both have a fair foundation of the essentials of 
good health, good looks, good temper, etc. 
Then you both have culture, and to crown all 
you have "prospects" and he has talent and 

But I hope you are good at a hair-splitting 
argument. You will need to be to hold your 
own with him. Five times to-day has he van 
quished me. Not that I admitted it to him 
no, never! He not only excels in argument, but 
always takes the highest ground is always 
on the right side. He told Colonel Boyce the 
other night that his position was that of cham 
pion for a mean, brutal policy. It was with re 
gard to Indian extermination, and that he 
(Boyce) would be ashamed to carry it with one 
Indian in personal conflict. I thought the 
Colonel would be mad, but they walked off arm 
in arm. Further, he is so truthful that he not 
only will never embellish sketch or word- 
picture by any imaginary addition, but even 
retains every unsightly feature lest his picture 
should not be true. 

There, I have said all I can in his favor, and 
as an offset I must tell you that I have been 



trying all day to soften his hard heart of an old 
animosity and he won t yield an inch. It is 
sometimes impossible to please him. . . . 
With hearty regard, I am 

Yours very truly 


The occasion of the following letter was one 
from Miss Graydon in which she rallied him on 
her sudden discovery of how much sympathy 
she had wasted on him because she had im 
agined him without friends or companions ex 
cept glaciers and icebergs, and without even a 
mother to wear out her anxious heart about 
him. "I heard," she wrote, "that your mother 
was still living and that you had not been near 
her for twelve years. And then, while I sup 
posed you had not a lady friend in the world, I 
heard you were the center of an adoring circle 
of ladies in San Francisco. If you heard any 
one laugh about that time, it was I. See if I 
ever waste my sympathy on you again!" 

To Miss Katharine Merrill Graydon 


April 12th, 1880 

Your letter of March 28th has reached me, 
telling how much loving sympathy I am to 



have because I have a mother, and because of 
the story of my adoring circle of lady friends. 
Well, what is to become of me when I tell you 
that I am to marry one of those friends the day 
after to-morrow? What sympathy will be left 
the villain who has a mother and a wife also, 
and even a home and a circle, etc., and twice as 
muckle as a that? But now, even now, Katie, 
don t, don t withdraw your sympathy. You 
know that I never did demand pity for the 
storm-beatings and rock-beds and the hunger 
and loneliness of all these years since you were 
a frail wee lass, for I have been very happy and 
strong through it all the happiest man I ever 
saw; but, nevertheless, I want to hold on to and 
love all my friends, for they are the most pre 
cious of all my riches. 

I hope to see you all this year or next, and no 
amount of marrying will diminish the enjoy 
ment of meeting you again. And some of you 
will no doubt come to this side of the Continent, 
and then how happy I will be to welcome you 
to a warm little home in the Contra Costa hills 
near the bay. 

I have been out of town for a week or two, 
and have not seen much of Professor Jordan 
and Mr. Gilbert. They are very busy about 
the fishes, crabs, clams, oysters, etc. Have 
called at his hotel two or three times, and have 


had some good Moores and Merrill talks, but 
nothing short of a good long excursion in the 
free wilderness would ever mix us as much as 
you seem to want. 

Now, my brave teacher lassie, good luck to 
you. Heaven bless you, and believe me, 
Ever truly your friend 


It was fitting, perhaps, that one who loved 
Nature in her wildest moods, should have his 
wedding day distinguished by a roaring rain 
storm through which he drove Dr. I. E. 
Dwinell, the officiating clergyman, back to the 
Martinez station in a manner described by the 
latter as "like the rush of a torrent down the 
canon." Both relatives and friends, to judge by 
their letters, were so completely surprised by 
the happy event that it proved "a nine days 
wonder." The social stir occasioned by the 
wedding was, however, far from gratifying to 
Mr. Muir, who had to summon all his courage 
to prevent his besetting bashfulness from driv 
ing him to the seclusion of the nearest canon. 

But lest the reader imagine that Muir s 
home was henceforward to be on the beaten 
crossways of annoying crowds, let me hasten to 
add that the old Strentzel home, which the 
bride s parents vacated for their daughter, was 



a more than ordinarily secluded and quiet 
place. Cascades of ivy and roses fell over the 
corners of the wide verandas, and the slope upon 
which the house stood had an air of leaning 
upon its elbows and looking tranquilly down 
across hill-girt orchards to the blue waters of 
Carquinez Straits. There, a mile away, at the 
entrance of the valley, nestled the little town 
of Martinez, but scarcely a whisper of its ac 
tivities might be heard above the contented 
hum of Alhambra bees. It was an ideal place 
for a honeymoon and there we leave the happy 




AFTER his marriage Muir rented from his 
father-in-law a part of the Strentzel ranch, and 
then proceeded with great thoroughness to 
master the art of horticulture, for which he pos 
sessed natural and perhaps inherited aptitude. 
But when July came, the homing instinct for 
the wilderness again grew strong within him. 
He doubtless had an understanding with his 
wife that he was to continue during the next 
summer the unfinished explorations of 1879. 
The lure of " something lost behind the ranges" 
was in his case a glacier, as Mr. Young reports 
in his " Alaska Days with John Muir." The 
more immediate occasion of his departure was 
a letter from his friend Thomas Magee, of San 
Francisco, urging him to join him on a trip to 
southeastern Alaska. The two had traveled 
together before, and he acted at once upon 
the suggestion, leaving for the North on July 



To Mrs. Muir 

Monday, August 2d, 1880 

10 A.M. 

All goes well. In a few hours we will be in 
Victoria. The voyage thus far has been singu 
larly calm and uneventful. Leaving you is the 
only event that has marred the trip and it is 
marred sorely, but I shall make haste to you 
and reach you ere you have the time to grieve 
and weary. If you will only be calm and cheery 
all will be better for my short spell of ice-work. 

The sea has been very smooth, nevertheless 
Mr. Magee has been very sick. Now he is 
better. As for me I have made no sign, though 
I have had some headache and heartache. We 
are now past the Flattery Rocks, where we were 
so roughly storm-tossed last winter, and Neah 
Bay, where we remained thirty-six hours. How 
placid it seems now the water black and 
gray with reflections from the cloudy sky, fur 
seals popping their heads up here and there, 
ducks and gulls dotting the small waves, and 
Indian fishing-boats towards the shore, each 
with a small glaring red flag flying from the 

Behind the group of white houses nestled in 
the deepest bend of the bay rise rounded, ice- 



swept hills, with mountains beyond them fold 
ing in and in, in beautiful braids, and all densely 
forested. We are so near the shore that with 
the mate s glasses I can readily make out some 
of the species of the trees. The forest is in the 
main scarce at all different from those of the 
Alaskan coast. Now the Cape Lighthouse is 
out of sight and we are fairly into the strait. 
Vancouver Island is on [the] left in fine clear 
view, with forests densely packed in every hol 
low and over every hill and mountain. How 
beautiful it is! How deep and shadowy its 
canons, how eloquently it tells the story of its 
sculpture during the Age of Ice! How perfectly 
virgin it is! Ships loaded with Nanaimo coal 
and Puget Sound coal and lumber, a half- 
dozen of them, are about us, beating their way 
down the strait, and here and there a pilot boat 
to represent civilization, but not one scar on the 
virgin shore, nor the smoke of a hut or camp. 

I have just been speaking with a man who 
has spent a good deal of time on the island. He 
says that so impenetrable is the underbrush, 
his party could seldom make more than two 
miles a day though assisted by eight Indians. 
Only the shores are known. 

Now the wind is beginning to freshen and 
the small waves are tipped with white, milk- 
white, caps, almost the only ones we have seen 


since leaving San Francisco. The Captain and 
first officer have been very attentive to us, 
giving us the use of their rooms and books, etc., 
besides answering all our questions anent the 
sea and ships. 

We shall reach Victoria about two or three 
o clock. The California will not sail before to 
morrow sometime, so that we shall have plenty 
[of] time to get the charts and odds and ends 
we need before leaving. Mr. Magee will un 
doubtedly go on to Wrangell, but will not be 
likely to stop over. 

Ten minutes past two by your dock 
We are just rounding the Esquimalt Light 
house, and in a few minutes more will be tied 
up at the wharf. Quite a lively breeze is blow 
ing from the island, and the strait is ruffled 
with small shining wavelets glowing in the 
distance like silver. Hereabouts many lofty 
moutonneed rock-bosses rise above the forests, 
bare of trees, but brown looking from the 
mosses that cover them. Since entering the 
strait, the heavy swell up and down, up and 
down, has vanished and all the sick have got 
well and are out in full force, gazing at the 
harbor with the excitement one always feels 
after a voyage, whether the future offers much 
brightness or not. 



The new Captain of the California is said to 
be good and careful, and the pilot and purser I 
know well, so that we will feel at home during 
the rest of our trip as we have thus far; and as 
for the main objects, all Nature is unchange 
able, loves us all, and grants gracious welcome 
to every honest votary. 

I hope you do not feel that I am away at all. 
Any real separation is not possible. I have 
been alone, as far as [concerns] the isolation 
that distance makes, so much of my lifetime 
that separation seems more natural than ab 
solute contact, which seems too good and in 
dulgent to be true. 

Her Majesty s ironclad Triumph is lying 
close alongside. How huge she seems and im 
pertinently strong and defiant, with a back 
ground of honest green woods! Jagged-toothed 
wolves and wildcats harmonize smoothly 
enough, but engines for the destruction of hu 
man beings are only devilish, though they 
carry preachers and prayers and open up 
views of sad, scant tears. Now we are making 
fast. "Make fast that line there, make fast/ 
"let go there," "give way." 

We will go on to Victoria this afternoon, 
taking our baggage with us, and stay there 
until setting out on the California. The ride of 
three miles through the woods and round the 



glacial bosses is very fine. This you would en 
joy. I shall look for the roses. Will mail this at 
once, and write again before leaving this grand 
old ice-ribbed island. 

And now, my dear Louie, keep a good heart 
and do the bits of work I requested you to do, 
and the days in Alaska will go away fast enough 
and I will be with you again as if I had been 
gone but one day. 

Ever your affectionate husband 


To Mrs. Muir 


August 3, 1880, 3.45 P.M. 

The Vancouver roses are out of bloom here 
abouts but I may possibly find some near 
Nanaimo. I mailed you a letter yesterday 
which you will probably receive with this. 

Arriving at Esquimalt we hired a carriage 
driven by a sad-eyed and sad-lipped negro to 
take us with all our baggage to Victoria, some 
three miles distant. The horses were also of 
melancholic aspect, lean and clipper-built in 
general, but the way they made the fire fly from 
the glacial gravel would have made Saint Jose 
and his jet beef -sides hide in the dust. By dint 
of much blunt praise of his team he put them 



to their wiry spring-steel metal and we passed 
everything on the road with a whirr cab, 
cart, carriage, and carryall. We put up at the 
Driard House and had a square, or cubical, 
meal. Put on a metallic countenance to the 
landlord on account of the money and ex 
perience we carried, nearly scared him out of 
his dignity and made him give us good rooms. 

At 6.45 P.M. the California arrived, and we 
went aboard and had a chat with Hughes, the 
purser. He at once inquired whether I had any 
one with me, meaning you, as Vanderbilt had 
given our news. Learned that the California 
would not sail until this evening and made up 
our minds to take a drive out in the highways 
and byways adjacent to the town. While 
strolling about the streets last evening I felt a 
singular interest in the Thlinkit Indians I met 
and something like a missionary spirit came 
over me. Poor fellows, I wish I could serve 

There is good eating, but poor sleeping here. 
My bed was but little like our own at home. 
Met Major Morris, the Treasury agent, this 
morning. He is going up with us. He is, you 
remember, the writer of that book on Alaska 
that I brought with me. 

About nine o clock we got a horse and buggy 
at the livery stable and began our devious drive 



by going back to the Dakota to call on First 
Officer Griffith and give him a box of weeds for 
his kind deeds. Then took any road that offered 
out into the green leafy country. How beauti 
ful it is, every road banked high and embow 
ered in dense, f resh, green, tall ferns six to eight 
feet high close to the wheels, then spiraa, two 
or three species, wild rose bushes, madrono, 
hazel, hawthorn, then a host of young Douglas 
spruces and silver firs with here and there a 
yew with its red berries and dark foliage, and a 
maple or two, then the tall firs and spruces 
forming the forest primeval. We came to a 
good many fields of gram, but all of them small 
as compared with the number of the houses. 
The oats and barley are just about ripe. We 
saw little orchards, too; a good many pears, 
little red-brown fellows, six hatfuls per tree, 
and the queerest little sprinkling of little red 
and yellow cherries just beginning to ripen. 
Many of the cottage homes about town are as 
lovely as a cottage may be, embowered in 
honeysuckle and green gardens and bits of lawn 
and orchard and grand oaks with lovely out 
looks. The day has been delightful. How you 
would have enjoyed it all three of you. 

Our baggage is already aboard and the hour 
draws nigh. I must go. I shall write you again 
from Nanaimo. 



Good-bye again, my love. Keep a strong 
heart and speedily will fly the hours that bring 
me back to thee. Love to mother and father. 

Ever your affectionate husband 


To Mrs. Muir 


10 A.M., August 4th, 1880 

We are still lying alongside the wharf at Vic 
toria. It seems a leak was discovered in one of 
the watertanks that had to be mended, and the 
result was that we could not get off on the 
seven o clock tide last night. 

Victoria seems a dry, dignified, half-idle 
town, supported in great part by government 
fees. Every erect, or more than erect, back- 
leaning, man has an office, and carries himself 
with that peculiar aplomb that all the Hail 
Britannia people are so noted for. The wharf 
and harbor stir is very mild. The steamer 
Princess Louise lies alongside ours, getting 
ready for the trip to New Westminster on [the] 
Eraser River. The Hudson s Bay Company s 
steamer Otter, a queer old tubby craft, left for 
the North last night. A few sloops, plungers, 
and boats are crawling about the harbor or ly- 



ing at anchor, doing or dreaming a business no 
body knows. Yonder comes an Indian canoe 
with its one unique sail calling up memories, 
many, of my last winter s rambles among the 
icebergs. The water is ruffled with a slight 
breeze, scarce enough for small white-caps. 
Though clearer than the waters of most har 
bors, it is not without the ordinary drift of old 
bottles, straw, and defunct domestic animals. 
How rotten the piles of the wharf are, and how 
they smell, even in this cool climate! 

They are taking hundreds of barrels of mo 
lasses aboard for what purpose? To delight 
the Alaska younglings with lasses bread and 
smear their happy chubby cheeks, or to make 
cookies and gingerbread? No, whiskey, Indian 
whiskey! It will be bought by Indians, nine 
tenths of it and more; they will give their hard- 
earned money for it, and their hard-caught furs, 
and take it far away along many a glacial 
channel and inlet, and make it into crazing 
poison. Onions, too, many a ton, are coming 
aboard to boil and fry and raise a watery cry. 

Alone on the wharf, I see a lone stranger 
dressed in shabby black. He has a kind of un 
nerved, drooping look, his shoulders coming 
together and his toes and his knees and the 
two ends of his vertebral column, something 
like a withering leaf in hot sunshine. Poor 


fellow, he looks at our ship as if he wanted to go 
again to the mines to try his luck. And here 
come two Indian women and a little girl trot 
ting after them. They seem as if they were 
coming aboard, but turn aside at the edge of 
the wharf and descend rickety stairs to their 
canoe, tied to a pile beneath the wharf. Now 
they reappear with change of toilet, and the 
little girl is carrying a bundle, something to eat 
or sell or sit on. 

Yonder comes a typical John Bull, grand in 
size and style, carmine in countenance, abdom 
inous and showing a fine tight curve from chin 
to knee, when seen in profile, yet benevolent 
withal and reliable, confidence-begetting. And 
here just landed opposite our ship is a pile of 
hundreds of bears skins, black and brown, from 
Alaska, brought here by the Otter, a few deer 
skins too, and wildcat and wolverine. The 
Hudson s Bay Company men are about them, 
showing their ownership. 

Ten minutes to twelve o clock 
"Let go that line there," etc., tells that we 
are about to move. Our steamer swings slowly 
round and heads for Nanaimo. How beautiful 
the shores are! How glacial, yet how leafy! 
The day becomes calmer, arid brighter, and 
everybody seems happy. Our fellow passen- 



gers are Major Morris and wife, whom I met 
last year, Judge Deady, a young Englishman, 
and [a] dreamy, silent old gray man like a min 

8 P.M. 
We are entering Nanaimo Harbor. 

To Mrs. Muir 


9 A.M., August 5th, 1880 

We are coaling here, and what a rumble they 
are making! The shores here are very imposing, 
a beveled bluff, topped with giant cedar, spruce, 
and fir and maple with varying green; here and 
there a small madrono too, which here is near 
its northern limit. 

We went ashore last eve at Nanaimo for a 
stroll, Magee and I, and we happened to meet 
Mr. Morrison, a man that I knew at Fort 
Wrangell, who told me particulars of the sad 
Indian war in which Toyatte was killed. He 
was present and gave very graphic descrip 

We sailed hither at daylight this morning, 
and will probably get away, the Captain tells 
me, about eleven o clock, and then no halt 



until we reach Wrangell, which is distant from 
here about sixty hours. 

I hardly know, my lassie, what I ve been 
writing, nothing, I fear, but very small odds 
and ends, and yet these may at least keep you 
from wearying for an hour, and the letters, 
poor though they be, shall yet tell my love, and 
that will redeem them. I mail this here, the 
other two were mailed in Victoria, my next 
from Wrangell. 

Heaven bless you, my love, and mother and 
father. I trust that you are caring for yourself 
and us all by keeping cheery and strong, and 
avoiding the bad practice of the stair-dance. 
Once more, my love, farewell, I must close in 
haste. Farewell. 

Ever your affectionate husband 


Missionary g. Hall Young was standing on 
the wharf at Fort Wrangell on the 8th of 
August, watching the California coming in, 
when to his great joy he spied John Muir stand 
ing on the deck and waving his greetings. 
Springing nimbly ashore, Muir at once fired at 
him the question, "When can you be ready ?" 
In response to Young s expostulations over his 
haste, and his failure to bring his wife, he ex 
claimed: "Man, have you forgotten? Don t 



you know we lost a glacier last fall? Do you 
think I could sleep soundly in my bed this 
winter with that hanging on my conscience? 
My wife could not come, so I have come alone 
and you ve got to go with me to find the lost. 
Get your canoe and crew and let us be off." 

To Mrs. Muir 


August Wth, 1880 
10.30 P.M. of your time 

I m now about as far from you as I will be 
this year only this wee sail to the North and 
then to thee, my lassie. And I m not away at 
all, you know, for only they who do not love 
may ever be apart. There is no true separation 
for those whose hearts and souls are together. 
So much for love and philosophy. And now 
I must trace you my way since leaving Na- 

We sailed smoothly through the thousand 
evergreen isles, and arrived at Fort Wrangell 
at 4.30 A.M. on the 8th. Left Wrangell at noon 
of the same day and arrived here on the 9th at 
6 A.M. Spent the day in friendly greetings and 
saunterings. Found Mr. Vanderbilt and his 
wife and Johnnie and, not every way least, 
though last, little Annie, who is grown in 



stature and grace and beauty since last I 
kissed her. 

To-day Mr. Vanderbilt kindly took myself 
and Mr. Magee and three other fellow passen 
gers on an excursion on his steamer up Peril 
Strait, about fifty miles. (You can find it on 
one of the charts that I forgot to bring.) We 
returned to the California about half -past nine, 
completing my way thus far. 

And now for my future plans. The Cali 
fornia sails to-morrow afternoon some time for 
Fort Wrangell, and I mean to return on her 
and from there set out on my canoe trip. I do 
not expect to be detained at Wrangell, inasmuch 
as I saw Mr. [S. Hall] Young, who promised to 
have a canoe and crew ready. I mean to keep 
close along the mainland, exploring the deep 
inlets in turn, at least as far north as the Taku, 
then push across to Cross Sound and follow 
the northern shore, examining the glaciers that 
crowd into the deep inlet that puts back north 
ward from near the south extremity of the 
Sound, where I was last year. Thence I mean 
to return eastward along the southern shore of 
the Sound to Chatham Strait, turn southward 
down the west shore of the Strait to Peril 
Strait, and follow this strait to Sitka, where I 
shall take the California. Possibly, however, I 
may, should I not be pushed for time, return to 


Wrangell. Mr. Magee will, I think, go with 
me, though very unwilling to do so. ... 

August llth, at noon 

I have just returned from a visit to the James 
town. The Commander, Beardslee, paid me a 
visit here last evening, and invited me aboard 
his ship. Had a pleasant chat, and an invita 
tion to make the Jamestown my home while 

I also found my friend Koshoto, the Chief of 
the Hoonas, the man who, I told you, had en 
tertained Mr. Young and me so well last year 
on Cross Sound, and who made so good a 
speech. He is here trading, and seemed greatly 
pleased to learn that I was going to pay him an 
other visit; said that meeting me was like meet 
ing his own brother who was dead, his heart 
felt good, etc. ... 

I have been learning all about the death of 
the brave and good old Toyatte. I think that 
Dr. Corliss, one of the Wrangell missionaries, 
made a mistake in reference to the seizure of 
some whiskey, which caused the beginning of 
the trouble. 

This is a bright, soft, balmy day. How you 
would enjoy it! You must come here some day 
when you are strong enough. . . . Everybody 
inquires first on seeing me, "Have you brought 



your wife?" and then, "Have you a photo 
graph?" and then pass condemnation for com 
ing alone! . . . 

The mail is about to close, and I must write 
to mother. 

Affectionately your husband 


How eagerly I shall look for news when I 
reach Fort Wrangell next month! 

To Mrs. Muir 


11.45 A.M., August 14th, 1880 

I am back in my old quarters, and how famil 
iar it all seems! the lovely water, the islands, 
the Indians with their baskets and blankets 
and berries, the jet ravens prying and flying 
here and there, and the bland, dreamy, hushed 
air drooping and brooding kindly over all. I 
miss Toyatte so much. I have just been over 
the battleground with Mr. Young, and have 
seen the spot where he fell. 

Instead of coming here direct from Sitka we 
called at Klawak on Prince of Wales Island for 
freight, canned salmon, oil, furs, etc., which 
detained us a day. We arrived here last even 
ing at half-past ten. Klawak is a fishing and 



trading station located in a most charmingly 
beautiful bay, and while lying there, the even 
ing before last, we witnessed a glorious auroral 
display which lasted more than three hours. 
First we noticed long white lance-shaped 
streamers shooting up from a dark cloud-like 
mass near the horizon, then a well-defined arch, 
the corona, almost black, with a luminous edge 
appeared, and from it, radiating like spokes 
from a hub, the streamers kept shooting with a 
quick glancing motion, and remaining drawn 
on the dark sky, distinct, and white, as fine 
lines drawn on a blackboard. And when half 
the horizon was adorned with these silky 
fibrous lances of light reaching to and converg 
ing at the zenith, broad flapping folds and 
waves of the same white auroral light came 
surging on from the corona with astonishing 
energy and quickness, the folds and waves 
spending themselves near the zenith like 
waves on a smooth sloping sand-beach. But 
throughout the greater portion of their courses 
the motion was more like that of sheet light 
ning, or waves made in broad folds of muslin 
when rapidly shaken; then in a few minutes 
those delicate billows of light rolled up among 
the silken streamers, would vanish, leaving the 
more lasting streamers with the stars shining 
through them; then some of the seemingly 



permanent streamers would vanish also, and 
appear again in vivid white, like rockets shoot 
ing with widening base, their glowing shafts re 
flected in the calm water of the bay among the 

It was all so rare and so beautiful and excit 
ing to us that we gazed and shouted like chil 
dren at a show, and in the middle of it all, after 
I was left alone on deck at about half-past 
eleven, the whole sky was suddenly illumined 
by the largest meteor I ever saw. I remained 
on deck until after midnight, watching. The 
corona became crimson and slightly flushed 
the bases of the streamers, then one by one the 
shining pillars of the glorious structure were 
taken down, the foundation arch became ir 
regular and broke up, and all that was left was 
only a faint structureless glow along the north 
ern horizon, like the beginning of the dawn of a 
clear frosty day. The only sounds were the 
occasional shouts of the Indians, and the im 
pressive roar of a waterfall. 

Mr. Young and I have just concluded a bar 
gain with the Indians, Lot and his friend, to 
take us in his canoe for a month or six weeks, 
at the rate of sixty dollars per month. Our com 
pany will be those two Indians, and Mr. Young 
and myself, also an Indian boy that Mr. Young 
is to take to his parents at Chilkat, and possi- 


bly Colonel Crittenden as far as Holkham 

You will notice, dear, that I have changed the 
plan I formerly sent you in this, that I go on to 
the Chilkat for Mr. Young s sake, and farther; 
now that Mr. Magee is out of the trip, I shall 
not feel the necessity I previously felt of get 
ting back to Sitka or Wrangell in time for the 
next steamer, though it is barely possible that 
I shall. Do not look for me, however, as it is 
likely I shall have my hands full for two 
months. To-morrow is Sunday, so we shall not 
get away before Monday, the 16th. How hard 
it is to wait so long for a letter from you! I 
shall not get a word until I return. I am trying 
to trust that you will be patient and happy, 
and have that work done that we talked of. 

Every one of my old acquaintances seems 
cordially glad to see me. I have not yet seen 
Shakes, the Chief, though I shall ere we leave. 
He is now one of the principal church members, 
while Kadachan has been getting drunk in the 
old style, and is likely, Mr. Young tells me, to 
be turned out of the church altogether. John, 
our last year s interpreter, is up in the Cassiar 
mines. Mrs. McFarlane, Miss Dunbar, and 
the Youngs are all uncommonly anxious to 
know you, and are greatly disappointed in not 
seeing you here, or at least getting a peep at 



your picture. "Why could she not have come 
up and stayed with us while you were about 
your ice business?" they ask in disappointed 
tone of voice. 

Now, my dear wife, the California will soon 
be sailing southward, and I must again bid you 
good-bye. I must go, but you, my dear, will go 
with me all the way. How gladly when my 
work is done will I go back to thee! With love 
to mother and father, and hoping that God will 
bless and keep you all, I am ever in heart and 
soul the same, JOHN MUIK 

6 P.M. I have just dashed off a short "Bulle 
tin" letter. 

The events that followed are graphically 
narrated in Part II of "Travels in Alaska." 
Eight days after his arrival at Fort Wrangell, 
Muir and Mr. Young got started with their 
party, which consisted of the two Stickeen In 
dians Lot Tyeen and Hunter Joe and a 
half-breed named Smart Billy. There was also 
Mr. Young s dog Stickeen, whom Mr. Muir at 
first accepted rather grudgingly as a super 
charge of the already crowded canoe, but who 
later won his admiration and became the sub 
ject of one of the noblest dog stories in English 



The course of the expedition led through 
Wrangell Narrows between Mitkof and Ku- 
preanof Islands, up Frederick Sound past Cape 
Fanshaw and across Port Houghton, and then 
up Stephens Passage to the entrance of Hoik- 
ham Bay, also called Sumdum. Fourteen and 
a half hours up the Endicott Arm of this bay, 
which Muir was the first white man to explore, 
he found the glacier he had suspected there 
a stream of ice three quarters of a mile wide 
and eight or nine hundred feet deep, discharg 
ing bergs with sounds of thunder. He had 
scarcely finished a sketch of it when he ob 
served another glacial canon on the west side 
of the fiord and, directing his crew to pull 
around a glaciated promontory, they came into 
full view of a second glacier, still pouring its 
ice into a branch of the fiord. Muir gave the 
first of these glaciers the name Young in honor 
of his companion, who complains that some 
later chart-maker substituted the name Dawes, 
thus committing the larceny of stealing his 

In retracing their course, after some days 
spent in exploring the head of the fiord, they 
struck a side-arm through which the water was 
rushing with great force. Threading the nar 
row entrance, they found themselves in what 
Muir described as a new Yosemite in the mak- 



ing. He called it Yosemite Bay, and has fur 
nished a charming description of its flora, 
fauna, and physical characteristics in his 
" Travels in Alaska." 

On August 21st, Young being detained by 
missionary duties, Muir set out alone with the 
Indians to explore what is now known as the 
Tracy Arm of Holkham Bay. The second day 
he found another kingly glacier hidden within 
the benmost bore of the fiord. " There is your 
lost friend," said the Indians, laughing, and as 
the thunder of its detaching bergs reached their 
ears, they added, " He says, Sagh-a-ya? " (How 
do you do?) 

After leaving Taku Inlet, Muir laid his course 
north through Stephens Passage and around 
the end of Admiralty Island, where a camp was 
made only with difficulty. The next morning 
he crossed the Lynn Canal with his boat and 
crew and pitched camp, after a voyage of 
twenty miles, on the west end of Farewell Is 
land, now Pyramid Island. Early the following 
day they turned Point Wimbledon, crept along 
the lofty north wall of Cross Sound, and en 
tered Taylor Bay. During a part of this trip, 
the canoe was exposed to a storm and swells 
rolling in past Cape Spencer from the open 
ocean. It was an undertaking that called for 
courage, skill, and hardihood of no mean order. 



At the head of Taylor Bay, Muir found a 
great glacier consisting of three branches whose 
combined fronts had an extent of about eight 
miles. Camp was made near one of these fronts 
in the evening of August 29th. Early the fol 
lowing morning, Muir became aware that "a 
wild storm was blowing and calling," and be 
fore any one was astir he was off too eager 
to stop for breakfast into the rain-laden gale, 
and out upon the glacier. It was one of the great, 
inspired days of his life, immortalized in the 
story of "Stickeen," the brave little dog l that 
had become his inseparable companion. 

Muir s time was growing short, so he has 
tened on with his party the next day into Gla 
cier Bay, where among other great glaciers he 
had discovered the previous autumn the one 
that now bears his name. Several days were 
spent there most happily, exploring and ob 
serving glacial action, and then the canoe was 
turned Sitka-ward by way of Icy, Chatham, 
and Peril Straits, arriving in time to enable 
him to catch there the monthly mail steamer 

1 Mr. Muir received so many letters inquiring about the 
dog s antecedents that he asked Mr. Young in 1897 to tell 
him what he knew of Stickeen s earlier history. Some readers 
may be interested in his reply, which was as follows: "Mrs. 

Young got him as a present from Mr. H , that Irish 

sinner who lived in a cottage up the beach towards the Pres 
byterian Mission in Sitka." 



to Portland. Thus ended the Alaska trip of 


"After all, have you not found there is some 
happiness in this world outside of glaciers, and 
other glories of nature?" The friend who put 
this question to John Muir, in a letter full of 
pleasantries and congratulations, had just re 
ceived from him a jubilant note announcing 
the arrival of a baby daughter on March 27th. 
His fondness of children now had scope for in 
dulgence at home, and he became a most de 
voted husband and father. 

But for the time being he was to be deprived 
of this new domestic joy. For when he re 
ceived an invitation to accompany the United 
States Revenue steamer Corwin on an Arc 
tic relief expedition in search of DeLong and 
the Jeannette, it was decided in family council 
that so unusual an opportunity to explore the 
northern parts of Alaska and Siberia must not 
be neglected. His preparations had to be made 
in great haste while the citizens of Oakland 
were giving a banquet in honor of Captain 
C. L. Hooper and the officers of the Corwin at 
the Galinda Hotel in Oakland on April 29th. 
Fortunately, the Captain was an old friend 
whom he had known in Alaska and to whom 



he could entrust the purchase of the necessary 
polar garments from the natives in Bering 

The Corwin sailed from San Francisco on 
May 4, 1881, and the following series of letters 
was written to his wife during the cruise. They 
supplement at many points the more formal 
account of his experiences published hi "The 
Cruise of the Corwin." One of the objectives 
of the expedition was Wrangell Land in the 
Arctic Ocean, north of the Siberian coast, be 
cause it had been the expressed intention of 
Commander DeLong to reach the North Pole 
by traveling along its eastern coast, leaving 
cairns at intervals of twenty-five miles. It was 
not known at this time that Wrangell Land 
did not extend toward the Pole, but was an 
island of comparatively small extent. It was 
found later, by the log of the Jeannette, that 
the vessel had drifted, within sight of the is 
land, directly across the meridians between 
which it lies. While the Corwin was still 
searching for her and her crew, the Jeannette 
was crushed in the ice and sank on June 12, 
1881, in the Arctic Ocean, one hundred and 
fifty miles north of the New Siberian Islands. 

Meanwhile Captain Hooper succeeded in 
penetrating, with the Corwin, the ice barrier 
that surrounded Wrangell Land. So far as 



known, the first human beings that ever stood 
upon the shores of this mysterious island were 
in Captain Hooper s landing party, August 
12, 1881, and John Muir was of the number. 
The earliest news of the event, and of the fact 
that DeLong had not succeeded in touching 
either Herald Island or Wrangell Land, reached 
the world at large in a letter from Muir pub 
lished in the "San Francisco Evening Bulle 
tin/ September 29, 1881. 

Since the greater part of the first two letters, 
written to his wife at sea and while approaching 
Unalaska, was quoted in the writer s introduc 
tion to "The Cruise of the Corwin," they are 
omitted here for the sake of brevity. 

To Mrs. Muir 

MONDAY, 4 P.M., May 16, [1881] 

Since writing this forenoon, we reached the 
mouth of the strait that separates Unalaska 
Island from the next to the eastward, against 
a strong headwind and through rough snow 
squalls, when the Captain told me that he 
thought he would not venture through the 
Strait to-day, because the swift floodtide set 
ting through the Strait against the wind was 
surely raising a dangerously rough sea, but 
rather seek an anchorage somewhere in the 


lee of the bluffs, and wait the fall of the wind. 
As he approached the mouth of the Strait, 
however, he changed his mind and determined 
to try it. 

When the vessel began to pitch heavily and 
the hatches and skylights were closed, I knew 
that we were in the Strait, and made haste to 
get on my overcoat and get up into the pilot 
house to enjoy the view of the waves. The view 
proved to be far wilder and more exciting than 
I expected. Indeed, I never before saw water 
in so hearty a storm of hissing, blinding foam. 
It was all one leaping, clashing, roaring mass of 
white, mingling with the air by means of the 
long hissing streamers dragged from the wave- 
tops, and the biting scud. Our little vessel, 
swept onward by the flood pouring into Ber 
ing s Sea and by her machinery, was being 
buffeted by the head-gale and the huge, white, 
over-combing waves that made her reel and 
tremble, though she stood it bravely and obeyed 
the helm as if in calm water. After proceeding 
about five or six miles into the heart of this 
grand uproar, it seemed to grow yet wilder and 
began to bid defiance to any farther headway 
against it. At length, when we had nearly lost 
our boats and [were] in danger of having our 
decks swept, we turned and fled for refuge be 
fore the gale. The giant waves, exulting in their 



strength, seemed to be chasing us and threat 
ening to swallow us at a gulp, but we finally 
made our escape, and were perhaps in no great 
danger farther than the risk of losing our boats 
and having the decks swept. 

After going back about ten miles, we dis 
covered a good anchorage in fifteen fathoms of 
water in the lee of a great bluff of lava about 
two thousand feet high, and here we ride in 
comfort while the blast drives past overhead. 
If we do not get off to-morrow, I will go ashore 
and see what I can learn. 

Have learned already since the snow ceased 
falling that all the region hereabouts has been 
glaciated just like that thousand miles to the 
eastward. All the sculpture shows this clearly. 

How pleasant it seems to be able to walk 
once more without holding on and to have your 
plate lie still on the table! 

It is clearing up. The mountains are seen in 
groups rising back of one another, all pure 
white. The sailors are catching codfish. There 
are two waterfalls opposite our harbor. 

Good-night to all. Oh, if I could touch my 
baby and thee! 

This has been a very grand day snow, 
waves, wind, mountains! 

[JOHN Mum] 



To Mrs. Muir 


TUESDAY, May 17, 1881 

The gale having abated early this morning, 
we left our anchorage on the south side of the 
island and steamed round into the Strait to try 
it again after our last evening s defeat, and this 
time we were successful, after a hard contest 
with the tide, which flows here at a speed of ten 
miles an hour. 

The clouds lifted and the sun shone out 
early this morning, revealing a host of moun 
tains nobly sculptured and grouped and robed 
in spotless white. Turn which way you would, 
the mountains were seen towering into the 
dark sky, some of them with streamers of 
mealy snow wavering in the wind, a truly 
glorious sight. The most interesting feature to 
me was the fine, clear, telling, glacial advertise 
ment displayed everywhere in the trends of the 
numerous inlets and bays and valleys and 
ridges, in the peculiar shell-shaped neVe" am 
phitheaters and in the rounded valley bottoms 
and forms of the peaks and the cliff fronts 
facing the sea. No clearer glacial inscriptions 
are to be found in any mountain range, though 
I had been led to believe that these islands were 
all volcanic upheavals, scarce at all changed 



since their emergence from the waves, but on 
the contrary I have already discovered that 
the amount of glacial degradation has been so 
great as to cut the peninsula into islands. I 
have already been repaid for the pains of the 

My health is improving every day in this 
bracing cold, and you will hardly recognize me 
when I return. The summer will soon pass, and 
we hope to be back to our homes by October 
or November. . . . This is a beautiful harbor, 
white mountains shutting it in all around 
white nearly to the water s edge. . . . 

I will write again ere we leave, and then you 
will not hear again, probably, until near the 
middle of June, when we expect to meet the 
St. Paul belonging to the Alaska Commercial 
Company at St. Michael. Then I will write and 
you may receive my letter a month or two later. 

Good-bye until to-morrow. 


To Mrs. Muir 

WEDNESDAY, May 18th, 1881 


The Storm-King of the North is again up 
and doing, rolling white, combing waves 
through the jagged straits between this marvel- 



ous chain of islands, circling them about with 
beaten, updashing foam, and piling yet more 
and more snow on the clustering cloud-wrapped 
peaks. But we are safe and snug in this land 
locked haven enjoying the distant storm-roar 
of wave and wind. I have just been on deck; 
it is snowing still and the deep bass of the gale 
is sounding on through the mountains. How 
weird and wild and fascinating all this hearty 
work of the storm is to me. I feel a strange 
love of it all, as I gaze shivering up the dim 
white slopes as through a veil darkly, becoming 
fainter and fainter as the flakes thicken and at 
length hide all the land. 

Last evening I went ashore with the Cap 
tain, and saw the chief men of the place and the 
one white woman, and a good many of the 
Aleuts. We were kindly and cordially enter 
tained by the agent of the Alaska Commercial 
Company, Mr. Greenbaum, and while seated 
in his "elegant" parlor could hardly realize 
that we were in so remote and cold and silent 
a wilderness. 

As we were seated at our ease discussing 
Alaskan and Polar affairs, a knock came to the 
door, and a tall, hoary, majestic old man slowly 
entered, whom I at once took for the Russian 
priest, but to whom I was introduced as Dr. 
Holman. He shook hands with me very 



heartily and said, "Mr. Muir, I am glad to see 
you. I had the pleasure of knowing you in San 
Francisco/ 7 Then I recognized him as the dig 
nified old gentleman that I first met three or 
four years ago at the home of the Smiths at 
San Rafael, and we had a pleasant evening 
together. He has been in the employ of the 
Alaska Commercial Company here for a year, 
caring for the health of the Company s Aleuts. 
His own health has been suffering the mean 
while, and to-day I sent him half a dozen 
bottles of the Doctor s wine to revive him. 
This notable liberality under the circumstances 
was caused, first, by his having advised me 
years ago to take good care of my steps on the 
mountains; second, to get married; third, for 
his pictures, drawn for me, of the bliss of having 
children; fourth, for the sake of our mutual 
friends; fifth, for his good looks and bad health; 
and half-dozenth, because fifteen or twenty 
years ago on a dark night, while seeking one of 
his patients in the Contra Costa hills, he called 
at the house of Doctor Strentzel for directions 
and was invited in and got a glass of good wine. 
A half-dozen bottles for a half-dozen reasons! 
" That s consistent, isn t it?" I mean to give a 
bottle to a friend of the Captain who is sta 
tioned at St. Michael, and save one bottle for 
our first contact with the polar ice-pack, and 



one with which to celebrate the hour of our 
return to home, friends, wives, bairns. 

We had fresh-baked stuffed codfish for 
breakfast, of which I ate heartily, stuffing and 
all, though the latter was gray and soft and 
much burdened with minced onions, and then 
I held out my plate for a spoonful of opaque, 
oleaginous gravy! This last paragraph is for 
grandmother as a manifestation of heroic, all- 
enduring, all-engulfing health. 

We have not yet commenced to coal, so that 
we will not get off for the North before Sunday. 
There is a schooner here that will sail for Shoal- 
water Bay, Oregon, in a few days, and by it I 
will send four or five letters. The three or four 
more that I intend writing ere we leave this 
port I will give to the agent of the Company 
here to be forwarded by the next opportunity 
in case the first batch should be lost. Then 
others will be sent from St. Michael by the 
Company s steamer, and still others from the 
Seal Islands and from points where we fall in 
with any vessel homeward bound. 

Good-night to all. I am multiplying letters 
in case some be lost. A thousand kisses to my 
child. This is the fifth letter from Unalaska. 
Will write two more to be sent by other vessels. 

[JOHN Mum] 



To Mrs. Muir 


We left Unalaska this morning at four 
o clock and are now in Bering Sea on our way 
to St. George and St. Paul Islands. . . . Next 
Tuesday or Wednesday we expect to come in 
sight of the ice, but hope to find open water, 
along the west shore, that will enable us to get 
through the Strait to Cape Serdze or there 
abouts. In a month or so we expect to be at 
St. Michael, where we will have a chance to 
send more letters and still later by whalers. 

You will, therefore, have no very long period 
of darkness, though on my side I fear I shall 
have to wait a long time for a single word, and 
it is only by trusting in you to be cheerful and 
busy for the sake of your health and for the 
sake of our little love and all of us that I can 
have any peace and rest throughout this trip, 
however long or short. Now you must be sure 
to sleep early to make up for waking during the 
night, and occupy all the day with light work 
and cheerful thoughts, and never brood and 
dream of trouble, and I will come back with 
the knowledge that I need and a fresh supply 
of the wilderness in my health. I am already 
quite well and eat with savage appetite what 
soever is brought within reach. 



Tliis morning I devoured half of a salmon 
trout eighteen niches long, a slice of ham, half 
a plateful of potatoes, two biscuits, and four or 
five slices of bread, with coffee and something 
else that I have forgotten, but which was cer 
tainly buried in me and lost. For lunch, two 
platefuls of soup, a heap of fat compound onion 
hash, two pieces of toast, and three or four 
slices of bread, with potatoes, and a big sweet 
cake, and now at three o clock I am very 
hungry a hunger that no amount of wave- 
tossing will abate. Furthermore, I look for 
ward to fat seals fried and boiled, and to walrus 
steaks and stews, and doughnuts fried in train 
oil, and to all kinds of bears and fishy fowls 
with eager longing. There! Is that enough, 
grandmother? All my table whims are rapidly 
passing into the sere and yellow leaf and falling 

I promise to comfort and sustain you beyond 
your highest aspirations when I return and fall 
three times a day on your table like a wolf on 
the fold. You know those slippery yellow cus 
tards well, I eat those also! 

You must not forget Sam Williams. 1 And 
now, my love, good-night. I hope you are 
feeling strong-hearted. I wish I could write 
anything, sense or nonsense, to cheer you up 

1 Edit/or of the San Francisco Evening Bulletin. 


and brighten the outlook into the North. I 
will try to say one more line or two when we 
reach the Islands to-morrow. 
Love to all. Kiss Annie for me. 

[JOHN Mum] 

To Mrs. Muir 


June 16th, 1881 

We leave this harbor to-morrow morning at 
six o clock, for St. Michael, and the northward. 
The Corwin is in perfect condition, and since 
the season promises to be a favorable one, we 
hope to find the Jeannette and get home this 
fall. I have not yet seen the American shore, 
but hope to see it very thoroughly, as every 
thing seems to work towards my objects. That 
the Asiatic and American continents were one 
a very short geological time ago is already clear 
to me, though I shall probably obtain much 
more available proof than I now have. This is 
a grand fact. While the crystal glaciers were 
creating Yosemite Valley, a thousand were 
uniting here to make Bering Strait and Bering 
Sea. The south side of the Aleutian chain of 
islands was the boundary of the continent and 
the ocean. 

Since the Tom Pope came into the harbor, 



I have written five "Bulletin" letters, which 
are for you mostly, and therefore I need the 
less to write any detailed narrative of the 
cruise. She will sail at the same hour as we do, 
and her Captain, Mr. Millard, who has been 
many times in the Arctic both here and on the 
Greenland side, has promised to make you a 
visit, and will be able to give you much infor 

If I could only get a line, one word, from you 
to know that you were all well, I would be con 
tent to await the end of the voyage with 
patience and fortitude. But, my dear, it s 
terrible at times to have to endure for so long 
a dark silence. We will not be likely to get a 
word before September. No doubt you have 
already received the six or seven letters that 
I sent from Unalaska and St. Paul, also the 
two or three " Bulletin" letters from Unalaska. 
Write [W.C.] Bartlett or the office for a dozen 
copies of each, and save them for me. 

We are drifting in the harbor among cakes 
of ice about the size of the orchard, but they 
can do us no harm. The great mountains 
forming the walls are covered yet with snow, 
except on a few bare spots near their bases, and 
there is not a single tree. Scarce a hint of any 
spring or summer have I seen since leaving 
San Francisco and the orchard. I hope you will 



see Mr. Millard. You must keep Annie Wanda 
downstairs or she may fall; and now, my wife 
and child, daughter and mother, I must bid 
good-bye. Heaven bless you all! Send copies 
of my "Bulletin" letters to my mother, and 
put this letter with my papers and notebooks. 
You will get many other letters now that the 
whalers are returning. 

My heart aches, not to go home ere I have 
done my work, but just to know that you are 

Your affectionate husband 


To Mrs. Muir 

June 21, 1881 

Sunshine, dear Louie, sunshine all the day, 
ripe and mellow sunshine, like that which feeds 
the fruits and vines! It came to us just [three] 
days ago when we were approaching this little 
old-fashioned trading post at the mouth of the 
Yukon River. . . . 

On the day of our arrival from Plover Bay, 
a little steamer came into the harbor from the 
Upper Yukon, towing three large boats loaded 
with traders, Indians, and furs all the furs 
they had gathered during the winter. We went 
across to the storeroom of the Company to see 



them. A queer lot they were, whites and 
Indians, as they unloaded their furs. It was 
worth while to look at the furs too big bun 
dles of bear skins brown and black, wolf, fox, 
beaver, marten, ermine, moose, wolverine, 
wildcat many of them with claws spread 
and hair on end as if still alive and fighting for 
their lives. Some of the Indian chiefs, the wild 
est animals of all, and the more notable of the 
traders, not at all wild save in dress, but rather 
gentle and refined in manners, like village 
parsons. They held us in long interesting talks 
and gave us some valuable information con 
cerning the broad wilds of the Yukon. 

Yesterday I took a long walk of twelve or 
fourteen miles over the tundra to a volcanic 
cone and back, leaving the ship about twelve 
in the forenoon and getting back at half-past 
eight. I found a great number of flowers in full 
bloom, and birds of many species building their 
nests, and a capital view of the surrounding 
country from the rim of an old crater, alto 
gether making a delightful day, though a very 
wearisome one on account of the difficult 

The ground back of St. Michael stretches 
away in broad brown levels of boggy tundra 
promising fine walking, but proving about 
as tedious and exhausting as possible. The 



spongy covering [is] roughened with tussocks 
of grass and sedge and creeping heathworts and 
willows, among which the foot staggers about 
and sinks and squints, seeking rest and finding 
none, until far down between the rocking tus 
socks. This covering is composed of a plush of 
mosses, chiefly sphagnum, about eight inches 
or a foot deep, resting on ice that never melts, 
while about hah of the surface of the moss 
is covered with white, yellow, red, and gray 
lichens, and the other half is planted more 
or less with grasses, sedges, heathworts, and 
creeping willows, and a flowering plant here 
and there such as primula and purple-spiked 
Pedicularis. Out in this grand solitude 
solitary as far as man is concerned we met a 
great many of the Arctic grouse, ptarmigan, 
cackling and screaming at our approach like 
old laying hens; also plovers, snipes, curlews, 
sandpipers, loons in ponds, and ducks and 
geese, and finches and wrens about the crater 
and rocks at its base. . . . 

And now good-bye again, and love to all, 
wife, darling baby Anna, grandmother, and 

[JOHN Mum] 



To Mrs. Muir 



July 2d, 1881 


After leaving St. Michael, on the twenty- 
second of June ... we went again into the 
Arctic Ocean to Tapkan, twelve miles north 
west of Cape Serdze, to seek the search party 
that we left on the edge of the ice-pack oppo 
site Koliuchin Island, and were so fortunate as 
to find them there, having gone as far as the 
condition of the ice seemed to them safe, and 
after they had reached the fountain-head of all 
the stories we had heard concerning the lost 
whaler Vigilance and determined them to be in 
the main true. At Cape Wankarem they found 
three Chukchis who said that last year when 
the ice was just beginning to grow, and when 
the sun did not rise, they were out seal-hunting 
three or four miles from shore when they saw a 
broken ship in the drift ice, which they boarded 
and found some dead men in the cabin and a 
good many articles of one sort and another 
which they took home and which they showed 
to our party. This evidence reveals the fate of 
at least one of the ships we are seeking. 

Our party, when they saw us, came out to 
the edge of the ice, which extended about three 



miles from shore, and after a good deal of diffi 
culty reached the steamer. The north wind 
was blowing hard, sending huge black swells 
and combing waves against the jagged, grind 
ing edge of the pack with terrible uproar, mak 
ing it impossible for us to reach them with a 
boat. We succeeded, however, in throwing a 
line to them, which they made fast to a skin 
boat that they had pushed over the ice from 
the shore, and, getting into it, they were dragged 
over the stormy edge of ice waves and water 
waves and soon got safely aboard, leaving the 
tent, provisions, dogs, and sleds at the Indian 
village, to be picked up some other time. 

Then we sailed southward again to take our 
interpreter Chukchi Joe to his home, which we 
reached two hours ago. Now we are steering 
for St. Michael again, intending to land for a 
few hours on the north side of St. Lawrence 
Island on the way. At St. Michael we shall 
write our letters, which will be carried to San 
Francisco by the Alaska Commercial Com 
pany s steamer St. Paul, take on more provi 
sions, and then sail north again along the Ameri 
can shore, spending some time hi Kotzebue 
Sound, perhaps exploring some of the rivers 
that flow into it, and then push on around 
Point Barrow and out into the ocean north 
ward as we can, our movements being always 


determined by the position and movements of 
the ice-pack. 

Before making a final effort in August or 
September to reach Wrangell Land in search 
of traces of the Jeannette, we will return yet 
once more to St. Michael for coal and provi 
sions which we have stored there in case we 
should be compelled to pass a winter north of 
Bering Strait. The season, however, is so 
favorable that we have sanguine hopes of find 
ing an open way to Wrangell Land and return 
ing to our homes in October. The Jeannette 
has not been seen, nor any of her crew, on the 
Asiatic coast as far west as Cape Yaken, and I 
have no hopes of the vessel ever escaping from 
the ice; but her crew, in case they saved their 
provisions, may yet be alive, though it is 
strange that they did not come over the ice in 
the spring. Possibly they may have reached 
the American coast. If so, they will be found 
this summer. Our vessel is in perfect condi 
tion, and our Captain is very cautious and will 
not take any considerable chances of being 
caught in the North pack. 

How long it seems since I left home, and yet 
according to the almanac it will not be two 
months until the day after to-morrow! I have 
seen so much and gone so far, and the nightless 
days are so strangely joined, it seems more 



than a year. And yet how short a time is the 
busy month at home among the fruit and the 
work! My wee lass will be big and bright now, 
and by the time I can get her again in my arms 
she will be afraid of my beard. I have a great 
quantity of ivory dolls and toys ducks, 
bears, seals, walruses, etc. for her to play 
with, and some soft white furs to make a little 
robe for her carriage. But it is a sore, hard 
thing to be out of sight of her so long, and of 
thee, Lassie, but still sorer and harder not to 
hear. Perhaps not one word until I reach San 
Francisco! You, however, will hear often. . . . 

This is a lovely, cool, clear, bright day, and 
the mountains along the coast of Asia stand in 
glorious array, telling the grand old story of 
their birth beneath the sculpturing ice of the 
glacial period. But the snow still lingers here 
and there down to the water s edge, and a 
little beyond the mouth of Bering Strait the 
vast, mysterious ice-field of the North stretches 
away beneath a dark, stormy sky for thousands 
of miles. I landed on East Cape yesterday and 
found unmistakable evidence of the passage 
over it of a rigid ice-sheet from the North, a 
fact which is exceedingly telling here. . . . 

My health is so good now that I never notice 
it. I climbed a mountain at East Cape yester 
day, about three thousand feet high, a mile 



through snow knee-deep, and never felt fatigue, 
my cheeks tingling in the north wind. ... I 
have a great quantity of material in my note 
books already, lots of sketches [of] glaciers, 
mountains, Indians, Indian towns, etc. So you 
may be sure I have been busy, and if I could 
only hear a word now and then from that home 
in the California hills I would be the happiest 
and patientest man hi all Hyperborea. 

I am alone in the cabin; the engine is grind 
ing away, making the lamp that is never lighted 
now rattle, and the joints creak everywhere, 
and the good Corwin is gliding swiftly over 
smooth blue water about half way to St. Law 
rence Island. And now I must to bed! But be 
fore I go I reach my arms towards you, and 
pray God to keep you all. Good-night. 


To Mrs. Muir 

ST. MICHAEL, July 4th, 1881 

We arrived here this afternoon at three 
o clock and intend to stay about three days, 
taking in coal and provisions, and then to push 
off to the North. We intend to spend nearly a 
month along the American shore, perhaps as 
far north as Point Barrow, before we attempt 



to go out into the Arctic Ocean among the ice, 
for it is in August and September that the ice 
is most open. Then, if, as we hope from the 
favorableness of the season, we succeed in 
reaching Wrangell Land to search for traces of 
the Jeannette, or should find any sure tidings 
of her, we will be back in sunny, iceless Cali 
fornia about the end of October, in grape-time. 
Otherwise we will probably return to St. 
Michael and take on a fresh supply of coal and 
nine months provisions, and go north again 
prepared to winter in case we should get caught 
in the north of Bering Strait. 

A few miles to the north of Plover Bay some 
thirteen or fourteen canoe-loads of natives 
came out to trade; more than a hundred of 
them were aboard at once, making a very 
lively picture. When we proceeded on our way, 
they allowed us to tow them for a mile or two 
in order to take advantage of the northerly 
current in going back to their village. They 
were dragged along, five or six canoes on each 
side, making the Corwin look like a mother 
field-mouse with a big family hanging to her 
teats, one of the first country sights that filled 
me with astonishment when a boy. 

In coming here I had very fine views of St. 
Lawrence Island from the north side, showing 
the trend of the ice-sheet very plainly, much to 


my delight. The middle of the island is crowded 
with volcanic cones, mostly post-glacial, and 
therefore regular in form and but little wasted, 
and I counted upwards of fifty from one point 
of view. Just in front of this volcanic portion 
on the coast there is a dead Esquimo village 
where we landed and found that every soul of 
the population had died two years ago of 
starvation. More than two hundred skeletons 
were seen lying about like rubbish, in one hut 
thirty, most of them in bed. Mr. E. W. Nelson, 
a zealous collector for the Smithsonian Institu 
tion, gathered about one hundred skulls as 
specimens, throwing them together in heaps to 
take on board, just as when a boy hi Wisconsin 
I used to gather pumpkins in the fall after the 
corn was shocked. The boxfuls on deck looked 
just about as unlike a cargo of cherries as 
possible, but I will not oppress you with grim 

Some of the men brought off guns, axes, 
spears, etc., from the abandoned huts, and I 
found a little box of child s playthings which 
might please Anna Wanda, but which, I sup 
pose, you will not let into the house. Well, I 
have lots of others that I bought, and when 
last here I engaged an Indian to make her a 
little fur suit, which I hope is ready so that I 
can send it down by the St. Paul. I hope it may 



fit her. I wish she were old enough to read the 
stories that I should like to write her. 
Love to all. Good-night. 
Ever yours 


To Mrs. Muir 

ST. MICHAEL, July 9th, 1881 

We did not get away last evening, as we ex 
pected, on account of the change in plans as 
to taking all our winter stores on board, instead 
of leaving them until another visit in Sep 
tember. It is barely possible we might get 
caught off Point Barrow or on Wrangell [Land] 
by movements in the ice-pack that never can 
be anticipated. Therefore we will be more com 
fortable with abundance of bread about us. 
In the matter of coal, there is a mine on the 
north coast where some can be obtained in 
case of need, and also plenty of driftwood. 

Our cruise, notwithstanding we have already 
made two trips into a portion of the Arctic 
usually blocked most of the summer, we con 
sider is just really beginning. For we have not 
yet made any attempt to get to the packed 
region about Herald Island and Wrangell 
Land. Perhaps not once in twenty years would 
it be possible to get a ship alongside the shores 



of Wrangell Land, although its southern point 
is about nine degrees south of points attained 
on the eastern side of the continent. To find 
the ocean ice thirty or forty feet thick away 
from its mysterious shores seems to be about as 
hopeless as to find a mountain glacier out of its 
canon. Still, this has been so remarkably open 
and mild a winter, and so many north gales 
have been bio whig this spring, [gales] calcu 
lated to break up the huge packs and grind the 
cakes and blocks against one another, that we 
have sanguine hopes of accomplishing all that 
we are expected to do and get home by the end 
of October. If I can see as much of the Amer 
ican coast as I have of the Asiatic, I will be 
satisfied, and should the weather be as favor 
able I certainly shall. . . . 

We may, possibly, be home ere you receive 
any more [letters]. If not, think of me, dear, as 
happily at work with no other pain than the 
pain of separation from you and my wee lass. 
I have many times been weighing chances as 
to whether you have sent letters by the Mary- 
and-Helen, now called the "Rodgers," which 
was to sail about the middle of June. She is a 
slow sailer, and has to go far out of her course 
by Petropavlovskii, the capital of Kamchatka, 
for dogs, and will not be through the Strait 
before the end of the season nearly. Yet a 



letter by her is my only hope for hearing from 
you this season. 

How warm and bland the weather is here, 
60 in the shade, and how fine a crop of grass 
and flowers is growing up along the shores and 
back on the spongy tundra! The Captain says 
I can have a few hours on shore this afternoon. 
I mean to go across the bay three miles to a 
part of the tundra I have not yet seen. I shall 
at least find a lot of new flowers and see some 
of the birds. Once more, good-bye. I send 
Anna s parka by the St. Paul. Give my love to 
Sam Williams. You must not forget him. 

[JOHN Mum] 

A month and three days after the date of the 
preceding letter the Corwin succeeded in mak 
ing a landing on Wrangell Land. From some 
unpublished notes of Muir under the heading 
"Our New Arctic Territory" we excerpt the 
following account of the event : 

Next morning [August 12th] the fog lifted, and 
we were delighted to see that though there was now 
about eight miles of ice separating us from the shore, 
it was less closely packed, and the Corwin made her 
way through it without great difficulty until within 
two miles of the shore, where the craggy berg- 
blocks were found to be extremely hard and wedged 
closely together. But a patch of open water near 
the beach, now plainly in sight, encouraged a con- 


tinuance of the struggle, and with a full head of 
steam on, the barrier was forced. By 10 o clock 
A.M. our little ship was riding at anchor less than a 
cable s length from the beach, opposite the mouth 
of a river. 

This landing point proved to be in latitude 71 
4 , longitude 177 40 30" W., near the East Cape. 
After taking formal possession of the country, one 
party examined the level beach about the mouth of 
the river, and the left bank for a mile or two, and a 
hillside that slopes gently down to the river, while 
another party of officers, after building a cairn, de 
positing records in it, and setting the flag on a con 
spicuous point of the bluff facing the ocean, pro 
ceeded northwestward along the brow of the short 
bluff to a marked headland, a distance of three or 
four miles, searching attentively for traces of the 
Jeannette expedition and of any native inhabitants 
that might chance to be in the country. Then all 
were hurriedly recalled and a way was forced to 
open water through ten miles of drift ice which 
began to close upon us. 

To Mrs. Muir 

POINT BARROW, August 16th, 1881 

Heaven only knows my joy this night in 
hearing that you were well. Old as the letter is 
and great as the number of days and nights 
that have passed since your love was written, it 
yet seems as if I had once more been upstairs 
and held you and Wanda in my arms. Ah, you 



little know the long icy days, so strangely 
nightless, that I have longed and longed for 
one word from you. The dangers, great as they 
were, while groping and grinding among the 
vast immeasurable ice-fields about that mys 
terious Wrangell Land would have seemed as 
nothing before I knew you. But most of the 
special dangers are past, and I have grand news 
for you, my love, for we have succeeded in 
landing on that strange ice-girt country and 
our work is nearly all done and I am coming 
home by the middle of October. No thought 
of wintering now and attempting to cross the 
frozen ocean from Siberia. We will take no 
more risks. All is well with our stanch little 
ship. She is scarce at all injured by the pound 
ing and grinding she has undergone, and sailing 
home seems nothing more than crossing San 
Francisco Bay. We have added a large ter 
ritory [Wrangell Land] to the domain of the 
United States and amassed a grand lot of 
knowledge of one sort and another. 

Now we sail from here to-morrow for Cape 
Lisburne, or, if stormy, to Plover Bay, to coal 
and repair our rudder, which is a little weak. 
Thence we will go again around the margin of 
the main polar pack about Wrangell Land, but 
not into it, and possibly discover a clear way 
to land upon it again and obtain more of its 


geography; then leave the Arctic about the 
10th of September, call at St. Michael, at Una- 
laska, and then straight home. 

I shall not write at length now, as this is to 
go down by the Legal Tender, which sails in a 
few days and expects to reach San Francisco 
by the 20th of September, but we may reach 
home nearly as soon as she. I have to dash off 
a letter for the " Bulletin 7 to-night, though I 
ought to go to bed. Not a word of it is yet 

We came poking and feeling our way along 
this icy shore a few hours ago through the fog, 
little thinking that a letter from you was just 
ahead. Then the fog lifted, and we saw four 
whalers at anchor and a strange vessel. When 
the Captain of the Belvidere shouted, " Letters 
for you, Captain, by the Legal Tender," which 
was the strange vessel, our hearts leaped, and 
a boat was speedily sent alongside. I got the 
letter package and handed them round, and 
yours, love, was the very last in the package, 
and I dreaded there was none. The Rodgers 
had not yet been heard from. One of the 
whale ships was caught here and crushed in 
the ice and sank in twenty minutes a month 

Good-bye, love. I shall soon be home. Love 
to all. My wee lass-love she seems already 



in my arms. Not in dreams this time! From 
father and husband and lover. 


Muir s collection of plants, gathered in the 
Arctic lands touched by the Corwin, was nat 
urally of uncommon interest to botanists. 
Asa Gray returned from a European trip in 
November, and in response to an inquiry from 
Muir at once wrote him to send on his Arctic 
plants for determination. Those from Herald 
Island and Wrangell Land, represented by a 
duplicate set in the Gray Herbarium at Har 
vard, are still the only collections known to 
science from those regions. In determining 
the plants, Gray found among them a new 
species of erigeron, and in reporting it to the 
American Academy of Arts and Sciences 
named it Erigeron Muirii in honor of its dis 
coverer. Muir found it in July at Cape 
Thompson on the Arctic shore of Alaska. 1 

This cruise in the Arctic Ocean, as it turned 
out, was to be the last of his big expeditions 
for some time. Domestic cares and joys, and 
the development of the fruit ranch, absorbed 
his attention more and more. The old freedom 

1 A complete list of his various collections and of his glacial 
observations will be found in the appendix to The Cruise of 
the Corwin (1917). 



was gone, but the following paragraph, from a 
letter written to Mrs. John Bidwell, of Rancho 
Chico, on January 2, 1882, suggests that he had 
found a satisfying substitute for the inde 
pendence of earlier years: 

I have been anxious to run up to Chico in the old 
free way to tell you about the majestic icy facts 
that I found last summer in the Lord s Arctic pal 
aces, but, as you can readily guess, it is not now so 
easy a matter to wing hither and thither like a bird, 
for here is a wife and a baby and a home, together 
with the old press of field studies and literary work, 
which I by no means intend to lose sight of even 
in the bright bewitching smiles of my wee bonnie 
lassie. Speaking of brightness, I have been busy, for 
a week or two just past, letting more light into the 
house by means of dormer windows, and in making 
two more open brick fireplaces. Dormer-windows, 
open wood-fires, and perfectly happy babies make 
any home glow with warm sunny brightness and 
bring out the best that there is in us. 



THERE was an interval of ten years during 
which Mr. Muir devoted himself with great 
energy and success to the development of the 
Alhambra fruit ranch. According to a fictitious 
story, still encountered in some quarters, he 
was penniless at the time of his marriage. On 
the contrary, he had several thousand dollars 
at interest and, according to a fragment of un 
completed memoirs, was receiving from one 
hundred to two hundred and fifty dollars for 
each of his magazine articles. " After my first 
article," he wrote, "I was greatly surprised to 
find that everything else I offered was ac 
cepted and paid for. That I could earn money 
simply with written words seemed very 

In the same memoirs Muir generalizes as 
follows on the decade between 1881 and 1891 : 

About a year before starting on the Arctic expedi 
tion I was married to Louie Strentzel, and for ten 
years I was engaged in fruit-raising in the Alhambra 
Valley, near Martinez, clearing land, planting vine- 


yards and orchards, and selling the fruit, until I had 
more money than I thought I would ever need for 
my family or for all expenses of travel and study, 
however far or however long continued. But this 
farm work never seriously interrupted my studies. 
Every spring when the snow on the mountains had 
melted, until the approach of winter, my explora 
tions were pushed farther and farther. Only in the 
early autumn, when the table grapes were gathered, 
and in winter and early spring, when the vineyards 
and orchards were pruned and cultivated, was my 
personal supervision given to the work. After these 
ten years I sold part of the farm and leased the 
balance, so as to devote the rest of my life, as care 
free as possible, to travel and study. Thus, in 1891, 
I was again free from the farm and all bread- 
winning cares. 

In the extant correspondence of the early 
eighties one gets only indirect and fugitive 
hints of Muir s activities. Worthy of notice is 
the fact that during July, 1884, he took his 
wife to the Yosemite Valley, and their joint 
letters to the grandparents and the little daugh 
ter, left at home, afford amusing glimpses of a 
husband who has never played courier to a wife 
and of a wife who mistakes trout for catfish 
and suspects a bear behind every bush. It 
should be added that in Mrs. Muir s letters 
there is a note of concern for her husband s 
health, which had begun to suffer under the 
exacting cares of the ranch. "I am anxious 



about John," she writes. "The journey was 
hard for him, and he looks thin and pale and 
tired. He must not leave the mountains until 
he is well and strong again/ 

The arrival, in 1886, of a second daughter, 
believed to have been of frail health during her 
infant years, brought an increase of parental 
cares and anchored the family to the ranch 
more closely than ever. Mrs. Muir was nat 
urally disinclined to travel, and both of them 
were full of misgivings regarding anything that 
might imperil the safety of the children. Under 
the circumstances Muir became more and more 
absorbed in the management of the ranch and 
care for his own. 

Meanwhile time was working changes in the 
Wisconsin family circle from which John had 
gone out in 1867. Nearly eighteen years had 
gone by since he had seen his father and 
mother, brothers and sisters. His brother-in- 
law David Galloway died suddenly in Septem 
ber, 1884, his father and mother were growing 
infirm, the wife of his brother David was smit 
ten with an incurable malady, and death was 
thinning the ranks of the friends of his youth. 
In view of these circumstances he began to feel 
more and more strongly the desire to revisit the 
scenes and friends of his boyhood. "I mean to 
see you all some time this happy new year 


[1885]," he wrote to his brother David at the 
close of December. " Seeing you after so long 
a journey in earth s wildest wildernesses will 
make [the experience] indeed new to me. I 
could not come now without leaving the ranch 
to go to wreck, a score of workmen without a 
head, and no head to be found, though I have 
looked long for a foreman. Next spring after 
the grapes are pruned and sulphured, etc., and 
the cherry crop sold, I mean to pay off all but a 
half-dozen or so and leave things to take their 
course for a month or two. Can t you send me 
some good steady fellow to learn this fruit 
business and take some of the personal super 
vision off my shoulders? Such a person could 
be sure of a job as long as he liked." 

It seems worth while to record, in this con 
nection, an incident of dramatic and pathetic 
interest which occurred during the summer of 
1885, just before Muir made his first return trip 
to his old Wisconsin home. Helen Hunt Jackson 
had come to San Francisco in June after months 
of illness, caused, as she thought, by defective 
sanitation in a Los Angeles boarding-house. 
Having recently been appointed Special Com 
missioner to inquire into the conditions sur 
rounding the Mission Indians of California, 
she gave herself with devotion and ability to 
the righting of their wrongs. Among her par- 


ticular friends was Mrs. Carr, at whose subur 
ban Pasadena home, "Carmelita," she had 
written a part of her Indian story "Ramona." 
It was quite natural, therefore, that she should 
apply to John Muir for help in planning a con 
valescent s itinerary in the mountains. "I 
know with the certainty of instinct," she 
wrote, "that nothing except three months out 
of doors night and day will get this poison out 
of my veins. The doctors say that in six weeks 
I may be strong enough to be laid on a bed in a 
wagon and drawn about." 

It is easy to imagine the surprise and amuse 
ment of Muir when he read her statement of 
the conditions and equipment required for her 
comfort. She wished to be among trees where 
it was moist and cool, being unable to endure 
heat. She wanted to keep moving, but the 
altitudinal range must not exceed four thou 
sand feet, and, above all, she must not get be 
yond easy reach of express and post-offices. 
Her outfit was to consist of eight horses, an 
ambulance, two camp-wagons for tents, and a 
phaeton buggy. The attendants were to com 
prise four servants, a maid, and a doctor. 

"Now do you know any good itinerary," 

she inquired, "for such a cumbrous caravan as 

this? How you would scorn such lumbering 

methods! I am too ill to wish any other. I 



shall do this as a gamester throws his last 
card!" In conclusion she stated that she had 
always cherished the hope of seeing him some 
time. "I believe," she adds, "I know every 
word you have written. I never wished myself 
a man but once. That was when I read how it 
seemed to be rocked in the top of a pine tree in 
a gale!" 

Muir s reply to this request, according to 
the draft of a letter found among his papers, 
was as follows: 

To Helen Hunt Jackson 

MARTINEZ, June 16th, 1885 

Your letter of June 8th has shown me how 
sick you are, but also that your good angel is 
guiding you to the mountains, and therefore I 
feel sure that you will soon be well again. 

When I came to California from the swamps 
of Florida, full of malarial poison, I crawled up 
the mountains over the snow into the blessed 
woods about Yosemite Valley, and the ex 
quisite pleasure of convalescence and exuberant 
rebound to perfect health that came to me at 
once seem still as fresh and vivid after all these 
years as if enjoyed but yesterday. 

The conditions you lay down for your itin 
erary seem to me desperately forbidding. No 


path accessible to your compound congrega 
tion can be traced across the range, maintain 
ing anything like an elevation of four thousand 
feet, to say nothing of coolness and moisture, 
while along the range the topography is still 
less compliant to your plans. When I was trac 
ing the Sequoia belt from the Calaveras to the 
Kern River I was compelled to make a descent 
of nine thousand feet in one continuous swoop 
in crossing the Kings River Valley, while the 
ups and downs from ridge to ridge throughout 
the whole course averaged nearly five thousand 

No considerable portion of the middle and 
southern Sierra is cool and moist at four thou 
sand feet during late summer, for there you 
are only on the open margin of the main forest 
zone, which is sifted during the day by the dry 
warm winds that blow across the San Joaquin 
plains and foothills, though the night winds 
from the summit of the range make the nights 
delightfully cool and refreshing. 

The northern Sierra is considerably cooler 
and moister at the same heights. From the end 
of the Oregon Railroad beyond Redding you 
might work up by a gentle grade of fifty miles 
or so to Strawberry Valley where the elevation 
is four thousand feet. There is abundance of 
everything, civilized as well as wild, and from 


thence circle away all summer around Mount 
Shasta where the circumference is about one 
hundred miles, and only a small portion of your 
way would lie much above or below the re 
quired elevation, and only the north side, in 
Shasta Valley, would you find rather dry and 
warm, perhaps, while you would reach an ex 
press station at every round or a good mes 
senger could find you in a day from the station 
at any point in your orbit. And think how 
glorious a center you would have ! so glorious 
and inspiring that I would gladly revolve 
there, weary, afoot, and alone for all eter 

The Kings River yosemite would be a de 
lightful summer den for you, abounding in the 
best the mountains have to give. Its elevation 
is about five thousand feet, length nine miles, 
and it is reached by way of Visalia and Hyde s 
Mills among the Sequoias of the Kaweah, but 
not quite accessible to your wheels and pans, I 
fear. Have you considered the redwood region 
of the Coast Range about Mendocino? There 
you would find coolness, moist air, and spicy 
woods at a moderate elevation. 

If an elevation of six thousand feet were con 
sidered admissible, I would advise your going 
on direct to Truckee by rail, rather than to 
Dutch Flat, where the climate may be found 


too dry and hot. From Truckee by easy stages 
to Tahoe City and thence around the Lake and 
over the Lake all summer. This, as you must 
know, is a delightful region cool and moist 
and leafy, with abundance of food and express 
stations, etc. 

What an outfit you are to have terrible as 
an army with banners ! I scarce dare think of it. 
What will my poor Douglas squirrels say at the 
sight? They used to frisk across my feet, but 
I had only two feet, which seemed too many 
for the topography in some places, while you 
have a hundred, besides wooden spokes and 
spooks. Under ordinary circumstances they 
would probably frighten the maid and stare 
the doctor out of countenance, but every tail 
will be turned in haste and hidden at the bot 
tom of the deepest knot-holes. And what shuf 
fling and haste there will be in the chaparral 
when the bears are getting away! Even the 
winds might hold their breath, I fancy, "pause 
and die," and the great pines groan aghast at 
the oncoming of so many shining cans and 
carriages and strange colors. 

But go to the mountains where and how you 
will, you soon will be free from the effects of 
this confusion, and God s sky will bend down 
about you as if made for you alone, and the 
pines will spread their healing arms above you 



and bless you and make you well again, and so 
delight the heart of 


"If nothing else comes of my camping air- 
castle/ she wrote from 1600 Taylor Street, 
San Francisco, two days after receiving Muir s 
answer, "I have at least one pleasure from it 
your kind and delightful letter. I have read it 
so many times I half know it. I wish Mrs. Carr 
were here that I might triumph over her. She 
wrote me that I might as well ask one of the 
angels of heaven as John Muir, so entirely out 
of his line was the thing I proposed to do. I 
knew better, however, and I was right. You 
are the only man in California who could tell 
me just what I needed to know about ranges 
of climate, dryness, heat, etc., also roads." 

But the author of "Ramona" was never to 
have an opportunity to play her last card, for 
she was beyond even the healing of the moun 
tains if she could have reached them. Indeed, 
one detects a presentiment of her doom in the 
closing lines of her letter to the man who had 
fired her imagination with his contagious faith 
in the restorative powers of nature. "If you 
could see me," she writes, "you would only 
wonder that I have courage to even dream of 
such an expedition. I am not at all sure it is 


not of the madness which the gods are said 
to send on those whom they wish to destroy. 
They tell me Martinez is only twenty miles 
away: do you never come into town? The re 
gret I should weakly feel at having you see the 
1 remains (ghastly but inimitable word) of me 
would, I think, be small in comparison with the 
pleasure I should feel in seeing you. I am much 
too weak to see strangers but it is long since 
you were a stranger." Whether the state of 
his own health had permitted him to call on 
"H. H.," as she was known among her friends, 
before he started East, in August, to see his 
parents, is not clear. Certain it is that by a 
singular coincidence he was ringing her door 
bell almost at the moment when the brave 
spirit of this noble friend of the Indians was 
taking flight. "Mrs. Jackson may have gone 
away some where, " he remarked in writing to 
his wife the next day: "could get no response 
to my ringing blinds down." 

The immediate occasion of his decision to go 
East is best told in some further pages from 
unpublished memoirs under the title of "Mys 
terious Things." Though Muir s boyhood was 
passed in communities where spooks, and 
ghosts, and clairvoyance were firmly believed 
in, he was as a man singularly free from faith 
in superstitions of this kind. But there were 



several occasions when he acted upon sudden 
and mysterious impulses for which he knew 
no explanation, and which he contents himself 
simply to record. One of these relates to the 
final illness and death of his father and is told 
as follows : 

In the year 1885, when father was living with his 
youngest daughter in Kansas City, another daugh 
ter, who was there on a visit, wrote me that father 
was not feeling as well as usual on account of not 
being able to take sufficient exercise. Eight or ten 
years before this, when he was about seventy years 
of age, he fell on an icy pavement and broke his leg 
at the hip joint, a difficult break to heal at any 
time, but in old age particularly so. The bone never 
knitted, and he had to go on crutches the balance 
of his life. 

One morning, a month or two after receiving this 
word from my sister, I suddenly laid down my pen 
and said to my wife: "I am going East, because 
somehow I feel this morning that if I don t go now 
I won t see father again." At this time I had not 
seen him for eighteen years. Accordingly I went 
on East, but, instead of going direct to Kansas 
City, I first went to Portage, where one of my 
brothers and my mother were living. 

As soon as I arrived in Portage, I asked mother 
whether she thought she was able to take the jour 
ney to Kansas City to see father, for I felt pretty 
sure that if she didn t go now she wouldn t see him 
again alive. I said the same to my brother David. 
" Come on, David : if you don t go to see father now, 


I think you will never see him again." He seemed 
greatly surprised and said: "What has put that in 
your head? Although he is compelled to go around 
on crutches, he is, so far as I have heard, in ordinary 
health." I told him that I had no definite news, but 
somehow felt that we should all make haste to cheer 
and comfort him and bid him a last good-bye. For 
this purpose I had come to gather our scattered 
family together. Mother, whose health had long 
been very frail, said she felt it would be impossible 
for her to stand the journey. David spoke of his 
business, but I bought him a railway ticket and 
compelled him to go. 

On the way out to Kansas City I stopped at 
Lincoln, Nebraska, where my other brother, Daniel, 
a practicing physician, was living. I said, "Dan, 
come on to Kansas City and see father." "Why?" 
he asked. "Because if you don t see him now, you 
never will see him again. I think father will leave 
us in a few days." "What makes you think so?" 
said he; "I have not heard anything in particular." 
I said, "Well, I just kind of feel it. I have no 
reason." "I cannot very well leave my patients, 
and I don t see any necessity for the journey." I 
said, "Surely you can turn over your patients to 
some brother physician. You will not probably have 
to be away more than four or five days, or a week, 
until after the funeral." He said, "You seem to talk 
as though you knew everything about it." I said, 
"I don t know anything about it, but I have that 
feeling that presentiment, if you like nothing 
more." I then bought him a ticket and said, "Now 
let s go: we have no time to lose." Then I sent the 
same word to two sisters living in Kearney and 


Crete, Nebraska, who arrived about as soon as we 

Thus seven of the eight in our family assembled 
around father for the first time in more than twenty 
years. Father showed no sign of any particular ill 
ness, but simply was confined to his bed and spent 
his time reading the Bible. We had three or four 
precious days with him before the last farewell. He 
died just after we had had time to renew our ac 
quaintance with him and make him a cheering, 
comforting visit. And after the last sad rites were 
over, we all scattered again to our widely separated 

The reader who recalls, from the opening 
chapters of this work, the paternal severity 
which embittered for John Muir the memory 
of the youthful years he spent on the farm, will 
be interested in a few additional details of this 
meeting of father and son after eighteen years. 
In spite of the causes which had estranged 
them so long ago, John had never withheld his 
admiration for the nobler traits of his father s 
character, and he apparently cherished the 
hope that some day he might be able to sit 
down quietly with him and talk it all out. It 
seemed futile to do this so long as the old man 
was actively engaged in evangelistic work, 
which shut out from calm consideration any 
thing that seemed to him to have been or to be 
an embarrassment of his calling. Now that he 



was laid low, John deemed that the proper 
time had arrived, but for this purpose he had 
come too late. 

" Father is very feeble and helpless/ he 
wrote to his wife from the aged man s bedside. 
"He does not know me, and I am very sorry. 
He looks at me and takes my hand and says, 
Is this my dear John? and then sinks away 
on the pillow, exhausted, without being able 
to understand the answer. This morning when 
I went to see him and was talking broad Scotch 
to him, hoping to stir some of the old memories 
of Scotland before we came here, he said, I 
don t know much aboot it noo, and then added, 
You re a Scotchman, aren t you? When I 
would repeat that I was his son John that went 
to California long ago and came back to see 
him, he would start and raise his head a little 
and gaze fixedly at me and say, Oh, yes, my 
dear wanderer, and then lose all memory 
again. . . . I m sorry I could not have been 
here two or three months earlier, though I 
suppose all may be as well, as it is." 

A few months earlier, when Daniel Muir was 
still in full possession of his faculties, he had 
particularly mentioned to his daughter Joanna 
some of the cruel things he had said and done 
to his "poor wandering son John." This wan 
derer, crossing the mountains and the plains 



in response to a mysterious summons, had 
gathered the scattered members of the former 
Fountain Lake home to his dying father s bed 
side, and, as the following letter shows, was 
keeping solitary vigil there, when the hour of 
dissolution came. 

To Mrs. Muir 


October 6th, 1885 

You will know ere this that the end has come 
and father is at rest. He passed away in a full 
summer day evening peace, and with that peace 
beautifully expressed, and remaining on his 
countenance as he lies now, pure and clean like 
snow, on the bed that has borne him so long. 

Last evening David and I made everybody 
go to bed and arranged with each other to keep 
watch through the night, promising the girls 
to give warning in time should the end draw 
near while they slept. David retired in an ad 
joining room at ten o clock, while I watched 
alone, he to be called to take my place at two 
or three hi the morning, should no marked 
change take place before that time. 

About eleven o clock his breathing became 
calm and slow, and his arms, which had been 



moved in a restless way at times, at length 
were folded on his breast. About twelve o clock 
his breathing was still calmer, and slower, and 
his brow and lips were slightly cold and his eyes 
grew dim. At twelve-fifteen I called David 
and we decided to call up the girls, Mary, 
Anna, and Joanna, but they were so worn out 
with watching that we delayed a few minutes 
longer, and it was not until about one minute 
before the last breath that all were gathered 
together to kiss our weary affectionate father 
a last good-bye, as he passed away into the 
better land of light. 

Few lives that I know were more restless and 
eventful than his few more toilsome and full 
of enthusiastic endeavor onward towards light 
and truth and eternal love through the midst 
of the devils of terrestrial strife and darkness 
and faithless misunderstanding that well-nigh 
overpowered him at times and made bitter 
burdens for us all to bear. 

But his last years as he lay broken in body 
and silent were full of calm divine light, and he 
oftentimes spoke to Joanna of the cruel mis 
takes he had made in his relations towards his 
children, and spoke particularly of me, wonder 
ing how I had borne my burdens so well and 
patiently, and warned Joanna to be watchful 
to govern her children by love alone. . . . 



Seven of the eight children will surely be 
present [at the funeral]. We have also sent 
telegrams to mother and Sarah, though I fear 
neither will be able to endure the fatigues of 
the journey. ... In case they should try to 
be present, David or I would meet them at 
Chicago. Then the entire family would be 
gathered once more, and how gladly we would 
bring that about! for in all our devious ways 
and wanderings we have loved one another. 

In any case, we soon will be scattered again, 
and again gathered together. In a few days the 
snow will be falling on father s grave and one 
by one we will join him in his last rest, all our 
separating wanderings done forever. 

Love to all, Wanda, Grandma, and Grandpa. 
Ever yours, Louie 


To Mrs. Muir 

September Wth, 1885 


I have just returned from a visit to the old 
people and old places about our first home in 
America, ten or twelve miles to the north of 
this place, and am glad to hear from you at 
last. Your two letters dated August 23d and 
28th and the Doctor s of September 1st have 


just been received, one of them having been 
forwarded from the Yellowstone, making 
altogether four letters from home besides 
Wanda s neat little notes which read and look 
equally well whichever side is uppermost. Now 
I feel better, for I had begun to despair of hear 
ing from you at all, and the weeks since leaving 
home, having been crowded with novel scenes 
and events, seemed about as long as years. 

As for the old freedom I used to enjoy in the 
wilderness, that, like youth and its enthusiasms, 
is evidently a thing of the past, though I feel 
that I could still do some good scientific work 
if the necessary leisure could be secured. Your 
letters and the Doctor s cheer and reassure me, 
as I felt that I was staying away too long and 
leaving my burdens for others to carry who had 
enough of their own, and though you encourage 
me to prolong my stay and reap all the benefit 
I can in the way of health and pleasure and 
knowledge, I cannot shut my eyes to the fact 
that the main vintage will soon be on and re 
quire my presence, to say nothing of your un 
certain state of health. Therefore I mean to 
begin the return journey next Saturday morn 
ing by way of Chicago and Kansas City. . . . 

Still another of your letters has just arrived, 
dated August 31st, by which I learn that 
Wanda is quite well and grandma getting 



stronger, while you are not well as you should 
be. I have tried to get you conscious of the 
necessity of the utmost care of your health 
especially at present and again remind you 
of it. 

The Yellowstone period was, as you say, far 
too short, and it required bitter resolution to 
leave all. The trip, however, as a whole has 
been far from fruitless in any direction. I have 
gained telling glimpses of the Continent from 
the car windows, and have seen most of the old 
friends and neighbors of boyhood times, who 
without exception were almost oppressively 
kind, while a two weeks visit with mother and 
the family is a great satisfaction to us all, how 
ever much we might wish it extended. . . . 

I saw nearly all of the old neighbors, the 
young folk, of course, grown out of memory 
and unrecognizable; but most of the old I found 
but little changed by the eighteen years since 
last I saw them, and the warmth of my wel 
come was in most instances excruciating. 
William Duncan, the old Scotch stone-mason 
who loaned me books when I was little and al 
ways declared that " Johnnie Moor will mak a 
name for himsel some day," I found hale and 
hearty, eighty-one years of age, and not a gray 
hair in his curly, bushy locks erect, firm of 
step, voice firm with -a clear calm ring to it, 


memory as good as ever apparently, and his 
interest in all the current news of the world as 
fresh and as far-reaching. I stopped overnight 
with [him] and talked till midnight. 

We were four days in making the round and 
had to make desperate efforts to get away. 
We climbed the Observatory that used to be 
the great cloud-capped mountain of our child s 
imagination, but it dwindled now to a mere 
hill two hundred and fifty feet high, half the 
height of that vineyard hill opposite the house. 
The porphyry outcrop on the summit is very 
hard, and I was greatly interested in finding it 
grooved and polished by the ice-sheet. I began 
to get an appetite and feel quite well. Tell 
Wanda I ll write her a letter soon. Everybody 
out in the country seemed disappointed, not 
seeing you also. Love to all. 

Ever yours JOHN MUIR 

Early in 1887 a letter from Janet Moores, 
one of the children who had visited Muir in his 
dark-room in Indianapolis many years ago, 
brought him news that she had arrived in Oak 
land. She was the daughter of his friend Mrs. 
Julia Merrill Moores, and a sister of Merrill 
Moores, who spent a season with John in Yose- 
mite and in 1915 was elected a member of 
Congress from Indiana. 



To Miss Janet Douglass Moores 

February 23, 1887 


Have you really turned into a woman, and 
have you really come to California, the land of 
the sun, and Yosemite and a that, through the 
whirl of all these years! Seas between us braid 
hae roared, my lassie, sin the auld lang syne, 
and many a storm has roared over broad moun 
tains and plains since last we parted. Yet, 
however, we are but little changed in all that 
signifies, saved from many dangers that we 
know, and from many more that we never shall 
know kept alive and well by a thousand, 
thousand miracles! 

Twenty years! How long and how short a 
time that seems to-day! How many times the 
seas have ebbed and flowed with their white 
breaking waves around the edges of the conti 
nents and islands in this score of years, how 
many times the sky has been light and dark, 
and the ground between us been shining with 
rain, and sun, and snow: and how many times 
the flowers have bloomed, but for a that and a 
that you seem just the same to me, and time 
and space and events hide you less than the 
thinnest veil. Marvelous indeed is the per 
manence of the impressions of those sunrise 



days, more enduring than granite mountains. 
Through all the landscapes I have looked into, 
with all their wealth of forests, rivers, lakes, 
and glaciers, and happy living faces, your 
face, Janet, is still seen as clear and keenly 
outlined as on the day I went away on my long 

Aye, the auld lang syne is indeed young. 
Time seems of no avail to make us old except 
in mere outer aspects. To-day you appear the 
same little fairy girl, following me in my walks 
with short steps as best you can, stopping now 
and then to gather buttercups, and anemones, 
and erigenias, sometimes taking my hand in 
climbing over a fallen tree, threading your way 
through tall grasses and ferns, and pushing 
through very small spaces in thickets of under 
brush. Surely you must remember those hol 
iday walks, and also your coming into my 
dark-room with light when I was blind! And 
what light has filled me since that time, I am 
sure you will be glad to know the richest 
sun-gold flooding these California valleys, the 
spiritual alpenglow steeping the high peaks, 
silver light on the sea, the white glancing sun- 
spangles on rivers and lakes, light on the 
myriad stars of the snow, light sifting through 
the angles of sun-beaten icebergs, light in 
glacier caves, irised spray wafting from white 


waterfalls, and the light of calm starry nights 
beheld from mountain-tops dipping deep into 
the clear air. Aye, my lassie, it is a blessed 
thing to go free in the light of this beautiful 
world, to see God playing upon everything, 
as a man would play on an instrument, His 
fingers upon the lightning and torrent, on every 
wave of sea and sky, and every living thing, 
making all together sing and shine in sweet ac 
cord, the one love-harmony of the Universe. 
But what need to write so far and wide, now 
you are so near, and when I shall so soon see 
you face to face? 

I only meant to tell you that you were not 
forgotten. You think I may not know you at 
first sight, nor will you be likely to recognize 
me. Every experience is recorded on our faces 
in characters of some sort, I suppose, and if at 
all telling, my face should be quite picturesque 
and marked enough to be readily known by 
anybody looking for me : but when I look in the 
glass, I see but little more than the marks of 
rough weather and fasting. Most people would 
see only a lot of hair, and two eyes, or one and 
a half, in the middle of it, like a hillside with 
small open spots, mostly overgrown with 
shaggy chaparral, as this portrait will show 
[drawing]. Wanda, peeping past my elbow, 
asks, " Is that you, Papa? " and then goes on to 



Drawing in letter of February 23, 1887 

to Miss Janet Douglass Moores 


say that it is just like me, only the hair is not 
curly enough; also that the little ice and island 
sketches are just lovely, and that I must draw a 
lot just like them for her. I think that you will 
surely like her. She remarked the other day 
that she was well worth seeing now, having got 
a new gown or something that pleased her. 
She is six years old. 

The ranch and the pasture hills hereabouts 
are not very interesting at this time of year. 
In bloom-time, now approaching, the orchards 
look gay and Dolly Vardenish, and the home- 
garden does the best it can with rose bushes 
and so on, all good in a food and shelter way, 
but about as far from the forests and gardens 
of God s wilderness as bran-dolls are from chil 
dren. I should like to show you my wild lily 
and Cassiope and Bryanthus gardens, and 
homes not made with hands, with their daisy 
carpets and woods and streams and other fine 
furniture, and singers, not in cages; but legs 
and ankles are immensely important on such 
visits. Unfortunately most girls are like flowers 
that have to stand and take what comes, or at 
best ride on iron rails around and away from 
what is worth seeing; then they are still some 
thing like flowers flowers in pots carried by 

I advised you not to come last Friday be- 




cause the weather was broken, and the tele 
phone was broken, and the roads were muddy, 
but the weather will soon shine again, and then 
you and Mary can come, with more comfort 
and safety. Remember me to Mary, and 
believe me, 

Ever truly your friend 


Muir s literary unproductiveness during the 
eighties began to excite comment among his 
friends if one may judge by several surviving 
letters in which they inquire whether he has 
forsaken literature. His wife, also, was eager 
to have him continue to write, and it was, per 
haps, due to this gentle pressure from several 
quarters that he accepted in 1887 a proposal 
from the J. Dewing Company to edit and con 
tribute to an elaborately illustrated work en 
titled " Picturesque California." As usual with 
such works, it was issued in parts, sold by sub 
scription, and while it bears the publication 
date of 1888, it was not finished until a year or 
two later. 

As some of the following letters show, Muir 
found it a hard grind to supply a steady stream 
of copy to the publishers and to supervise his 
corps of workmen on the ranch at the same 
time. "I am all nerve-shaken and lean as a 



crow loaded with care, work, and worry/ 
he wrote to his brother David after a serious 
illness of his daughter Helen in August, 1887. 
"The care and worry will soon wear away, I 
hope, but the work seems rather to increase. 
There certainly is more than enough of it to 
keep me out of mischief forever. Besides the 
ranch I have undertaken a big literary job, an 
illustrated work on California and Alaska. I 
have already written and sent in the two first 
numbers and the illustrations, I think, are 
nearly ready." 

The prosecution of this task involved various 
trips, and on some of them he was accompanied 
by his friend William Keith, the artist. Per 
haps the longest was the one on which they 
started together early in July, 1888, traveling 
north as far as Vancouver and making many 
halts and side excursions, both going and com 
ing. Muir was by no means a well man when 
he left home, but in a train letter to his wife he 
expressed confidence that he would "be well 
at Shasta beneath a pine tree." The excursion 
took him to Mount Hood, Mount Rainier, 
Snoqualmie and Spokane Falls, and Victoria, 
up the Columbia, and to many places of minor 
interest in the Puget Sound region. In spite of 
his persistent indisposition he made the ascent 
of Mount Rainier. "Did not mean to climb 



it," he wrote to his wife, "but got excited and 
soon was on top." 

It did not escape the keen eyes of his devoted 
wife that the work of the ranch was in no small 
measure responsible for the failure of his health. 
"A ranch that needs and takes the sacrifice of 
a noble life," she wrote to her husband on this 
trip, "ought to be flung away beyond all reach 
and power for harm. . . . The Alaska book and 
the Yoseniite book, dear John, must be written, 
and you need to be your own self, well and 
strong, to make them worthy of you. There is 
nothing that has a right to be considered be 
side this except the welfare of our children." 

Muir s health, however, unproved during the 
following winter and summer, notwithstanding 
the fact that the completion of "Picturesque 
California" kept him under tension all the 
time. By taking refuge from the tasks of the 
ranch at a hotel in San Francisco, during 
periods of intensive application, he learned to 
escape at least the strain of conflicting respon 
sibilities. But even so he had to admit at times 
that he was "hard at work on the vineyards and 
orchards while the publishers of Picturesque 
California are screaming for copy." In letters 
written to his wife, during periods of seclusion 
in San Francisco, Muir was accustomed to 
quote choice passages for comment and ap- 



proval. The fact is of interest because it re 
veals that he had in her a stimulating and ap 
preciative helper. 

To Mrs. Muir 

July 4th, 1889 


I m pegging away and have invented a few 
good lines since coming here, but it is a hard 
subject and goes slow. However, I ll get it 
done somehow and sometime. It was cold here 
last evening and I had to put on everything in 
my satchel at once. . . . 

Last evening an innocent-looking " Exam 
iner " reporter sent up his card, and I, really in 
nocent, told the boy to let him come up. He be 
gan to speak of the Muir Glacier, but quickly 
changed the subject to horned toads, snakes, 
and Gila monsters. I asked him what made him 
change the subject so badly and what there was 
about the Muir Glacier to suggest such repro 
bate reptiles. He said snakes were his specialty 
and wanted to know if I had seen many, etc. I 
talked carelessly for a few minutes, and judge 
of my surprise in seeing this villainous article. 
"John Muir says they kill hogs and eat rab 
bits, but don t eat hogs because too big, etc." 
What poetry! It s so perfectly ridiculous, I 


have at least had a good laugh out of it. "The 
toughness of the skin makes a difference/ etc. 
should think it would! 

The air has been sulphurous all day and 
noisy as a battle-field. Heard some band 
music, but kept my room and saw not the pro 

Hope your finger is not going to be seriously 
sore and that the babies are well. I feel nervous 
about them after reading about those geo 
logical snakes of John Muir. . . . 

My room is better than the last, and I might 
at length feel at home with my Puget Sound 
scenery had I not seen and had nerves shaken 
with those Gila monsters. I hope I ll survive, 
though the " Examiner" makes me say, "If 
the poison gets into them it takes no time at all 
to kill them" (the hogs), and my skin is not as 
thick. Remember me to Grandma, Grandpa, 
and the babies, and tell them not the sad story 
of the snakes of Fresno. 

Ever yours 


To Mrs. Muir 


July 5ih, 1889 

Here are more snakes that I found in the 


"Call" this morning! The curly, crooked 
things have fairly gained the papers and bid 
fair to crawl through them all, leaving a track 
never, I fear, to be obliterated. The "Chron 
icle s" turn will come next, I fancy, and others 
will follow. I suppose I ought to write a good 
post-glacial snake history for the " Bulletin," 
for just see how much better this lady s snakes 
are than mine in the " Examiner!" "The 
biggest snake that ever waved a warning rat 
tle" almost poetry compared with "John 
Muir says they don t eat sheep." "Wriggling 
and rattling aborigines!" I m ashamed of my 
ramshackle "Examiner" prose. The Indians 
"tree the game" and "hang up his snakeship" 
"beautifully cured" hi "sweet fields arrayed 
in living green," "and very beautiful they are," 
etc., etc., etc. Oh, dear, how scrawny and lean 
and mean my snake composition seems! 
Worse in its brutal simplicity than Johnnie s 
composition about "A Owl." Well, it must be 

I m pegging away. Saw Upham to-day. Dr. 
Vincent is at the Palace. Haven t called on 
him; too busy. Love to all. Don t tell any 
body about my poor snakes. Kiss the babies. 

J. M. 



To Mrs. Muir 

GRAND HOTEL, July 6, 1889 

Oh, dear Louie, here are more of "them 
snakes" "whirled and whizzed like a wheel," 
"big as my thigh, and head like my fist," all of 
them, you see, better and bigger than John 
Muir s. 

And when, oh, when, is that fatal interview 
to end? How many more idiotic articles are to 
grow out of it? "Muir s Strange Story," "Ele 
phants bones are sticking hi the Yukon River, 
says geologist John Muir"! "Bering Straits 
may be bridged because Bering Sea is shallow! " 
Oh! Oh! if the "Examiner" would only ex 
amine its logic!!! Anyhow, I shall take fine 
cautious care that the critter will not examine 
me again. 

Oh, dear Louie, here s more, and were these 
letters not accompanied by the documentary 
evidence, you might almost think that these 
reptiles were bred and born in alcohol! "The 
Parson and the Snakes!" Think of that for 
Sunday reading! What is to become of this 
nation and the "Examiner"? 

It s Johnson, too. Who would have thought 
it? And think of Longfellow s daughter being 
signed to such an article! 

Well, Pm pegging away, but very slowly. 
Have got to the thirtieth page. Enough in four 



days for five minutes reading. And yet I work 
hard, but the confounded subject has got so 
many arms and branches, and I am so cruelly 
severe on myself as to quality and honesty of 
work, that I can t go fast. I just get tired in 
the head and lose all power of criticism until I 
rest awhile. 

It s very noisy here, but I don t notice it. I 
sleep well, and eat well, and my queer throat 
feeling has nearly vanished. The weather is 
very cool. Have to put my overcoat on the 
bed to reinforce the moderate cover. . . . Good 
night. Love to babies and all. 


To Mrs. Muir 


July 11, 1889 

I was very glad to get your letter to-day, for 
somehow I was getting anxious about you all 
as if, instead of a week, I had been gone a year 
and had nothing but lonesome silence all the 

You must see, surely, that I am getting 
literary, for I have just finished writing for the 
day and it is half -past twelve. Last evening I 
went to bed at this time and got up at six and 
have written twenty pages to-day, and feel 



proud that now I begin to see the end of this 
article that has so long been a black, growling 
cloud in my sky. Some of the twenty pages 
were pretty good, too, I think. I ll copy a 
little bit for you to judge. Of course, you say, 
"go to bed." Well, never mind a little writing 
more or less, for I m literary now, and the 
fountains flow. Speaking of climate here, 
I say: 

The Sound region has a fine, fresh, clean climate, 
well washed, both winter and summer with copious 
rains, and swept with winds and clouds from the 
mountains and the sea. Every hidden nook in the 
depths of the woods is searched and refreshed, leav 
ing no stagnant air. Beaver-meadows, lake-basins, 
and low, willowy bogs are kept wholesome and 
sweet, etc. 


The outer sea margin is sublimely drenched and 
dashed with ocean brine, the spicy scud sweeping 
far inland in times of storm over the bending woods, 
the giant trees waving and chanting in hearty ac 
cord, as if surely enjoying it all. 

Here s another bit : [Quotes what is now the 
concluding paragraph of Chapter XVII in 
"Steep Trails," beginning "The most charm 
ing days here are days of perfect calm," etc.]. 

Well, I may be dull to-morrow, and then 
too, I have to pay a visit to that charming, 


entertaining, interesting [dentist] " critter" of 

files and picks, called Cutlar. So much, I 

suppose, for cold wind in my jaw. Good-night. 

Love to all, 

J. M. 

To Mrs. Muir 

July 12, 1889 


Twelve and a half o clock again, so that this 
letter should be dated the 13th. Was at the 
dentist s an hour and a half. . . . Still, have 
done pretty well, seventeen pages now, eighty- 
six altogether. Dewing is telegraphing like 
mad from New York for Muir s manuscript. 
He will get it ere long. Most of the day s work 
was prosy, except the last page just now 
written. Here it is. Speaking of masts sent 
from Puget Sound, I write: 

Thus these trees, stripped of their leaves and 
branches, are raised again, transplanted and set 
firmly erect, given roots of iron, bare cross-poles for 
limbs, and a new foliage of flapping canvas, and 
then sent to sea, where they go merrily bowing and 
waving, meeting the same winds that rocked them 
when they stood at home in the woods. After stand 
ing in one place all their lives, they now, like sight 
seeing tourists, go round the world, meeting many a 
relative from the old home forest, some, like them- 


selves, arrayed in broad canvas foliage, others 
planted close to shore, head downward in the mud, 
holding wharf platforms aloft to receive the wares 
of all nations. 

Imaginative enough, but I don t know what 
I ll think of it in the sober morning. I see by 
the papers that [John] Swett is out of school, 
for which I am at once glad, sorry, and indig 
nant, if not more. 

Love to all. Good-night. 

J. M. 

To Mrs. Muir 

July 14, 1889 


It is late, but I will write very fast a part of 
to-day s composition. Here is a bit you will 

The upper Snoqualmie Fall is about seventy-five 
feet high, with bouncing rapids at head and foot, 
set in a romantic dell thatched with dripping mosses 
and ferns and embowered in dense evergreens and 
blooming bushes. The road to it leads through 
majestic woods with ferns ten feet long beneath the 
trees, and across a gravelly plain disforested by fire 
many years ago, where orange lilies abound and 
bright shiny mats of kinnikinick sprinkled with 
scarlet berries. From a place called "Hunt s," at 
the end of the wagon road, a trail leads through 


fresh dripping woods never dry Merten, Men- 
zies, and Douglas spruces and maple and Thuja. 
The ground is covered with the best moss-work of 
the moist cool woods of the north, made up chiefly 
of the various species of hypnum, with Marchantia 
jungermannia, etc., in broad sheets and bosses 
where never a dust particle floated, and where all 
the flowers, fresh with mist and spray, are wetter 
than water-lilies. 

In the pool at the foot of the fall there is good 
trout-fishing, and when I was there I saw some 
bright beauties taken. Never did angler stand in a 
spot more romantic, but strange it seemed that any 
one could give attention to hooking in a place so 
surpassingly lovely to look at the enthusiastic 
rush and song of the fall; the venerable trees over 
head leaning forward over the brink like listeners 
eager to catch every word of their white refreshing 
waters; the delicate maidenhairs and aspleniums, 
with fronds outspread, gathering the rainbow spray, 
and the myriads of hooded mosses, every cup fresh 
and shining. 

Here s another kind starting for Mount 

The guide was well mounted, Keith had bones to 
ride, and so had small queer Joe, the camp boy, and 
I. The rest of the party traveled afoot. The dis 
tance to the mountain from Yelm in a straight line 
is about fifty miles. But by the Mule-and- Yellow- 
Jacket trail, that we had to follow, it is one hundred 
miles. For, notwithstanding a part of the trail runs 
in the air where the wasps work hardest, it is far 
from being an air-line as commonly understood. 


At the Soda Springs near Rainier: 

Springs here and there bubble up from the margin 
of a level marsh, both hot and cold, and likely to tell 
in some way on all kinds of ailments. At least so we 
were assured by our kind buxom hostess, who ad 
vised us to drink without ceasing from all in turn 
because "every one of em had medicine in it and 
[was] therefore sure to do good ! " All our party were 
sick, perhaps from indulging too freely in " canned 
goods" of uncertain age. But whatever the poison 
might have been, these waters failed to wash it 
away though we applied them freely and faithfully 
internally and externally, and almost eternally as 
one of the party said. 

Next morning all who had come through the 
ordeal of yellow- jackets, ancient meats, and me 
dicinal waters with sufficient strength, resumed the 
journey to Paradise Valley and Camp of the Clouds, 
and, strange to say, only two of the party were left 
behind in bed too sick to walk or ride. Fortunately 
at this distressing crisis, by the free application 
of remedies ordinary and extraordinary, such as 
brandy, paregoric, pain-killer, and Doctor some- 
body-or-other s Golden Vegetable Wonder, they 
were both wonderfully relieved and joined us at the 
Cloud Camp next day, etc., etc., etc. 

The dentist is still hovering like an angel or 
something over me. The writing will be fin 
ished to-morrow if all goes well. But punctua 
tion and revision will take some time, and as 
there is now enough to fill two numbers, I 
suppose it will have to be cut down a little. 



Guess I ll get home Thursday, but will try for 
Wednesday. Hoping all are well, I go to 

With loving wishes for all 


To James Davie Butler 

MARTINEZ, September 1, 1889 

You are not forgotten, but I am stupidly 
busy, too much so to be able to make good use 
of odd hours in writing. All the year I have 
from fifteen to forty men to look after on the 
ranch, besides the selling of the fruit, and the 
editing of " Picturesque California," and the 
writing of half of the work or more. This fall I 
have to contribute some articles to the "Cen 
tury Magazine," so you will easily see that I 
am laden. 

It is delightful to see you in your letters with 
your family and books and glorious surround 
ings. Every region of the world that has been 
recently glaciated is pure and wholesome and 
abounds in fiae scenery, and such a region is 
your northern lake country. How gladly I 
would cross the mountains to join you all for a 
summer if I could get away! But much of my 
old freedom is now lost, though I run away 
right or wrong at times. Last summer I spent 



a few months in Washington Territory study 
ing the grand forests of Puget Sound. I then 
climbed to the summit of Mount Rainier, about 
fifteen thousand feet high, over many miles of 
wildly shattered and crevassed glaciers. Some 
twenty glaciers flow down the flanks of this 
grand icy cone, most of them reaching the 
forests ere they melt and give place to roaring 
turbid torrents. This summer I made yet an 
other visit to my old Yosemite home, and out 
over the mountains at the head of the Tuol- 
umne River. I was accompanied by one of the 
editors of the " Century," and had a delightful 
time. When we were passing the head of the 
Vernal Falls I told our thin, subtle, spiritual 
story to the editor. 

In a year or two I hope to find a capable 
foreman to look after this ranch work, with its 
hundreds of tons of grapes, pears, cherries, etc., 
and find time for book-writing and old-time 
wanderings in the wilderness. I hope also to 
see you ere we part at the end of the day. 

You want my manner of life. Well, in short, 
I get up about six o clock and attend to the 
farm work, go to bed about nine and read until 
midnight. When I have a literary task I leave 
home, shut myself up in a room in a San Fran 
cisco hotel, go out only for meals, and peg away 
awkwardly and laboriously until the wee sma 



hours or thereabouts, working long and hard 
and accomplishing little. During meals at 
home my little girls make me tell stories, many 
of them very long, continued from day to day 
for a month or two. . . . 

Will you be likely to come again to our side 
of the continent? How I should enjoy your 
visit! To think of little Henry an alderman! 
I am glad that you are all well and all together. 
Greek and ozone holds you in health. . . . 

With love to Mrs. Butler and Henry, James, 
the girls, and thee, old friend, I am ever 
Your friend 


The event of greatest ultimate significance 
in the year 1889 was the meeting of Muir with 
Robert Underwood Johnson, the "Century" 
editor mentioned in the preceding letter. Muir 
had been a contributor to the magazine ever 
since 1878, when it still bore the name of 
"Scribner s Monthly/ and therefore he was 
one of the men with whom Mr. Johnson made 
contact upon his arrival in San Francisco. 
Muir knew personally many of the early Cali 
fornia pioneers and so was in a position to give 
valuable advice in organizing for the "Cen 
tury" a series of articles under the general title 
of "Gold-Hunters." This accomplished, it was 



arranged that Muir was to take Mr. Johnson 
into the Yosemite Valley and the High Sierra. 
Beside a camp-fire in the Tuolumne Meadows, 
Mr. Johnson suggested to Muir that he initiate 
a project for the establishment of the Yosemite 
National Park. 1 In order to further the move 
ment it was agreed that he contribute a series 
of articles to the " Century/ setting forth the 
beauties of the region. Armed with these ar 
ticles and the public sentiment created by them, 
Johnson proposed to go before the House Com 
mittee on Public Lands to urge the establish 
ment of a national park along the boundaries 
to be outlined by Muir. 

Our country has cause for endless congratu 
lation that the plan was carried out with ability 
and success. In August and September, 1890, 
appeared Muir s articles "The Treasures of 
Yosemite" and "Features of the Proposed 
Yosemite National Park," both of which 
aroused strong public support for the project. 
A bill introduced in Congress by General 
William Vandever embodied the limits of the 
park as proposed by Mr. Muir, and on October 
1, 1890, the Yosemite National Park became 
an accomplished fact. The following letters 

1 For a very readable account of this eventful incident 
see Robert Underwood Johnson s Remembered Yesterdays 



relate to the beginning and consummation of 
this far-sighted beneficial project. 

To Mrs. Muir 


June 3, 1889 

We arrived here about one o clock after a 
fine glorious ride through the forests; not much 
dust, not very hot. The entire trip very de 
lightful and restful and exhilarating. Johnson 
tvas charming all the way. I looked out as we 
passed Martinez about eleven o clock, and it 
seemed strange I should ever go past that re 
nowned town. I thought of you all as sleeping 
and safe. Whatever more of travel I am to do 
must be done soon, as it grows ever harder to 
leave my nest and young. 

The foothills and all the woods of the Valley 
are flowery far beyond what I could have looked 
for, and the sugar pines seemed nobler than 
ever. Indeed, all seems so new I fancy I could 
take up the study of these mountain glories 
with fresh enthusiasm as if I were getting into 
a sort of second youth, or dotage, or something 

of that sort. Governor W was in our 

party, big, burly, and somewhat childishly 
jolly; also some other jolly fellows and fel- 



Saw Hill and his fine studio. He has one 
large Yosemite very fine, but did not like it 
so well as the one you saw. He has another 
Yosemite about the size of the Glacier that I 
fancy you would all like. It is sold for five 
hundred dollars, but he would paint another if 
you wished. 

Everybody is good to us. Frank Pixley is 
here and Ben Truman that wrote about Tropi 
cal California. I find old Galen Clark also. He 
looks well, and is earning a living by carrying 
passengers about the Valley. Leidig s and 
Black s old hotels are torn down, so that only 
Bernards 7 and the new Stoneman House are 
left. This last is quite grand; still it has a silly 
look amid surroundings so massive and sub 
lime. McAuley and the immortal twins still 
flounder and flourish hi the ethereal sky of 
Glacier Point. 

I mean to hire Indians, horses, or something 
and make a trip to the Lake Tenaya region or 
Big [Tuolumne] Meadows and Tuolumne 
Canon. But how much we will be able to ac 
complish will depend upon the snow, the legs, 
and the resolution of the Century. Give my 
love to everybody at the two houses and kiss 
and keep the precious babies for me as for thee. 

Will probably be home in about a week. 
Ever thine J. M. 



To Robert Underwood Johnson 

MARTINEZ, March 4, 1890 

. . . The love of Nature among Calif ornians 
is desperately moderate; consuming enthu 
siasm almost wholly unknown. Long ago I 
gave up the floor of Yosemite as a garden, and 
looked only to the rough taluses and inacces 
sible or hidden benches and recesses of the 
walls. All the flowers are wall-flowers now, 
not only in Yosemite, but to a great extent 
throughout the length and breadth of the 
Sierra. Still, the Sierra flora is not yet beyond 
redemption, and much may be done by the 
movement you are making. 

As to the management, it should, I think, 
be taken wholly out of the Governor s hands. 
The office changes too often and must always 
be more or less mixed with politics in its bear 
ing upon appointments for the Valley. A com 
mission consisting of the President of the 
University, the President of the State Board of 
Agriculture, and the President of the Me 
chanics Institute would, I think, be a vast im 
provement on the present commission. Per 
haps one of the commissioners should be an 
army officer. Such changes would not be likely, 
as far as I can see, to provoke any formidable 
opposition on the part of Californians in 



general. Taking back the Valley on the part 
of the Government would probably be a 
troublesome job. ... Everybody to whom I 
have spoken on the subject sees the necessity 
of a change, however, in the management, and 
would favor such a commission as I have sug 
gested. For my part, I should rather see the 
Valley in the hands of the Federal Govern 
ment. But how glorious a storm of growls and 
howls would rend our sunny skies, bursting 
forth from every paper in the state, at the out 
rage of the " Century" Editor snatching with 
unholy hands, etc., the diadem from Cali 
fornia s brow! Then where, oh, where would 
be the "supineness" of which you speak? 
These Californians now sleeping in apathy, 
caring only for what "pays, " would then blaze 
up as did the Devil when touched by Ithuriel s 
spear. A man may not appreciate his wife, 
but let her daddie try to take her back! 

... As to the extension of the grant, the 
more we can get into it the better. It should 
at least comprehend all the basins of the 
streams that pour into the Valley. No great 
opposition would be encountered in gaining 
this much, as few interests of an antagonistic 
character are involved. On the Upper Merced 
waters there are no mines or settlements of any 
sort, though some few land claims have been 



established. These could be easily extinguished 
by purchase. All the basins draining into 
Yosemite are really a part of the Valley, as 
their streams are a part of the Merced. Cut off 
from its branches, Yosemite is only a stump. 
However gnarly and picturesque, no tree that 
is beheaded looks well. But like ants creeping 
in the furrows of the bark, few of all the visitors 
to the Valley see more than the stump, and but 
little of that. To preserve the Valley and leave 
all its related rocks, waters, forests to fire and 
sheep and lumbermen is like keeping the grand 
hall of entrance of a palace for royalty, while 
all the other apartments from cellar to dome 
are given up to the common or uncommon use 
of industry butcher-shops, vegetable-stalls, 
liquor-saloons, lumber-yards, etc. 

But even the one main hall has a hog-pen in 
the middle of the floor, and the whole concern 
seems hopeless as far as destruction and des 
ecration can go. Some of that stink, I m afraid, 
has got into the pores of the rocks even. Per 
haps it was the oncoming shadow of this des 
ecration that caused the great flood and earth 
quake "Nature sighing through all her 
works giving sign of woe that all was lost." 
Still something may be done after all. I have 
indicated the boundary line on the map in 
dotted line as proposed above. A yet greater 



extension I have marked on the same map, ex 
tending north and south between Lat. 38 and 
37 30 and from the axis of the range westward 
about thirty-six or forty miles. This would in 
clude three groves of Big Trees, the Tuolumne 
Canon, Tuolumne Meadows, and Hetch Hetchy 
Valley. So large an extension would, of course, 
meet more opposition. Its boundary lines 
would not be nearly so natural, while to the 
westward many claims would be encountered; 
a few also about Mounts Dana and Warren, 
where mines have been opened. 

Come on out here and take another look at 
the Canon. The earthquake taluses are all 
smooth now and the chaparral is buried, while 
the river still tosses its crystal arches aloft and 
the ouzel sings. We would be sure to see some 
fine avalanches. Come on. I ll go if you will, 
leaving ranch, reservations, Congress bills, 
" Century" articles, and all other terrestrial 
cares and particles. In the meantime I am 
Cordially yours 


To Robert Underwood Johnson 

MARTINEZ, April \th, 1890 

I hope you have not been put to trouble by 
the delay of that manuscript. I have been in- 



terrupted a thousand times, while writing, by 
coughs, grippe, business, etc. I suppose you 
will have to divide the article. I shall write 
a sketch of the Tuolumne Canon and Kings 
River yosemite, also the charming yosemite of 
the Middle Fork of Kings River, all of which 
may, I think, be got into one article of ten 
thousand words or twenty. If you want more 
than is contained in the manuscript sent you 
on the peaks and glaciers to the east of Yose 
mite, let me know and I will try to give what is 
wanted with the Tuolumne Canon. 

The Yosemite "Century" leaven is working 
finely, even thus far, throughout California. I 
enclose a few clippings. The " Bulletin" 
printed the whole of Mack s " Times" letter 
on our honest Governor. [Charles Howard] 
Shinn says that the "Overland" is going out 
into the battle henceforth in full armor. The 
" Evening Post" editorial, which I received 
last night and have just read, is a good one and 
I will try to have it reprinted. . . . 

Mr. Olmsted s paper was, I thought, a little 
soft in some places, but all the more telling, I 
suppose, in some directions. Kate, like fate, 
has been going for the Governor, and I fancy 
he must be dead or at least paralyzed ere this. 

How fares the Bill Vandever? I hope you 
gained all the basin. If you have, then a thou- 



sand trees and flowers will rise up and call you 
blessed, besides the other mountain people and 
the usual " unborn generations," etc. 

In the meantime for what you have already 
done I send you a reasonable number of Yose- 
mite thanks, and remain 

Very truly your friend 


To Mr. and Mrs. John Bidwell 


April 19th, 1890 

I ve been thinking of you every day since 
dear Parry x died. It seems as if all the good 
flower people, at once great and good, have 
died now that Parry has gone Torrey, Gray, 
Kellogg, and Parry. Plenty more botanists 
left, but none we have like these. Men more 
amiable apart from their intellectual power I 
never knew, so perfectly clean and pure they 
were pure as lilies, yet tough and unyielding 
in mental fibre as live-oaks. Oh, dear, it makes 
me feel lonesome, though many lovely souls 
remain. Never shall I forget the charming 

1 Charles C. Parry, 1823-90. Explored and collected on 
the Mexican boundary, in the Rocky Mountains, and in 
California. The other botanists mentioned are John Torrey, 
1796-1873; Asa Gray, 1810-88; and Albert Kellogg, who 
died in 1887. 



evenings I spent with Torrey in Yosemite, and 
with Gray, after the day s rambles were over 
and they told stories of their lives, Torrey 
fondly telling all about Gray, Gray about 
Torrey, all in one summer; and then, too, they 
told me about Parry for the first time. And 
then how fine and how fruitful that trip to 
Shasta with you! Happy days, not to come 
again! Then more than a week with Parry 
around Lake Tahoe in a boat; had him all to 
myself precious memories. It seems easy 
to die when such souls go before. And blessed 
it is to feel that they have indeed gone before 
to meet us in turn when our own day is done. 
The Scotch have a proverb, "The evenin 
brings a name." And so, however separated, 
far or near, the evening of life brings all to 
gether at the last. Lovely souls embalmed in a 
thousand flowers, embalmed in the hearts of 
their friends, never for a moment does death 
seem to have had anything to do with them. 
They seem near, and are near, and as if in 
bodily sight I wave my hand to them in loving 

Ever yours 




To Robert Underwood Johnson 

MARTINEZ, May Sth, 1890 

... As I have urged over and over again, the 
Yosemite Reservation ought to include all the 
Yosemite fountains. They all lie in a compact 
mass of mountains that are glorious scenery, 
easily accessible from the grand Yosemite 
center, and are not valuable for any other use 
than the use of beauty. No other interests 
would suffer by this extension of the boundary. 
Only the summit peaks along the axis of the 
range are possibly gold-bearing, and not a 
single valuable mine has yet been discovered 
in them. Most of the basin is a mass of solid 
granite that will never be available for agricul 
ture, while its forests ought to be preserved. 
The Big Tuolumne Meadows should also be 
included, since it forms the central camping- 
ground for the High Sierra adjacent to the 
Valley. The Tuolumne Canon is so closely re 
lated to the Yosemite region it should also be 
included, but whether it is or not will not 
matter much, since it lies in rugged rocky 
security, as one of Nature s own reservations. 

As to the lower boundary, it should, I think, 
be extended so far as to include the Big Tree 
groves below the Valley, thus bringing under 
Government protection a section of the forest 



containing specimens of all the principal trees 
of the Sierra, and which, if left unprotected, 
will vanish like snow in summer. Some private 
claims will have to be bought, but the cost will 
not be great. 

Yours truly 


While traveling about with Keith in the 
Northwest during July, 1888, gathering ma 
terials for "Picturesque California, 7 Muir was 
one day watching at Victoria the departure of 
steamers for northern ports. Instantly he 
heard the call of the "red gods" of Alaska and 
began to long for the old adventurous days in 
the northern wildernesses. "Though it is now 
ten years since my last visit here," he wrote to 
his wife in the evening, "Alaska comes back 
into near view, and if a steamer were to start 
now it would be hard indeed to keep myself 
from going aboard. I must spend one year 
more there at the least. The work I am now 
doing seems much less interesting and impor 
tant. . . . Only by going alone in silence, with 
out baggage, can one truly get into the heart 
of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust 
and hotels and baggage and chatter." 

The longed-for opportunity came two years 
later. During the winter of 1890 he had suffered 



an attack of the grippe which brought on a 
severe bronchial cough. He tried to wear it out 
at his desk, but it grew steadily worse. He 
then, as he used to relate with a twinkle in his 
eye, decided upon the novel experiment of try 
ing to wear it out by going to Alaska and ex 
ploring the upper tributaries of the Muir Gla 
cier. In the following letter we get a glimpse 
of him after two weeks of active exploration 
around Glacier Bay. 

To Mrs. Muir 


July 7th, [1890] 

The steamer Queen is in sight pushing up 
Muir Inlet through a grand crowd of bergs on 
which a clear sun is shining. I hope to get a 
letter from you to hear how you and the little 
ones and older ones are. 

I have had a good instructive and exciting 
time since last I wrote you by the Elder a week 
ago. The weather has been fine and I have 
climbed two mountains that gave grand general 
views of the immense mountain fountains of 
the glacier and also of the noble St. Elias 
Range along the coast mountains, La Prouse, 
Crillon, Lituya, and Fairweather. Have got 



some telling facts on the forest question that 
has so puzzled me these many years, etc., etc. 
Have also been making preliminary observa 
tions on the motion of the glacier. Loomis and 
I get on well, and the Reid 1 and Gushing party 
camped beside us are fine company and ener 
getic workers. They are making a map of the 
Muir Glacier and Inlet, and intend to make 
careful and elaborate measurements of its rate 
of motion, size, etc. They are well supplied 
with instruments and will no doubt do good 

I have yet to make a trip round Glacier Bay, 
to the. edge of the forest and over the glacier as 
far as I can. Probably Reid and Gushing and 
their companions will go with me. If this 
weather holds, I shall not encounter serious 
trouble. Anyhow, I shall do the best I can. I 
mean to sew the bear skin into a bag, also a 
blanket and a canvas sheet for the outside. 
Then, like one of Wanda s caterpillars, I can 
lie warm on the ice when night overtakes me, 
or storms rather, for here there is now no night. 
My cough has gone and my appetite has come, 
and I feel much better than when I left home. 
Love to each and all. 

If I have time before the steamer leaves I 
will write to my dear Wanda and Helen. The 

1 Professor Harry Fielding Reid. 


crowd of visitors are gazing at the grand blue 
crystal wall, tinged with sunshine. 
Ever thine 


The crowning experience of this Alaska trip 
was the sled-trip which he made across the 
upper reaches of the Muir Glacier between the 
llth and the 21st of July. Setting out from 
his little cabin on the terminal moraine, Muir 
pushed back on the east side of the glacier 
toward Howling Valley, fifteen miles to the 
northward, examined and sketched some of the 
lesser tributaries, then turned to the westward 
and crossed the glacier near the confluence of 
the main tributaries, and thence made his way 
down the west side to the front. No one was 
willing to share this adventure with him so he 
faced it, as usual, alone. 

Chapter XVIII of " Travels in Alaska" 
gives, in journal form, an account of Muir s 
experiences and observations on this trip. To 
this may be added his description of two inci 
dents as related in fragments of unpublished 

In the course of this trip I encountered few ad 
ventures worth mention apart from the common 
dangers encountered in crossing crevasses. Large 
timber wolves were common around Howling 


Valley, feeding apparently on the wild goats of the 
adjacent mountains. 

One evening before sundown I camped on the 
glacier about a mile above the head of the valley, 
and, sitting on my sled enjoying the wild scenery, 
I scanned the grassy mountain on the west side 
above the timber-line through my field glasses, ex 
pecting to see a good many wild goats in pastures 
so fine and wild. I discovered only two or three at 
the foot of a precipitous bluff, and as they appeared 
perfectly motionless, and were not lying down, I 
thought they must be held there by attacking 
wolves. Next morning, looking again, I found the 
goats still standing there in front of the cliff, and 
while eating my breakfast, preparatory to contin 
uing my journey, I heard the dismal long-drawn- 
out howl of a wolf, soon answered by another and 
another at greater distances and at short intervals 
coming nearer and nearer, indicating that they had 
discovered me and were coming down the mountain 
to observe me more closely, or perhaps to attack 
me, for I was told by my Indians while exploring in 
1879 and 1880 that these wolves attack either in 
summer or winter, whether particularly hungry or 
not; and that no Indian hunter ever ventured far 
into the woods alone, declaring that wolves were 
much more dangerous than bears. The nearest wolf 
had evidently got down to the margin of the glacier, 
and although I had not yet been able to catch sight 
of any of them, I made hp,ste to a large square 
boulder on the ice and sheltered myself from attack 
from behind, in the same manner as the hunted 
goats. I had no firearms, but thought I could make 
a good fight with my Alpine ice axe. This, however, 


was only a threatened attack, and I went on my 
journey, though keeping a careful watch to see 
whether I was followed. 

At noon, reaching the confluence of the eastmost 
of the great tributaries and observing that the ice 
to the westward was closely crevassed, I concluded 
to spend the rest of the day in ascending what is 
now called Snow Dome, a mountain about three 
thousand feet high, to scan the whole width of the 
glacier and choose the route that promised the 
fewest difficulties. The day was clear and I took 
the bearings of what seemed to be the best route 
and recorded them in my notebook so that in case I 
should be stopped by a blinding snowstorm, or im 
passable labyrinth of crevasses, I might be able to 
retrace my way by compass. 

In descending the mountain to my sled camp on 
the ice I tried to shorten the way by sliding down a 
smooth steep fluting groove nicely lined with snow; 
but in looking carefully I discovered a bluish spot 
a few hundred feet below the head, which I feared 
indicated ice beneath the immediate surface of the 
snow; but inasmuch as there were no heavy boul 
ders at the foot of the slope, but only a talus of small 
pieces an inch or two in diameter, derived from dis 
integrating metamorphic slates, lying at as steep an 
angle as they could rest, I felt confident that even if 
I should lose control of myself and be shot swiftly 
into them, there would be no risk of broken bones. 
I decided to encounter the adventure. Down I 
glided in a smooth comfortable swish until I struck 
the bluejspot. There I suddenly lost control of my 
self and went rolling and bouncing like a boulder 
until stopped by plashing into the loose gravelly delta. 


As soon as I found my legs and senses I was 
startled by a wild, piercing, exulting, demoniac yell, 
as if a pursuing assassin long on my trail were 
screaming: "I ve got you at last." I first imagined 
that the wretch might be an Indian, but could not 
believe that Indians, who are afraid of glaciers, 
could be tempted to venture so far into the icy 
solitude. The mystery was quickly solved when a 
raven descended like a thunderbolt from the sky 
and alighted on a jag of a rock within twenty or 
thirty feet of me. While soaring invisible in the sky, 
I presume that he had been watching me all day, 
and at the same time keeping an outlook for wild 
goats, which were sometimes driven over the cliffe 
by the wolves. Anyhow, no sooner had I fallen, 
though not a wing had been seen in all the clear 
mountain sky, than I had been seen by these black 
hunters who now were eagerly looking me over and 
seemed sure of a meal. The explanation was com 
plete, and as they eyed me with a hungry longing 
stare I simply called to them: "Not yet!" 



THE sudden death of Dr. Strentzel on the last 
of October, 1890, brought in its train a change 
of residence for the Muir family. At the time 
of his marriage, Muir had first rented and later 
purchased from his father-in-law the upper 
part of the Alhambra ranch. Dr. Strentzel 
thereupon left the old home to his daughter, 
and removed to the lower half of the ranch, 
where he and his wife built and occupied a 
large new frame house on a sightly hill-top. 
Since Mrs. Strentzel, after her husband s death, 
needed the care of her daughter, the Muirs 
left the upper ranch home, in which they had 
lived for ten years, and moved to the more 
spacious, but on the whole less comfortable, 
house which thereafter became known as the 
Muir residence. 

At the beginning of his father-in-law s illness, 
Muir was on the point of starting on a trip up 
the Kings River Canon hi order to secure ad 
ditional material for a " Century" article. The 
project, naturally, had to be abandoned. "It 



is now so snowy and late," he wrote to Mr. 
Johnson hi November, "I fear I shall not be 
able to get into the canons this season. I think, 
however, that I can write the article from my 
old notes. I made three trips through the 
Kings River Canon, and one through the wild 
Middle Fork Canon with its charming Yose- 
mite." The deeper purpose of this article was 
to serve as a starter for another national park. 
It means that two weeks after the successful 
issue of the campaign for the creation of the 
Yosemite National Park, Muir, ably assisted 
by Mr. R. U. Johnson, began to advocate the 
enlargement of the Sequoia National Park so 
as to embrace the Kings River region and the 
Kaweah and Tule Sequoia groves. John W. 
Noble was then Secretary of the Interior (1889- 
93), and it is fair to say that, measured by the 
magnitude of benefits conferred upon the 
country, no more useful incumbent has ever 
filled that office. He at once declared himself 
ready to withdraw the region from entry if 
Muir would delimit upon Land Office maps the 
territory that should go into a park. 

"I am going to San Francisco this morning," 
Muir wrote to Johnson on May 13, 1891, "and 
will get the best map I can and will draw the 
boundaries of the proposed new park. . . . This 
map I shall send you to-morrow." During the 


same month he made another trip up the canon 
of the Kings River, particularly the South 
Fork, and afterwards wrote for the " Century " 1 
an unusually telling description of it under the 
title of "A Rival of the Yosemite." "This 
region/ he said in concluding the article, "con 
tains no mines of consequence; it is too high 
and too rocky for agriculture, and even the 
lumber industry need suffer no unreasonable 
restriction. Let our law-givers then make 
haste, before it is too late, to save this sur 
passingly glorious region for the recreation and 
well-being of humanity, and the world will rise 
up and call them blessed." 

Advance sheets of the article, placed in the 
hands of Secretary Noble, moved him to bring 
Muir s proposal to the immediate attention of 
Congress with the recommendation of "favor 
able consideration and action." But over 
thirty years have passed since then, and Muir s 
dream of good still awaits realization at the 
hands of our law-givers. The Roosevelt- 
Sequoia National Park bill, now before Con 
gress, is substantially Muir s original proposal, 
and fittingly recognizes the invaluable service 
which Theodore Roosevelt rendered to the 
cause of forests and parks, partly in coopera 
tion with Muir, as shown in a succeeding chap- 

1 November, 1891. 


ter. This bill should be speedily passed, over 
the paltering objections of adventurers who 
place their private farthing schemes above the 
immeasurable public benefit of a national play 
ground that not only rivals the already over 
crowded Yosemite in beauty and spaciousness, 
but is, in the words of Muir, "a veritable song 
of God." 

Muir had now reached the stage in his career 
when he had not only the desire, but also the 
power, to translate his nature enthusiasms into 
social service. Increasing numbers of progres 
sive citizens, both East and West, were looking 
to him for leadership when corrupt or incompe 
tent custodians of the public domain needed 
to be brought to the bar of public opinion. And 
there was much of this work to be done by a 
man who was not afraid to stand up under fire. 
Muir s courageous and outspoken criticism of 
the mismanagement of Yosemite Valley by 
the State Commissioners aroused demands in 
Washington for an investigation of the abuses 
and a recession of the Valley to the Federal Gov 
ernment as part of the Yosemite National Park. 

Since there was likelihood of a stiff battle 
over this and other matters, Muir s friends, 
particularly Mr. R. U. Johnson, urged him to 
get behind him a supporting organization on 
the Pacific Coast through which men of kindred 



aims could present a united front. This led to 
the formal organization of the Sierra Club on 
the 4th of June, 1892. It declared its purpose 
to be a double one: first, "to explore, enjoy, and 
render accessible the mountain regions of the 
Pacific Coast," and "to publish authentic in 
formation concerning them"; and, second, "to 
enlist the support and cooperation of the people 
and government in preserving the forests and 
other natural features of the Sierra Nevada 
Mountains." The Club, in short, was formed 
with two sets of aims, and it gathered into its 
membership on the one hand persons who were 
primarily lovers of mountains and mountain 
eering, and on the other hand those whose first 
interest was to conserve the forests and other 
natural features for future generations. In no 
single individual were both these interests bet 
ter represented than hi the person of Muir, 
who became the first president of the Club, and 
held the office continuously until his death 
twenty-two years later. Among the men who 
deserve to be remembered in connection with 
the organization and early conservation ac 
tivities of the Club were Warren Olney, Sr., 
and Professors Joseph LeConte, J. H. Senger, 
William Dallam Annes, and Cornelius Beach 
One of the first important services of the 



Club was its successful opposition to the so- 
called "Caminetti Bill/ 7 a loosely drawn meas 
ure introduced into Congress in 1892 with the 
object of altering the boundaries of the Yosem- 
ite National Park in such a way as to elim 
inate about three hundred alleged mining 
claims, and other large areas desired by stock 
men and lumbermen. The bill underwent 
various modifications, and finally, in 1894, it 
was proposed to authorize the Secretary of the 
Interior to make the alterations. Muir s pub 
lic interviews and the organized resistance of 
the Club, fortunately, repelled this contem 
plated raid upon the new park; for watchful 
guardians of the public domain regarded it as 
of ill omen that Secretary Hoke Smith, who 
had succeeded John W. Noble in 1893, reported 
that he had no objection to interpose to the 
bill s passage. 

It should be recorded to the lasting honor of 
President Harrison and the Honorable John 
W. Noble that they established the first forest 
reserves under an Act of Congress * passed 
March 3, 1891. It was the first real recognition 
of the practical value of forests in conserving 

1 The authorization of the President to make forest reser 
vations is contained in a clause inserted in the Sundry Civil 
Bill of that year. The credit of it belongs to Edward A. 
Bowers ,whose name deserves to be held in remembrance for 
other noble services to the cause of forest conservation. 


water-flow at the sources of rivers. The Boone 
and Crockett Club on April 8, 1891, made it 
the occasion of a special vote of thanks ad 
dressed to the President and Secretary Noble 
on the ground that "this society recognizes in 
these actions the most important steps taken 
in recent years for the preservation of our 
forests. " Though not so recognized at the 
time, it was a happy augury for the future that 
the resolution was inspired, signed, and trans 
mitted by Theodore Roosevelt. 

Among the few surviving Muir letters of the 
early nineties is the following one to his In 
dianapolis friend Mrs. Graydon, who had ex 
pressed a hope that, if he returned to her home 
city during the current year, she might be able 
to arrange for a social evening with the poet 
James Whitcomb Riley. 

To Mrs. Mary Merrill Graydon 

MARTINEZ, February 28, 1893 

I am glad to hear from you once more. You 
say you thought on account of long silence we 
might be dead, but the worst that could be 
fairly said is "not dead but sleeping 7 hardly 
even this, for, however silent, sound friendship 
never sleeps, no matter how seldom paper 
letters fly between. 


My heart aches about Janet one of the 
sad, sad, sore cases that no human wisdom can 
explain. We can only look on the other side 
through tears and grief and pain and see that 
pleasure surpasses the pain, good the evil, and 
that, after all, Divine love is the sublime boss 
of the universe. 

The children greatly enjoy the [James Whit- 
comb] Riley book you so kindly sent. I saw 
Mr. Riley for a moment at the close of one of 
his lectures in San Francisco, but I had to 
awkwardly introduce myself, and he evidently 
couldn t think who I was. Professor [David 
Starr] Jordan, who happened to be standing 
near, though I had not seen him, surprised me 
by saying, "Mr. Riley, this man is the author 
of the Muir Glacier." I invited Mr. Riley to 
make us a visit at the ranch, but his engage 
ments, I suppose, prevented even had he cared 
to accept, and so I failed to see him save in his 

I remember my visit to your home with pure 
pleasure, and shall not forget the kindness you 
bestowed, as shown in so many ways. As to 
coming again this year, I thank you for the 
invitation, but the way is not open so far as I 
can see just now. 

I think with Mr. Jackson that Henry Riley l 

1 One of his fellow workmen in the wagon factory in 


shows forth one of the good sides of human na 
ture in so vividly remembering the little I did 
for him so long ago. I send by mail with this 
letter one of the volumes of "Picturesque Cali 
fornia " for him in your care, as I do not know 
his address. Merrill Moores knows him, and 
he can give him notice to call for the book. It 
contains one of my articles on Washington, 
and you are at liberty to open and read it if you 

Katie [Graydon] I have not seen since she 
went to Oakland, though only two hours away. 
But I know she is busy and happy through 
letters and friends. I mean to try to pass a 
night at McChesney s, and see her and find out 
all about her works and ways. The children 
and all of us remember her stay with us as a 
great blessing. 

Remember me to the Hendricks family, good 
and wholesome as sunshine, to the venerable 
Mr. Jackson, and all the grand Merrill family, 
your girls in particular, with every one of whom 
I fell in love, and believe me, noisy or silent, 
Ever your friend 


Indianapolis, 1866-67. "Your name is a household word 
with us," wrote Mr. Riley in acknowledging Muir s gift. 
"The world has traveled on at a great rate in the twenty-five 
years since you and I made wheels together, and you, I am 
proud to say, have traveled with it." 


Muir had long cherished the intention of 
returning to Scotland in order to compare his 
boyhood memories of the dingles and dells of 
his native land with what he described, before 
the California period of his life, as "all the 
other less important parts of our world." In 
the spring of 1893 he proceeded to carry out 
the plan. The well-remembered charms of the 
old landscapes were still there, but he was to 
find that his standards of comparison had been 
changed by the Sierra Nevada. On the way 
East he paid a visit to his mother in Wisconsin, 
lingered some days at the Chicago World s 
Fair, and then made his first acquaintance with 
the social and literary life of New York and 
Boston. The following letters give some hint 
of the rich harvest of lasting friendships which 
he reaped during his eastern sojourn. 

To Mrs. Muir 

May 29, 1893, 9 A.M. 


I leave for New York this evening at five 
o clock and arrive there to-morrow evening at 
seven, when I expect to find a letter from you 
in care of Johnson at the "Century" Editorial 
Rooms. The Sellers beautiful home has been 
made heartily my own, and they have left 



nothing undone they could think of that would 
in any way add to my enjoyment. Under their 
guidance I have been at the [World s] Fair 
every day, and have seen the best of it, though 
months would be required to see it all. 

You know I called it a " cosmopolitan rat s 1 
nest," containing much rubbish and common 
place stuff as well as things novel and precious. 
Well, now that I have seen it, it seems just 
such a rat s nest still, and what, do you think, 
was the first thing I saw when I entered the 
nearest of the huge buildings? A high rat s 
nest in a glass case about eight feet square, 
with stuffed wood rats looking out from the 
mass of sticks and leaves, etc., natural as life! 
So you see, as usual, I am " always right." 

I most enjoyed the art galleries. There are 
about eighteen acres of paintings by every 
nation under the sun, and I wandered and gazed 
until I was ready to fall down with utter ex 
haustion. The Art Gallery of the California 
building is quite small and of little significance, 
not more than a dozen or two of paintings all 
told: four by Keith, not his best, and four by 
Hill, not his best, and a few others of no special 
character by others, except a good small one 

1 Refers to the wood rat or pack rat (Neotoma) which 
builds large mound-like nests and "packs" into them all 
kinds of amusing odds and ends. 


by Yelland. But the National Galleries are per 
fectly overwhelming in grandeur and bulk and 
variety, and years would be required to make 
even the most meager curiosity of a criticism. 

The outside view of the buildings is grand 
and also beautiful. For the best architects 
have done their best in building them, while 
Frederick Law Olmsted laid out the grounds. 
Last night the buildings and terraces and 
fountains along the canals were illuminated by 
tens of thousands of electric lights arranged 
along miles of lines of gables, domes, and cor 
nices, with glorious effect. It was all fairyland 
on a colossal scale and would have made the 
Queen of Sheba and poor Solomon in all their 
glory feel sick with helpless envy. I wished a 
hundred times that you and the children and 
Grandma could have seen it all, and only the 
feeling that Helen would have been made sick 
with excitement prevented me from sending 
for you. 

I hope Helen is well and then all will be well. 
I have worked at my article at odd times now 
and then, but it still remains to be finished at 
the " Century" rooms. Tell the children I ll 
write them from New York to-morrow or next 
day. Love to all. Good-bye. 
Ever yours 




To Mrs. Muir 

BOSTON, MASS., June 12, 1893 

I have been so crowded and overladen with 
enjoyments lately that I have lost trace of time 
and have so much to tell you I scarce know 
where and how to begin. When I reached New 
York I called on Johnson, and told him I 
meant to shut myself up in a room and finish 
my articles and then go with Keith to Europe. 
But he paid no attention to either my hurry or 
Keith s, and quietly ordered me around and 
took possession of me. 

NEW YORK, June 13 

I was suddenly interrupted by a whole lot of 
new people, visits, dinners, champagne, etc., 
and have just got back to New York by a night 
boat by way of Fall River. So I begin again. 
Perhaps this is the 13th, Tuesday, for I lose all 
track of time. 

First I was introduced to all the " Century " 
people, with their friends also as they came 
in. Dined with Johnson first. Mrs. J. is a 
bright, keen, accomplished woman. . . . 

Saw Burroughs the second day. He had 
been at a Walt Whitman Club the night before, 
and had made a speech, eaten a big dinner, and 



had a headache. So he seemed tired, and gave 
no sign of his fine qualities. I chatted an hour 
with him and tried to make him go to Europe 
with me. The " Century " men offered him 
five hundred dollars for some articles on our 
trip as an inducement, but he answered to-day 
by letter that he could not go, he must be free 
when he went, that he would above all things 
like to go with me, etc., but circumstances 
would not allow it. The " circumstances" bar 
ring the way are his wife. I can hardly say I 
have seen him at all. 

Dined another day with [Richard Watson] 
Gilder. He is charming every way, and has a 
charming home and family. ... I also dined in 
grand style at Mr. Pinchot s, whose son is 
studying forestry. The home is at Gramercy 
Park, New York. Here and at many other 
places I had to tell the story of the minister s 
dog. Everybody seems to think it wonderful 
for the views it gives of the terrible crevasses 
of the glaciers as well as for the recognition of 
danger and the fear and joy of the dog. I must 
have told it at least twelve times at the request 
of Johnson or others who had previously heard 
it. I told Johnson I meant to write it out for 
"St. Nicholas," but he says it is too good for 
"St. Nick," and he wants it for the "Century" 
as a separate article. When I am telling it at 



the dinner-tables, it is curious to see how 
eagerly the liveried servants listen from behind 
screens, half -closed doors, etc. 

Almost every day in town here I have been 
called out to lunch and dinner at the clubs and 
soon have a crowd of notables about me. I had 
no idea I was so well known, considering how 
little I have written. The trip up the Hudson 
was delightful. Went as far as West Point, to 
Castle Crags, the residence of the [Henry Fair- 
field] Osborns. Charming drives in the green 
flowery woods, and, strange to say, all the views 
are familiar, for the landscapes are all freshly 
glacial. Not a line in any of the scenery that is 
not a glacial line. The same is true of all the 
region hereabouts. I found glacial scoring on 
the rocks of Central Park even. 

Last Wednesday evening Johnson and I 
started for Boston, and we got back this morn 
ing, making the trip both ways in the night to 
economize time. After looking at the famous 
buildings, parks, monuments, etc., we took the 
train for Concord, wandered through the fa 
mous Emerson village, dined with Emerson s 
son, visited the Concord Bridge, where the first 
blood of the Revolution was shed, and where 
"the shot was fired heard round the world." 
Went through lovely, ferny, flowery woods and 
meadows to the hill cemetery and laid flowers 



on Thoreau s and Emerson s graves. I think it 
is the most beautiful graveyard I ever saw. It 
is on a hill perhaps one hundred and fifty feet 
high in the woods of pine, oak, beech, maple, 
etc., and all the ground is flowery. Thoreau 
lies with his father, mother, and brother not 
far from Emerson and Hawthorne. Emerson 
lies between two white pine trees, one at his 
head, the other at [his] feet, and instead of a 
mere tombstone or monument there is a mass 
of white quartz rugged and angular, wholly un 
cut, just as it was blasted from the ledge. I 
don t know where it was obtained. There is not 
a single letter or word on this grand natural 
monument. It seems to have been dropped 
there by a glacier, and the soil he sleeps in is 
glacial drift almost wholly unchanged since 
first this country saw the light at the close of 
the glacial period. There are many other graves 
here, though it is not one of the old cemeteries. 
Not one of them is raised above ground. Sweet 
kindly Mother Earth has taken them back to 
her bosom whence they came. I did not imag 
ine I would be so moved at sight of the resting- 
places of these grand men as I found I was, and 
I could not help thinking how glad I would be 
to feel sure that I would also rest here. But I 
suppose it cannot be, for Mother will be in 
Portage. . . . 



After leaving Thoreau and Emerson, we 
walked through the woods to Walden Pond. It 
is a beautiful lake about half a mile long, fairly 
embosomed like a bright dark eye in wooded 
hills of smooth moraine gravel and sand, and 
with a rich leafy undergrowth of huckleberry, 
willow, and young oak bushes, etc., and grass 
and flowers in rich variety. No wonder Thoreau 
lived here two years. I could have enjoyed 
living here two hundred years or two thousand. 
It is only about one and a half or two miles 
from Concord, a mere saunter, and how people 
should regard Thoreau as a hermit on account 
of his little delightful stay here I cannot guess. 

We visited also Emerson s home and were 
shown through the house. It is just as he left 
it, his study, books, chair, bed, etc., and all the 
paintings and engravings gathered in his for 
eign travels. Also saw Thoreau s village resi 
dence and Hawthorne s old manse and other 
home near Emerson s. At six o clock we got 
back from Walden to young Emerson s father- 
in-law s place in Concord and dined with the 
family and Edward Waldo Emerson. The 
latter is very like his father rather tall, 
slender, and with his father s sweet perennial 
smile. Nothing could be more cordial and lov 
ing than his reception of me. When we called at 
the house, one of the interesting old colonial 



ones, he was not in, and we were received by 
his father-in-law, a college mate of Thoreau, 
who knew Thoreau all his life. The old man 
was sitting on the porch when we called. John 
son introduced himself, and asked if this was 
Judge Keyes, etc. The old gentleman kept his 
seat and seemed, I thought, a little cold and 
careless in his manner. But when Johnson said, 
"This is Mr. Muir," he jumped up and said 
excitedly, "John Muir! Is this John Muir?" 
and seized me as if I were a long-lost son. He 
declared he had known me always, and that 
my name was a household word. Then he took 
us into the house, gave us refreshments, cider, 
etc., introduced us to his wife, a charming old- 
fashioned lady, who also took me for a son. 
Then we were guided about the town and 
shown all the famous homes and places. But 
I must hurry on or I will be making a book of it. 
We went back to Boston that night on a late 
train, though they wanted to keep us, and next 
day went to Professor Sargent s grand place, 
where we had a perfectly wonderful time for 
several days. This is the finest mansion and 
grounds I ever saw. The house is about two 
hundred feet long with immense verandas 
trimmed with huge flowers and vines, standing 
in the midst of fifty acres of lawns, groves, wild 
woods of pine, hemlock, maple, beech, hickory, 



etc., and all kinds of underbrush and wild 
flowers and cultivated flowers acres of rho 
dodendrons twelve feet high in full bloom, 
and a pond covered with lilies, etc., all the 
ground waving, hill and dale, and clad in the 
full summer dress of the region, trimmed with 
exquisite taste. 

The servants are in livery, and everything is 
fine about the house and in it, but Mr. and Mrs. 
Sargent are the most cordial and unaffected 
people imaginable, and in a few minutes I was 
at my ease and at home, sauntering where I 
liked, doing what I liked, and making the house 
my own. Here we had grand dinners, formal 
and informal, and here I told my dog story, I 
don t know how often, and described glaciers 
and their works. Here, the last day, I dined 
with Dana, of the New York " Sun," and Styles, 
of the " Forest and Stream/ Parsons, the 
Superintendent of Central Park, and Mat 
thews, Mayor of Boston. Yesterday the Mayor 
came with carriages and drove us through the 
public parks and the most interesting streets of 
Boston, and he and Mr. and Mrs. Sargent drove 
to the station and saw us off. While making 
Sargent s our headquarters, Mr. Johnson took 
me to Cambridge, where we saw the classic old 
shades of learning, found Royce, who guided 
us, saw Porter, and the historian Parkman, 



etc., etc. We called at Eliot s house, but he was 

We also went to the seaside at Manchester, 
forty miles or so from Boston, to visit Mrs. 
[James T.] Fields, a charming old lady, and how 
good a time ! Sarah Orne Jewett was there, and 
all was delightful. Here, of course, Johnson 
made me tell that dog story as if that were the 
main result of glacial action and all my studies, 
but I got in a good deal of ice-work better than 
this, and never had better listeners. 

Judge Rowland, whom I met in Yosemite 
with a party who had a special car, came in 
since I began this letter to invite me to a dinner 
to-morrow evening with a lot of his friends. I 
must get that article done and set the day of 
sailing for Europe, or I won t get away at all. 
This makes three dinners ahead already. I fear 
the tail of my article \\dll be of another color 
from the body. Johnson has been most devoted 
to me ever since I arrived, and I can t make 
him stop. I think I told you the " Century" 
wants to publish my book. They also want me 
to write articles from Europe. 

Must stop. Love to all. How glad I was to 
get Wanda s long good letter this morning, 
dated June 2! All letters in Johnson s care will 
find me wherever I go, here or in Europe. 

[JOHN Mum] 



To Mrs. Muir 


July 6, 1893 

I left Liverpool Monday morning, reached 
Edinburgh early the same day, went to a hotel, 
and then went to the old book-publisher David 
Douglas, to whom Johnson had given me a 
letter. He is a very solemn-looking, dignified 
old Scotchman of the old school, an intimate 
friend and crony of John Brown, who wrote 
"Rab and His Friends," knew Hugh Miller, 
Walter Scott, and indeed all the literary men, 
and was the publisher of Dean Ramsay s 
" Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Char 
acter, " etc. He had heard of me through my 
writings, and, after he knew who I was, burst 
forth into the warmest cordiality and became a 
perfect gushing fountain of fun, humor, and 
stories of the old Scotch writers. Tuesday 
morning he took me in hand, and led me over 
Edinburgh, took me to all the famous places 
celebrated in Scott s novels, went around the 
Calton Hill and the Castle, into the old 
churches so full of associations, to Queen 
Mary s Palace Museum, and I don t know how 
many other places. 

In the evening I dined with him, and had a 
glorious time. He showed me his literary treas- 



ures and curiosities, told endless anecdotes of 
John Brown, Walter Scott, Hugh Miller, etc., 
while I, of course, told my icy tales until very 
late or early the most wonderful night 
as far as humanity is concerned I ever had in 
the world. Yesterday forenoon he took me out 
for another walk and filled me with more won 
ders. His kindness and warmth of heart, once 
his confidence is gained, are boundless. From 
feeling lonely and a stranger in my own native 
land, he brought me back into quick and living 
contact with it, and now I am a Scotchman 
and at home again. 

In the afternoon I took the train for Dunbar 
and hi an hour was in my own old town. There 
was no carriage from the Lome Hotel that 
used to be our home, so I took the one from the 
St. George, which I remember well as Cossar s 
Inn that I passed every day on my way to 
school. But I m going to the Lome, if for 
nothing else [than] to take a look at that 
dormer window I climbed in my nightgown, 
to see what kind of an adventure it really 

I sauntered down the street and went into a 
store on which I saw the sign Melville, and soon 
found that the proprietor was an old playmate 
of mine, and he was, of course, delighted to see 
me. He had been reading my articles, and said 


he had taken great pride in tracing my progress 
through the far-off wildernesses. Then I went 
to William Comb, mother s old friend, who was 
greatly surprised, no doubt, to see that I had 
changed hi forty years. "And this is Johnnie 
Muir! Bless me, when I saw ye last ye were 
naething but a small mischievous lad." He is 
very deaf, unfortunately, and was very busy. 
I am to see him again to-day. 

Next I went in search of Mrs. Lunam, my 
cousin, and found her and her daughter in 
a very pretty home half a mile from town. 
They were very cordial, and are determined 
to get me away from the hotel. I spent 
the evening there talking family affairs, auld 
lang syne, glaciers, wild gardens, adventures, 
etc., till after eleven, then returned to the 

Here are a few flowers that I picked on the 
Castle hill on my walk with Douglas, for 
Helen and Wanda. I pray Heaven in the midst 
of my pleasure that you are all well. Edin 
burgh is, apart from its glorious historical as 
sociations, far the most beautiful town I ever 
saw. I cannot conceive how it could be more 
beautiful. In the very heart of it rises the great 
Castle hill, glacier-sculptured and wild like a 
bit of Alaska hi the midst of the most beautiful 
architecture to be found hi the world. I wish 



you could see it, and you will when the babies 

grow up 


J. M. 

To Helen Muir 

July 12, 1893 


Are you all right? I m in Scotland now, where 
I used to live when I was a little boy, and I saw 
the places where I used to play and the house 
I used to live in. I remember it pretty well, 
and the school where the teacher used to whip 
me so much, though I tried to be good all the 
time and learn my lessons. The round tower 
on the hill in the picture at the beginning of the 
letter is one of the places I used to play at on 
Saturdays when there was no school. 

Here is a little sprig of heather a man gave 
me yesterday and another for Wanda. The 
heather is just beginning to come into bloom. 
I have not seen any of it growing yet, and I 
don t know where the man found it. But I m 
going pretty soon up the mountains, and then 
I ll find lots of it, and won t it be lovely, miles 
and miles of it, covering whole mountains and 
making them look purple. I think I must camp 
out in the heather. 



I m going to come home just as soon as I get 
back from Switzerland, about the time the 
grapes are ripe, I expect. I wish I could see you, 
my little love. 

Your papa 


To Mrs. Muir 

July 12, 1893 


I have been here nearly a week and have seen 
most of my old haunts and playgrounds, and 
more than I expected of my boy playmates. 
Of course it is all very interesting, and I have 
enjoyed it more than I anticipated. Dunbar is 
an interesting place to anybody, beautifully 
located on a plateau above the sea and with a 
background of beautiful hills and dales, green 
fields in the very highest state of cultivation, 
and many belts and blocks of woods so ar 
ranged as to appear natural. I have had a good 
many rides and walks into the country among 
the fine farms and towns and old castles, and 
had long talks with people who listen with 
wonder to the stories of California and far 

I suppose, of course, you have received my 
Edinburgh letter telling the fine tune with 



David Douglas. I mean to leave here next 
Monday for the Highlands, and then go to 
Norway and Switzerland. 

I am stopping with my cousin, who, with 
her daughter, lives in a handsome cottage just 
outside of town. They are very cordial and 
take me to all the best places and people, and 
pet me in grand style, but I must on and away 
or my vacation tune will be past ere I leave 

At Haddington I visited Jeanie Welch 
Carlyle s grave hi the old abbey. Here are two 
daisies, or gowans, that grew beside it. 

I was on a visit yesterday to a farmer s fam 
ily three miles from town friends of the Lu- 
nams. This was a fine specimen of the gentle 
man-farmers places and people in this, the 
best part of Scotland. How fine the grounds 
are, and the buildings and the people ! . . . 

I begin to think I shall not see Keith again 
until I get back, except by accident, for I have 
no time to hunt him up; but anyhow I am not 
so lonesome as I was and with David Douglas s 
assistance will make out to find my way to fair 

The weather here reminds me of Alaska, cool 
and rather damp. Nothing can surpass the 
exquisite fineness and wealth of the farm crops, 
while the modulation of the ground stretching 



away from the rocky, foamy coast to the green 
Lammermoor Hills is charming. Among other 
famous places I visited the old castle of the 
Bride of Lammermoor and the field of the bat 
tle of Dunbar. Besides, I find fine glacial 
studies everywhere. 

I fondly hope you are all well while I am cut 
off from news. 

Ever yours 


To Wanda Muir 

July 13, 1893 


It is about ten o clock in the forenoon here, 
but no doubt you are still asleep, for it is about 
midnight at Martinez, and sometimes when it 
is to-day here it is yesterday in California on 
account of being on opposite sides of the round 
world. But one s thoughts travel fast, and I 
seem to be in California whenever I think of 
you and Helen. I suppose you are busy with 
your lessons and peaches, peaches especially. 
You are now a big girl, almost a woman, and 
you must mind your lessons and get in a good 
store of the best words of the best people while 
your memory is retentive, and then you will go 
through the world rich. 



Ask mother to give you lessons to commit to 
memory every day. Mostly the sayings of 
Christ in the gospels and selections from the 
poets. Find the hymn of praise in Paradise 
Lost " These are thy glorious works, Parent of 
Good, Almighty/ and learn it well. 

Last evening, after writing to Helen, I took 
a walk with Maggie Lunam along the shore on 
the rocks where I played when a boy. The 
waves made a grand show breaking in sheets 
and sheaves of foam, and grand songs, the same 
old songs they sang to me in my childhood, and 
I seemed a boy again and all the long eventful 
years in America were forgotten while I was 
filled with that glorious ocean psalm. 

Tell Maggie I m going to-day to see Miss 
Jaffry, the minister s daughter who went to 
school with us. And tell mamma that the girl 
Agnes Purns, that could outrun me, married a 
minister and is now a widow living near 
Prestonpans. I may see her. Good-bye, dear. 
Give my love to grandma and everybody. 
Your loving father 




To Mrs. Muir 

July 22, 1893 


I stayed about ten days at Dunbar, thinking 
I should not slight my old home and cousins. 
I found an extra cousin in Dunbar, Jane 
Mather, that I had not before heard of, and 
she is one to be proud of, as are the Lunams. 
I also found a few of the old schoolmates, now 
gray old men, older-looking, I think, and 
grayer than I, though I have led so hard a life. 
I went with Maggie Lunam to the old school- 
house where I was so industriously thrashed 
half a century ago. The present teacher, Mr. 
Dick, got the school two years after I left, and 
has held it ever since. He had been reading 
the " Century," and was greatly interested. I 
dined with him and at table one of the guests 
said, "Mr. Dick, don t you wish you had the 
immortal glory of having whipped John Muir?" 

I made many short trips into the country, 
along the shores, about the old castle, etc. 
Then I went back to Edinburgh, and then to 
Dumfries, Burns s country for some years, 
where I found another cousin, Susan Gilroy, 
with whom I had a good time. Then I went 
through Glasgow to Stirling, where I had a 
charming walk about the castle and saw the 


famous battle-field, Bruce s and Wallace s 
monuments, and glacial action. 

This morning I left Stirling and went to 
Callander, thence to Inversnaid by coach and 
boat, by the Trossachs and Loch Katrine, 
thence through Loch Lomond and the moun 
tains to a railroad and on to this charming 
Oban. I have just arrived this day on Lochs 
Katrine and Lomond, and the drives through 
the passes and over the mountains made fa 
mous by Scott in the "Lady of the Lake" will 
be long remembered " Ower the muir amang 
the heather." 

The heather is just coming into bloom and it 
is glorious. Wish I could camp in it a month. 
All the scenery is interesting, but nothing like 
Alaska or California in grandeur. To-morrow 
I m going back to Edinburgh and next morning 
intend to start for Norway, where I will write. 

Possibly I may not be able to catch the boat, 
but guess I will. Thence I ll return to Edin 
burgh and then go to Switzerland. Love to all. 
Dear Wanda and Helen, here is some bell 
heather for you. 

Ever yours 




To Mrs. Muir 

September 1, 1893 


Yesterday afternoon I went to the home of 
Sir Joseph Hooker at Sunningdale with him 
and his family. . . . Now I am done with Lon 
don and shall take the morning express to 
Edinburgh to-morrow, go thence to the High 
lands and see the heather in full bloom, visit 
some friends, and go back to Dunbar for a 

I have been at so many places and have seen 
so much that is new, the time seems immensely 
long since I left you. Sir Joseph and his lady 
were very cordial. They have a charming 
country residence, far wilder and more retired 
than ours, though within twenty-five miles of 
London. We had a long delightful talk last 
evening on science and scientific men, and this 
forenoon and afternoon long walks and talks 
through the grounds and over the adjacent 
hills. Altogether this has been far the most 
interesting day I have had since leaving home. 
I never knew before that Sir Joseph had ac 
companied Ross in his famous Antarctic ex 
pedition as naturalist. He showed me a large 
number of sketches he made of the great ice 
cap, etc., and gave me many facts concerning 



that little known end of the world entirely new 
to me. Long talks, too, about Huxley, Tyndall, 
Darwin, Sir Charles Lyell, Asa Gray, etc. My, 
what a time we had! I never before knew 
either that he had received the Copley Medal, 
the highest scientific honor in the world. 

I hope to hear from you again before sailing, 
as I shall order my mail forwarded from Lon 
don the last thing. I feel that my trip is now 
all but done, though I have a good many people 
to see and small things to do, ere I leave. The 
hills in full heather bloom, however, is not a 
small thing. 

Much love JOHN Mum 

To Helen Muir 


September 7, 1893 

After papa left London he went to the top 
of Scotland to a place called Thurso, where 
a queer Scotch geologist [Robert Dick] once 
lived; hundreds of miles thereabouts were 
covered with heather in full bloom. Then I 
went to Inverness and down the canal to Oban 
again. Then to Glasgow and then to Ireland 
to see the beautiful bogs and lakes and Mac- 
gillicuddy s Reeks. Now I must make haste to 
morrow back towards Scotland and get ready 



to sail to New York on the big ship Campania, 
which leaves Liverpool on the sixteenth day of 
this month, and then I ll soon see darling Helen 
again. Papa is tired traveling so much, and 
wishes he was home again, though he has seen 
many beautiful and wonderful places, and 
learned a good deal about glaciers and moun 
tains and things. It is very late, and I must go 
to bed. Kiss everybody for me, my sweet 
darling, and soon I ll be home. 


To James and Hardy Hay 

September 16, 1893 

James and Hardy Hay 

and all the glorious company 

about them, young and old. 


I am now fairly aff and awa from the old 
home to the new, from friends to friends, and 
soon the braid sea will again roar between us; 
but be assured, however far I go in sunny Cal 
ifornia or icy Alaska, I shall never cease to love 
and admire you, and I hope that now and then 
you will think of your lonely kinsman, whether 
in my bright home in the Golden State or 
plodding after God s glorious glaciers hi the 
storm-beaten mountains of the North. 



Among all the memories that I carry away 
with me this eventful summer none stand out 
in so divine a light as the friends I have found 
among my own kith and kin: Hays, Mathers, 
Lunams, Gilroys. In particular I have enjoyed 
and admired the days spent with the Lunams 
and you Hays. Happy, Godful homes; again 
and again while with you I repeated to myself 
those lines of Burns: "From scenes like these 
old Scotia s grandeur springs, that makes her 
loved at home, revered abroad." 

Don t forget me and if in this changing world 
you or yours need anything in it that I can give, 
be sure to call on 

Your loving and admiring cousin 


From George W. Cable 


December 18, 1893 

I am only now really settled down at home 
for a stay of a few weeks. I wanted to have sent 
to you long ago the book I mail now and which 
you kindly consented to accept from me 
Lanier s poems. There are in Lanier such won 
derful odors of pine, and hay, and salt sands 
and cedar, and corn, and such whisperings of 



Eolian strains and every outdoor sound I 
think you would have had great joy in one an 
other s personal acquaintance. 

And this makes me think how much I have 
in yours. Your face and voice, your true, rich 
words, are close to my senses now as I write, 
and I cry hungrily for more. The snow is on us 
everywhere now, and as I look across the white, 
crusted waste I see such mellowness of yellow 
sunlight and long blue and purple shadows that 
I want some adequate manly partnership to 
help me reap the rapture of such beauty. In 
one place a stretch of yellow grass standing 
above the snow or blown clear of it glows 
golden in the slant light. The heavens are blue 
as my love s eyes and the elms are black lace 
against their infinite distance. 

Last night I walked across the frozen white 
under a moonlight and starlight that made the 
way seem through the wastes of a stellar uni 
verse and not along the surface of one poor 

Write and tell me, I pray you, what those 
big brothers of yours, the mountains, have been 
saying to you of late. It will compensate in 
part, but only hi part, for the absence of your 
spoken words. 

Yours truly 




To Robert Underwood Johnson 

MARTINEZ, April 3, 1894 

The book, begotten Heaven knows when, is 
finished and out of me, therefore hurrah, etc., 
and thanks to you, very friend, for benevolent 
prodding. Six of the sixteen chapters are new, 
and the others are nearly so, for I have worked 
hard on every one of them, leaning them against 
each other, adding lots of new stuff, and killing 
adjectives and adverbs of redundant growth 
the verys, Menses, gloriouses, ands, and bats, 
by the score. I feel sure the little alpine thing 
will not disappoint you. Anyhow I ve done the 
best I could. Read the opening chapter when 
you have time. In it I have ventured to drop 
into the poetry that I like, but have taken good 
care to place it between bluffs and buttresses 
of bald, glacial, geological facts. 

Mrs. Muir keeps asking me whether it is 
possible to get Johnson to come out here this 
summer. She seems to regard you as a Polish 
brother. Why, I ll be hanged if I know. I al 
ways thought you too cosmically good to be of 
any clannish nation. By the way, during these 
last months of abnormal cerebral activity I 
have written another article for the " Century" 
which I ll send you soon. 




The book mentioned in the preceding letter 
was his " Mountains of Calif ornia," which ap 
peared in the autumn of 1894 from the press 
of the Century Company. "I take pleasure in 
sending you with this a copy of my first book," 
he wrote to his old friend Mrs. Carr. " You will 
say that I should have written it long ago; but 
I begrudged the tune of my young mountain- 
climbing days." To a Scotch cousin, Margaret 
Hay Lunam, he characterized it as one in which 
he had tried to describe and explain what a 
traveler would see for himself if he were to 
come to California and go over the mountain- 
ranges and through the forests as he had done. 

The warmth of appreciation with which the 
book was received by the most thoughtful men 
and women of his time did much to stimulate 
him to further literary effort. His friend 
Charles S. Sargent, director of the Arnold Ar 
boretum, then at work upon his great work 
"The Silva of North America," wrote as 
follows: "I am reading your Sierra book and I 
want to tell you that I have never read de 
scriptions of trees that so picture them to the 
mind as yours do. No fellow who was at once a 
poet, naturalist, and keen observer has to my 
knowledge ever written about trees before, and 
I believe you are the man who ought to have 
written a silva of North America. Your book 



is one of the great productions of its kind and 
I congratulate you on it." 

Equally enthusiastic was the great English 
botanist J. D. Hooker. "I have just finished 
the last page of your delightful volume," he 
wrote from his home at Sunningdale, " and can 
therefore thank you with a full heart. I do not 
know when I have read anything that I have 
enjoyed more. It has brought California back 
to my memory with redoubled interest, and 
with more than redoubled knowledge. Above 
all it has recalled half -forgotten scientific facts, 
geology, geography, and vegetation that I 
used to see when in California and which I have 
often tried to formulate in vain. Most espe 
cially this refers to glacial features and to the 
conifers; and recalling them has recalled the 
scenes and surroundings in which I first heard 

The acclaim of the book by reviewers was so 
enthusiastic that the first edition was soon ex 
hausted. It was his intention to bring out at 
once another volume devoted to the Yosemite 
Valley in particular. With this task he busied 
himself hi 1895, revisiting during the summer 
his old haunts at the headwaters of the Tuol- 
umne and passing once more alone through 
the canon to Hetch-Hetchy Valley. As in the 
old days he carried no blanket and a minimum 



of provisions, so that he had only a handful of 
crackers and a pinch of tea left when he reached 
Hetch-Hetchy. "The bears were very numer 
ous," he wrote to his wife on August 17th, 
"this being berry time in the canon. But they 
gave no trouble, as I knew they wouldn t. 
Only in tangled underbrush I had to shout a 
good deal to avoid coming suddenly on them." 
Having no food when he reached Hetch- 
Hetchy, he set out to cover the twenty miles 
from there to Crocker s on foot, but had gone 
only a few miles when he met on the trail two 
strangers and two well-laden pack-animals. 
The leader, T. P. Lukens, asked his name, and 
then told him that he had come expressly to 
meet John Muir in the hope that he might go 
back with him into Hetch-Hetchy. "On the 
banks of the beautiful river beneath a Kellogg 
oak" the bonds of a new mountain friendship 
were sealed while beautiful days rolled by un 
noticed. "I am fairly settled at home again," 
he wrote to his aged mother on his return, "and 
the six weeks of mountaineering of this sum 
mer in my old haunts are over, and now live 
only in memory and notebooks like all the 
other weeks in the Sierra. But how much I en 
joyed this excursion, or indeed any excursion 
in the wilderness, I am not able to tell. I must 
have been born a mountaineer and the climbs 



and scootchers of boyhood days about the 
old Dunbar Castle and on the roof of our house 
made fair beginnings. I suppose old age will 
put an end to scrambling in rocks and ice, but 
I can still climb as well as ever. I am trying 
to write another book, but that is harder than 

During the spring of the following year, Mr. 
Johnson saw some article on Muir which moved 
him to ask whether he had ever been offered a 
professorship at Harvard, and whether Pro 
fessor Louis Agassiz had declared him to be 
"the only living man who understood glacial 
action in the formation of scenery." 

To Robert Underwood Johnson 

MARTINEZ, May 3, 1895 

To both your questions the answer is, No. 
I hate this personal rubbish, and I have always 
sheltered myself as best I could in the thickest 
shade I could find, celebrating only the glory 
of God as I saw it in nature. 

The foundations for the insignificant stories 
you mention are, as far as I know, about as 
follows. More than twenty years ago Pro 
fessor Runkle was in Yosemite, and I took him 
into the adjacent wilderness and, of course, 
night and day preached to him the gospel of 



glaciers. When he went away he urged me to 
go with him, saying that the Institute of Tech 
nology in Boston was the right place for me, 
that I could have the choice of several profes 
sorships there, and every facility for fitting 
myself for the duties required, etc., etc. 

Then came Emerson and more preaching. 
He said, Don t tarry too long hi the woods. 
Listen for the word of your guardian angel. 
You are needed by the young men in our col 
leges. Solitude is a sublime mistress, but an 
intolerable wife. When Heaven gives the sign, 
leave the mountains, come to my house and 
live with me until you are tired of me and then 
I will show you to better people. 

Then came Gray and more fine rambles and 
sermons. He said, When you get ready, come 
to Harvard. You have good and able and en 
thusiastic friends there and we will gladly push 
you ahead, etc., etc. So much for Ha-a-a-rvard. 
But you must surely know that I never for a 
moment thought of leaving God s big show for 
a mere profship, call who may. 

The Agassiz sayings you refer to are more 
nearly true than the college ones. Yosemite 
was my home when Agassiz was in San Fran 
cisco, and I never saw him. When he was there 
I wrote him a long icy letter, telling what glo 
rious things I had to show him and urging him 



to come to the mountains. The reply to this 
letter was written by Mrs. Agassiz, in which she 
told me that, when Agassiz read my letter, he 
said excitedly, "Here is the first man I have 
ever found who has any adequate conception 
of glacial action." Also that he told her to say 
in reply to my invitation that if he should ac 
cept it now he could not spend more than six 
weeks with me at most. That he would rather 
go home now, but next year he would come 
and spend all summer with me. But, as you 
know, he went home to die. 

Shortly afterward I came down out of my 
haunts to Oakland and there met Joseph 
LeConte, whom I had led to the Lyell Glacier 
a few months before Agassiz s arrival. He 
(LeConte) told me that, in the course of a con 
versation with Agassiz on the geology of the 
Sierra, he told him that a young man by the 
name of Muir studying up there perhaps knew 
more about the glaciation of the Sierra than 
any one else. To which Agassiz replied warmly, 
and bringing his fist down on the table, "He 
knows all about it." Now there! You ve got 
it all, and what a mess of mere J. M. you ve 
made me write. Don t you go and publish it. 
Burn it. 

Ever cordially yours 




What of the summer day now dawning? Re 
member you have a turn at the helm. How are 
you going to steer? How fares Tesla and the 
auroral lightning? Shall we go to icy Alaska 
or to the peaks and streets and taluses of the 
Sierra? That was a good strong word you said 
for the vanishing forests. 

To Robert Underwood Johnson 

MARTINEZ, September 12, 1895 

I have just got home from a six weeks 
ramble in the Yosemite and Yosemite National 
Park. For three years the soldiers have kept 
the sheepmen and sheep out of the park, and I 
looked sharply at the ground to learn the value 
of the military influence on the small and great 
flora. On the sloping portions of the forest 
floor, where the soil was loose and friable, the 
vegetation has not yet recovered from the dib 
bling and destructive action of the sheep feet 
and teeth. But where a tough sod on meadows 
was spread, the grasses and blue gentians and 
erigerons are again blooming hi all their wild 

The sheepmen are more than matched by the 
few troopers in this magnificent park, and the 
wilderness rejoices in fresh verdure and bloom. 
Only the Yosemite itself in the middle of the 



grand park is downtrodden, frowsy, and like an 
abandoned backwoods pasture. No part of the 
Merced and Tuolumne wilderness is so dusty, 
downtrodden, abandoned, and pathetic as the 
Yosemite. It looks ten times worse now than 
when you saw it seven years ago. Most of the 
level meadow floor of the Valley is fenced with 
barbed and unbarbed wire and about three 
hundred head of horses are turned loose every 
night to feed and trample the flora out of ex 
istence. I told the hotel and horsemen that 
they were doing all they could to prevent lovers 
of wild beauties from visiting the Valley, and 
that soon all tourist travel would cease. This 
year only twelve hundred regular tourists vis 
ited the Valley, while two thousand campers 
came in and remained a week or two. . . . 

I have little hope for Yosemite. As long as 
the management is in the hands of eight politi 
cians appointed by the ever-changing Governor 
of California, there is but little hope. I never 
saw the Yosemite so frowsy, scrawny, and 
downtrodden as last August, and the horsemen 
began to inquire, "Has the Yosemite begun to 
play out?"-. .. 

Ever yours 


At the June Commencement in 1896, Har- 



vard bestowed upon Muir an honorary M. A. 
degree. 1 The offer of the honor came just as he 
was deciding, moved by a strange presentiment 
of her impending death, to pay another visit 
to his mother. Among Muir s papers, evidently 
intended for his autobiography, I find the fol 
lowing description of the incident under the 
heading of " Mysterious Things": 

As in the case of father s death, while seated at 
work in my library in California in the spring of 
1896, I was suddenly possessed with the idea that 
I ought to go back to Portage, Wisconsin, to see my 
mother once more, as she was not likely to live 
long, though I had not heard that she was failing. 
I had not sent word that I was coming. Two of her 
daughters were living with her at the time, and, 
when one of them happened to see me walking up 
to the house through the garden, she came running 
out, saying, "John, God must have sent you, be 
cause mother is very sick." I was with her about a 
week before she died, and managed to get my 
brother Daniel, the doctor, to come down from Ne 
braska to be with her. He insisted that he knew my 
mother s case very well, and didn t think that there 
was the slightest necessity for his coming. I told 
him I thought he would never see her again if he 
didn t come, and he would always regret neglecting 

1 President Eliot s salutation, spoken in Latin, was as 
follows: "Johannem Muir, locorum incognitorum explora- 
torem insignem; fluminum qui sunt in Alaska serratisque 
montibus conglaciatorum studiosum; diligentem silvarum et 
rerum agrestium ferarumque indagatorem, artium magis- 



this last duty to mother, and finally succeeded in 
getting him to come. But brother David and my 
two eldest sisters, who had since father s death 
moved to California, were not present. 

The following letter gives a brief summary 
of his Eastern experiences up to the time when 
he joined the Forestry Commission in Chicago. 
It should be added that Muir went along un 
officially at the invitation of C. S. Sargent, the 
Chairman of the Commission. Of the epochal 
work of this Commission and Muir s relation 
to it, more later. 

To Helen Muir 


CHICAGO, July 3d, 1896 

I have enjoyed your sweet, bright, illus 
trated letters ever and ever so much; both the 
words and the pictures made me see everything 
at home as if I was there myself the peaches, 
and the purring pussies, and the blue herons 
flying about, and all the people working and 
walking about and talking and guessing on the 

So many things have happened since I left 
home, and I have seen so many people and 
places and have traveled so fast and far, I have 
lost the measure of time, and it seems more 



than a year since I left home. Oh, dear! how 
tired I have been and excited and swirly! 
Sometimes my head felt so benumbed, I hardly 
knew where I was. And yet everything done 
seems to have been done for the best, and I 
believe God has been guiding us. ... 

I went to New York and then up the Hudson 
a hundred miles to see John Burroughs and 
Professor Osborn, to escape being sunstruck 
and choked in the horrid weather of the streets; 
and then, refreshed, I got back to New York 
and started for Boston and Cambridge and got 
through the Harvard business all right and 
caught a fast train . . . back to Portage in time 
for the funeral. Then I stopped three or four 
days to settle all the business and write to 
Scotland, and comfort Sarah and Annie and 
Mary; then I ran down a half-day to Madison, 
and went to Milwaukee and stayed a night 
with William Trout, with whom I used to live 
in a famous hollow in the Canada woods thirty 
years ago. Next day I went to Indianapolis 
and saw everybody there and stopped with 
them one night. Then came here last night and 
stopped with [A. H.] Sellers. I am now in his 
office awaiting the arrival of the Forestry Com 
mission, with whom I expect to start West to 
night at half-past ten o clock. It is now about 
noon. I feel that this is the end of the strange 



lot of events I have been talking about, for 
when I reach the Rocky Mountains I ll feel at 
home. I saw a wonderful lot of squirrels at 
Osborn s, and Mrs. Osborn wants you and 
Wanda and Mamma to visit her and stay a 
long time. 

Good-bye, darling, and give my love to 
Wanda and Mamma and Grandma and Maggie. 
Go over and comfort Maggie and tell Mamma 
to write to poor Sarah. Tell Mamma I spent a 
long evening with [Nicola] Tesla and I found 
him quite a wonderful and interesting fellow. 

[JOHN Mum] 

To Wanda Muir 

July 5th, 1896 


I am now fairly on my way West again, and 
a thousand miles nearer you than I was a few 
days ago. We got here this morning, after a 
long ride from Chicago. By we I mean Pro 
fessors Sargent, Brewer, Hague, and General 
Abbot all interesting wise men and grand 
company. It was dreadfully hot the day we 
left Chicago, but it rained before morning of 
the 4th, and so that day was dustless and cool, 
and the ride across Iowa was delightful. That 
State is very fertile and beautiful. The corn 
fields and wheatfields are boundless, or appear 



so as we skim through them on the cars, and 
all are rich and bountiful-looking. Flowers 
in bloom line the roads, and tall grasses and 
bushes. The surface of the ground is rolling, 
with hills beyond hills, many of them crowned 
with trees. I never before knew that Iowa was 
so beautiful and inexhaustibly rich. 

Nebraska is monotonously level like a green 
grassy sea no hills or mountains in sight for 
hundreds of miles. Here, too, are cornfields 
without end and full of promise this year, after 
three years of famine from drouth. 

South Dakota, by the way we came, is dry 
and desert-like until you get into the Black 
Hills. The latter get their name from the dark 
color they have in the distance from the pine 
forests that cover them. The pine of these 
woods is the ponderosa or yellow pine, the same 
as the one that grows in the Sierra, Oregon, 
Washington, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Mon 
tana, Idaho, Wyoming, and all the West in 
general. No other pine in the world has so 
wide a range or is so hardy at all heights and 
under all circumstances and conditions of cli 
mate and soil. This is near its eastern limit, 
and here it is interesting to find that many 
plants of the Atlantic and Pacific slopes meet 
and grow well together. . . . 



To Helen and Wanda Muir 

CusTER,S.D.,,/t%6, 1896 


My!! if you could only come here when I 
call you how wonderful you would think this 
hollow in the rocky Black Hills is! It is won 
derful even to me after seeing so many wild 
mountains curious rocks rising alone or in 
clusters, gray and jagged and rounded in the 
midst of a forest of pines and spruces and pop 
lars and birches, with a little lake in the middle 
and carpet of meadow gay with flowers. It is 
in the heart of the famous Black Hills where 
the Indians and Whites quarreled and fought so 
much. The whites wanted the gold in the 
rocks, and the Indians wanted the game 
the deer and elk that used to abound here. As 
a grand deer pasture this was said to have been 
the best in America, and no wonder the Indians 
wanted to keep it, for wherever the white man 
goes the game vanishes. 

We came here this forenoon from Hot Springs, 
fifty miles by rail and twelve by wagon. And 
most of the way was through woods fairly 
carpeted with beautiful flowers. A lovely red 
lily, Lilium Pennsylvanicum, was common, two 
kinds of spiraea and a beautiful wild rose in 
full bloom, anemones, calochortus, larkspur, 



etc., etc., far beyond time to tell. But I must 
not fail to mention linnsea. How sweet the air 
is! I would like to stop a long time and have 
you and Mamma with me. What walks we 
would have!! 

We leave to-night for Edgemont. Here are 
some mica flakes and a bit of spiraea I picked 
up in a walk with Professor Sargent. 

Good-bye, my babes. Sometime I must 
bring you here. I send love and hope you are 


The following letter expresses Muir s stand 
in the matter of the recession of Yosemite 
Valley by the State of Calif ornia to the Federal 
Government. The mismanagement of the Val 
ley under ever-changing political appointees of 
the various Governors had become a national 
scandal, and Muir was determined that, in 
spite of some objectors, the Sierra Club should 
have an opportunity to express itself on the 
issue. The bill for recession was reported 
favorably in the California Assembly in Feb 
ruary, but it encountered so much pettifogging 
and politically inspired opposition that it was 
not actually passed until 1905. 



To Warren Olney, Sr. 

MARTINEZ, January 18, 1897 

I think with you that a resolution like the 
one you offered the other day should be thor 
oughly studied and discussed before final action 
is taken and a close approximation made to 
unanimity, if possible. Still, I don t see that 
one or two objectors should have the right to 
kill all action of the Club in this or any other 
matter rightly belonging to it. Professor 
Davidson s objection is also held by Professor 
LeConte, or was, but how they can consistently 
sing praise to the Federal Government in the 
management of the National Parks, and at the 
same time regard the same management of 
Yosemite as degrading to the State, I can t see. 
For my part, I m proud of California and 
prouder of Uncle Sam, for the U.S. is all of 
California and more. And as to our Secretary s 
objection, it seemed to me merely political, and 
if the Sierra Club is to be run by politicians, the 
sooner mountaineers get out of it the better. 
Fortunately, the matter is not of first impor 
tance, but now it has been raised, I shall insist 
on getting it squarely before the Club. I had 
given up the question as a bad job, but so 
many of our members have urged it lately I 
now regard its discussion as a duty of the Club. 





THOUGH little evidence of the fact appears in 
extant letters, the year 1897 was one of great 
importance in Muir s career. So significant, 
indeed, was his work hi defending * the recom 
mendations of the National Forest Commission 
of 1896 that we must reserve fuller discussion 
of it for a chapter on Muir s service to the 
nation. With the exception of his story of the 
dog Stickeen and a vivid description of an 
Alaska trip, appearing respectively in the Au 
gust and September numbers of the " Century, " 
nearly the entire output of his pen that year 
was devoted to the saving of the thirteen forest 
reservations proclaimed by President Cleve 
land on the basis of the Forest Commission s 

During the month of August he joined Pro 
fessor C. S. Sargent and Mr. William M. Canby 
on an expedition to study forest trees in the 

1 This service was specially recognized in 1897 by the Uni 
versity of Wisconsin, his alma mater, in the bestowal of an 
LL.D. degree. 



Rocky Mountains and in Alaska. To this and 
other matters allusion is made in the following 
excerpt from a November letter to Professor 
Henry Fairfield Osborn. 

I spent a short time [he writes] in the Rocky 
Mountain forests between Banff and Glacier with 
Professor Sargent and Mr. Canby, and then we 
went to Alaska, mostly by the same route you trav 
eled. We were on the Queen and had your state 
rooms. The weather was not so fine as during your 
trip. The glorious color we so enjoyed on the upper 
deck was wanting, but the views of the noble peaks 
of the Fairweather Range were sublime. They were 
perfectly clear, and loomed in the azure, ice-laden 
and white, like very gods. Canby and Sargent were 
lost in admiration as if they had got into a perfectly 
new world, and so they had, old travelers though 
they are. 

I ve been writing about the forests, mostly, doing 
what little I can to save them. "Harper s Weekly" l 
and the "Atlantic Monthly" have published some 
thing; the latter published an article 2 last August. 
I sent another two weeks ago and am pegging away 
on three others for the same magazine on the na-. 
tional parks Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Sequoia 
and I want this winter to try some more Alaska. 
But I make slow, hard work of it slow and hard 
as glaciers. . . . When are you coming again to our 
wild side of the continent and how goes your big 
book? I suppose it will be about as huge as Sargent s 

1 " Forest Reservations and National Parks," June 5, 1897. 

2 "American Forests." 



One of the pleasant by-psoducts of Muir s 
spirited defense of the reservations was the be 
ginning of a warm friendship with the late 
Walter Hines Page, then editor of the " At 
lantic." The latter, like Robert Underwood 
Johnson, stimulated his literary productiveness 
and was largely responsible for his final choice 
of Houghton, Mifflin & Company as his pub 
lishers. Some years later, in 1905, Mr. and 
Mrs. Page paid a visit to Muir at his home hi 
the Alhambra Valley. The articles contributed 
to the " Atlantic" during the nineties were in 
1901 brought out in book form under the title 
of "Our National Parks." 

Apropos of Muir s apologetic references to 
the fact that he found writing a slow, hard task, 
Page remarked: "I thank God that you do not 
write in glib, acrobatic fashion : anybody can do 
that. Half the people in the world are doing it 
all the time, to my infinite regret and confu 
sion. . . . The two books on the Parks and on 
Alaska will not need any special season s sales, 
nor other accidental circumstances: they ll be 
Literature!" On another occasion, in October, 
1897, Page writes: "Mr. John Burroughs has 
been spending a little while with me, and he 
talks about nothing else so earnestly as about 
you and your work. He declares hi the most 
emphatic fashion that it will be a misfortune 



too great to estimate if you do not write up all 
those bags of notes which you have gathered. 
He encourages me, to put it in his own words, 
to keep firing at him, keep firing at him. " 

In February, 1898, Professor Sargent wrote 
Muir that he was in urgent need of the flowers 
of the red fir to be used for an illustrative 
plate in his "Silva." The following letter is in 
part a report on Muir s first futile effort to 
secure them. Ten days later, above Deer Park 
in the Tahoe region, he succeeded in finding 
and collecting specimens of both pistillate and 
staminate flowers, which up to that time, ac 
cording to Sargent, "did not exist in any her 
barium in this country or in Europe." 

To Charles Sprague Sargent 

MARTINEZ, June 7, 1898 

Yesterday I returned from a week s trip to 
Shasta and the Scott Mountains for [Abies] 
magnifica flowers, but am again in bad luck. I 
searched the woods, wallowing through the 
snow nearly to the upper limit of the fir belt, 
but saw no flowers or buds that promised any 
thing except on a few trees. I cut down six on 
Shasta and two on Scott Mountains west of 
Sissons. On one of the Shasta trees I found 
the staminate flowers just emerging from the 


scales, but not a single pistillate flower. I send 
the staminate, though hardly worth while. 
Last year s crop of cones was nearly all frost- 
killed and most of the leaf buds also, so there is 
little chance for flowers thereabouts this year. 

Sonne writes that the Truckee Lumber Com 
pany is to begin cutting Magnifica hi the 
Washoe Range ten miles east of Truckee on the 
8th or 10th of this month, and he promises to 
be promptly on hand among the fresh-felled 
trees to get the flowers, while Miss Eastwood 
starts this evening for the Sierra summit above 
Truckee, and I have a friend in Yosemite 
watching the trees around the rim of the Val 
ley, so we can hardly fail to get good flowers 
even in so bad a year as this is. 

I have got through the first reading of your 
Pine volume. 1 It is bravely, sturdily, hand 
somely done. Grand old Ponderosa you have 
set forth in magnificent style, describing its 
many forms and allowing species-makers to 
name as many as they like, while showing their 
inseparable characters. But you should have 
mentioned the thick, scaly, uninflammable 
bark with which, like a wandering warrior of 

1 Volume xi of Sargent s Silva, devoted to the Coniferae. 
The author s dedication reads, "To John Muir, lover and 
interpreter of nature, who best has told the story of the 
Sierra forests, this eleventh volume of THE SILVA OP NORTH 
AMERICA is gratefully dedicated." 


King Arthur s time, it is clad, as accounting in 
great part for its wide distribution and endur 
ance of extremes of climate. You seem to rank 
it above the sugar pine. But in youth and age, 
clothed with beauty and majesty, Lambertiana 
is easily King of all the world-wide realm of 
pines, while Ponderosa is the noble, unconquer 
able mailed knight without fear and without 

By brave and mighty Proteus-Muggins 1 you 
have also done well, though you might have 
praised him a little more loudly for hearty en 
durance under manifold hardships, defying the 
salt blasts of the sea from Alaska to the Cal 
ifornia Golden Gate, and the frosts and fires 
of the Rocky Mountains growing patiently 
in mossy bogs and on craggy mountain-tops 
crouching low on glacier granite pavements, 
holding on by narrow cleavage joints, or wav 
ing tall and slender and graceful in flowery 
garden spots sheltered from every wind among 
columbines and lilies, etc. A line or two of 
sound sturdy Mother Earth poetry such as you 
ventured to give Ponderosa in no wise weakens 
or blurs the necessarily dry, stubbed, scientific 
description, and I m sure Muggins deserves it. 
However, I m not going fault-finding. It s a 

1 Probably Pinus contorta of the Silva, one of its variants 
being the Murray or Tamarac Pine of the High Sierra. 


grand volume a kingly Lambertiana job; 
and on many a mountain trees now seedlings 
will be giants and will wave their shining tassels 
two hundred feet in the sky ere another pine 
book will be made. So you may well sing your 
nunc dimittis, and so, in sooth, may I, since 
you have engraved my name on the head of it. 
That Alleghany trip you so kindly offer is 
mighty tempting. It has stirred up wild lover s 
longings to renew my acquaintance with old 
forest friends and gain new ones under such 
incomparable auspices. I m just dying to see 
basswood and shell-bark and liriodendron once 
more. When could you start, and when would 
you have me meet you? I think I might get 
away from here about the middle of July and 
go around by the Great Northern and lakes, 
stopping a few days on old familiar ground 
about the shores of Georgian Bay. I want to 
avoid cities and dinners as much as possible 
and travel light and free. If tree-lovers could 
only grow bark and bread on their bodies, how 
fine it would be, making even handbags useless ! 
Ever yours 


While trying to avoid people as much as pos 
sible and seeing only you and trees, I should, if 
I make this Eastern trip, want to call on Mrs. 


Asa Gray, for I heartily love and admire Gray, 
and in my mind his memory fades not at all. 

The projected trip into the Alleghanies with 
Sargent and Canby was undertaken during 
September and October when the Southern 
forests were in their autumn glory. Muir had 
entered into the plan with great eagerness. "I 
don t want to die," he wrote to Sargent in 
June, " without once more saluting the grand, 
godly, round-headed trees of the east side of 
America that I first learned to love and beneath 
which I used to weep for joy when nobody 
knew me." The task of mapping a route was 
assigned by Sargent to Mr. Canby on account 
of his special acquaintance with the region. 
"Dear old streak o lightning on ice," the latter 
wrote to Muir in July, "I was delighted to hear 
from the glacial period once more and to know 
that you were going to make your escape from 
Purgatory and emerge into the heavenly for 
ests of the Alleghanies. . . . Have you seen the 
Luray Caverns or the Natural Bridge? If not, 
do you care to? I should like to have you look 
from the summit of Salt Pond Mountain in 
Virginia and the Roan in North Carolina." 

For a month or more the three of them 
roamed through the Southern forests, Muir 
being especially charmed by the regions about 


Cranberry, Cloudland, and Grandfather Moun 
tain, in North Carolina. From Roan Mountain 
to Lenoir, about seventy-five miles, they drove 
in a carriage in Muir s judgment "the finest 
drive of its kind in America." In Tennessee, 
Georgia, and Alabama he crossed at various 
times his old trail of 1867. 

On his return to Boston, he "spent a night at 
Page s home and visited Mrs. Gray and talked 
over old botanic times." On the first of No 
vember he is at "Four Brook Farm," R. W. 
Gilder s country-place -at Tyringham in the 
Berkshire Hills, whence he writes to his daugh 
ter Wanda: "Tell mamma that I have enjoyed 
Mr. and Mrs. Gilder ever so much. On the way 
here, on the car, I was introduced to Joseph 
Choate, the great lawyer, and on Sunday Mr. 
Gilder and I drove over to his fine residence at 
Stockbridge to dinner, and I had a long talk 
with him about forests as well as glaciers. To 
day we all go back to New York. This evening 
I dine with Johnson, and to-morrow I go up the 
Hudson to the Osborns ." 



To Helen Muir 


November 4, 1898 


This is a fine calm thoughtful morning, brac 
ing and sparkling, just the least touch of hoar 
frost, quickly melting where the sunbeams, 
streaming through between the trees, fall in 
yellow plashes and lances on the lawns. Every 
now and then a red or yellow leaf comes swirl 
ing down, though there is not the slightest 
breeze. Most of the hickories are leafless now, 
but the big buds on the ends of the twigs are 
full of baby leaves and flowers that are already 
planning and thinking about next summer. / 
Many of the maples, too, and the dogwoods are 
showing leafless branches; but many along the 
sheltered ravines are still rejoicing in all their 
glory of color, and look like gigantic golden- 
rods. God s forests, my dear, are among the 
grandest of terrestrial things that you may look 
forward to. I have not heard from Professor 
Sargent since he left New York a week ago, and 
so I don t know whether he is ready to go to 
Florida, but I ll hear soon, and then I ll know 
nearly the time I ll get home. Anyhow, it 
won t be long. 

I am enjoying a fine rest. I have "the blue 



room" in this charming home, and it has the 
daintiest linen and embroidery I ever saw. The 
bed is so soft and fine I like to lie awake to 
enjoy it, instead of sleeping. A servant brings 
in a cup of coffee before I rise. This morning 
when I was sipping coffee in bed, a red squirrel 
looked in the window at me from a branch of a 
big tulip-tree, and seemed to be saying as he 
watched me. "Oh, John Muir! camping, tramp 
ing, tree-climbing scrambler! Churr, churr! 
why have you left us? Chip churr, who would 
have thought it?" 

Five days after the date of the above letter 
he writes to his wife: 

"DEAR LASSIE, it is settled that I go on a 
short visit to Florida with Sargent. ... I leave 
here [Wing-and-Wing] to-morrow for New 
York, dine with Tesla and others, and then 
meet Sargent at Wilmington, Wednesday. I ve 
had a fine rest in this charming home and feel 
ready for Florida, which is now cool and 
healthy. I m glad to see the South again and 
may write about it." 

The trip to Florida, replete with color and 
incident, is too full of particularity for recital 
here. A halt in Savannah, Georgia, stirred up 
old memories, for "here," he writes in a letter 
to his wife, "is where I spent a hungry, weary, 


yet happy week camping in Bona venture 
graveyard thirty-one years ago. Many changes, 
I m told, have been made in its groves and 
avenues of late, and how many in my life!" 

A dramatic occurrence was the finding at 
Archer of Mrs. Hodgson, who had nursed him 
back to health on his thousand-mile walk to the 
Gulf. The incident is told in the following 
excerpt from a letter to his wife under date of 
November 21, 1898: 

The day before yesterday we stopped at Palatka 
on the famous St. Johns River, where I saw the 
most magnificent magnolias, some four feet in diam 
eter and one hundred feet high, also the largest and 
most beautiful hickories and oaks. From there we 
went to Cedar Keys. Of course I inquired for the 
Hodgsons, at whose house I lay sick so long. Mr. 
Hodgson died long ago, also the eldest son, with 
whom I used to go boating, but Mrs. Hodgson and 
the rest of the family, two boys and three girls, are 
alive and well, and I saw them all to-day, except one 
of the boys. I found them at Archer, where I 
stopped four hours on my way from Cedar Keys. 
Mrs. Hodgson and the two eldest girls remembered 
me well. The house was pointed out to me, and I 
found the good old lady who nursed me in the 
garden. I asked her if she knew me. She answered 
no, and asked my name. I said Muir. "John 
Muir? " she almost screamed. "My California John 
Muir? My California John?" I said, "Why, yes, I 
promised to come back and visit you in about 
twenty-five years, and though a little late I ve 


come." I stopped to dinner and we talked over old 
times in grand style, you may be sure. 

The following letter, full of good-natured 
badinage and new plans for travel, was written 
soon after his return home in December: 

To Charles Sprague Sargent 

MARTINEZ, December 28, 1898 

I m glad you re miserable about not going to 
Mexico, for it shows that your heartwood is 
still honest and loving towards the grand trees 
down there, though football games and Con 
necticut turkey momentarily got the better of 
you. The grand Taxodiums were object enough 
for the trip, and I came pretty near making it 
alone would certainly have done it had I not 
felt childishly lonesome and woe-begone after 
you left me. No wonder I looked like an inland 
coot to friend Mellichamp. But what would 
that sharp observer have said to the Canby 
huckleberry party gyrating lost in the Dela 
ware woods, and splashing along the edge of the 
marshy bay "froggin and crabbin " with de 
vout scientific solemnity! ! ! 

Mellichamp I liked ever so much, and blessed 

old Mohr more than ever. For these good men 

and many, many trees I have to thank you, and 

I do over and over again as the main blessings 



of the passing year. And I have to thank you 
also for Gray s writings Essays, etc. 
which I have read with great interest. More 
than ever I want to see Japan and eastern Asia. 
I wonder if Canby could be converted to suffi 
cient sanity to go with us on that glorious 
dendrological trip. . . . Confound his Yankee 
savings bank! He has done more than enough 
in that line. It will soon be dark. Soon our 
good botanical pegs will be straightened in a 
box and planted, and it behooves us as reason 
able naturalists to keep them tramping and 
twinkling in the woods as long as possible. . . . 
Wishing you and family and "Silva" happy 
New Year, I am, 

Ever yours 


There were not a few among Muir s literary 
friends, men like Walter Hines Page and 
Richard Watson Gilder, who as early as 1898 
began to urge him to write his autobiography. 
"I thank you for your kind suggestions about 
Recollections of a Naturalist, " he replies to 
Gilder in March, 1899. " Possibly I may try 
something of the sort some of these days, 
though my life on the whole has been level and 
uneventful, and therefore hard to make a book 
of that many would read. I am not anxious to 


tell what I have done, but what Nature has 
done an infinitely more important story." 

In April, 1899, he accepted an invitation to 
join the Harriman Alaska Expedition. During 
the cruise a warm friendship sprang up be 
tween him and Mr. Harriman, who came to 
value highly not only his personal qualities, but 
also his sturdy independence. It was some 
years afterward, while he was the guest of Mr. 
Harriman at Pelican Lodge on Klamath Lake, 
that Muir was persuaded to dictate his mem 
oirs to Mr. Harriman s private secretary. We 
owe it to the use of this expedient that Muir 
was enabled to complete at least a part of his 
autobiography before he passed on. The little 
book l written by Muir in appreciation of Mr. 
Harriman after his death sprang from mem 
ories of many kindnesses, and unheralded oc 
casions too, when Mr. Harriman s influence 
turned the scales in favor of some important 
conservation measure dear to Muir s heart. 
Both held in warm regard Captain P. A. Doran, 
of the Elder, which in 1899 carried the expedi 
tionary party. "I am deeply touched at your 
letter of the second just received," wrote Mr. 
Harriman to Muir on August 8, 1907, shortly 
after a tragedy of the sea in which Captain 
Doran perished. "We all grieved much over 

1 Edward Henry Harriman, by John Muir. 1916. 


poor Doran. I had grown to look upon him as a 
real friend and knew him to be a true man. I 
am glad to have shared his friendship with you. 
I am fortunate in having many friends and am 
indeed proud to count you among the best. My 
troubles are not to be considered with yours 
and some others, for they are only passing and 
will be eventually cleared up and understood 
even by the some to whom you refer. The 
responsibilities weigh most when such mis 
fortunes occur as the loss of the poor passenger 
who passed on with brave Doran." 

To Charles Sprague Sargent 

MARTINEZ, April 30, 1899 

You are no doubt right about the little 
Tahoe reservation a scheme full of special 
personalities, pushed through by a lot of law 
yers, etc., but the more we get the better any 
how. It is a natural park, and because of its 
beauty and accessibility is visited more than 
any other part of the Sierra except Yosemite. 

All I know of the Rainier and Olympic re 
servations has come through the newspapers. 
The Olympic will surely be attacked again and 
again for its timber, but the interests of Seattle 
and Tacoma will probably save Rainier. I ex 
pect to find out something about them soon, as 


I am going north from Seattle to Cook Inlet 
and Kodiak for a couple of months with a 
" scientific party." . . . This section of the 
coast is the only one I have not seen, and I m 
glad of the chance. 

Good luck to you. I wish I were going to 
those leafy woods instead of icy Alaska. Be 
good to the trees, you tough, sturdy pair. 
Don t frighten the much-enduring Cratseguses 
and make them drop their spurs, and don t tell 
them quite eternally that you are from Boston 
and the Delaware Huckleberry Peninsula. 

My love to Canby keep his frisks within 
bounds. Remember me to the Biltmore friends 
and blessed Mohr and Mellichamp. And re 
member me also to the Messrs. Hickory and 
Oak, and, oh, the magnolias in bloom! Hea 
vens, how they glow and shine and invite a 
fellow! Good-bye. I ll hope to see you in 

Ever yours 


To Walter Hines Page 


I send the article on Yosemite Park to-day 
by registered mail. It is short, but perhaps 
long enough for this sort of stuff. I have three 



other articles on camping in the park, and on 
the trees and shrubs, gardens, etc., and on 
Sequoia Park, blocked out and more than half 
written. I wanted to complete these and get 
the book put together and off my hands this 
summer, and, now that I have all the material 
well in hand and on the move, I hate to leave it. 

I start to-morrow on a two months trip with 
Harriman s Alaska Expedition. John Bur 
roughs and Professor [W. H.] Brewer and a 
whole lot of good naturalists are going. But I 
would not have gone, however tempting, were 
it not to visit the only part of the coast I have 
not seen and one of the scenes that I would 
have to visit sometime anyhow. This has been 
a barren year, and I am all the less willing to 
go, though the auspices are so good. I lost half 
the winter in a confounded fight with sheep and 
cattlemen and politicians on behalf of the for 
ests. During the other half I was benumbed 
and interrupted by sickness in the family, 
while in word works, even at the best, as you 
know, I m slow as a glacier. You ll get these 
papers, however, sometime, and they will be 
hammered into a book if I live long enough. 

I was very glad to get your letter, as it 
showed you were well enough to be at work 
again. With best wishes, I am, 

Faithfully yours J. M. 



To Mrs. Muir 

VICTORIA, June 1, 1899 

We sail from here in about two hours, and I 
have just time to say another good-bye. The 
ship is furnished in fine style, and I find we 
are going just where I want to go Yakutat, 
Prince William Sound, Cook Inlet, etc. I am 
on the Executive Committee, and of course 
have something to say as to routes, time to be 
spent at each point, etc. The company is very 
harmonious for scientists. Yesterday I tramped 
over Seattle with John Burroughs. At Portland 
the Mazamas were very demonstrative and 
kind. I hope you are all busy with the hay. 
Helen will keep it well tumbled and tramped 
with Keenie s help. I am making pleasant 
acquaintances. Give my love to Maggie. 
Good-bye. Ever your affectionate husband 


To Wanda and Helen Muir 

FORT WRANGELL, June 5, [1899,] 7 A.M. 
How are you all? We arrived here last even 
ing. This is a lovely morning water like 
glass. Looks like home. The flowers are in 
bloom, so are the forests. We leave hi an hour 
for Juneau. The mountains are pure white. 
Went to church at Metlakatla, heard Duncan 



preach, and the Indians sing. Had fine ramble 
in the woods with Burroughs. He is ashore 
looking and listening for birds. The song spar 
row, a little dun, speckledy muggins, sings best. 
Most of the passengers are looking at totem 

Have letters for me at Seattle. No use trying 
to forward them up here, as we don t know 
where we will touch on the way down home. 

I hope you are all well and not too lonesome. 
Take good care of Stickeen and Tom. We 
landed at four places on the way up here. I 
was glad to see the woods in those new places. 

Love to all. Ever your loving papa 

J. M. 

To Louie, Wanda, and Helen 

JUNEAU, June 6, [1899,] 9 A.M. 

Cold rainy day. We stop here only a few 
minutes, and I have only time to scribble love 
to my darlings. The green mountains rise into 
the gray cloudy sky four thousand feet, rich in 
trees and grass and flowers and wild goats. 

We are all well and happy. Yesterday was 
bright and the mountains all the way up from 
Wrangell were passed in review, opening their 
snowy, icy recesses, and closing them, like turn 
ing over the leaves of a grand picture book. 
Everybody gazed at the grand glaciers and 



peaks, and we saw icebergs floating past for the 
first time on the trip. 

We landed on two points on the way up and 
had rambles hi the woods, and the naturalists 
set traps and caught five white-footed mice. 
We were in the woods I wandered in twenty 
years ago, and I had many questions to answer. 
Heaven bless you. We go next to Douglas 
Mine, then to Skagway, then to Glacier Bay. 
Good-bye JOHN Mum 

To Mrs. Muir and daughters 

SITKA, ALASKA, June 10, 1899 

I wrote two days ago, and I suppose you will 
get this at the same time as the other. We had 
the Governor at dinner and a society affair 
afterward that looked queer in the wilderness. 
This eve we are to have a reception at the 
Governor s, and to-morrow we sail for Yakutat 
Bay, thence to Prince William Sound, Cook 
Inlet, etc. We were at the Hot Springs yes 
terday, fifteen miles from here amid lovely 

The Topeka arrived last eve, and sails in an 
hour or so. I met Professor Moses and his wife 
on the wharf and then some Berkeley people 
besides; then the Raymond agent, who intro 
duced a lot of people, to whom I lectured hi the 



street. The thing was like a revival meeting. 
The weather is wondrous fine, and all goes well. 
I regret not having [had] a letter forwarded 
here, as I long for a word of your welfare. 
Heaven keep you, darlings. Ever yours 


To Mrs. Muir 

SITKA, June 14, 1899 

We are just entering Sitka Harbor after a 
delightful sail down Peril Straits, and a per 
fectly glorious time in Glacier Bay five days 
of the most splendid weather I ever saw in 
Alaska. I was out three days with Gilbert and 
Palache revisiting the glaciers of the upper end 
of the Bay. Great changes have taken place. 
The Pacific Glacier has melted back four miles 
and changed into three separate glaciers, each 
discharging bergs in grand style. One of them, 
unnamed and unexplored, I named last even 
ing, in a lecture they made me give in the 
social hall, the Harriman Glacier, which was 
received with hearty cheers. After the lecture 
Mr. Harriman came to me and thanked me for 
the great honor I had done him. It is a very 
beautiful glacier, the front discharging bergs 
like the Muir about three quarters of a mile 
wide on the sea wall. 



Everybody was delighted with Glacier Bay 
and the grand Muir Glacier, watching the beau 
tiful bergs born in thunder, parties scattered 
out in every direction hi rowboats and steam 
and naphtha launches on every sort of quest. 
John Burroughs and Charlie Keeler climbed 
the mountain on the east side of Muir Glacier, 
three thousand feet, and obtained a grand view 
far back over the mountain to the glorious 
Fairweather Range. I tried hard to get out 
of lecturing, but was compelled to do it. All 
seemed pleased. Lectures every night. The 
company all good-natured and harmonious. 
Our next stop will be Yakutat. 

I m all sunburned by three bright days 

among the bergs. I often wish you could have 

been with us. You will see it all some day. 

Heaven bless you. Remember me to Maggie. 



To Mrs. Muir 

June 24, 1899 


We are just approaching Prince William 
Sound the place above all others I have long 
wished to see. The snow and ice-laden moun 
tains loom grandly in crowded ranks above the 


dark, heaving sea, and I can already trace the 
courses of some of the largest of the glaciers. 
It is 2 P.M., and in three or four hours we shall 
be at Orca, near the mouth of the bay, where I 
will mail this note. 

We had a glorious view of the mountains and 
glaciers in sailing up the coast along the Fair- 
weather Range from Sitka to Yakutat Bay. In 
Yakutat and Disenchantment Bays we spent 
four days, and I saw their three great glaciers 
discharging bergs and hundreds of others to 
best advantage. Also the loveliest flower gar 
dens. Here are a few of the most beautiful of 
the rubuses. This charming plant covers acres 
like a carpet. One of the islands we landed 
on, in front of the largest thundering glacier, 
was so flower-covered that I could smell the 
fragrance from the boat among the bergs half 
a mile away. 

I m getting strong fast, and can walk and 
climb about as well as ever, and eat everything 
with prodigious appetite. 

I hope to have a good view of the grand 
glaciers here, though some of the party are 
eager to push on to Cook Inlet. I think Til 
have a chance to mail another letter ere we 
leave the Sound. 

Love to all 

J. M. 



To Wanda Muir 

UNALASKA, July 8, 1899 

We arrived here this cloudy, rainy, foggy 
morning after a glorious sail from Sand Harbor 
on Unga Island, one of the Shumagin group, all 
the way along the volcano-dotted coast of the 
Alaska Peninsula and Unimak Island. The 
volcanoes are about as thick as haycocks on our 
alfalfa field in a wet year, and the highest of 
them are smoking and steaming in grand style. 
Shishaldin is the handsomest volcanic cone I 
ever saw and it looked like this last evening. 
[Drawing.] I ll show you a better sketch hi my 

notebook when I get home. About nine thou 
sand feet high, snow and ice on its slopes, hot 
and bare at the top. A few miles from Shis 
haldin there is a wild rugged old giant of a vol 
cano that blew or burst its own head off a few 
years ago, and covered the sea with ashes and 
cinders and killed fish and raised a tidal wave 



that lashed the shores of San Francisco and 
even Martinez. 

There is a ship, the Loredo, that is to sail in 
an hour, so I m in a hurry, as usual. We are 
going to the Seal Islands and St. Lawrence 
Island from here, and a point or two on the 
Siberian coast then home. We are taking on 
coal, and will leave in three or four hours. I 
hope fondly that you are all well. . . . I ll soon 
be back, my darlings. God bless you. 


"To the Big Four : the Misses Mary and 
Cornelia Harriman, and the Misses Eliz 
abeth Averell and Dorothea Draper, who 
with Carol and Roland [Harriman], the 
Little Two, kept us all young on the 
never-to-be-forgotten H.A.E." l 

[MAKTINEZ,] August 30, 1899 

I received your kind compound letter from 
the railroad washout with great pleasure, for it 
showed, as I fondly thought, that no wreck, 
washout, or crevasse of any sort will be likely 
to break or wash out the memories of our grand 
trip, or abate the friendliness that sprung up on 

1 Harriman Alaska Expedition. 


the Elder among the wild scenery of Alaska 
during these last two memorable months. No 
doubt every one of the favored happy band 
feels, as I do, that this was the grandest trip of 
his life. To me it was peculiarly grateful and 
interesting because nearly all my life I have 
wandered and studied alone. On the Elder, I 
found not only the fields I liked best to study, 
but a hotel, a club, and a home, together with a 
floating University in which I enjoyed the in 
struction and companionship of a lot of the 
best fellows imaginable, culled and arranged 
like a well-balanced bouquet, or like a band of 
glaciers flowing smoothly together, each in its 
own channel, or perhaps at times like a lot of 
round boulders merrily swirling and chafing 
against each other in a glacier pothole. 

And what a glorious trip it was for you girls, 
flying like birds from wilderness to wilderness, 
the wildest and brightest of America, tasting 
almost every science under the sun, with fine 
breezy exercise, scrambles over mossy logs and 
rocks in the spruce forests, walks on the crystal 
prairies of the glaciers, on the flowery boggy 
tundras, in the luxuriant wild gardens of 
Kodiak and the islands of Bering Sea, and 
plashing boat rides in the piping bracing winds, 
all the while your eyes filled with magnificent 
scenery the Alexander Archipelago with its 



thousand forested islands and calm mirror 
waters, Glacier Bay, Fairweather Mountains, 
Yakut at and Enchantment Bays, the St. Elias 
Alps and glaciers and the glorious Prince Wil 
liam Sound, Cook Inlet, and the Aleutian Pen 
insula with its flowery, icy, smoky volcanoes, 
the blooming banks and braes and mountains 
of Unalaska, and Bering Sea with its seals and 
Innuits, whales and whalers, etc., etc., etc. 

It is not easy to stop writing under the ex 
hilaration of such an excursion, so much pure 
wildness with so much fine company. It is a 
pity so rare a company should have to be 
broken, never to be assembled again. But 
many, no doubt, will meet again. On your side 
of the continent perhaps half the number may 
be got together. Already I have had two trips 
with Merriam to the Sierra Sequoias and Coast 
Redwoods, during which you may be sure the 
H.A.E. was enjoyed over again. A few days 
after I got home, Captain Doran paid me a 
visit, most of which was spent in a hearty re 
view of the trip. And last week Gannett came 
up and spent a couple of days, during which we 
went over all our enjoyments, science and fun, 
mountain ranges, glaciers, etc., discussing 
everything from earth sculpture to Cassiope 
and rhododendron gardens from Welsh rare 
bit and jam and cracker feasts to Nunatak. I 



hope to have visits from Professor Gilbert and 
poet Charlie ere long, and Earlybird Hitter, 
and possibly I may see a whole lot more in the 
East this coming winter or next. Anyhow, re 
member me to all the Harrimans and Averells 
and every one of the party you chance to meet. 
Just to think of them! ! Ridgway with wonder 
ful bird eyes, all the birds of America hi them; 
Funny Fisher ever flashing out wit; Perpendic 
ular E., erect and majestic as a Thlinket totem 
pole; Old-sea-beach G., hunting upheavals, 
downheavals, sideheavals, and hanging valleys; 
the Artists reveling in color beauty like bees in 
flower-beds; Ama-a-merst tripping along shore 
like a sprightly sandpiper, pecking kelp- 
bearded boulders for a meal of fossil molluscs; 
Genius Kincaid among his beetles and butter 
flies and " red-tailed bumble-bees that sting aw 
ful hard"; Innuit Dall smoking and musing; 
flowery Trelease and Coville; and Seaweed 
Saunders; our grand big-game Doctor, and how 
many more! Blessed Brewer of a thousand 
speeches and stories and merry ha-has, and 
Genial John Burroughs, who growled at and 
scowled at good Bering Sea and me, but never 
at thee. I feel pretty sure that he is now all 
right at his beloved Slabsides and I have a good 
mind to tell his whole Bering story in his own 
sort of good-natured, gnarly, snarly, jungle, 
jangle rhyme. 



There! But how unconscionably long the 
thing is! I must stop short. Remember your 
penitential promises. Kill as few of your fellow 
beings as possible and pursue some branch of 
natural history at least far enough to see 
Nature s harmony. Don t forget me. God 
bless you. Good-bye. 

Ever your friend 


To Julia Merrill Moores 

July 25, 1900 

I scarce need say that I have been with you 
and mourned with you every day since your 
blessed sister was called away, and wished I 
could do something to help and comfort you. 
Before your letter came, I had already com 
menced to write the memorial words you ask 
for, and I ll send them soon. 

Her beautiful, noble, helpful life on earth 
was complete, and had she lived a thousand 
years she would still have been mourned, the 
more the longer she stayed. Death is as natural 
as life, sorrow as joy. Through pain and death 
come all our blessings, life and immortality. 

However clear our faith and hope and love, 
we must suffer but with glorious compensa 
tion. While death separates, it unites, and the 
sense of loneliness grows less and less as we 



become accustomed to the new light, commun 
ing with those who have gone on ahead in 
spirit, and feeling their influence as if again 
present in the flesh. Your own experience tells 
you this, however. The Source of all Good 
turns even sorrow and seeming separation to 
our advantage, makes us better, drawing us 
closer together in love, enlarging, strengthen 
ing, brightening our views of the spirit world 
and our hopes of immortal union. Blessed it is 
to know and feel, even at this cost, that neither 
distance nor death can truly separate those 
who love. 

My friends, whether living or dead, have 
always been with me in my so-called lonely 
wanderings, so kind and wonderful are God s 
compensations. Few, dear friends, have greater 
cause for sorrow, or greater cause for joy, than 
you have. Your sister lives in a thousand 
hearts, and her influence, pure as sunshine and 
dew, can never be lost. . . . 

Read again and again those blessed words, 
ever old, ever new: "Who redeemeth thy life 
from destruction; who crowneth thee with lov 
ing kindness and tender mercy," who pities you 
"like as a father pitieth his children, for He 
knoweth our frame, He knoweth that we are 
dust. Man s days are as grass, as a flower of the 
field the wind passeth over it and it is gone, but 



the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to 

In His strength we must live on, work on, 
doing the good that comes to heart and hand, 
looking forward to meeting in that City which 
the streams of the River of Life make glad. 
Ever your loving friend J. M. 

To Walter Hines Page 

MARTINEZ, June 12, 1900 

I sent by mail to-day manuscript of ice 
article for the Harriman book, the receipt of 
which please acknowledge, and as it is short I 
hope you will read it, not for wandering words 
and sentences out of plumb, but for the ice of 
it. Coming as you do from the unglacial South, 
it may " fill a long-felt want." And before you 
settle down too hopelessly far in book business 
take a trip to our western Iceland. Go to 
Glacier Bay and Yakutat and Prince William 
Sound and get some pure wildness into your 
inky life. Neglect not this glacial advice and 
glacial salvation this hot weather, and believe me 
Faithfully yours JOHN MUIR 

Very many letters of appreciation were writ 
ten to Muir by persons who were strangers to 
him, except in spirit. One such came during the 


autumn of 1900 from an American woman resi 
dent in Yokohama. "More than twenty years 
ago," said the writer, "when I was at my moun 
tain home in Siskiyou County, California, I 
read a short sketch of your own, in which you 
pictured your sense of delight in listening to the 
wind, with its many voices, sweeping through 
the pines. That article made a lifelong impres 
sion on me, and shaped an inner perception for 
the wonders of Nature which has gladdened my 
entire life since. ... It has always seemed that 
I must some tune thank you." 

To Mrs. Richard Swain 


October 21, 1900 

That you have so long remembered that 
sketch of the wind-storm in the forest of the 
Yuba gives me pleasure and encouragement in 
the midst of this hard life work, for to me it is 
hard, far harder than tree or mountain climb 
ing. When I began my wanderings in God s 
wilds, I never dreamed of writing a word for 
publication, and since beginning literary work 
it has never seemed possible that much good to 
others could come of it. Written descriptions of 
fire or bread are of but little use to the cold or 
starving. Descriptive writing amounts to little 



more than " Hurrah, here s something ! Come ! 
When my friends urged me to begin, saying, 
"We cannot all go to the woods and moun 
tains; you are free and love wildness; go and 
bring it to us," I used to reply that it was not 
possible to see and enjoy for others any more 
than to eat for them or warm for them. Na 
ture s tables are spread and fires burning. You 
must go warm yourselves and eat. But letters 
like yours which occasionally come to me show 
that even nature writing is not altogether use 

Some time I hope to see Japan s mountains 
and forests. The flora of Japan and Manchuria 
is among the richest and most interesting on 
the globe. With best wishes, I am 
Very truly yours 

J. M. 

To Katherine Merrill Graydon 

MARTINEZ, October 22, 1900 

... Of course you know you have my sym 
pathy in your loneliness loneliness not of 
miles, but of loss the departure from earth of 
your great-aunt Kate, the pole-star and lode- 
stone of your life and of how many other lives. 
What she was to me and what I thought of her 
I have written and sent to your Aunt Julia for a 



memorial book 1 her many friends are prepar 
ing. A rare beloved soul sent of God, all her 
long life a pure blessing. Her work is done; and 
she has gone to the Better Land, and now you 
must get used to seeing her there and hold on 
to her as your guide as before. . . . 

Wanda, as you know, is going to school, and 
expects soon to enter the University. She is a 
faithful, steady scholar, not in the least odd or 
brilliant, but earnest and unstoppable as an 
avalanche. She comes home every Friday or 
Saturday by the new railway that crosses the 
vineyards near the house. Muir Station is just 
above the Reid house. What sort of a scholar 
Helen will be I don t know. She is very happy 
and strong. My sister Sarah is now with us, 
making four Muirs here, just half the fam- 
ily. . . . 

Ever your friend 


To Dr. C. Hart Merriam 


October 23, 1900 


I am very glad to get your kind letter bring 
ing back our big little Sierra trip through the 

1 The Man Shakespeare, and Other Essays. By Catharine 
Merrill. The Bowen-MerriE Company, 1902. 


midst of so many blessed chipmunks and trees. 
Many thanks for your care and kindness about 
the photographs and for the pile of interesting 
bird and beast Bulletins. No. 3 1 contains lots 
of masterly work and might be expanded into a 
grand book. This you should do, adding and 
modifying in accordance with the knowledge 
you have gathered during the last ten years. 
But alas! Here you are pegging and puttering 
with the concerns of others as if in length of life 
you expect to rival Sequoia. That stream and 
fountain 2 article, which like Tennyson s brook 
threatened to "go on forever/ is at last done, 
and I am now among the Big Tree parks. Not 
the man with the hoe, but the poor toiler with 
the pen, deserves mile-long commiseration in 
prose and rhyme. 

Give my kindest regards to Mrs. and Mr. 
Bailey, and tell them 111 go guide with them to 
Yosemite whenever they like unless I should 
happen to be hopelessly tied up in some way. 

With pleasant recollections from Mrs. Muir 
and the girls, I am 

Very truly yours JOHN MUIR 

1 North American Fauna, No. 3 Results of a Biological 
Survey of San Francisco Mountains and the Desert of the 
Little Colorado, Arizona, by C. Hart Merriam, September, 

2 "Fountains and Streams of the Yosemite National 
Park," Atlantic, April, 1901. 



To Mrs. Henry Fairfield Osborn 


November 18, 1900 

Nothing could be kinder than your invita 
tion to Wing-and-Wing, and how gladly we 
would accept, you know. But grim Duty, 
like Bunyan s Apollyon, is now " straddling 
across the whole breadth of the way," crying 
"No." . . . 

I am at work on the last of a series of park 
and forest articles to be collected and published 
in book form by Houghton, Mifflin & Com 
pany and which I hope to get off my hands 
soon. But there is endless work in sight ahead 
Sierra and Alaska things to follow as fast as 
my slow, sadly interrupted pen can be spurred 
to go. 

Yes, I know it is two years since I enjoyed 
the dainty chickaree room you so kindly call 
mine. Last summer as you know I was in 
Alaska. This year I was in the Sierra, going up 
by way of Lake Tahoe and down by Yosemite 
Valley, crossing the range four times along the 
headwaters of the Truckee, Carson, Mokel- 
umne, Stanislaus, Calaveras, Walker, Tuolumne 
and Merced Rivers, revisiting old haunts, ex 
amining forests, and learning what I could 
about birds and mammals with Dr. Merriam 


and his sister and Mr. Bailey keen natural 
ists with infinite appetite for voles, marmots, 
squirrels, chipmunks, etc. We had a delightful 
time, of course, and in Yosemite I remembered 
your hoped-for visit to the grand Valley and 
wished you were with us. I m sorry I missed 
Sir Michael Foster. Though prevented now, I 
hope ere long to see Wing-and-Wing in autumn 
glory. In the mean time and always 
I am ever your friend 


To Walter Hines Page 


January 10, 1902 

Big thanks, my dear Page, for your great 
letter. The strength and shove and hearty 
ringing inspiration of it is enough to make the 
very trees and rocks write. The Park book, the 
publishers tell me, is successful. To you and 
Sargent it owes its existence; for before I got 
your urgent and encouraging letters I never 
dreamed of writing such a book. As to plans 
for others, I am now at work on 

1. A small one, " Yosemite and Other Yo- 
semites," which Johnson has been trying to get 
me to write a long time and which I hope to get 
off my hands this year. I ll first offer it to the 
Century Company, hoping they will bring it 



out in good shape, give it a good push toward 
readers and offer fair compensation. . . . 

2. The California tree and shrub book was 
suggested by Merriam last summer, but I have 
already written so fully on forest trees and 
their underbrush I m not sure that I can make 
another useful book about them. Possibly a 
handy volume, with short telling descriptions 
and illustrations of each species, enabling the 
ordinary observer to know them at sight, might 
be welcomed. This if undertaken will probably 
be done season after next, and you shall have 
the first sight of it. 

3. Next should come a mountaineering book 
- all about walking, climbing, and camping, 

with a lot of illustrative excursions. 

4. Alaska glaciers, forests, mountains, 
travels, etc. 

5. A book of studies the action of land 
scape-making forces, earth sculpture, distribu 
tion of plants and animals, etc. My main real 
book in which I ll have to ask my readers to 
cerebrate. Still I hope it may be made read 
able to a good many. 

6. Possibly my autobiography which for ten 
years or more all sorts of people have been 
begging me to write. My life, however, has 
been so smooth and regular and reasonable, so 
free from blundering exciting adventures, the 



story seems hardly worth while in the midst of 
so much that is infinitely more important. 
Still, if I should live long enough I may be 
tempted to try it. For I begin to see that such 
a book would offer fair opportunities here and 
there to say a good word for God. 

The Harriman Alaska book is superb and I 
gladly congratulate you on the job. In none of 
the reviews I have seen does Dr. Merriam get 
half the credit due him as editor. 

Hearty thanks for the two Mowbray vol 
umes. I ve read them every word. The more 
of such nature books the better. Good luck to 
you. May your shop grow like a sequoia and 
may I meet you with all your family on this 
side the continent amid its best beauty. 
Ever faithfully yours 


To Dr. C. Hart Merriam 

[January, 1902] 

I send these clippings to give a few hints as 
to the sheep and forests. Please return them. 
If you have a file of "The Forester" handy, 
you might turn to the February and July 
numbers of 1898, and the one of June, 1900, for 
solemn discussions of the "proper regulation " 
of sheep grazing. 



With the patronage of the business in the 
hands of the Western politician, the so-called 
proper regulation of sheep grazing by the For 
estry Department is as hopelessly vain as 
would be laws and regulations for the proper 
management of ocean currents and earth 

The politicians, in the interest of wealthy 
mine, mill, sheep, and cattle owners, of course 
nominate superintendents and supervisors of 
reservations supposed to be harmlessly blind to 
their stealings. Only from the Military Depart 
ment, free from political spoils poison, has any 
real good worth mention been gained for for 
ests, and so, as far as I can see, it will be, no 
matter how well the Forestry Department may 
be organized, until the supervisors, superin 
tendents, and rangers are brought under 
Civil Service Reform. Ever yours 


To Charles Sprague Sargent 

MARTINEZ, September 10, 1902 

What are you so wildly " quitting " about? 
I ve faithfully answered all your letters, and as 
far as I know you are yourself the supreme 
quitter Quitter gigantea quitting Mexico, 
quitting a too trusting companion in swamps 



and sand dunes of Florida, etc., etc. Better 
quit quitting, though since giving the world so 
noble a book you must, I suppose, be allowed 
to do as you like until time and Siberia effect a 

I am and have been up to the eyes in work, 
insignificant though it be. Last spring had to 
describe the Colorado Grand Canon the 
toughest job I ever tackled, strenuous enough 
to disturb the equanimity of even a Boston 
man. Then I had to rush off to the Sierra with 
[the Sierra] Club outing. Then had to explore 
Kern River Canon, etc. Now I m at work on a 
little Yosemite book. Most of the material for 
it has been published already, but a new chap 
ter or two will have to be written. Then there 
is the "Silva" review, the most formidable job 
of all, which all along I ve been hoping some 
abler, better equipped fellow would take off my 
hands. Can t you at least give me some helpful 
suggestions as to the right size, shape, and com 
position of this review? 

Of course I want to take that big tree trip 
with you next season, and yet I should hate 
mortally to leave either of these tasks unfin 
ished. Glorious congratulations on the ending 
of your noble book! 

Ever faithfully yours 




To Mrs. Anna R. Dickey 

MARTINEZ, October 12, 1902 

I was glad to get your letter. It so vividly 
recalled our memorable ramble, merry and 
nobly elevating, and solemn in the solemn ab 
original woods and gardens of the great moun 
tains commonplace, sublime, and divine. I 
seemed to hear your voice in your letter, and 
see you gliding, drifting, scrambling along the 
trails with all the gay good company, or seated 
around our many camp-fires in the great il 
luminated groves, etc., etc. altogether a 
good trip in which everybody was a happy 
scholar at the feet of Nature, and all learned 
something direct from earth and sky, bird and 
beast, trees, flowers, and chanting winds and 
waters; hints, suggestions, little-great lessons of 
God s infinite power and glory and goodness. 
No wonder your youth is renewed and Donald 
goes to his studies right heartily. 

To talk plants to those who love them must 
ever be easy and delightful. By the way, that 
little fairy, airy, white-flowered plant which 
covers sandy dry ground on the mountains like 
a mist, which I told you was a near relative to 
Eriogonum, but whose name I could never re 
call, is Oxytheca spergulina. There is another 
rather common species in the region we trav- 



eled, but this is the finest and most abun 

I m glad you found the mountain hemlock, 
the loveliest of conifers. You will find it de 
scribed in both my books. It is abundant in 
Kings River Canon, but not beside the trails. 
The " heather " you mention is no doubt Bryan- 
thus or Cassiope. Next year you and Donald 
should make collections of at least the most 
interesting plants. A plant press, tell Donald, 
is lighter and better than a gun. So is a camera, 
and good photographs of trees and shrubs are 
much to be desired. 

I have heard from all the girls. Their en 
thusiasm is still fresh, and they are already plan 
ning and plotting for next year s outing in the 
Yosemite, Tuolumne, and Mono regions. . . . 
Gannett stayed two days with us, and is now, I 
suppose at home. I was hoping you might have 
a day or two for a visit to our little valley. 
Next time you come to the city try to stop off 
at "Muir Station" on the Santa Fe. We are 
only an hour and a half from the city. I should 
greatly enjoy a visit at your Ojai home, as you 
well know, but when fate and work will let me 
I dinna ken. . . . Give my sincere regard to 

Ever faithfully yours 




To Robert Underwood Johnson 

MARTINEZ, September 15, 1902 

On my return from the Kern region I heard 
loud but vague rumors of the discovery of a 
giant sequoia hi Converse Basin on Kings 
River, one hundred and fifty-three feet in cir 
cumference and fifty feet in diameter, to which 
I paid no attention, having heard hundreds of 
such "biggest-tree-in-the- world" rumors be 
fore. But at Fresno I met a surveyor who as 
sured me that he had himself measured the tree 
and found it to be one hundred and fifty-three 
feet in circumference six feet above ground. So 
of course I went back up the mountains to see 
and measure for myself, carrying a steel tape- 

At one foot above ground it is 108 feet in circumference 
" four feet " " " " 97 " 6 inches in " 

One of the largest and finest every way of living 
sequoias that have been measured. But none 
can say it is certainly the largest. The im 
mensely larger dead one that I discovered 
twenty-seven years ago stands within a few 
miles of this new wonder, and I think I have in 
my notebooks measurements of living speci 
mens as large as the new tree, or larger. I have 



a photo of the tree and can get others, I think, 
from a photographer who has a studio in Con 
verse Basin. I ll write a few pages on Big Trees 
in general if you like; also touching on the hor 
rible destruction of the Kings River groves now 
going on fiercely about the mills. 

As to the discovery of a region grander than 
Yosemite by the Kelly brothers in the Kings 
Canon, it is nearly all pure bosh. I explored the 
Canon long ago. It is very deep, but has no El 
Capitan or anything like it. 

Ever yours faithfully 


To Henry Fairfield Osborn 

July 16, 1904 


In the big talus of letters, books, pamphlets, 
etc., accumulated on my desk during more than 
a year s absence, I found your Boone and 
Crockett address l and have heartily enjoyed 
it. It is an admirable plea for our poor hori 
zontal fellow-mortals, so fast passing away in 
ruthless starvation and slaughter. Never be 
fore has the need for places of refuge and pro 
tection been greater. Fortunately, at the last 

1 "Preservation of the Wild Animals of North America," 
Forest and Stream, April 16, 1904, pp. 312-13. 


hour, with utter extinction in sight, the Gov 
ernment has begun to act under pressure of 
public opinion, however slight. Therefore your 
address is timely and should be widely pub 
lished. I have often written on the subject, but 
mostly with non-effect. The murder business 
and sport by saint and sinner alike has been 
pushed ruthlessly, merrily on, until at last pro 
tective measures are being called for, partly, I 
suppose, because the pleasure of killing is in 
danger of being lost from there being little or 
nothing left to kill, and partly, let us hope, from 
a dim glimmering recognition of the rights of 
animals and their kinship to ourselves. 

How long it seems since my last visit to 
Wing-and-Wing! and how far we have been! I 
got home a few weeks ago from a trip more 
than a year long. I went with Professor Sargent 
and his son Robeson through Europe visiting 
the principal parks, gardens, art galleries, etc. 
From Berlin we went to St. Petersburg, thence 
to the Crimea, by Moscow, the Caucasus, 
across by Dariel Pass from Tiflis, and back to 
Moscow. Thence across Siberia, Manchuria, 
etc., to Japan and Shanghai. 

At Shanghai left the Sargents and set out on 

a grand trip alone and free to India, Egypt, 

Ceylon, Australia, New Zealand. Thence by 

way of Port Darwin, Timor, through the Malay 



Archipelago to Manila. Thence to Hong Kong 
again and Japan and home by Honolulu. Had 
perfectly glorious times in India, Australia, and 
New Zealand. The flora of Australia and New 
Zealand is so novel and exciting I had to begin 
botanical studies over again, working night and 
day with endless enthusiasm. And what won 
drous beasts and birds, too, are there! 

Do write and let me know how you all are. 
Remember me with kindest regards to Mrs. 
Osborn and the children and believe me ever 
Faithfully yours 




The closing period of Muir s life began with a 
great triumph and a bitter sorrow both in 
the same year. His hour of triumph came with 
the successful issue of a seventeen-year cam 
paign to rescue his beloved Yosemite Valley 
from the hands of spoilers. His chief helpers 
were Mr. Johnson in the East and Mr. William 
E. Colby in the West. The latter had, under 
the auspices of the Sierra Club, organized and 
conducted for many years summer outings of 
large parties of Club members into the High 
Sierra. These outings, by their simple and 



healthful camping methods, by their easy mo 
bility amid hundreds of miles of superb moun 
tain scenery, and by the deep love of unspoiled 
nature which they awakened in thousands of 
hearts, not only achieved a national reputation, 
but trained battalions of eager defenders of our 
national playgrounds. No one was more re 
joiced by the growing success of the outings 
than John Muir, and the evenings when he 
spoke at the High Sierra camp-fires are treas 
ured memories in many hearts. 

When the battle for the recession of the 
Yosemite Valley grew keen during January and 
February, 1905, Mr. Muir and Mr. Colby went 
to Sacramento in order to counteract by their 
personal presence the propaganda of falsehoods 
which an interested opposition was industri 
ously spreading. The bill passed by a safe 
majority and the first of the two following let 
ters celebrates the event; the second relates to 
the later acceptance of the Valley by Congress, 
to be administered thereafter as an integral 
part of the Yosemite National Park. 

On the heels of this achievement came a 
, devastating bereavement the death of his 
wife. Earlier in the year his daughter Helen 
had been taken seriously ill, and when she be 
came convalescent she had to be removed to 
the dry air of Arizona. While there with her, a 



telegram called him back to the bedside of his 
wife, in whose case a long-standing illness had 
suddenly become serious. She died on the 
sixth of August, 1905, and thereafter the old 
house on the hill was a shelter and a place of 
work from time to tune, but never a home 
again. "Get out among the mountains and the 
trees, friend, as soon as you can," wrote Theo 
dore Roosevelt. "They will do more for you 
than either man or woman could." But anxiety 
over the health of his daughter Helen bound 
him to the Arizona desert for varying periods of 
time. There he discovered remnants of a won 
derful petrified forest, which he studied with 
great eagerness. He urged that it be preserved 
as a national monument, and it was set aside 
by Theodore Roosevelt hi 1906 under the name 
of the Petrified Forest National Monument. 

These years of grief and anxiety proved com 
paratively barren in literary work. But part of 
the time he probably was engaged upon a re 
vised and enlarged edition of his "Mountains 
of California," which appeared in 1911 with an 
affectionate dedication to the memory of his 
wife. In some notes, written during 1908, for 
his autobiography, Muir alludes to this period 
of stress with a pathetic foreboding that he 
might not live long enough to gather a matured 
literary harvest from his numerous notebooks. 



The letters of the closing years of his life 
show an increasing sense of urgency regarding 
the unwritten books mentioned hi his letter to 
Walter Hines Page, and he applied himself to 
literary work too unremittingly for the require 
ments of his health. Much of his writing during 
this period was done at the home of Mr. and 
Mrs. J. D. Hooker in Los Angeles and at the 
summer home of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Fairfield 
Osborn at Garrison s-on-the-Hudson. The last 
long journey, in which he realized the dreams of 
a lifetime, was undertaken during the summer 
of 1911. It was the trip to South America, to 
the Amazon the goal which he had in view 
when he set out on his thousand-mile walk to 
the Gulf in 1867. His chief object was to see 
the araucaria forests of Brazil. This accom 
plished, he went from South America to South 
Africa in order to see the Baobab tree in its 
native habitat. 

During these few later years of domestic troubles 
and anxieties [he wrote in 1911] but little writing or 
studying of any sort has been possible. But these, 
fortunately, are now beginning to abate, and I hope 
that something worth while may still be accom 
plished before the coming of life s night. I have 
written but three 1 books as yet, and a number of 
scientific and popular articles in magazines, news- 

1 Mountains of California, Our National Parks, and My 
First Summer in the Sierra. 



papers, etc. In the beginning of my studies I never 
intended to write a word for the press. In my life of 
lonely wanderings I was pushed and pulled on and 
on through everything by unwavering never-ending 
love of God s earth plans and works, and eternal, 
immortal, all-embracing Beauty; and when im 
portuned to " write, write, write, and give your 
treasures to the world," I have always said that I 
could not stop field work until too old to climb 
mountains; but now, at the age of seventy, I begin 
to see that if any of the material collected in note 
books, already sufficient for a dozen volumes, is to 
be arranged and published by me, I must make 

To Robert Underwood Johnson 

MARTINEZ, February 24, [1905] 

I wish I could have seen you last night when 
you received my news of the Yosemite victory, 
which for so many years, as commanding gen 
eral, you have bravely and incessantly fought 

About two years ago public opinion, which 
had long been on our side, began to rise into 
effective action. On the way to Yosemite [in 
1903] both the President l and our Governor l 
were won to our side, and since then the move 
ment was like Yosemite avalanches. But 
though almost everybody was with us, so ac- 

1 President Theodore Roosevelt and Governor George C. 



tive was the opposition of those pecuniarily and 
politically interested, we might have failed to 
get the bill through the Senate but for the help 

of Mr. H , though, of course, his name or 

his company were never in sight through all the 
fight. About the beginning of January I wrote 

to Mr. H . He promptly telegraphed a 

favorable reply. 

Wish you could have heard the oratory of the 
opposition fluffy, nebulous, shrieking, howl 
ing, threatening like sand-storms and dust 
whirlwinds in the desert. Sometime I hope to 
tell you all about it. 

I am now an experienced lobbyist; my politi 
cal education is complete. Have attended Leg 
islature, made speeches, explained, exhorted, 
persuaded every mother s son of the legislators, 
newspaper reporters, and everybody else who 
would listen to me. And now that the fight is 
finished and my education as a politician and 
lobbyist is finished, I am almost finished my 

Now, ho! for righteous management. ... Of 
course you ll have a long editorial hi the 
" Century." 

Faithfully yours 




To Robert Underwood Johnson 

July 16, 1906 

Yes, my dear Johnson, sound the loud tim 
brel and let every Yosemite tree and stream 

You may be sure I knew when the big bill 
passed. Getting Congress to accept the Valley 
brought on, strange to say, a desperate fight 
both in the House and Senate. Sometime I ll 
tell you all the story. You don t know how 
accomplished a lobbyist I ve become under 
your guidance. The fight you planned by that 
famous Tuolumne camp-fire seventeen years 
ago is at last fairly, gloriously won, every 
enemy down derry down. 

Write a good, long, strong, heart-warming 
letter to Colby. He is the only one of all the 
Club who stood by me in downright effective 

I congratulate you on your successful man 
agement of Vesuvius, as Gilder says, and safe 
return with yourself and family in all its far- 
spreading branches in good health. Helen is 
now much better. Wanda was married last 
month, and I am absorbed in these enchanted 
carboniferous forests. Come and let me guide 
you through them and the great Canon. 

Ever yours JOHN Mum 



To Francis Fisher Browne 1 


June 1, 1910 

Good luck and congratulations on the 
"Dial s" thirtieth anniversary, and so Scot- 
tishly and well I learned to know you two 
summers ago, with blessed John Burroughs & 
Co., that I seem to have known you always. 

I was surprised to get a long letter from Miss 
Barrus written at Seattle, and in writing to Mr. 
Burroughs later I proposed to him that he fol 
low to this side of the continent and build a 
new Slabsides "where rolls the Oregon," and 
write more bird and bee books instead of his 
new-fangled Catskill Silurian and Devonian 
geology on which he at present seems to have 
gane gite, clean gite, having apparently for 
gotten that there is a single bird or bee in the 
sky. I also proposed that in his ripe, mellow, 
autumnal age he go with me to the basin of the 
Amazon for new ideas, and also to South Africa 
and Madagascar, where he might see something 
that would bring his early bird and bee days to 

1 Editor of The Dial from 1880 to his death in 1913. A 
tribute by Muir under the title "Browne the Beloved" ap 
peared in The Dial during June, 1913. 


I have been hidden down here in Los Angeles 
for a month or two and have managed to get off 
a little book to Houghton Mifflin, which they 
propose to bring out as soon as possible. It is 
entitled "My First Summer in the Sierra." I 
also have another book nearly ready, made up 
of a lot of animal stories for boys, drawn from 
my experiences as a boy in Scotland and in the 
wild oak openings of Wisconsin. I have also 
rewritten the autobiographical notes dictated 
at Harriman s Pelican Lodge on Klamath Lake 
two years ago, but that seems to be an endless 
job, and, if completed at all, will require many 
a year. Next month I mean to try to bring 
together a lot of Yosemite material into a hand 
book for travelers, which ought to have been 
written long ago. 

So you see I am fairly busy, and precious 
few trips will I be able to make this summer, 
although I took Professor Osborn and family 
into the Yosemite for a few days, and Mr. 
Hooker and his party on a short trip to the 
Grand Canon. 

Are you coming West this year? It would be 
delightful to see you once more. 

I often think of the misery of Mr. Burroughs 

and his physician, caused by our revels in 

Burns poems, reciting verse about in the 

resonant board chamber whose walls trans- 



mitted every one of the blessed words to the 
sleepy and unwilling ears of John. . . . Fun to 
us, but death and broken slumbers to Oom 

With all best wishes, my dear Browne, and 
many warmly cherished memories, I am 
Ever faithfully your friend 


To Henry Fairfield Osborn 


June 1, 1910 

Many thanks for the copy you sent me of 
your long good manly letter to Mr. Robert J. 
Collier on the Hetch-Hetchy Yosemite Park. 
As I suppose you have seen by the newspapers, 
San Francisco will have until May 1, 1911, to 
show cause why Hetch-Hetchy Valley should 
not be eliminated from the permit which the 
Government has given the city to develop a 
water supply in Yosemite Park. Meantime the 
municipality is to have detailed surveys made 
of the Lake Eleanor watershed, of the Hetch- 
Hetchy, and other available sources, and fur 
nish such data and information as may be 
directed by the board of army engineers ap 
pointed by the President to act in an advisory 



capacity with Secretary Ballinger. Mr. Bal- 
linger said to the San Francisco proponents of 
the damming scheme, "I want to know what is 
necessary so far as the Hetch-Hetchy is con 
cerned." He also said, "What this Govern 
ment wants to know and the American people 
want to know is whether it is a matter of ab 
solute necessity for the people of San Francisco 
to have this water supply. Otherwise it belongs 
to the people for the purpose of a national park 
for which it has been set aside. 7 Ballinger sug 
gested that the Lake Eleanor plans should be 
submitted to the engineers at once so that they 
could have them as a basis for ascertaining if 
the full development of that watershed is con 
templated, and to make a report of its data to 
the engineers as its preparation proceeded so 
that they may be kept in immediate touch with 
what is being done. Of the outcome of this 
thorough examination of the scheme there can 
be no doubt, and it must surely put the ques 
tion at rest for all time, at least as far as our 
great park is concerned, and perhaps all the 
other national parks. 

I have been hidden down here in Los Angeles 
a month or two working hard on books. Two 
or three weeks ago I sent the manuscript of a 
small book to Houghton Mifflin Company, who 
expect to bring it out as soon as possible. It is 


entitled "My First Summer in the Sierra," 
written from notes made forty-one years ago. 
I have also nearly ready a lot of animal stories 
for a boys book, drawn chiefly from my experi 
ences as a boy in Scotland and in the wild oak 
openings of Wisconsin. I have also rewritten a 
lot of autobiographical notes dictated at Mr. 
Harriman s Pelican Lodge on Klamath Lake 
two years ago. Next month I hope to bring 
together a lot of Yosemite sketches for a sort of 
travelers guidebook, which ought to have been 
written many years ago. 

So you see, what with furnishing illustra 
tions, reading proof, and getting this Yosemite 
guidebook off my hands, it will not be likely 
that I can find time for even a short visit to 
New York this summer. Possibly, however, I 
may be able to get away a few weeks in the 
autumn. Nothing, as you well know, would be 
more delightful than a visit to your blessed 
Garrison s-on-the-Hudson, and I am sure to 
make it some time ere long, unless my usual 
good luck should fail me utterly. 

With warmest regards to Mrs. Osborn and 
Josephine and all the family, I am, my dear 
Mr. Osborn, 

Ever faithfully your friend 




To Mrs. J. D. Hooker 

MARTINEZ, September 15, 1910 

Be of good cheer, make the best of whatever 
befalls; keep as near to headquarters as you 
may, and you will surely triumph over the ills 
of life, its frets and cares, with all other vermin 
of either earth or sky. 

I m ashamed to have enjoyed my visit so 
much. A lone good soul can still work miracles, 
charm an outlandish, crooked, zigzag flat into a 
lofty inspiring Olympus. 

Do you know these fine verses of Thoreau? 

"I will not doubt for evermore, 

Nor falter from a steadfast faith, 
For though the system be turned o er, 
God takes not back the word which once he saith. 

"I will, then, trust the love untold 

Which not my worth nor want has bought, 
Which wooed me young and wooes me old, 
And to this evening hath me brought." 

Ever your friend 


To Mrs. J. D. Hooker 

MARTINEZ, December 17, 1910 

I m glad you re at work on a book, for as far 
as I know, however high or low Fortune s winds 


may blow o er life s solemn main, there is noth 
ing so saving as good hearty work. From a 
letter just received from the Lark I learn the 
good news that Mr. Hooker is also hard at 
work with his pen. 

As for myself, I ve been reading old musty 
dusty Yosemite notes until I m tired and 
blinky blind, trying to arrange them in some 
thing like lateral, medial, and terminal mo 
raines on my den floor. I never imagined I had 
accumulated so vast a number. The long 
trains and embankments and heaped-up piles 
are truly appalling. I thought that in a quiet 
day or two I might select all that would be 
required for a guidebook; but the stuff seems 
enough for a score of big jungle books, and it s 
very hard, I find, to steer through it on any 
thing like a steady course hi reasonable time. 
Therefore, I m beginning to see that I ll have 
to pick out only a moderate-sized bagful for the 
book and abandon the bulk of it to waste away 
like a snowbank or grow into other forms as 
time and chance may determine. 

So, after all, I may be able to fly south in a 
few days and alight in your fine canon garret. 
Anyhow, with good will and good wishes, to 
you all, I am 

Ever faithfully, affectionately 




To Mrs. J. D. Hooker 

(June 26, 1911] 

... I went to New Haven Tuesday morning, 
the 20th, was warmly welcomed and enter 
tained by Professor Phelps and taken to the 
ball game in the afternoon. Though at first a 
little nervous, especially about the approaching 
honorary degree ceremony, I quickly caught 
the glow of the Yale enthusiasm. Never before 
have I seen or heard anything just like it. The 
alumni, assembled in classes from all the coun 
try, were arrayed in wildly colored uniforms, 
and the way they rejoiced and made merry, 
capered and danced, sang and yelled, marched 
and ran, doubled, quadrupled, octupled is 
utterly indescribable; autumn leaves in whirl 
winds are staid and dignified in comparison. 

Then came memorable Wednesday when 
we donned our radiant academic robes and 
marched to the great hall where the degrees 
were conferred, shining like crow blackbirds. I 
was given perhaps the best seat on the plat 
form, and when my name was called I arose 
with a grand air, shook my massive academic 
plumes into finest fluting folds, as became the 
occasion, stepped forward in awful majesty and 
stood rigid and solemn like an ancient sequoia 
while the orator poured praise on the honored 
wanderer s head and in this heroic attitude I 



think I had better leave him. Here is what the 
orator said. Pass it on to Helen at Daggett. 
My love to all who love you. 

Faithfully, affectionately 


To John Burroughs 


July 14, 1911 

When I was on the train passing your place I 
threw you a hearty salute across the river, but 
I don t suppose that you heard or felt it. I 
would have been with you long ago if I had not 
been loaded down with odds and ends of duties, 
book-making, book-selling at Boston, Yosemite 
and Park affairs at Washington, and making 
arrangements for getting off to South America, 
etc., etc. I have never worked harder in my 
life, although I have not very much to show for 
it. I have got a volume of my autobiography 
finished. Houghton Mifflin are to bring it out. 
They want to bring it out immediately, but I 
would like to have at least part of it run 
through some suitable magazine, and thus gain 
ten or twenty times more readers than would 
be likely to see it in a book. 

I have been working for the last month or 
more on the Yosemite book, trying to finish it 


before leaving for the Amazon, but I am not 
suffering in a monstrous city. I am on the 
top of as green a hill as I have seen in all the 
State, with hermit thrushes, woodchucks, and 
warm hearts, something like those about your-, 

I am at a place that I suppose you know well, 
Professor Osborn s summer residence at Garri 
son s, opposite West Point. After Mrs. Harri- 
man left for Arden I went down to the " Cen 
tury" Editorial Rooms, where I was offered 
every facility for writing in Gilder s room, and 
tried to secure a boarding-place near Union 
Square, but the first day was so hot that it 
made my head swim, and I hastily made pre 
parations for this comfortable home up on the 
hill here, where I will remain until perhaps the 
15th of August, when I expect to sail. 

Nothing would be more delightful than to go 
from one beautiful place to another and from 
one friend to another, but it is utterly impos 
sible to visit a hundredth part of the friends 
who are begging me to go and see them and at 
the same tune get any work done. I am now 
shut up in a magnificent room pegging away at 
that book, and working as hard as I ever did in 
my life. I do not know what has got into me, 
making so many books all at once. It is not 
natural. . . . 



With all good wishes to your big and happy 
family, I am ever 

Faithfully your friend 


To Mrs. Henry Fairfield Osborn 


August 29, 1911 


Here at last is The River and thanks to your 
and Mrs. Harriman s loving care I m well and 
strong for all South American work in sight 
that looks like mine. 

Arrived here last eve after a pleasant voy 
age a long charming slide all the way to the 
equator between beautiful water and beautiful 

Approaching Para, had a glorious view of 
fifty miles or so of forest on the right bank of 
the river. This alone is noble compensation for 
my long desired and waited-for Amazon jour 
ney, even should I see no more. 

And it s delightful to contemplate your cool 
restful mountain trip which is really a part of 
this equator trip. The more I see of our goodly 
Godly star, the more plainly comes to sight and 
mind the truth that it is all one like a face, 
every feature radiating beauty on the others. 

I expect to start up the river to Manaos hi a 



day or two on the Dennis. Will write again on 
my return before going south and will hope 
to get a letter from you and Mr. Osborn, who 
must be enjoying his well-earned rest. How 
often I ve wished him with me. I often think of 
you and Josephine among the Avalanche Lake 
clintonias and linnseas. And that lovely boy 
at Castle Rock. Virginia played benevolent 
mother delightfully and sent me off rejoic 

My love to each and all; ever, dear friend 
and friends, 

Faithfully, gratefully 


To Mrs. J. D. Hooker 


September 19, 1911 

... Of course you need absolute rest. Lie 
down among the pines for a while, then get to 
plain, pure, white love-work with Marian, to 
help humanity and other mortals and the Lord 
heal the sick, cheer the sorrowful, break the 
jaws of the wicked, etc. But this Amazon delta 
sermon is growing too long. How glad I am 
that Marian was not with me, on account of 
yellow fever and the most rapidly deadly of the 
malarial kinds so prevalent up the river. 

Nevertheless, I ve had a most glorious tune 



on this trip, dreamed of nearly half a century 

- have seen more than a thousand miles of the 
noblest of Earth s streams, and gained far more 
telling views of the wonderful forests than I 
ever hoped for. The Amazon, as you know, is 
immensely broad, but for hundreds of miles the 
steamer ran so close to the bossy leafy banks I 
could almost touch the out-reaching branches 

- fancy how I stared and sketched. 

I was a week at Manaos on the Rio Negro 
tributary, wandered in the wonderful woods, 
got acquainted with the best of the citizens 
through Mr. Sanford, a graduate of Yale, was 
dined and guided and guarded and befriended 
in the most wonderful way, and had a grand 
telling time in general. I have no end of fine 
things for you in the way of new beauty. The 
only fevers I have had so far are burning en 
thusiasms, but there s no space for them in 

Here, however, is something that I must tell 
right now. Away up in that wild Manaos re 
gion in the very heart of the vast Amazon basin 
I found a little case of books in a lonely house. 
Glancing over the titles, none attracted me 
except a soiled volume at the end of one of the 
shelves, the blurred title of which I was unable 
to read, so I opened the glass door, opened the 
book, and out of it like magic jumped Kathar- 



ine and Marian Hooker, apparently in the very 
flesh. The book, needless to say, was "Way 
farers in Italy." The joy-shock I must not try 
to tell in detail, for medical Marian might call 
the whole story an equatorial fever dream. 

Dear, dear friend, again good-bye. Rest in 
God s peace. 



To Mrs. J. D. Hooker 


December 6, 1911 

Your letter of October 4th from San Fran 
cisco was forwarded from Para to Buenos Aires 
and received there at the American Consulate. 
Your and Marian s letter, dated August 7th, 
were received at Para, not having been quite in 
time to reach me before I sailed, but forwarded 
by Mrs. Osborn. I can t think how I could 
have failed to acknowledge them. I have them 
and others with me, and they have been read 
times numberless when I was feeling lonely on 
my strange wanderings in all sorts of places. 

But I m now done with this glorious conti 
nent, at least for the present, as far as hard 
journeys along rivers, across mountains and 
tablelands, and through strange forests are con- 


cerned. I ve seen all I sought for, and far, far, 
far more. From Para I sailed to Rio de Janeiro 
and at the first eager gaze into its wonderful 
harbor saw that it was a glacier bay, as un 
changed by weathering as any in Alaska, every 
rock in it and about it a glacial monument, 
though within 23 of the equator, and feathered 
with palms instead of spruces, while every 
mountain and bay all the way down the coast 
to the Rio Grande do Sul corroborates the 
strange icy story. From Rio I sailed to Santos, 
and thence struck inland and wandered most 
joyfully a thousand miles or so, mostly hi the 
State of Parana, through millions of acres of 
the ancient tree I was so anxious to find, Arau- 
caria Brasiliensis. Just think of the glow of my 
joy in these noble aboriginal forests the face 
of every tree marked with the inherited experi 
ences of millions of years. From Paranagua I 
sailed for Buenos Aires; crossed the Andes to 
Santiago, Chile; thence south four or five hun 
dred miles; thence straight to the snow-line, 
and found a glorious forest of Araucaria im- 
bricata, the strangest of the strange genus. 

The day after to-morrow, December 8th, I 
intend to sail for Teneriffe on way to South 
Africa; then home some way or other. But I 
can give no address until I reach New York. 
I m so glad your health is restored, and, now 



that you are free to obey your heart and have 
your brother s help and Marian s cosmic energy, 
your good-doing can have no end. I m glad you 
are not going to sell the Los Angeles garret and 
garden. Why, I hardly know. Perhaps because 
I m weary and lonesome, with a long hot 
journey ahead, and I feel as if I were again 
bidding you all good-bye. I think you may 
send me a word or two to Cape Town, care the 
American Consul. It would not be lost, for it 
would follow me. 

It s perfectly marvelous how kind hundreds 
of people have been to this wanderer, and the 
new beauty stored up is far beyond telling. 
Give my love to Marian, Maude, and Ellie and 
all who love you. I wish you would write a line 
now and then to darling Helen. She has a little 
bungalow of her own now at 233 Formosa 
Avenue, Hollywood, California. 

It s growing late, and I ve miserable packing 
to do. Good-night. And once more, dear, dear 
friend, good-bye. 




To Mr. and Mrs. Henry Fairfield Osborn 


January 31, 1912 


What a lot of wild water has been roaring 
between us since those blessed Castle Rock 
days! But, roll and roar as it might, you have 
never been out of heart-sight. 

How often I ve wished you with me on the 
best of my wanderings so full of good things 
guided by wonderful luck, or shall I reverently, 
thankfully say Providence? Anyhow, it seems 
that I ve had the most fruitful time of my life 
on this pair of hot continents. But I must not 
try to write my gams, for they are utterly un- 
letterable both in size and kind. I ll tell what I 
can when I see you, probably in three months 
or less. From Cape Town I went north to the 
Zambesi baobab forests and Victoria Falls, and 
thence down through a glacial wonderland to 
Beira, where I caught this steamer, and am on 
my way to Mombasa and the Nyanza Lake 
region. From Mombasa I intend starting 
homeward via Suez and Naples and New York, 
fondly hoping to find you well. In the mean 
time I m sending lots of wireless, tireless love 
messages to each and every Osborn, for I am 
Ever faithfully yours 




To Mrs. Anna R. Dickey 


May 1, 1912 


Your fine lost letter has reached me at last. 
I found it in the big talus-heap awaiting me 

The bright, shining, faithful, hopeful way 
you bear your crushing burdens is purely 
divine, out of darkness cheering everybody else 
with noble godlike sympathy. I m so glad you 
have a home with the birds hi the evergreen 
oaks the feathered folk singing for you and 
every leaf shining, reflecting God s love. Don 
ald, too, is so brave and happy. With youth on 
his side and joyful work, he is sure to grow 
stronger and under every disadvantage do 
more as a naturalist than thousands of others 
with every resource of health and wealth and 
special training. 

I m in my old library den, the house desolate, 
nobody living in it save a hungry mouse or 
two. ... [I hold] dearly cherished memories 
about it and the fine garden grounds full of 
trees and bushes and flowers that my wife and 
father-in-law and I planted fine things from 
every land. 

But there s no good bread hereabouts and no 
housekeeper, so I may never be able to make it 



a home, fated, perhaps, to wander until sun 
down. Anyhow, I ve had a glorious life, and 
I ll never have the heart to complain. The 
roses now are overrunning all bounds in glory 
of full bloom, and the Lebanon and Himalaya 
cedars, and the palms and Australian trees and 
shrubs, and the oaks on the valley hills seem 
happier and more exuberant than ever. 

The Chelan trip would be according to my 

own heart, but whether or no I can go I dinna 

ken. Only lots of hard pen work seems certain. 

Anywhere, anyhow, with love to Donald, I am, 

Ever faithfully, affectionately yours 


To William E. Colby 

Mr. and Mrs. Edward T. Parsons 


June 24, 1912 

I thank you very much for your kind wishes 
to give me a pleasant Kern River trip, and am 
very sorry that work has been so unmercifully 
piled upon me that I find it impossible to 
escape from it, so I must just stay and work. 

I heartily congratulate you and all your 
merry mountaineers on the magnificent trip 



that lies before you. As you know, I have seen 
something of nearly all the mountain-chains of 
the world, and have experienced their varied 
climates and attractions of forests and rivers, 
lakes and meadows, etc. In fact, I have seen a 
little of all the high places and low places of the 
continents, but no mountain-range seems to me 
so kind, so beautiful, or so fine in its sculpture 
as the Sierra Nevada. If you were as free as the 
winds are and the light to choose a camp 
ground hi any part of the globe, I could not 
direct you to a single place for your outing that, 
all things considered, is so attractive, so ex 
hilarating and uplifting hi every way as just 
the trip that you are now making. You are far 
happier than you know. Good luck to you all, 
and I shall hope to see you all on your return 
boys and girls, with the sparkle and ex 
hilaration of the mountains still in your eyes. 
With love and countless fondly cherished 

Ever faithfully yours 


Of course, in all your camp-fire preaching 
and praying you will never forget Hetch- 



To Howard Palmer 


December 12, 1912 

Secretary American Alpine Club 

New London, Conn. 

At the National Parks conference in Yosem- 
ite Valley last October, called by the Honor 
able Secretary of the Interior, comparatively 
little of importance was considered. The great 
question was, " Shall automobiles be allowed to 
enter Yosemite?" It overshadowed all others, 
and a prodigious lot of gaseous commercial elo 
quence was spent upon it by auto-club dele 
gates from near and far. 

The principal objection urged against the 
puffing machines was that on the steep Yosem 
ite grades they would cause serious accidents. 
The machine men roared in reply that far 
fewer park-going people would be killed or 
wounded by the auto-way than by the old 
prehistoric wagon-way. All signs indicate auto 
mobile victory, and doubtless, under certain 
precautionary restrictions, these useful, pro 
gressive, blunt-nosed mechanical beetles will 
hereafter be allowed to puff their way into all 
the parks and mingle their gas-breath with the 
breath of the pines and waterfalls, and, from 



the mountaineer s standpoint, with but little 
harm or good. 

In getting ready for the Canal-celebration 
visitors the need of opening the Valley gates as 
wide as possible was duly considered, and the 
repair of roads and trails, hotel and camp build 
ing, the supply of cars and stages and arrange 
ments in general for getting the hoped-for 
crowds safely into the Valley and out again. 
But the Yosemite Park was lost sight of, as if 
its thousand square miles of wonderful moun 
tains, canons, glaciers, forests, and songful 
falling rivers had no existence. 

In the development of the Park a road is 
needed from the Valley along the upper canon 
of the Merced, across to the head of Tuolumne 
Meadows, down the great Tuolumne Canon to 
Hetch-Hetchy valley, and thence back to Yo 
semite by the Big Oak Flat road. Good walkers 
can go anywhere in these hospitable mountains 
without artificial ways. But most visitors have 
to be rolled on wheels with blankets and kitchen 

Of course the few mountaineers present got 
in a word now and then on the need of park pro 
tection from commercial invasion like that now 
threatening Hetch-Hetchy. In particular the 
Secretary of the American Civic Association 
and the Sierra Club spoke on the highest value 



of wild parks as places of recreation, Nature s 
cathedrals, where all may gain inspiration and 
strength and get nearer to God. 

The great need of a landscape gardener to lay 
out the roads and direct the work of thinning 
out the heavy undergrowth was also urged. 
With all good New Year wishes, I am 
Faithfully yours 


To Asa K. Mcllhaney 


January 10, 1913 

Bath, Penn. 

I thank you for your fine letter, but in reply 
I can t tell which of all God s trees I like best, 
though I should write a big book trying to. 
Sight-seers often ask me which is best, the 
Grand Canon of Arizona or Yosemite. I 
always reply that I know a show better than 
either of them both of them. 

Anglo-Saxon folk have inherited love for 
oaks and heathers. Of all I know of the world s 
two hundred and fifty oaks perhaps I like best 
the macrocarpa, chrysolepis, lobata, Virgini- 
ana, agrifolia, and Michauxii. Of the little 
heather folk my favorite is Cassiope; of the 



trees of the family, the Menzies arbutus, one 
of the world s great trees. The hickory is a 
favorite genus I like them all, the pecan the 
best. Of flower trees, magnolia and lirioden- 
dron and the wonderful baobab; of conifers, 
Sequoia gigantea, the noblest of the whole 
noble race, and sugar pine, king of pines, and 
silver firs, especially magnified. The grand 
larch forests of the upper Missouri and of Man 
churia and the glorious deodars of the Hima 
laya, araucarias of Brazil and Chile and Aus 
tralia. The wonderful eucalyptus, two hun 
dred species, the New Zealand metrosideros 
and agathis. The magnificent eriodendron of 
the Amazon and the palm and tree fern and 
tree grass forests, and in our own country the 
delightful linden and oxydendron and maples 
and so on, without end. I may as well stop here 
as anywhere. 

Wishing you a happy New Year and good 
times in God s woods, 

Faithfully yours 




To Miss M. Merrill 


May 31, 1913 

I am more delighted with your letter than I 
can tell to see your handwriting once more 
and know that you still love me. For through 
all life s wanderings you have held a warm 
place in my heart, and I have never ceased to 
thank God for giving me the blessed Merrill 
family as lifelong friends. As to the Scotch way 
of bringing up children, to which you refer, I 
think it is often too severe or even cruel. And 
as I hate cruelty, I called attention to it in the 
boyhood book while at the same time pointing 
out the value of sound religious training with 
steady work and restraint. 

I m now at work on an Alaska book, and as 
soon as it is off my hands I mean to continue 
the autobiography from leaving the University 
to botanical excursions in the northern woods, 
around Indianapolis, and thence to Florida, 
Cuba, and California. This- will be volume 
number two. 

It is now seven years since my beloved wife 
vanished in the land of the leal. Both of my 
girls are happily married and have homes and 
children of their own. Wanda has three lively 
boys, Helen has two and is living at Daggett, 



California. Wanda is living on the ranch in the 
old adobe, while I am alone in my library den 
in the big house on the hill where you and sister 
Kate found me on your memorable visit long 

As the shadows lengthen in life s afternoon, 
we cling all the more fondly to the friends of 
our youth. And it is with the warmest grati 
tude that I recall the kindness of all your 
family when I was lying in darkness. That 
Heaven may ever bless you, dear Mina, is the 
heart prayer of your 

Affectionate friend 


To Mrs. Henry Fairfield Osborn 


July 3, 1913 


Warm thanks, thanks, thanks for your July 
invitation to blessed Castle Rock. How it goes 
to my heart all of you must know, but wae s 
me! I see no way of escape from the work 
piled on me here the gatherings of half a 
century of wilderness wanderings to be sorted 
and sifted into something like clear, useful 
form. Never mind for, anywhere, every 
where in immortal soul sympathy, I m always 
with my friends, let time and the seas and con- 


tinents spread their years and miles as they 

Ever gratefully, faithfully 


To Henry Fairfield Osborn 


July 15, 1913 

I had no thought of your leaving your own 
great work and many-fold duties to go be 
fore the House Committee on the everlasting 
Hetch-Hetchy fight, but only to write to mem 
bers of Congress you might know, especially to 
President Wilson, a Princeton man. This is the 
twenty-third year of almost continual battle 
for preservation of Yosemite National Park, 
sadly interrupting my natural work. Our en 
emies now seem to be having most everything 
their own wicked way, working beneath ob 
scuring tariff and bank clouds, spending mil 
lions of the people s money for selfish ends. 
Think of three or four ambitious, shifty traders 
and politicians calling themselves "The City 
of San Francisco, " bargaining with the United 
States for half of the Yosemite Park like 
Yankee horse-traders, as if the grandest of all 
our mountain playgrounds, full of God s best 
gifts, the joy and admiration of the world, were 



of no more account than any of the long list of 
tinker tariff articles. 

Where are you going this summer? Wish I 
could go with you. The pleasure of my long 
lovely Garrison-Hudson Castle Rock days 
grows only the clearer and dearer as the years 
flow by. 

My love to you, dear friend, and to all who 
love you. 

Ever gratefully, affectionately 


To Mr. and Mrs. Henry Fairfield Osborn 

January 4, 1914 


With all my heart I wish you a happy New 
Year. How hard you have fought in the good 
fight to save the Tuolumne Yosemite I well 
know. The battle has lasted twelve years, 
from Pinchot and Company to President Wil 
son, and the wrong has prevailed over the best 
aroused sentiment of the whole country. 

That a lane lined with lies could be forced 
through the middle of the U.S. Congress is 
truly wonderful even in these confused politi 
cal days a devil s masterpiece of log-rolling 
road-making. But the approval of such a job 
by scholarly, virtuous, Princeton Wilson is 



the greatest wonder of all! Fortunately wrong 
cannot last; soon or late it must fall back home 
to Hades, while some compensating good must 
surely follow. 

With the new year to new work right gladly 
we will go you to your studies of God s lang- 
syne people in their magnificent Wyoming- 
Idaho mausoleums, I to crystal ice. 

So devoutly prays your grateful admiring 
friend JOHN Mum 

To Andrew Carnegie 


January 22, 1914 

Many thanks, dear Mr. Carnegie, for your 
admirable " Apprenticeship." To how many 
fine godly men and women has our stormy, 
craggy, glacier-sculptured little Scotland given 
birth, influencing for good every country under 
the sun! Our immortal poet while yet a boy 
wished that for poor auld Scotland s sake he 
might "sing a sang at least." And what a song 
you have sung with your ringing, clanging ham 
mers and furnace fires, blowing and flaming 
like volcanoes a truly wonderful Caledonian 
performance. But far more wonderful is your 
coming forth out of that tremendous titanic 
iron and dollar work with a heart in sympathy 
with all humanity. 



Like John Wesley, who took the world for his 
parish, you are teaching and preaching over all 
the world in your own Scotch way, with heroic 
benevolence putting to use the mine and mill 
wealth won from the iron hills. What wonder 
ful burdens you have carried all your long life, 
and seemingly so easily and naturally, going 
right ahead on your course, steady as a star! 
How strong you must be and happy in doing so 
much good, in being able to illustrate so nobly 
the national character founded on God s im 
mutable righteousness that makes Scotland 
loved at home, revered abroad! Everybody 
blessed with a drop of Scotch blood must be 
proud of you and bid you godspeed. 
Your devoted admirer 


To Dr. C. Hart Merriam 

February 11, 1914 


I was very glad to hear from you once more 
last month, for, as you say, I haven t heard 
from you for an age. I fully intended to grope 
my way to Lagunitas in the fall before last, but 
it is such ancient history that I have only very 
dim recollections of the difficulty that hindered 
me from making the trip. I hope, however, to 


have better luck next spring for I am really 
anxious to see you all once more. 

I congratulate Dorothy on her engagement 
to marry Henry Abbot. If he is at all like his 
blessed old grandfather he must prove a glori 
ous prize in life s lottery. I have been ulti 
mately acquainted with General Abbot ever 
since we camped together for months on the 
Forestry Commission, towards the end of 
President Cleveland s second administration. 

Wanda, her husband, and three boys are 
quite well, living on the ranch here, in the old 
adobe, while I am living alone in the big house 
on the hill. 

After living a year or two in Los Angeles, 
Helen with her two fine boys and her husband 
returned to the alfalfa ranch on the edge of the 
Mojave Desert near Daggett, on the Santa Fe 
Railway. They are all in fine health and will be 
glad to get word from you. 

Our winter here has been one of the stormiest 
and foggiest I have ever experienced, and un 
fortunately I caught the grippe. The last two 
weeks, however, the weather has been quite 
bright and sunny and I hope soon to be as well 
as ever and get to work again. 

That a few ruthless ambitious politicians 
should have been able to run a tunnel lined 
with all sorts of untruthful bewildering state- 



ments through both houses of Congress for 
Hetch-Hetchy is wonderful, but that the Presi 
dent should have signed the Raker Bill is most 
wonderful of all. As you say, it is a monu 
mental mistake, but it is more, it is a monu 
mental crime. 

I have not heard a word yet from the Baileys. 
Hoping that they are well and looking forward 
with pleasure to seeing you all soon hi Cali 
fornia, I am as ever 

Faithfully yours JOHN Mum 

Despite his hopeful allusion to the grippe 
which he had caught early in the winter of 
1914, the disease made farther and farther in 
roads upon his vitality. Yet he worked away 
steadily at the task of completing his Alaska 
book. During the closing months he had the 
aid of Mrs. Marion Randall Parsons, at whose 
home the transcription of his Alaska journals 
had been begun in November, 1912. Unfortu 
nately the Hetch-Hetchy conspiracy became 
acute again, and the book, barely begun, had to 
be laid aside that he might save, if possible, 
his beloved "Tuolumne Yosemite." " We may 
lose this particular fight/ he wrote to William 
E. Colby, "but truth and right must prevail at 
last. Anyhow we must be true to ourselves and 
the Lord." 



This particular battle, indeed, was lost be 
cause the park invaders had finally got into 
office a Secretary of the Interior who had previ 
ously been on San Francisco s payroll as an 
attorney to promote the desired Hetch-Hetchy 
legislation; also, because various other politi 
cians of easy convictions on such fundamental 
questions of public policy as this had been won 
over to a concerted drive to accomplish the 
"grab" during a special summer session when 
no effective representation of opposing organi 
zations could be secured. So flagrant was the 
performance in every aspect of it that Senator 
John D. Works of California afterwards intro 
duced in the Senate a bill to repeal the Hetch- 
Hetchy legislation and in his vigorous remarks 
accompanying the same set forth the points on 
which he justified his action. But the fate of 
the Valley was sealed. 

John Muir turned sadly but courageously 
to his note-books and memories of the great 
glacier-ploughed wilderness of Alaska. Shortly 
before Christmas, 1914, he set his house in 
order as if he had a presentiment that he was 
leaving it for the last time, and went to pay a 
holiday visit to the home of his younger daugh 
ter at Daggett. Upon his arrival there he was 
smitten with pneumonia and was rushed to a 
hospital hi Los Angeles, where all his wander- 



ings ended on Christmas Eve. Spread about 
him on the bed, when the end came, were 
manuscript sheets of his last book " Travels 
in Alaska " to which he was bravely strug 
gling to give the last touches before the coming 
of "the long sleep." 



"THE last rays of the setting sun are shining 
into our window at the Palace Hotel and per 
haps it is the last sunset we shall ever see in 
this city of the Golden Gate. I could not think 
of leaving the Pacific Coast without saying 
good-bye to you who so much love all the world 
about here. California, you may say, has made 
you, and you hi return have made California, 
and you are both richer for having made each 
other." The concluding sentence of this part 
ing message of former travel companions, sent 
to John Muir in 1879 when he was exploring 
the glaciers of Alaska, has grown truer each 
succeeding decade since then. 

Intimately as his name was already identi 
fied with the natural beauty of California in 
1879, the service which Muir was ultimately to 
render to the nation was only beginning at that 
time. Then there was only one national park, 
that of the Yellowstone, and no national forest 
reserves at all. Amid such a wealth of beautiful 
forests and wildernesses as our nation then pos 
sessed it required a very uncommon lover of 



nature and of humanity to advocate provision 
against a day of need. But that friend of gen 
erations unborn arose hi the person of John 
Muir. Before he or any one had ever heard of 
national parks the idea of preserving some 
sections of our natural flora in their unspoiled 
wildness arose spontaneously in his mind. 

It was a lovely carex meadow beside Foun 
tain Lake, on his father s first Wisconsin farm, 
that gave him the germinal idea of a park hi 
which plant societies were to be protected in 
their natural state. During the middle sixties, 
as he was about to leave his boyhood home for 
ever, he found unbearable the thought of leav 
ing this precious meadow unprotected, and 
offered to purchase it from his brother-in-law 
on condition that cattle and hogs be kept se 
curely fenced out. Early correspondence shows 
that he pressed the matter repeatedly, but his 
relative treated the request as a sentimental 
dream, and ultimately the meadow was tram 
pled out of existence. More than thirty years 
later, at a notable meeting of the Sierra Club in 
1895, he for the first time made public this 
natural park dream of his boyhood. It was the 
national park idea in miniature, and the pro 
posal was made before even the Yellowstone 
National Park had been established. 

This was the type of man who during the 



decade between 1879 and 1889 wrote for 
"Scribner s Monthly" and the " Century 
Magazine " a series of articles the Hke of which 
had never been written on American forests 
and scenery. Such were Muir s articles en 
titled "In the Heart of the California Alps," 
"Wild Sheep of the Sierra," "Coniferous For 
ests of the Sierra Nevada," and "Bee-Pastures 
of California." There was also the volume, 
edited by him, entitled "Picturesque Cali 
fornia," with numerous articles by himself. 
The remarkably large correspondence which 
came to him as a result of this literary activity 
shows how deep was its educative effect upon 
the public mind. 

Then came the eventful summer of 1889, dur 
ing which he took Robert Underwood Johnson, 
one of the editors of the "Century," camping 
about Yosemite and on the Tuolumne Mead 
ows, where, as Muir says, he showed him how 
uncountable sheep had eaten and trampled out 
of existence the wonderful flower gardens of the 
seventies. We have elsewhere shown how the 
two then and there determined to make a move 
for the establishment of what is now the Yosem 
ite National Park, and to make its area suffi 
ciently comprehensive to include all the head 
waters of the Merced and the Tuolumne. This 
was during President Harrison s administra- 



tion, and, fortunately for the project, John W. 
Noble, a faithful and far-sighted servant of the 
American people, was then Secretary of the 

One may imagine with what fervor Muir 
threw himself into that campaign. The series 
of articles on the Yosemite region which he now 
wrote for the " Century" are among the best 
things he has ever done. Public-spirited men 
all over the country rallied to the support of the 
National Park movement, and on the first of 
October, 1890, the Yosemite National Park bill 
went through Congress, though bitterly con 
tested by all kinds of selfishness and pettifog 
gery. A troop of cavalry immediately came to 
guard the new park; the " hoofed locusts " were 
expelled, and the flowers and undergrowth 
gradually returned to the meadows and forests. 

The following year (1891) Congress passed 
an act empowering the President to create for 
est reserves. This was the initial step toward a 
rational forest conservation policy, and Presi 
dent Harrison was the first to establish forest 
reserves to the extent of somewhat more 
than thirteen million acres. We cannot stop to 
go into the opening phases of this new move 
ment, but the measure in which the country is 
indebted to John Muir also for this public 
benefit may be gathered from letters of intro- 


duction to scientists abroad which influential 
friends gave to Muir in 1893 when he was con 
templating extensive travels in Europe. "It 
gives me great pleasure," wrote one of them, 
"to introduce to you Mr. John Muir, whose 
successful struggl^ for the reservation of about 
one-half of the western side of the Sierra 
Nevada has made him so well known to the 
friends of the forest in this country." 

During his struggle for the forest reserva 
tions and for the establishment of the Yosemite 
National Park Muir had the effective coopera 
tion of a considerable body of public-spirited 
citizens of California, who in 1892 were organ 
ized into the Sierra Club, in part, at least, for 
the purpose of assisting in creating public senti 
ment and in making it effective. During its 
long and distinguished public service this or 
ganization never swerved from one of its main 
purposes, "to enlist the support and coopera 
tion of the people and the government in pre 
serving the forests and other features of the 
Sierra Nevada Mountains/ and when that 
thrilling volume of Muir s, "My First Summer 
in the Sierra," appeared in 1911, it was found 
to be dedicated "To the Sierra Club of Califor 
nia, Faithful Defender of the People s Play 

The assistance of this Club proved invalu- 



able when Muir s greatest opportunity for 
public service came in 1896. It was then that 
our Federal Government began to realize at 
last the imperative necessity of doing some 
thing at once to check the appalling waste of 
our forest resources. Among the causes which 
led up to this development of conscience was 
the report of Edward A. Bowers, Inspector of 
the Public Land Service. He estimated the 
value of timber stolen from the public lands 
during six years in the eighties at thirty-seven 
million dollars. To this had to be added the 
vastly greater loss annually inflicted upon the 
public domain by sheepmen and prospectors, 
who regularly set fire to the forests in autumn, 
the former to secure open pasturage for their 
flocks, the latter to lay bare the outcrops of 
mineral-bearing rocks. But the most conse 
quential awakening of the public mind followed 
the appearance of Muir s " Mountains of 
California 7 in 1894. All readers of it knew 
immediately that the trees had found a de 
fender whose knowledge, enthusiasm, and gift 
of expression made his pen more powerful than 
a regiment of swords. Here at last was a man 
who had no axes to grind by the measures he 
advocated and thousands of new conservation 
recruits heard the call and enlisted under his 
leadership. One remarkable thing about the 


numerous appreciative letters he received is the 
variety of persons, high and low, from whom 
they came. 

The reader will recall that, as early as 1876, 
Muir had proposed the appointment of a 
national commission to inquire into the fearful 
wastage of forests, to take a survey of existing 
forest lands in public ownership, and to recom 
mend measures for their conservation. Twenty 
years later, in June, 1896, Congress at last took 
the required action by appropriating twenty- 
five thousand dollars "to enable the Secretary 
of the Interior to meet the expenses of an in 
vestigation and report by the National Acad 
emy of Sciences on the inauguration of a na 
tional forestry policy for the forested lands of 
the United States." In pursuance of this act 
Wolcott Gibbs, President of the National Acad 
emy of Sciences, appointed as members of this 
Commission Charles S. Sargent, Director of the 
Arnold Arboretum; General Henry L. Abbot, 
of the United States Engineer Corps; Professor 
William H. Brewer of Yale University; Alex 
ander Agassiz; Arnold Hague of the United 
States Geological Survey; and Gifford Pinchot, 
practical forester. It should be said to the 
credit of these men that they all accepted this 
appointment on the understanding that they 
were to serve without pay. 


It is not surprising, in view of the circum 
stances, that Charles S. Sargent, the Chairman 
of the newly appointed Commission, immedi 
ately invited John Muir to accompany the 
party on a tour of investigation, and it was 
fortunate, as it turned out afterwards, that he 
went as a free lance and not as an official 
member of the party. During the summer of 
1896, this Commission visited nearly all of the 
great forest areas of the West and the North 
west, and letters written to him later by indi 
vidual members testify to the invaluable char 
acter of Muir s personal contribution to its 

A report, made early in 1897, embodied the 
preliminary findings and recommendations of 
the Commission, and on Washington s Birth 
day of that year President Cleveland created 
thirteen forest reservations, comprising more 
than twenty-one million acres. This action of 
the President created a rogues panic among 
the mining, stock, and lumber companies of the 
Northwest, who were fattening on the public 
domain. Through their subservient representa 
tives in Congress they moved unitedly and 
with great alacrity against the reservations. In 
less than a week after the President s proclama 
tion they had secured in the United States 
Senate, without opposition, the passage of an 



amendment to the Sundry Civil Bill whereby 
t all the lands set apart and reserved by Execu 
tive orders of February 22, 1897," were " re 
stored to the public domain . . . the same as if 
said Executive orders and proclamations had 
not been made." To the lasting credit of Cali 
fornia let it be said that the California reserva 
tions were expressly exempted from the provi 
sions of this nullifying amendment at the re 
quest of the California Senators, Perkins and 
White, behind whom was the public sentiment 
of the State, enlightened by John Muir and 
many like-minded friends. 

The great battle between the public interest 
and selfish special interests, or between "land 
scape righteousness and the devil," as Muir 
used to say, was now joined for a fight to the 
finish. The general public as yet knew little 
about the value of forests as conservers and 
regulators of water-flow in streams. They knew 
even less about their effect upon rainfall, cli 
mate, and public welfare, and the day when 
forest reserves would be needed to meet the 
failing timber supply seemed far, far off. 

But there is nothing like a great conflict be 
tween public and private interests to create an 
atmosphere in which enlightening discussion 
can do its work, and no one knew this bettet 
than John Muir. "This forest battle," he 



wrote, "is part of the eternal conflict between 
right and wrong. . . . The sooner it is stirred up 
and debated before the people the better, for 
thus the light will be let into it." When travel 
ing with the Forestry Commission he had on 
one occasion seen an apparently well-behaved 
horse suddenly take a fit of bucking, kicking, 
and biting that made every one run for safety. 
Its strange actions were a mystery until a yel 
low jacket emerged from its ear! 

Muir seized the occurrence for an explana 
tion of the sudden and insanely violent outcry 
against forest reservations. "One man," he 
said, "with a thousand-dollar yellow jacket in 
his ear will make more bewildering noise and do 
more effective kicking and fighting on certain 
public measures than a million working men 
minding their own business, and whose cash 
interests are not visibly involved. But as soon 
as the light comes the awakened million creates 
a public opinion that overcomes wrong however 
cunningly veiled." 

He was not mistaken, as we shall see, 
though for a time wrong seemed triumphant. 
The amendment nullifying the forest reserva 
tions died through lack of President Cleve 
land s signature. But in the extra session, 
which followed the inauguration of President 
McKinley, a bill was passed in June, 1897, that 



restored to the public domain, until March 1, 
1898, all the forest reservations created by 
Cleveland, excepting those of California. This 
interval, of course, was used shamelessly by 
all greedy forest-grabbers, while Congress was 
holding the door open! Emboldened by suc 
cess, certain lumbermen even tried to secure 
Congressional authority to cut the wonderful 
sequoia grove in the General Grant National 

But John Muir s Scotch fighting blood was 
up now. Besides, his friends, East and West, 
were calling for the aid of his eagle s quill to 
enlighten the citizens of our country on the 
issues involved hi the conflict. "No man in the 
world can place the forests claim before them 
so clearly and forcibly as your own dear self," 
wrote his friend Charles Sprague Sargent, 
Chairman of the Commission now under fire. 
"No one knows so well as you the value of our 
forests that their use for lumber is but a 
small part of the value." He proposed that 
Muir write syndicate letters for the public 
press. "There is no one in the United States," 
he wrote, "who can do this in such a telling 
way as you can, and in writing these letters you 
will perform a patriotic service." 

Meanwhile the public press was becoming 
interested hi the issue. To a request from the 



editor of " Harper s Weekly" Muir responded 
with an article entitled " Forest Reservations 
and National Parks," which appeared oppor 
tunely in June, 1897. The late Walter Hines 
Page, then editor of the " Atlantic Monthly," 
opened to him its pages for the telling contribu 
tion entitled The American Forests. In both 
these articles Muir s style rose to the impas 
sioned oratory of a Hebrew prophet arraigning 
wickedness in high places, and preaching the 
sacred duty of so using the country we live in 
that we may not leave it ravished by greed and 
ruined by ignorance, but may pass it on to 
future generations undiminished in richness 
and beauty. 

Unsparingly he exposed to public scorn the 
methods by which the government was being 
defrauded. One typical illustration must suf 
fice. "It was the practice of one lumber com 
pany," he writes, "to hire the entire crew of 
every vessel which might happen to touch at 
any port in the redwood belt, to enter one hun 
dred and sixty acres each and immediately 
deed the land to the company, in consideration 
of the company s paying all expenses and giv 
ing the jolly sailors fifty dollars apiece for their 

This was the type of undesirable citizens 
who, through their representatives in Congress, 


raised the hue and cry that poor settlers, look 
ing for homesteads, were being driven into 
more hopeless poverty by the forest reserva 
tions a piece of sophistry through which 
Muir s trenchant language cut like a Damascus 

The outcries we hear against forest reservations 
[he wrote] come mostly from thieves who are 
wealthy and steal timber by wholesale. They have 
so long been allowed to steal and destroy in peace 
that any impediment to forest robbery is denounced 
as a cruel and irreligious interference with " vested 
rights/ likely to endanger the repose of all ungodly 
welfare. Gold, gold, gold ! How strong a voice that 
metal has ! . . . Even in Congress, a sizable chunk of 
gold, carefully concealed will outtalk and outfight 
all the nation on a subject like forestry ... in which 
the money interests of only a few are conspicuously 
involved. Under these circumstances the bawling, 
blethering oratorical stuff drowns the voice of God 
himself . . . Honest citizens see that only the rights 
of the government are being trampled, not those of 
the settlers. Merely what belongs to all alike is re 
served, and every acre that is left should be held 
together under the federal government as a basis for 
a general policy of administration for the public 
good. The people will not always be deceived by 
selfish opposition, whether from lumber and mining 
corporations or from sheepmen and prospectors, 
however cunningly brought forward underneath 
fables of gold. 

He concluded this article with a remark- 


able peroration which no tree-lover could read 
without feeling, like the audiences that heard 
the philippics of Demosthenes, that something 
must be done immediately. 

Any fool [he wrote] can destroy trees. They can 
not run away; and if they could, they would still be 
destroyed chased and hunted down as long as fun 
or a dollar could be got out of their bark hides, 
branching horns, or magnificent bole backbones. 
Few that fell trees plant them; nor would planting 
avail much towards getting back anything like the 
noble primeval forests. During a man s life only 
saplings can be grown, in the place of the old trees 

tens of centuries old that have been de 
stroyed. It took more than three thousand years to 
make some of the trees in these Western woods 
trees that are still standing in perfect strength and 
beauty, waving and singing in the mighty forests of 
the Sierra. Through all the wonderful, eventful 
centuries since Christ s time and long before that 

God has cared for these trees, saved them from 
drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand strain 
ing, leveling tempests and floods; but He cannot 
save them from fools only Uncle Sam can do that. 

The period of nine months during which the 
Cleveland reservations had been suspended 
came to an end on the first of March, 1898. 
Enemies of the reservation policy again started 
a move in the Senate to annul them all. "In 
the excitement and din of this confounded 
[Spanish- American] War, the silent trees stand 



a poor show for justice," wrote Muir to his 
friend C. S. Sargent, who was sounding the 
alarm. Meanwhile Muir was conducting a sur 
prisingly active campaign by post and tele 
graph, and through the Sierra Club. At last his 
efforts began to take effect and his confidence 
in the power of light to conquer darkness was 
justified. "You have evidently put in some 
good work," wrote Sargent, who was keeping 
closely in touch with the situation. " On Satur 
day all the members of the Public Lands Com 
mittee of the House agreed to oppose the Sen 
ate amendment wiping out the reservations." 
A large surviving correspondence shows how he 
continued to keep a strong hand on the helm. 
On the eighth of July the same friend, who was 
more than doing his own part, wrote, " Thank 
Heaven! the forest reservations are safe ... for 
another year." As subsequent events have 
shown, they have been safe ever since. One gets 
directly at the cause of this gratifying result in 
a sentence from a letter of John F. Lacey, who 
was then Chairman of the Public Lands Com 
mittee of the House. In discussing the con 
flicting testimony of those who were urging 
various policies of concession toward cattle and 
sheep men in the administration of the reserves 
he said, "Mr. Muir s judgment will probably 
be better than that of any one of them." 



We have been able to indicate only in the 
briefest possible manner the decisive part that 
Muir played in the establishment and defence 
of the thirty-nine million acres of forest re 
serves made during the Harrison and Cleveland 
administrations. But even this bare glimpse of 
the inside history of that great struggle reveals 
the magnitude of the service John Muir ren 
dered the nation in those critical times. 

There were not lacking those who charged 
him with being an advocate of conservatism 
without use. But this criticism came from 
interested persons abusers, not legitimate 
users and is wholly false. 

The United States Government [he said] has al 
ways been proud of the welcome it has extended 
to good men of every nation seeking freedom and 
homes and bread. Let them be welcomed still as 
nature welcomes them, to the woods as well as the 
prairies and plains. . . . The ground will be glad to 
feed them, and the pines will come down from the 
mountains for their homes as willingly as the cedars 
came from Lebanon for Solomon s temple. Nor will 
the woods be the worse for this use, or their benign 
influences be diminished any more than the sun is 
diminished by shining. Mere destroyers, however, 
tree-killers, spreading death and confusion in the 
fairest groves and gardens ever planted, let the 
government hasten to cast them out and make an 
end of them. For it must be told again and again, 
and be burningly borne in mind, that just now, 


while protective measures are being deliberated lan 
guidly, destruction and use are speeding on faster 
and farther every day. The axe and saw are insanely 
busy, chips are flying thick as snowflakes, and every 
summer thousands of acres of priceless forests, with 
their underbrush, soil, springs, climate, scenery, and 
religion, are vanishing away in clouds of smoke, 
while, except in the national parks, not one forest 
guard is employed. 

Stripped of metaphor, this moving appeal of 
John Muir to Uncle Sam was an appeal to the 
intelligence of the American people, and they 
did not disappoint his faith in their competence 
to deal justly and farsightedly with this pro 
blem. Great as was the achievement of rescu 
ing in eight years more than thirty-nine million 
acres of forest from deliberate destruction by 
sheeping, lumbering, and burning, it was only 
an earnest of what awakened public opinion 
was prepared to do when it should find the 
right representative to carry it into force. That 
event occurred when Theodore Roosevelt came 
to the Presidency of the United States, and it 
is the writer s privilege to supply a bit of un 
written history on the manner in which Muir s 
informed enthusiasm and Roosevelt s courage 
and love of action were brought into coopera 
tion for the country s good. In March, 1903, 
Dr. Chester Rowell, a Senator of the California 
Legislature, wrote to Muir confidentially as 



follows: "From private advices from Washing 
ton I learn that President Roosevelt is desirous 
of taking a trip into the High Sierra during his 
visit to California, and has expressed a wish to 
go with you practically alone. ... If he at 
tempts anything of the kind, he wishes it to be 
entirely unknown, carried out with great se 
crecy so that the crowds will not follow or an 
noy him, and he suggested that he could foot it 
and rough it with you or anybody else." 

John Muir had already engaged passage for 
Europe in order to visit, with Professor Sar 
gent, the forests of Japan, Russia, and Man 
churia, and felt constrained to decline. But 
upon the urgent solicitation of President 
Benjamin Ide Wheeler, and following the re 
ceipt of a friendly letter from President Roose 
velt, he postponed his sailing date, writing to 
Professor Sargent, "An influential man from 
Washington wants to make a trip into the 
Sierra with me, and I might be able to do some 
forest good in freely talking around the camp- 

By arrangement Muir joined the President 
at Raymond on Friday, the fifteenth of May, 
and at the Mariposa Big Trees the two inexor 
ably separated themselves from the company 
and disappeared in the woods until the follow 
ing Monday. Needless to say this was not 



what the disappointed politicians would have 
chosen, but their chagrin fortunately was as 
dust in the balance against the good of the 

In spite of efforts to keep secret the Presi 
dent s proposed trip to Yosemite, he had been 
met at Raymond by a big crowd. Emerging 
from his car hi rough camp costume, he said: 
" Ladies and Gentlemen: I did not realize that 
I was to meet you to-day, still less to address an 
audience like this ! I had only come prepared to 
go into Yosemite with John Muir, so I must ask 
you to excuse my costume. " This statement 
was met by the audience with cries of "It is all 
right ! " And it was all right. For three glorious 
days Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir were 
off together in Yosemite woods and on Yose 
mite trails. Just how much was planned by 
them, in those days together, for the future 
welfare of this nation we probably never shall 
fully know, for death has sealed the closed ac 
counts of both. But I am fortunately able to 
throw some direct light upon the attendant cir 
cumstances and results of the trip. 

While I was in correspondence with Theodore 
Roosevelt in 1916 over a book I had published 
on the Old Testament, he wrote, "Isn t there 
some chance of your getting to this side of the 
continent before you write your book on Muir? 



Then you ll come out here to Sagamore Hill; 
and I ll tell you all about the trip, and give you 
one very amusing instance of his quaint and 
most unworldly forgetfulness." 

In November of the same year it was my 
privilege to go for a memorable visit to Saga 
more Hill, and while Colonel Roosevelt and I 
were pacing briskly back and forth in his li 
brary, over lion skins and other trophies, he told 
about the trip with John Muir, and the impres 
sion which his deep solicitude over the destruc 
tion of our great forests and scenery had made 
upon his mind. Roosevelt had shown himself a 
friend of the forests before this camping trip 
with Muir, but he came away with a greatly 
quickened conviction that vigorous action must 
be taken speedily, ere it should be too late. 
Muir s accounts of the wanton forest-destruc 
tion he had witnessed, and the frauds that had 
been perpetrated against the government in the 
acquisition of redwood forests, were not with 
out effect upon Roosevelt s statesmanship, as 
we shall see. Nor must we, in assessing the near 
and distant public benefits of this trip, overlook 
the fact that it was the beginning of a life 
long friendship between these two men. By a 
strange fatality Muir s own letter accounts of 
what occurred on the trip went from hand to 
hand until they were lost. There survives a 



passage in a letter to his wife in which he writes : 
"I had a perfectly glorious time with the Presi 
dent and the mountains. I never before had 
a more interesting, hearty, and manly com 
panion." To his friend Merriam he wrote: 
" Camping with the President was a memorable 
experience. I fairly fell in love with him." 
Roosevelt, John Muir, the Big Trees, and the 
lofty summits that make our " Range of 
Light " ! who could think of an association of 
men and objects more elementally great and 
more fittingly allied for the public good? In a 
stenographically reported address delivered by 
Roosevelt at Sacramento immediately after his 
return from the mountains, we have a hint of 
what the communion of these two greatest out 
door men of our time was going to mean for the 
good of the country. 

I have just come from a four days rest in Yosem- 
ite [he said], and I wish to say a word to you here 
in the capital city of California about certain of 
your great natural resources, your forests and your 
water supply coming from the streams that find 
their sources among the forests of the mountains. 
. . . No small part of the prosperity of California in 
the hotter and drier agricultural regions depends 
upon the preservation of her water supply; and the 
water supply cannot be preserved unless the forests 
are preserved. As regards some of the trees, I want 
them preserved because they are the only things of 


their kind in the world. Lying out at night under 
those giant sequoias was lying in a temple built by 
no hand of man, a temple grander than any human 
architect could by any possibility build, and I hope 
for the preservation of the groves of giant trees 
simply because it would be a shame to our civiliza 
tion to let them disappear. They are monuments in 

I ask for the preservation of other forests on 
grounds of wise and far-sighted economic policy. I 
do not ask that lumbering be stopped . . . only that 
the forests be so used that not only shall we here, 
this generation, get the benefit for the next few 
years, but that our children and our children s chil 
dren shall get the benefit. In California I am im 
pressed by how great the State is, but I am even 
more impressed by the immensely greater greatness 
that lies in the future, and I ask that your marvel 
ous natural resources be handed on unimpaired to 
your posterity. We are not building this country of 
ours for a day. It is to last through the ages. 

Let us now recall Muir s modest excuse for 
postponing a world tour in order to go alone 
into the mountains with Theodore Roosevelt 
that he " might be able to do some forest 
good in freely talking around the camp-fire." 
It was in the glow of those camp-fires that 
Muir s enlightened enthusiasm and Roosevelt s 
courage were fused into action for the public 
good. The magnitude of the result was aston 
ishing and one for which this country can never 
be sufficiently grateful. When Roosevelt came 



to the White House in 1901, the total National 
Forest area amounted to 46,153,119 acres, and 
we have already seen what a battle it cost Muir 
and his friends to prevent enemies in Congress 
from securing the annulment of Cleveland s 
twenty-five million acres of forest reserves. 
When he left the White House, in the spring of 
1909, he had set aside more than one hundred 
and forty-eight million acres of additional 
National Forests more than three times as 
much as Harrison, Cleveland, and McKinley 
combined! Similarly the number of National 
Parks was doubled during his administration. 
But the Monuments and Antiquities Act, 
passed by Congress during Roosevelt s ad 
ministration, gave him a new, unique oppor 
tunity. During the last three years of his pre 
sidency he created by proclamation sixteen 
National Monuments. Among them was the 
Grand Canon of the Colorado with an area of 
806,400 acres. Efforts had been made, ever 
since the days of Benjamin Harrison, to have 
the Grand Canon set aside as a national 
park, but selfish opposition always carried the 
day. Sargent and Johnson and Page had re 
peatedly appealed to Muir to write a descrip 
tion of the Canon. "It is absolutely neces 
sary," wrote Page in 1898, "that this great 
region as well as the Yosemite should be de- 



scribed by you, else you will not do the task 
that God sent you to do." When in 1902 his 
masterly description did appear, it led to re 
newed, but equally futile, efforts to have this 
wonder of earth sculpture included among our 
national playgrounds. Then Muir passed on to 
Roosevelt the suggestion that he proclaim the 
Canon a national monument. A monument 
under ground was a new idea, but there was in 
it nothing inconsistent with the Monuments 
and Antiquities Act, and so Roosevelt, with his 
characteristic dash, in January, 1908, declared 
the whole eight hundred thousand acres of the 
Canon a National Monument and the whole 
nation smiled and applauded. Subsequently 
Congress, somewhat grudgingly, changed its 
status to that of a national park, thus realizing 
the purpose for which Roosevelt s proclama 
tion reserved it at the critical time. 

The share of John Muir in the splendid 
achievements of these Rooseveltian years 
would be difficult to determine precisely, for his 
part was that of inspiration and advice ele 
ments as imponderable as sunlight, but as ail- 
pervasively powerful between friends as the 
pull of gravity across stellar spaces. And fast 
friends they remained to the end, as is shown 
by the letters that passed between them. 
Neither of them could feel or act again as if 



they had not talked " forest good" together 
beside Yosemite camp-fires. "I wish I could see 
you in person," wrote Roosevelt hi 1907 at the 
end of a letter about national park matters. " I 
wish I could see you in person; and how I do 
wish I were again with you camping out under 
those great sequoias, or in the snow under the 
silver firs!" 

In 1908 occurred an event that threw a deep 
shadow of care and worry and heart-breaking 
work across the last six years of Muir s life 
years that otherwise would have gone into 
books which perforce have been left forever 
unwritten. We refer to the granting of a permit 
by James R. Garfield, then Secretary of the 
Interior, to the city of San Francisco to invade 
the Yosemite National Park in order to convert 
the beautiful Hetch-Hetchy Valley into a reser 
voir. In Muir s opinion it was the greatest 
breach of sound conservation principles in a 
whole century of improvidence, and in the dark 
and devious manner of its final accomplishment 
a good many things still wait to be brought to 
light. The following letter to Theodore Roose 
velt, then serving his second term in the White 
House, is a frank presentation of the issues 



To Theodore Roosevelt 

April 21, 1908] 


I am anxious that the Yosemite National 
Park may be saved from all sorts of commer 
cialism and marks of man s work other than the 
roads, hotels, etc., required to make its wonders 
and blessings available. For as far as I have 
seen there is not in all the wonderful Sierra, or 
indeed in the world, another so grand and won 
derful and useful a block of Nature s mountain 

There is now under consideration, as doubt 
less you well know, an application of San Fran 
cisco supervisors for the use of the Hetch- 
Hetchy Valley and Lake Eleanor as storage 
reservoirs for a city water supply. This ap 
plication should, I think, be denied, especially 
the Hetch-Hetchy part, for this Valley, as you 
will see by the inclosed description, is a counter 
part of Yosemite, and one of the most sublime 
and beautiful and important features of the 
Park, and to dam and submerge it would be 
hardly less destructive and deplorable in its ef 
fect on the Park in general than would be the 
damming of Yosemite itself. For its falls and 
groves and delightful camp-grounds are sur- 



passed or equaled only in Yosemite, and fur 
thermore it is the hall of entrance to the grand 
Tuolumne Canon, which opens a wonderful way 
to the magnificent Tuolumne Meadows, the fo 
cus of pleasure travel in the Park and the grand 
central camp-ground. If Hetch-Hetchy should 
be submerged, as proposed, to a depth of one 
hundred and seventy-five feet, not only would 
the Meadows be made utterly inaccessible 
along the Tuolumne, but this glorious canon 
way to the High Sierra would be blocked. 

I am heartily in favor of a Sierra or even a 
Tuolumne water supply for San Francisco, but 
all the water required can be obtained from 
sources outside the Park, leaving the twin 
valleys, Hetch-Hetchy and Yosemite, to the 
use they were intended for when the Park was 
established. For every argument advanced for 
making one into a reservoir would apply with 
equal force to the other, excepting the cost of 
the required dam. 

The few promoters of the present scheme are 
not unknown around the boundaries of the 
Park, for some of them have been trying to 
break through for years. However able they 
may be as capitalists, engineers, lawyers, or 
even philanthropists, none of the statements 
they have made descriptive of Hetch-Hetchy 
dammed or undammed is true, but they all 



show forth the proud sort of confidence that 
comes of a good, sound, substantial, irrefra 
gable ignorance. 

For example, the capitalist Mr. James D. 
Phelan says, " There are a thousand places 
in the Sierra equally as beautiful as Hetch- 
Hetchy: it is inaccessible nine months of the 
year, and is an unlivable place the other 
three months because of mosquitoes." On the 
contrary, there is not another of its kind in all 
the Park excepting Yosemite. It is accessible 
all the year, and is not more mosquitoful than 
Yosemite. "The conversion of Hetch-Hetchy 
into a reservoir will simply mean a lake instead 
of a meadow." But Hetch-Hetchy is not a 
meadow: it is a Yosemite Valley. . . . These 
sacred mountain temples are the holiest ground 
that the heart of man has consecrated, and it 
behooves us all faithfully to do our part in see 
ing that our wild mountain parks are passed on 
unspoiled to those who come after us, for they 
are national properties in which every man has 
a right and interest. 

I pray therefore that the people of California 
be granted time to be heard before this reser 
voir question is decided, for I believe that as 
soon as light is cast upon it, nine tenths or more 
of even the citizens of San Francisco would be 
opposed to it. And what the public opinion of 



the world would be may be guessed by the case 
of the Niagara Falls. 

Faithfully and devotedly yours 


for a tranquil camp hour with you like 
those beneath the sequoias in memorable 1903 ! 

Muir did not know at the time, and it was a 
discouraging shock to discover the fact, that 
Chief Forester Gifford Pinchot had on May 28, 
1906, written a letter to a San Francisco city 
official not only suggesting, but urging, that 
San Francisco "make provision for a water 
supply from the Yosemite National Park." In 
the work of accomplishing this scheme, he de 
clared, "I will stand ready to render any assist 
ance in my power." Six months later he wrote 
again to the same official, saying: "I cannot, of 
course, attempt to forecast the action of the 
new Secretary of the Interior [Mr. Garfield] on 
the San Francisco watershed question, but my 
advice to you is to assume that his attitude 
will be favorable, and to make the necessary 
preparations to set the case before him. I had 
supposed from an item in the paper that the 
city had definitely given up the Lake Eleanor 
plan and had purchased one of the other 



It was not surprising that his forecast of an 
action, which he already stood pledged to 
further with any means in his power, although 
he knew other sources to be available, proved 
correct. Neither Mr. Pinchot nor Mr. Garfield 
had so much as seen the Valley, and the lan 
guage of the latter s permit shows that his 
decision was reached on partisan misrepresen 
tations of its character which were later dis 
proved in public hearings when the San Fran 
cisco authorities, unable to proceed with the 
revocable Garfield permit, applied to Congress 
for a confirmation of it through an exchange of 
lands. To take one of the two greatest wonders 
of the Yosemite National Park and hand it 
over, as the New York " Independent " justly 
observed, " without even the excuse of a real 
necessity, to the nearest hungry municipality 
that asks for it, is nothing less than conserva 
tion buried and staked to the ground. Such 
guardianship of our national resources would 
make every national park the back-yard annex 
of a neighboring city." 

Muir s letter to Roosevelt showed him that 
his official advisers were thinking more of 
political favor than of the integrity of the 
people s playground; that, in short, a mistake 
had been made; and he wrote Muir that he 
would endeavor to have the project confined to 



Lake Eleanor. But his administration came to 
an end without definite steps taken in the 
matter one way or another. President Taft, 
however, and Secretary Ballinger directed the 
city and county of San Francisco, hi 1910, "to 
show why the Hetch-Hetchy Valley should not 
be eliminated from the Garfield permit." 
President Taft also directed the War Depart 
ment to appoint an Advisory Board of Army 
Engineers to assist the Secretary of the Interior 
in passing upon the matters submitted to the 
Interior Department under the order to show 

In March, 1911, Secretary Ballinger was 
succeeded by Walter L. Fisher, during whose 
official term the city authorities requested and 
obtained five separate continuances, appar 
ently hi the hope that a change of administra 
tion would give them the desired political pull 
at Washington. Meantime the Advisory Board 
of Army Engineers reported: "The Board is of 
the opinion that there are several sources of 
water supply that could be obtained and used 
by the City of San Francisco and adjacent 
communities to supplement the near-by sup 
plies as the necessity develops. From any one 
of these sources the water is sufficient in quan 
tity and is, or can be made suitable in quality, 
while the engineering difficulties are not insur- 



mountable. The determining factor is prin 
cipally one of cost." 

Under policies of National Park protection 
now generally acknowledged to be binding 
upon those who are charged to administer them 
for the public good, the finding of the army 
engineers should have made it impossible to 
destroy the Hetch-Hetchy Valley for a mere 
commercial difference in the cost of securing a 
supply of water from any one of several other 
adequate sources. But, as Muir states in one of 
his letters, "the wrong prevailed over the best 
aroused sentiment of the entire country." 

The compensating good which he felt sure 
would arise, even out of this tragic sacrifice, 
must be sought in the consolidation of public 
sentiment against any possible repetition of 
such a raid. In this determined public senti 
ment, aroused by Muir s leadership in the long 
fight, his spirit still is watching over the 
people s playgrounds. 



Abbot, General, Henry L., of 
the National Forestry Com 
mission, ii, 299, 388, 398. 

Abbot, Henry, ii, 388. 

Advisory Board of Army En 
gineers, its report on water 
supply of San Francisco, ii, 
422, 423. 

Africa, visited by Muir, ii, 354, 

Agassiz, Louis, his statement, 
"a physical fact is as sacred 
as a moral principle," i, 146; 
in the Yosemite, 230; influ 
ence of, on Muir, 253; on 
Muir s studies, 342; his 
opinion of Muir, ii, 292, 293; 
of the National Forestry 
Commission, 398. 

Alaska, Muir goes to, ii, 123; 
letters to the "Evening 
Bulletin" on, 123; Muir 
leaves on second trip to, 137; 
account of Muir s second 
trip to, 138-61 ; Muir s third 
trip to, 245; description of 
trip to, in the "Century," 
304 ; studying forest trees in, 
305; Harriman Expedition 
to, 318, 320-33. 

Alaska Commercial Company, 
ii, 168, 169. 

Alhambra Valley, ii, 99, 99 n., 

Alleghanies, the, trip to, ii, 311. 

Allen, Mr., ascends Mount 
Hamilton with Muir, ii, 71. 

Amazon, the, Muir s plan to 
float down, oh raft, i, 173, 
174; visited by Muir, ii, 354, 

"American Forests," ii, 305, 

Andrews, E. C., tribute to 
Muir, i, 359. 

Animals, Muir s observation of, 
i, 40-42; Muir s interest in, 
42-44; the mechanistic in 
terpreters of, 42, 43. 

Araucaria forests of Brazil, ii, 
354, 372. 

Armes, Professor William 
Dallam, and the Sierra Club, 
ii, 256. 

Athenae Literary and Debating 
Society, i, 115. 

"Atlantic Monthly," articles of 
Muir published in, ii, 305, 
306, 339, 403. 

Audubon, John James, natural 
ist, i, 36. 

Auroral display, ii, 154, 155. 

Australia, visited by Muir, ii, 

Autobiography, of Muir, 
quoted, i, 119-29, 153-56, 
180-200, 207, 208; ii, 193, 
194, 204-06, 248-51, 296; 
taken down from dictation 
by direction of E. H. Harri 
man, 120, 318; Muir urged 
to write, 317; referred to 
by Muir, 359, 362, 366, 382. 

Averell, Elizabeth, ii, 329. 

Avery, Benjamin P., takes over 
editorial direction of the 
"Overland Monthly," i, 
317; ii, 4; Minister to China, 
5; death, 5. 

Bade, W. F., on visit at Saga 
more Hill, ii, 410, 411. 



Ballinger, Richard A., Secre 
tary of the Interior, ii, 361, 

Baobab trees, ii, 354, 374. 

Baptism, Muir s views of, i, 217. 

Bear, visits camp at Bridal Veil 
Meadows, i, 186; attack on 
sheep made by, 199. 

Beardslee, Commander, ii, 152. 

Bears, raid provisions, ii, 28. 

"Bee-Pastures of California," 
ii, 394. 

Bering Sea, formation of, ii, 173. 

Bering Strait, formation of, ii, 

Berlin, visited by Muir, ii, 350. 

Bible, Daniel Muir s idea of, 
18-22; Muir s familiarity 
with, 26, 27; Daniel Muir s 
insistence on the word of, 71- 
74; Muir s changing views of, 

Bid well, Annie E. K., quoted on 
Muir, ii, 72. 

Bidwell, General John, visited 
by Muir, ii, 72. 

Bidwell, General John and Mrs., 
letters to, ii, 73, 87, 242. 

Bierce, Ambrose, contributor 
to the "Overland Monthly," 
ii, 4. 

Black, Mr., ii, 21, 22. 

Black, Mrs., ii, 29. 

Black Hills, South Dakota, ii, 
300, 301. 

Black s Hotel, Yosemite, i, 241, 
299, 314, 315, 365; ii, 236. 

Blake, William Phipps, mis 
takenly credited with being 
the originator of the erosian 
theory, i, 308 n., 356. 

Blakley, Hamilton, husband 
of Mary Muir, i, 7 N 

Bloody Canon, i, 233. 

Boise, James R., Professor of 
Greek, University of Mich 
igan, i, 114. 

Boling, Captain, enters Hetch- 
Hetchy, i, 310. 

Boone and Crockett Club, ad 
dresses vote of thanks to Pre 
sident Harrison and Secretary 
Noble, ii, 258. 

Boston, i, references to, 228, 
256, 261; Muir in, ii, 266, 
298, 312. 

Boston Society of Natural His 
tory, i, 326. 

Botany, Muir s first lesson in, i, 
95; Muir s enthusiasm for 
study of, 95-97; practicing, 
in Wisconsin River valley, 
97-113; trip to Canada in in 
terest of, 117-51. 

Bowers, Edward A., his serv 
ices to the cause of forest 
conservation, ii, 257 n, ; In 
spector of the Public Land 
Service, 397. 

Boyce, Colonel, ii, 132. 

Bradley, Cornelius Beach, and 
the Sierra Club, ii, 256. 

Brawley, Mr., ascends Mount 
Hamilton with Muir, ii, 71. 

Brazil, visited by Muir, ii, 354. 

Bremer, Mount, ii, 41. 

Brewer, Professor William H. t 
assistant of Whitney, i, 275; 
of the National Forestry 
Commission, ii, 299, 398; on 
the Harriman Alaska Expedi 
tion, 321, 332. 

Bridal Veil Fall, i, 185. 

Broderick, Mount, i, 275. 

Brown, Grace Blakley, daugh 
ter of Mary Muir, i, 5. 

Brown, John, author of "Rab 
and His Friends," ii, 272, 

Browne, Francis Fisher, editor 
of "The Dial," letter to, ii, 

"Browne the Beloved," ii, 
358 n. 



Burns, Robert, quoted, ii, 285; 
reciting his verses, 359. 

Burroughs, John, discussion 
about animals with Muir, i, 
42; sees Muir in New York, 
ii, 264; refuses to go to 
Europe with Muir, 265; vis 
ited by Muir, 298; his words 
about Muir, 306; on the 
Harriman Alaska Expedi 
tion, 321-23, 326, 332; Muir 
proposes that he go to South 
America, 358; and Burns s 
poems, 359; letter to, ii, 

Butler, Professor James Davie, 
of University of Wisconsin, 
i, 81; Muir writes to, about 
finding Calypso, 121; sends 
letter of introduction to 
Muir, 154; reference to, 220; 
letter to, ii, 231. 

Butterflies, collected for Ed 
wards by Muir, i, 263, 264, 

"Byways of Yosemite Travel," 
ii, 10. 

Cable, George W., letter from, 
ii, 285, 286. 

California, State of, systematic 
geological survey of, begun, 
i, 274; political factions in, ii, 
37; and Muir, what they did 
for each other, 392; forest 
reservations of, exempted 
from nullifying amendment, 

California State Geological Sur 
vey, i, 302, 303. 

Calminetti Bill, ii, 257. 

Calypso borealis, discovery of, 
in Canadian swamp, i, 120, 

Cambridge, visited by Muir, ii, 
270, 298. 

Campbell, Mrs., of Highland 

Scotch farm in Canada, i, 
123, 124. 

Campbell, Alexander and Wil 
liam, i, 123-25. 

Canada, sojourn of Muir in, 
1864-1866, i, 117-51. 

Canby, William M., makes ex 
pedition to study forest trees 
in Rocky Mountains and 
Alaska, ii, 304, 305; makes 
trip with Muir and Sargent 
into the Alleghanies, 311, 

Carlyle, Jeanie Welch, her 
grave, ii, 277. 

Carmany, John H., spent 
thirty thousand dollars on 
the "Overland Monthly," i, 
317; ii, 4; gives up the "Over 
land," 5. 

Carmelita, Mrs. Carr s South 
ern home, ii, 66. 

Carnegie, Andrew, his accom 
plishment, ii, 386, 387. 

Carr, Professor Ezra Slocum, 
of University of Wisconsin, 
i, 80, 81; appointed to pro 
fessorship in University of 
California, 202; invites Muir 
to visit him, 202; work ac 
complished by, 236; visited 
by Emerson, 258; a calm 
thinker, 321; death of son, 
399; elected State Superin 
tendent of Public Instruc 
tion, ii, 37. 

Carr, Jeanne C., becomes ac 
quainted with Muir, i, 80, 
138; reports on Muir s in 
ventions, 81; value of her 
friendship to Muir, 138-44, 
205, 227, 334, 336, 340, 387; 
ii, 26; on Muir s "good de 
mon," i, 157; removal to Cal 
ifornia, 202; abets Muir in 
plan for South American 
trip, 203; on hordes that 



visit the Yosemite, 221; fa 
vors American colonization 
scheme, 234, 239; sends greet 
ing to Muir, 240; visited by 
Emerson, 258; prophecy of, 
261; introduces Henry Ed 
wards, 262; tries to bring 
Muir into "waiting society," 
265, 293; her views of gla 
ciers, 266; Muir sends article 
to, 269; letter to, on the Se 
quoias, 270-73; mediates for 
publication of Muir s "Yo 
semite Valley in Flood," 317; 
sends writings of Muir to 
Emerson for publication, 317 ; 
estimates Muir s literary 
power accurately, 317, 318; 
comes to the Yosemite, 322 ; ii, 
28; urges Muir to publish his 
own discoveries, i, 323; Muir 
to have ramble with, 324; 
her plan for study of Coast 
Range, 338, 339; mediates 
between Muir and Agas- 
siz, 342; introduces William 
Keith and Irwin to Muir, 343 ; 
Muir consults with, on liter 
ary matters, 368; death of 
son, 399; "Sierra Studies" 
largely due to, ii, 5, 6; Deputy 
State Superintendent of Pub 
lic Instruction, 37; death of 
second son, 66 ; her home, Car- 
melita, the literary center of 
Southern California, 66, 67, 
197; interested in marriage of 
Muir, 100, 123; letters to, of 
the year 1865, i, 139; of the 
year 1869, 205; of the year 
1870, 213, 218-39, 270; of the 
year 1871, 242, 249, 266, 
291-302; of the year 1872, 
269, 318, 328-31, 334-37, 339, 
344-52, 354; of the year 
1873, 381-84, 386-94; of the 
year 1874, ii, 10-33, 37; of 

the year 1875, 50-55; of the 
year 1877, 67-72. 

Cedar Keys, Florida, i, 170- 

"Century," articles by Muir in, 
ii, 234, 304, 394, 395. 

Chadbourne, Paul O., Chancel- 
ler of University of Wiscon 
sin, i, 138. 

Chicago World s Fair, ii, 261- 

Chico, Rancho, of General 
John Bidwell, ii, 72. 

Child-beating, i, 57. 

Chilwell, Mr., accompanies 
Muir on Yosemite trip, i, 
177; learns to shoot, 182-85; 
adventure with bear, 186; 
practises shooting, 187, 188; 
acts as driver of jack- 
rabbits, 188; tries owl flesh, 
188, 189; eats himself sick, 

China, visited by Muir, ii, 350, 

Choate, Joseph, meeting with 
Muir, ii, 312. 

Civilization, and Nature, com 
pared, i, 325, 342. 

Clark, Galen, Yosemite pioneer, 
i, 185, 186, 256; accompanies 
Muir on Kings River Excur 
sion, 386-390; seen after 
years, ii, 236. 

Clemens, S. L., contributor to 
the "Overland Monthly," ii, 

Cleveland, President, appoints 
commission to report on 
condition of national forest 
areas, ii, 60; thirteen forest 
reservations proclaimed by, 
304, 399; fails to sign amend 
ment nullifying forest reser 
vation, 401. 

Clocks, invented by Muir, i, 
59-62, 74, 75, 81, 86. 



Cloud, Jack ("McLeod"), i, 

Cloud s Rest, excursion to, i, 

Coast and Geodetic Survey, ii, 

Coast Range, the, Mrs. Carr s 
plan for study of, i, 338, 339. 

Colby, William E., i, 359; as 
sists Muir in securing cession 
of Yosemite Valley to Fed 
eral Government, ii, 351, 352, 
357; summer outings to High 
Sierra organized and con 
ducted by, 351 ; letter to, 376. 

Colleges, called "old grannies," 
i, 333. 

Collier, Robert J., letter of Os- 
bornto, on the Hetch-Hetchy 
Yosemite Park, ii, 360. 

Colonization scheme, i, 233-35. 

Colorado Grand Canon, ii, 345. 

Comb, William, ii, 274. 

Concord, Muir at, i, 261; ii, 

Congar, Dr. E. M., fellow 
student of Muir, ii, 67 ; visited 
by Muir, 68, 69. 

"Coniferous Forests of the 
Sierra Nevada," ii, 394. 

Connel, John ("Smoky Jack"), 
sheep-man, i, 190, 191. 

Converse, Charles, ii, 58. 

Converse Basin, ii, 348. 

Copley Medal, ii, 283. 

Corliss, Doctor, missionary, ii, 

Corwin, the, United States 
Revenue steamer, ii, 161; 
goes in search of DeLong and 
the Jeannette, 161-63; ac 
count of the expedition, 
163-91; makes landing on 
Wrangell Land, 187. 

Coulterville, i, 182. 

Cowper, William, i, 301. 

Crane s Flat, i, 243, 244; ii, 25. 

Crawfordjohn, Lanarkshire, 

early home of Daniel Muir, 

i, 5-7. 
Creation, a common conception 

of, i, 166, 167. 
Crittenden, Colonel, ii, 156. 
"Cruise of the Corwin, The," 

ii, 162, 163. 
Cuba, Muir botanizes in, i, 173. 

Daggett, Kate N., letter to, i, 

Dana, Charles A., of the New 
York "Sun," ii, 270. 

Dana, Mount, i, 233. 

Darwin, Charles, his "Origin of 
Species," i, 145; read by 
Muir, 240, 297; a great man, 

Davel Brae school, the, i, 27, 

Davidson, Professor, on the 
issue of the recession of the 
Yosemite Valley to the Fed 
eral Government, ii, 303. 

Dawes Glacier, ii, 158; first 
called Young Glacier. 

Deady, Judge, ii, 148. 

Death, Muir s conception of, i, 
164, 165; ii, 333-35. 

Death song of Indians, ii, 21, 

Degrees conferred on Muir, ii, 
295, 296, 298, 304 n. f 365. 

Delaney, Pat, i, 195, 202, 235; 
ii, 19. 

DeLong, Commander, relief 
expedition in search of, ii, 
161; first news that he had 
failed to touch Herald Island 
or Wrangell Land, 163. 

Dewing (J.) Company, ii, 218. 

Diablo, Mount, ascent of, ii, 90, 

"Dial, The," tribute to F. F. 
Browne in, ii, 358. 

Dick, Robert, geologist, ii, 283. 



Dick, Thomas, his "The Chris 
tian Philosopher," i, 72. 

Dick, Mr., teacher, ii, 280. 

Dickey, Mrs. Anna R., letters 
to, ii, 346, 375. 

Doran, Captain P. A., of the 
Elder, ii, 318, 319; visits 
Muir, 331. 

Douglas, David, and Muir, ii, 
272, 273, 277. 

Douglas squirrel, companion of 
Sequoia, i, 271. 

Draper, Dorothea, ii, 329. 

Dumfries, visited by Muir, ii, 

Dunbar, Scotland, i, 8, 13; 
Davel Brae school at, 26, 27, 
31, 32; grammar school of, 
27, 28; the country about, 
30-35; romantic associations 
of, 34; visited by Muir, 
273-80; field of the battle of, 

Duncan, William, ii, 212. 

Dwinell, Doctor I. E., clergy 
man, ii, 135. 

Eagle Rock, fall of, i, 327. 

"Early-rising machine," i, 59- 
62, 74. 

Earthquakes, experienced by 
Muir, i, 325-29. 

Eastwood, Miss, ii, 308. 

Edinburgh, visited by Muir, ii, 

"Edward Henry Harriman," 
ii, 318. 

Edwards, Henry, introduced 
by Mrs. Carr, i, 262; Muir 
collects butterflies for, 263, 
264, 292, 383; names butter 
fly for Muir, 264 n.; allusion 
to, ii, 13. 

Edwards Collection, the, i, 
264 n. 

Egleston, Mr., i, 190. 

Egypt, visited by Muir, ii, 350. 

El Capitan, i, 311. 

Elder, the, Captain Doran of, 
ii, 318, 319; on board, 

Eleanor, Lake, ii, 360, 361, 417, 

Eliot, C. W., ii, 271; salutation 
of, in conferring honorary 
degree from Harvard on 
Muir, 296 n. 

Emerson, Edward Waldo, Muir 
dines with, ii, 268. 

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, meet 
ing with Muir, i, 252-57; 
influence of, on Muir, 253; 
visits the Carrs, 258; corre 
sponds with Muir, 258-60; 
sends books to Muir, 258-60; 
Muir at grave of, 261 ; ii, 267; 
material of Muir sent to, for 
publication, 317; prophesies 
that Muir will visit the At 
lantic coast, 319; Muir dines 
with his son, ii, 266; Muir 
visits his home, 268; tries 
to get Muir for teaching, 

Emerson, Mount, i, 389. 

Engelmann, Doctor, i, 343. 

Ennis, Samuel, buys Fountain 
Lake farm, i, 50 n. 

Ennis Lake. See Fountain 

Erigeron Muirii, ii, 191. 

Erosion, caused by ice and by 
water, compared, i, 355, 356. 
See Glacial erosion, Glaciers. 

Erwin, Louisiana, marries John 
Strentzel, ii, 99. 

Esquimo village, population of, 
dead of starvation, ii, 184. 

"Evening Bulletin," of San 
Francisco, letters of Muir in, 
ii, 32, 36, 51, 62, 71, 98, 123, 
125, 163, 174, 190. 

"Explorations in the Great 
Tuolumne Canon," i, 396. 



Fairweather Range, the, ii, 305, 

Fay, Jerome, on Mount Shasta 
with, ii, 30, 49, 51. 

Feather River, ii, 78. 

! Features of the Proposed 
Yosemite National Park," in 
the "Century," ii, 234. 

Field mice, the embroidery left 
by, ii, 16, 17. 

Fields, Mrs. James T., ii, 271. 

Fir, red, ii, 307, 308. 

Fisher, Walter L., Secretary of 
the Interior, ii, 422. 

Fisherman s Peak (Mount 
Whitney), i, 393. 

Flattery Rocks, ii, 138. 

Flood, Marysville, ii, 43. 

" Flood-Storm in the Sierra, A," 
ii, 45. 

Florence, Mount, i, 280 n. 

Florida, Muir tramps in, i, 169; 
Muir visits, ii, 313-16. 

"Forest Reservations and Na 
tional Parks," ii, 305, 403. 

Forest reserves, first established 
by President Harrison under 
Act of March 3, 1891, ii, 257, 
395 ; the President authorized 
to make, 257 n., 395; pro 
claimed by President Cleve 
land, 304, 399; restored to 
public domain by the Senate, 
400; practical value of, 400, 
402; amendment nullifying, 
not signed by President 
Cleveland, 401; restored un 
der President McKinley to 
public domain, 401, 402; 
Muir writes articles for, 403- 
05, 407, 408; Muir s efforts 
for, successful, 406. 

Forestry Commission. See 
National Forestry Com 

Foster, Sir Michael, ii, 340. 
Foulness, the idea of, i, 252. 

Fountain Lake, i, 38, 39; 
Muir s farewell visit to, 156, 
158; hopes entertained by 
Muir with regard to, 158-60; 
ii, 393; description of, i, 160- 

Fountain Lake farm, bought by 
Daniel Muir, i, 9 ; work on, 44- 
50; sold to Daniel M. Gallo 
way, 50, 115; subsequent 
sales of, 50 n., 135. 

" Fountains and Streams of the 
Yosemite National Park," ii, 

Foxtail Pine, ii, 116. 

"Free labor," i, 79, 80. 

Gabb, William M., assistant of 
Whitney, i, 275. 

Galloway, Mrs., death, ii, 61; 
her character, 62. 

Galloway, David M., i, 23; 
marries Sarah Muir, 50; buys 
Fountain Lake farm, 50, 115; 
ridicules idea of preserving 
meadow and bog and Foun 
tain Lake, 159, 160; death, 

Galloway, Sarah Muir, letters 
to, i, 152, 211, 246, 337, 384; 
ii, 48, 55, 60-66, 83. See 
Muir, Sarah. 

Galloway, Mr. and Mrs., letters 
to, i, 85, 92, 96, 109. 

Gannett, Henry, i, 359; ii, 331. 

Garfield, James R., Secretary of 
the Interior, grants permit 
for conversion of Hetch- 
Hetchy Valley into reservoir, 
ii, 416, 420, 421. 

General Grant National Park, 
ii, 402. 

"Geologist s Winter Walk, A, " 
i, 369, 382. 

"Geology of California," Whit 
ney, i, 275. 

Gibbons, W. P., ii, 70. 



Gilbert, Charles, introduced to 
Muir, ii, 127, 332. 

Gilder, Richard Watson, meets 
Muir, ii, 264; Muir at his 
country-place, 312; urges 
Muir to write his auto 
biography, 317. 

Gilder, Mrs. R. W., ii, 312. 

"Gilderoy," ballad, i, 11. 

Gilderoy, David. See Gilrye. 

Gilderoy (Gildroy, Gilroy), 
James, maternal great-grand 
father of John Muir, i, 12. 

Gilderoy, John, son of James, i, 

Gilderoys, the, old Scottish 
stock, 11. 

Gilroy, Susan, cousin of Muir, 

11, 280. 

Gilroy. See Gilderoy. 

Gilrye, Ann, daughter of David 
and Margaret Hay Gilrye, 
i, 14; marriage to Daniel 
Muir, 15. See Muir, Ann 

Gilrye, David, son of James 
Gilderoy, i, 12; the "grand 
father Gilrye" of Muir s boy 
hood, 12; settles at Dunbar, 

12, 13; marries Margaret 
Hay, 13; children of, 14; 
Muir s earliest teacher and 
guide, 26; death, 37; pro 
phecy of, 40; farewell gift of, 

Gilrye, David, brother of Ann 
Gilrye, i, 15. 

Gilrye, Margaret, daughter of 
David and Margaret Hay 
Gilrye, aunt of Muir, 14; 
married to James Rae, 15. 

Gilrye, Margaret Hay, mater 
nal grandmother of Muir, 13; 
children of, 14; death, 37. 

Gist, Governor W. H., i, 77. 

Glacial erosion, as origin of 
Yosemite, Muir s early ad 

vocacy of, i, 278-95; Muir 
urged by Professor Runkle to 
write out his theory of, 295; 
Muir considers writing out 
his theory of, 296, 297; Muir 
continues his study of, 298- 
308; publication of Muir s 
first article on, 308, 316; 
W. P. Blake mistakenly 
credited with being the orig 
inator of theory of, 308 n.; 
Muir states his intention to 
write a book on, 314, 315; 
a rock due to, ii, 11, 12. See 

Glacier, Dawes, ii, 158; Har- 
riman, ii, 325; Lyell, i, 230, 
350; Merced, i, 285, 286; 
Muir, ii, 124, 160, 246-51, 
326; Red Mountain, i, 350; 
Ribbon, i, 304-06; Young, ii, 

Glacier Bay, ii, 123, 124, 160, 
246, 247. 

Glacier Point, i, 283, 284, 329, 
330, 368. 

Glaciers, existence of living, in 
the Sierra Nevada, i, 230; 
two views of, 266; what they 
accomplished, 266-68; Whit 
ney s disbelief in origin of 
Yosemite as due to, 276, 277; 
residual, in the High Sierras, 
286; Muir discovers traces of, 
in the Yosemite Valley, 289- 
91; summary of Muir s 
studies in, up to 1871, 302- 
08; living, in Sierra Nevada, 
first published announce 
ment made of, 323; living, in 
Sierra Nevada, Muir s first 
full account of discovery of, 
344-52 ; traces of, in Nevada, 
ii, 104, 105, 107, 114; in 
Alaska, 123, 124, 126; up 
Holkham Bay (Sumdum), 
158, 159; at head of Taylor 



Bay, 160; traces of, at Un- 
alaska Harbor, 166, 167; 
action of, in Arctic lands, 
165-67, 173, 181, 183; on 
Mount Rainier, 232; action 

of, in and about New York, 
266; action of, at Rio de 
Janeiro, 372. See Glacial 

Glenora Peak, S. Hall Young s 
rescue from death on, ii, 124. 

God, Daniel Muir s idea of, 
i, 18-22; John Muir s idea of, 
166, 332, 333; a common 
conception of, 166. 

"God s First Temples," ii, 58, 

"Gold-Hunters," ii, 233. 

Goodrich, Mrs., i, 104. 

Grand Canon of the Colorado, 
created a National Monu 
ment by President Roose 
velt, ii, 414, 415. 

Grasshoppers, the embroidery 
left by, ii, 14-16. 

Gray, Asa, Muir warm friend 
of, i, 146, 335; influence of, 
on Muir, 253; meeting with 
Muir, 337, 366; asks that 
Muir send him plants, 342; 
Muir describes excursion to 
Cloud s Rest to, 368-71; the 
" angular factiness of his pur 
suits," 369; plants sent to, 
379-81; guest at Rancho 
Chico, ii, 72; on Mount 
Shasta expedition, 80-84; 
and Muir s collection of 
Arctic plants, 191; death, 
242; memories of, 243; tries 
to get Muir for Harvard, 
292; his writings read by 
Muir, 317. 

Gray, Mrs. Asa, ii, 311; Muir 
visits, 312. 

Gray Herbarium at Harvard 
University, plants from Her 

ald Island and Wrangell 

Land in, ii, 191. 
Graydon, Katharine Merrill, 

correspondence with Muir, 

ii, 126-30, 133-35; death of 

great-aunt, 337. 
Graydon, Mary Merrill, letter 

to, ii, 258-60. 
Greenbaum, Mr., agent of the 

Alaska Commercial Com 
pany, ii, 168. 
Greenwood, Grace. See Lippin- 

Griswold, M. S., gives Muir 

first lesson in botany, i, 95. 

Hague, Professor, of the Na 
tional Forestry Commission, 
ii, 299, 398. 

Half Dome, i, 275. 

Hamilton, Mount, ii, 71. 

Hang-nest, the, i, 247, 248. 

"Harper s Weekly," article of 
Muir published in, ii, 305, 

Harriman, Carol and Roland, 
ii, 329. 

Harriman, E. H., Muir s boy 
hood memoirs taken down by 
direction of, ii, 120, 318; 
friendship with, 318. 

Harriman, the Misses Mary 
and Cornelia, ii, 329. 

Harriman Alaska Expedition, 
joined by Muir, ii, 318, 

Harriman Glacier, ii, 325. 

Harrison, Benjamin, President, 
ii, 414; established first forest 
reserves under Act of March 
3, 1891, 257, 395. 

Harte, Francis Bret, withdraws 
from editorial direction of 
the "Overland Monthly," i, 
317; ii, 4; contributor to the 
"Overland Monthly," 4. 

Harvard University, gives de- 



to Muir, i, 253; Gray 
Herbarium at, ii, 191; Gray 
suggests that Muir come to, 
292; awards honorary degree 
to Muir, 295, 296, 298. 

Havana, i, 173. 

Hawaii, visited by Muir, ii, 

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, on the 
spirituality of locomotive 
railroad travel, i, 235, 368; 
his grave, ii, 267; Muir visits 
his homes at Concord, 268. 

Hay, James and Hardy, ii, 284, 

Hay, Margaret, maternal 
grandmother of John Muir, 
i, 13. See Gilrye, Margaret 

Hayden, Doctor F. V., in charge 
of United States Geological 
and Geographical Survey of 
the Territories, ii, 80. 

Hazel Green, ii, 25. 

Hepburn, G. Buchanan, on ex 
cursion with Muir, ii, 41; his 
death, 41 n. 

Herald Island, ii, 163; plants 
from, 191. 

Herbarium, from Canada, i, 
117; from Arctic lands, ii, 

Hetch-Hetchy Valley, i, 300; 
Muir makes first expedition 
to, 310-13; a lake bottom 
rilled with sand and moraine 
matter, 354; revisited, ii, 
289, 290; and the question of 
San Francisco s water supply, 
360, 361, 384, 389; permis 
sion granted that it be 
converted into a reservoir, 

Hetch-Hetchy Valley," i, 

Hickory Hill farm, bought by 
Daniel Muir, i, 9; sale of, 22; 

purchase of, 51; digging of 
well on, 52; Muir s farewell 
visit to, 156, 158. 

Higgs, Sarah, paternal grand 
mother of Muir, i, 4-6. 

High, James L., fellow student 
of Muir, i, 114. 

High Sierra, the, residual gla 
ciers in, i, 286. 

Hodgson, Mr., his family 
nurse Muir, i, 170; spot 
where his house stood, 170, 
171 ; his family in after years, 
ii, 315; death of, 315. . 

Hodgson, Mrs., nurses Muir, i, 
170; found in after years, ii, 

Hoffman, Charles F., assistant 
of Whitney, i, 275. 

Hoffman, Mount, i, 198, 290, 
292, 351, 352. 

Holkham Bay, glaciers in, ii, 
158; Tracy Arm of, 159. 

"Hollow," the, near Meaford, 
description of the people of, i, 
129; Muir s sojourn at, 129- 
51; burning of factory at, 
149 ; reference to, ii, 298. 

Holman, Doctor, ii, 168. 

Honolulu, i, 223. 

Hooker, Sir Joseph Dalton, 
English botanist, Muir warm 
friend of, i, 146; guest at 
Rancho Chico, ii, 72; {on 
Mount Shasta expedition, 
8084; discovers Linncea bo- 
realis, 81, 82; visited by 
Muir at Sunningdale, 282, 
283; praises "Mountains of 
California," 289; home of, in 
Los Angeles, some of Muir s 
writing done at, 354; Muir 
goes to the Grand Canon 
with, 359. 

Hooker, Mrs. J. D., ii, 282, 
354; letters to, 363-66, 369. 

Hooker, Katharine and Marian, 



"Wayfarers in Italy," ii, 
370, 371. 

Hooper, Captain C. L., of the 
Corwin, ii, 161-63. 

Hopkins, Mark, visits the 
Yosemite, i, 225. 

Hornaday, William T., his 
"The Minds and Manners of 
Wild Animals," i, 43. 

Houghton, Mifflin & Company, 
chosen by Muir as his pub 
lishers, ii, 306; publish "My 
First Summer in the Sierra," 
359, 361; to bring out Muir s 
autobiography, 366. 

Rowland, Judge, ii, 271. 

Howling Valley, ii, 248. 

Humboldt, Alexander von, i, 

"Humming-Bird of the Cali 
fornia Waterfalls, The," ii, 

Humphreys, Mount, i, 388. 

Hunter Joe, on canoe trip with 
Muir, ii, 157. 

Hutchings, Florence, i, 216; 
heroine of Yosemite novel, 
225, 228, 279, 280; first white 
child born in the Yosemite, 
280 n. 

Hutchings, Gertrude, in The 
rese Yelverton s novel, i, 279. 

Hutchings, J. M., visits Yosem 
ite in winter, i, 205 ; gives em 
ployment to Muir, 207; his 
Yosemite claim, 225; busi 
ness relations of Muir with, 
237, 291, 295; unfavorable to 
Muir s fame as interpreter 
of the Yosemite, 241; Muir 
leaves employ of, 241 ; in 
Therese Yelverton s novel, 

Hutchings, Mrs. J. M., i, 222; 
in Therese Yelverton s novel, 
279, 280; to go East, 297. 

Huxley, Thomas H., i, 335. 

Ice, in the Yosemite, i, 266, 

" In the Heart of the California 
Alps," ii, 394. 

India, visited by Muir, ii, 350. 

Indian disturbances, ii, 97, 98. 

Indianapolis, Muir arrives at, i, 
152; circumstances that in 
duced Muir to go to, 153; 
circumstances that induced 
Muir to leave, 154-56; re 
visited by Muir, ii, 298. 

Indians, death song of, ii, 21, 
22; looked on Muir as mys 
terious being, 124. 

Institute of Technology, Run- 
kle tries to get Muir for, ii, 
291, 292. 

Iowa, character of the State, ii, 

Ireland, visited by Muir, ii, 

Irwin, Mr., artist, i, 343. 

Island Belle, the, i, 172, 173. 

J. Dewing Company, ii, 218. 

Jackson, Helen Hunt, wrote 
much of "Ramona" at 
Carmelita, ii, 67, 197; applies 
to Muir for itinerary for 
invalid self, 196-98; Muir s 
answer to her letter, 198-202; 
death, 202, 203. 

Jaffry, Miss, ii, 279. 

Japan, visited by Muir, ii, 350, 

Jay, Charles, of the "Hollow," 
i, 129, 130, 138. 

Jeannette, the relief expedition 
in search of, ii, 161; sank 
June 12, 1881, 162. 

Jewett, Sarah Orne, ii, 271. 

Johnson, Robert Underwood, 
meeting with Muir, ii, 233; 
goes through the Yosemite 
with Muir, 234-36; letters 
to, 237-40, 244, 287-95, 348, 



355-57; suggests initiation 
of project for establishment 
of Yosemite National Park, 
234, 394; assists Muir in 
an effort to secure enlarge 
ment of the Sequoia Na 
tional Park, 253; urges 
Muir to get a supporting 
organization on the Pacific 
Coast, 255; Muir with, in 
New York, 264; with Muir at 
Emerson s home, 269; much 
devoted to Muir, 271; stim 
ulated Muir s literary pro 
ductiveness, 306; assists 
Muir in securing cession of 
Yosemite Valley to Federal 
Government, 351; urges 
Muir to write a description 
of the Grand Canon of the 
Colorado, 414. 

Johnson, Mrs. R. U., ii, 264. 

Jordan, Professor David Starr, 
introduced to Muir, ii, 127; 
gives name of Ouzel Basin to 
glacier channel, 130; intro 
duces Muir as "author of the 
Muir Glacier," 259. 

Kalmia, i, 377, 378. 

Kaweah grove, efforts to secure 
inclusion of, in Sequoia 
National Park, ii, 253. 

Keeler, Charlie, ii, 326. 

Keith, William, artist, i, 322; 
ii, 219, 245; beginning of 
Muir s friendship with, i, 
343; with Muir in the Yo 
semite, ii, 51, 53. 

Kellogg, Albert, botanist of the 
California Academy of Sci 
ences, i, 322; on Kings River 
trip, 386; injustice done to, 
ii, 70; death, 242; memories, 

Kennedy, Sallie, letter to, ii, 73. 

Kern River Canon, ii, 345. 

Keyes, Judge, ii, 268, 269. 

King, Clarence, assistant of 
Whitney, i, 275; his opinion 
of the origin of the Yosemite, 
276, 277, 357, 358; not the 
originator of the glacial ero 
sion theory as regards the 

Yosemite, 277 n., 356; carries 
butterflies to Edwards, 292; 

refuses to accept theory of 
living glaciers, 353; his sup 
posed ascent of Mount W T hit- 
ney, 394; ascends Mount 
Whitney, 396; discovered 
glaciers on Shasta, ii, 30. 

Kings River, excursions to, i, 
385-94; ii, 82, 85, 88; region, 
efforts to secure inclusion of, 
in Sequoia National Park, 

Kings River Canon, ii, 252, 

Klawak, ii, 153, 154. 

Kneeland, Professor Samuel, 
prepares paper on erosion 
theory, i, 309; reads extracts 
from Muir s letters, 316, 345. 

Knox, Mr., i, 324. 

Koshoto, Chief of the Hoonas, 
ii, 152. 

Lacey, John F., Chairman of 
the Public Lands Committee 
of the House, ii, 406. 

Lakes, along the Yosemite 
streams, i, 355. 

Lammermoor, Bride of, the 
castle of, ii, 278. 

Lamon, James C., visits Yo 
semite in winter, i, 204; 
his Yosemite claim, 225; in 
Therese Yelverton s novel, 
279; his grave, ii, 53. 

Lamon, John, the earliest in 
habitant of the Yosemite, i, 
365; his sheep corral, 365, 



Lanier, Sidney, ii, 285. 

Lankester, Sir Ray, on profit 
ableness of pursuit of science, 
i, 362. 

Lathrop, John Hiram, Chancel 
lor of University of Wiscon 
sin, resignation, i, 138. 

Law, Professor James, ii, 61. 

Lawrence, Mary Viola, "Sum 
mer with a Countess" by, i, 
238 n. 

Lawrence Island, ii, 183, 184. 

Lawson, Professor, i, 360. 

LeConte, Professor Joseph, i, 
228; meeting of Muir and, 
229; takes ten days ramble 
with Muir, 230-33, 284, 285; 
Muir sends ice to, 266; in 
Therese Yelverton s novel, 
279; his reference in journal 
to Muir s glacial observa 
tions, 285; makes first pub 
lished announcement of 
Muir s discovery of living 
glaciers in Sierra Nevada, 
323; Muir to have scientific 
ramble with, 324; a calm 
thinker, 321; withholds judg 
ment on living glaciers, 348 
n. ; living-glacier theory ac 
cepted by, 353; his "Gla 
ciers," 382; and the Sierra 
Club, ii, 256; his report of 
conversation with Agassiz, 
293 ; on the issue of the reces 
sion of Yosemite Valley to 
the Federal Government, 

Lester, John Erastus, his words 
regarding Muir, i, 360. 

Lily gardens, i, 198. 

Lime Key, sketched by Muir, 
i, 171. 

Lincoln, Abraham, nomination 
and election of, i, 77, 79; his 
speech on "free labor," 79, 

Lincoln-Douglas Debates, i, 

Linncea borealis, in California, 

ii, 81, 82. 
Lippincott, Sarah Jane, her 

description of Muir, i, 262. 
"Living Glaciers in Califor 
nia," i, 352; ii, 57. 
Lizards, the embroidery left by, 

ii, 13, 14. 

"Lize in Jackets," ii, 72, 76. 
Loafer s chair, invention of 

Muir, i, 88, 89. 
Logging, i, 125-27. 
Lone Mountain, ascended, ii, 

Longworth, Maria Theresa. See 

Yelverton, Therese. 
Lot Tyeen, on canoe trip with 

Muir, ii, 157. 
Louisville, Kentucky, Muir 

starts on thousand-mile walk 

from, i, 162. 
Lukens, T. P., in Hetch-Hetchy 

Valley with Muir, ii, 290. 
Lunam, Mrs., ii, 274. 
Lunam, Maggie, ii, 279, 280. 
Lyell, Sir Charles, interested 

Muir, i, 146, 240. 
Lyell Glacier, the, i, 230, 350. 
Lyon, Mr., master of grammar 

school, i, 27, 28. 

Magee, Thomas, with Muir in 

Alaska, ii, 137, 140, 148, 151, 


Magnifica, ii, 308. 
Malay Archipelago, visited by 

Muir, ii, 350, 351. 
Malheur Reservation, ii, 97. 
Man, his egotism, i, 43, 44; as 

principal object of creation, 

165-67; ii, 9; origin of, i, 168. 
Manaos, visited by Muir, ii, 

Manchester, Massachusetts, 

visited by Muir, ii, 271. 



Manchuria, visited by Muir, ii, 

Manila, visited by Muir, ii, 351. 

Manufacture, articles of, to be 
pure works of God, i, 374. 

Maple sugar, the making of, i, 

Maps, outline glacier, i, 320. 

Mariposa Sequoia Grove, the, i, 

Mariposa trail, the, i, 186. 

Marysville Buttes, ii, 76. 

Marysville flood, the, ii, 43. 

Mather, Jane, ii, 280. 

Matthews, Nathan, Mayor of 
Boston, ii, 270. 

McChesney, Alice, i, 372; ii, 

McChesney, J. B., i, 227; con 
sulted by Muir, 265; letters 
to, 366, 371, 375; Muir s 
friendship for, 371, 372; Muir 
takes room in house of, 399; 
with Muir in the Yosemite, 
ii, 51. 

McChesney, Mrs. J. B., i, 399. 

McCloud River, the, ii, 39, 40. 

McClure, Mount, glacier, i, 

McGwinn, Howard, owner of 
Muir house tract of Fountain 
Lake farm, i, 50 n. 

Mcllhaney, Asa K., letter to, 
ii, 380. 

McKinley, William, President, 
ii, 401. 

Meaford, Canada, the "Hol 
low" near, i, 129-51. 

Mechanical contrivances of 
Muir, i, 59-62, 74, 78-81, 86, 
88, 89, 131, 148, 149, 153, 

Melville, playmate of Muir, ii, 

Merced basin, i, 203. 

Merced Glacier, the, i, 285, 286. 

Merced Lake, ii, 28. 

Merced River, the, i, 285, 286; 
in the valley of, ii, 18; a sail 
down, 90, 93. 

Merriam, Doctor C. Hart, ii, 
331, 340, 342, 343; letters to, 
338, 343, 387. 

Merriam, Clinton L., letter to, 
i, 302-08. 

Merrill, Catharine, Muir de 
scribes Fountain Lake to, i, 
160-62; sympathetic letter of 
Muir to, 231-33; Muir de 
scribes glacier to, 288-91. 

Merrill, Mina, letter to, ii, 382. 

Mice, field, the embroidery left 
by, ii, 16, 17. 

Michigan, University, i, 96. 

Miller, Hugh, ii, 272, 273. 

Miller, Joaquin, contributor to 
the "Overland Monthly," ii, 

Moderation, an attribute of 
Nature, i, 319. 

Mono Lake, i, 233, 284. 

Monuments and Antiquities 
Act, ii, 414, 415. 

Moore, J. P., i, 335, 336. 

Moore, Mrs. J. P., i, 335, 336. 

Moores, Charles W., son of 
Julia Merrill Moores, i, 117. 

Moores, Janet Douglass, corre 
spondence with, ii, 213-18. 

Moores, Julia Merrill, early 
Indianapolis friend of Muir, i, 
117; ii, 213; her daughter, 
213; death of sister, 333-35. 

Moores, Merrill, accompanies 
Muir on walk, i, 160; visits 
Muir in the Yosemite, 338; 
sister of, ii, 213; elected 
member of Congress, 213. 

Moraines, Muir s study of, in 
Sierra Nevada, i, 344-52; 
outlines of, marked by fir 
forests, i, 353, 355. See 

Morrill Act, the, i, 91, 92. 



Morris, Major, Treasury agent, 
ii, 143, 148. 

Morrison, Mr., ii, 148. 

Moses, Professor and Mrs., ii, 

Mount Bremer, ii, 41. 

Mount Broderick, i, 275. 

Mount Dana, i, 233. 

Mount Diablo, ii, 90, 94. 

Mount Emerson, i, 389. 

Mount Florence, i, 280 n. 

Mount Hamilton, ii, 71. 

Mount Hoffman, i, 198, 290, 
292, 351, 352. 

Mount Humphreys, i, 388. 

Mount Lyell, i, 230, 350. 

Mount McClure, i, 348-50. 

Mount Rainier, ii, 219, 229, 232. 

Mount Shasta, ii, 29-41, 49, 51, 

Mount Whitney, i, 392-96. 

Mountain Models, i, 320. 

"Mountain Sculpture," ii, 4. 

" Mountains of California," 
published, ii, 288; its recep 
tion, 288, 289; at work on en 
larged edition of, 353; public 
mind awakened by, 397. 

Muir, Ann Gilrye, mother of 
John Muir, wife of Daniel 
Muir, i, 15; characterization 
of, 16; had kinship of soul 
with her son, John, 16-18; 
had concern for her son s 
spiritual welfare, 17; death, 
25; emigrates to America, 38; 
writes to son, 83; letter to, 
314; son has premonition of 
her death, ii, 296. 

Muir, Anna, sister of John, i, 
16; letter to, 136. 

Muir, Daniel, father of John 
Muir, birth, i, 4, 5; early life, 
5-8; Dunbar days, 8; emi 
grates to America, 8, 9, 36, 37 ; 
his religious activity, 9, 10; 
characterized by his son, 10; 

his first wife, 15; marries Ann 
Gilrye, 15; attitude toward 
scientific study of son, 18, 19; 
his ideas of God and nature, 
19-22; decides to sell farm, 
22; goes on evangelistic trips, 
23-25; death, 25; ii, 206, 208; 
settles at Fountain Lake.i, 38; 
severity of his discipline and 
farm regime, 44, 47-50, 59; 
religiousness in household of, 
59-63; takes up vegetarian 
ism, 71; in Biblical argument 
with his son, 7 1-74; hostile to 
harmony between nature and 
revelation, 72-74; sends hia 
son ten dollars, 83; Muir 3 
premonition of his death, ii, 
204-06; last meeting with his 
son, 206-08; account of his 
death, 208-10. 

Muir, Daniel, brother of John, i, 
16; at the "Hollow," 129, 
130, 132; at home again, 136. 

Muir, David Gilrye, brother of 
John, i, 16; urged by his 
brother to restrain father, 23- 
25; letters to, 23, 208, 216; 
goes with father to America, 
36, 37; at work on farm, 59; 
drives John to station, 78; 
illness of wife, 208, 209; ii, 

Muir, Helen, daughter of Muir, 
letters to, ii, 275, 283, 297, 
301, 313, 322; illness of, 352, 
353, 357; bungalow of, 373; 
her home, 382, 388. 

Muir, Joanna, sister of John, i, 
16; letter to, 136. 

Muir, John, grandfather of 
John Muir, i, 4-6. 

Muir, John, a curious sketch of 
his ancestry, i, 3; his ances 
try, 4-16; his sketch of his 
father s life, 5-11 ; heather in, 
6, 272; birth, 16, 26; had kin- 



ship of soul with his mother, 
16-18; his idea of God, 18- 
22, 166, 322, 323; his father 
out of sympathy with his 
scientific studies, 18-22; 
urges check on father s re 
ligious fanaticism, 23-25; his 
boyhood in Scotland, 26; his 
schooling, 26-30; his ac 
quaintance with the Bible, 
26, 27; sources of his literary 
power, 27; his knowledge of 
French, 29; gives daughter 
advice on lessons, 30; ii, 278; 
early impressed by varying 
aspects of Nature, i, 30-35; 
his recollections of the ocean, 
31-33; goes with father to 
America, 36, 37; his delight 
in his new home, 39, 40; his 
animal recollections, 40-42; 
his interest in animals, 42-44 ; 
his view of man s egotism, 
43, 44; his duties on the farm, 
44-47 ; a victim of his father s 
severity, 47-50; well-digging 
experience of, 52, 53 ; impres 
sion made upon, by death of 
old man, 53, 54; correspond 
ence with blacksmith 
preacher s son, 54-58; his 
views of child-beating, 57; 
his pity for broken-hearted 
child, 57; makes "early-rising 
machine," 59-62; religious 
ness of, 63; his early love of 
reading, 63, 64; beginning of 
his appreciation of good liter 
ature, 64, 70; juvenile poem 
of, "The Log Schoolhouse," 
65-68; his self -education, 69; 
his reading, 70-74; in Bibli 
cal argument with his father, 
71-74; mechanical contriv 
ances of, 74-76 ; leaves home, 
76-78; meets with kindness, 
78; called "An Ingenious 

Whittler," 79; makes ac 
quaintance of Mrs. Carr, 
80; demonstrates with his 
clock, 81 ; student at Univer 
sity of Wisconsin, 82, 84, 85, 
88-95; letters home, 82; 
letters from home, 82, 83; as 
district school-teacher, 85- 
88; school-house contriv 
ances of, 86; his plant-stem 
register, 88; his room at the 
University, 88-90; his "loaf 
er s chair," 88, 89; Vroman s 
description of, 89-91; prac 
tices crayon sketching, 92, 
93; becomes religious ad 
viser to enlisted men, 95; his 
first lesson in botany, 95; his 
enthusiasm for study of 
botany, 95-97 ; intends to en 
ter the medical profession, 95, 
114, 116; botanical trip of, 
down Wisconsin River valley, 
97-106; poem of, "In Search 
of a Breakfast," 106-09; 
makes botanical excur 
sion along Wisconsin River, 
109-12; takes farewell of 
University of Wisconsin, 113; 
continues botanical studies, 
115; sets out for Canada, 116; 
herbarium of, 117, 132; in 
Amaranth, Luther, and Ar 
thur, 118, 119; autobiograph 
ical sketch of his Canadian 
wanderings, 119-29; finds 
Calypso borealis, 120, 121 ; in 
wolf forest, 122 ; at the Camp 
bell farm, 123-25; at the 
"Hollow," near Meaford, 
Canada, 129-51 ; writes sam 
ple letter for his sister Mary, 
133, 134; value of Mrs. 
Carr s friendship to, 138-44, 
205, 227, 334, 336, 340, 387; 
ii, 26; invited to return to 
University of Wisconsin as 



free student, i, 139; breaks 
away from narrow Biblicism 
of his training, 145-48; vari 
ous mechanical inventions of, 
148, 149; arrives at Indian 
apolis, 152; uncertain of pro 
fession, 152, 153; his restless 
ness, 152, 157, 158; circum 
stances that induced him to 
go to Indianapolis, 153; 
makes labor-saving improve 
ments, 153; injury to eye, 
154; decides to devote his 
life to Nature, 155; his fare 
well visit to Fountain Lake 
and Hickory Hill, 156, 158; 
his thousand-mile walk, 156, 
162, 168, 169; his "good 
demon," 157; his hopes with 
regard to Fountain Lake, 
158-60; ii, 393; his descrip 
tion of Fountain Lake, i, 160 
62; graveyard experience of, 
164; his conception of death, 
164, 165; ii, 333-35; breaks 
from anthropocentric nature 
philosophy, i, 165-68; ii, 9; 
enraptured with the palmet 
to, i, 169; ill in Florida, 169- 
71; sails for Cuba on the Is 
land Belle, 173; wishes to 
float down the Amazon, 173; 
sails for New York, 174; his 
feeling about New York, 174, 
175; sails on the Santiago de 
Cuba for Isthmus of Pan 
ama, 175; his shipboard ex 
periences, 175; his trip across 
the Isthmus of Panama, 176. 
Arrives at San Francisco, 
177 ; sets out for the Yosemite, 
177, 178; his walk to Pacheco 
Pass, 178-80; his unpublished 
memoirs quoted, on Yosem 
ite trip, 180-200; shoot 
ing experience of, 184, 185; 
adventure with bear, 186; 

persuades Chilwell to try 
owl flesh, 188, 189; acts as 
shepherd, 190-96; acts as 
overseer of shepherd, 195- 
99; has summer of greatest 
enjoyment, 200; observes 
devastating effect of sheeping 
in High Sierra, 201; refuses 
invitation to visit Carrs in 
California, 202; visits Yo 
semite in winter, 202-08; 
still contemplates visiting 
South America, 203; living 
in the Yosemite, 207-39; on 
family love, 211; his views of 
baptism, 217; on visitors to 
the Yosemite, 221 ; his letters 
called poems, 225 ; in Yosem 
ite novel, 225, 228, 278-84; 
visits Pohono, 228, 229; his 
meeting with Professor Le- 
Conte, 229; his knowledge of 
existence of living glaciers in 
the Sierra Nevada, 230; 
takes ten days ramble with 
Professor LeConte, 230-33, 
284, 285; mention of his 
theory of glacial origin of Yo 
semite in book of LeConte, 
231; avoids the American 
colonization scheme, 234, 
235, 239; business relations 
with Hutchings, 237, 291, 
295; reading and study of, 
240; leaves employ of Hutch- 
ings, 241; still in the Yosem 
ite, 242-52 ; meeting with Em 
erson, 253-57; given degree 
by Harvard University, 253; 
influenced by Agassiz, Gray, 
and Emerson, 253; corre 
sponds with Emerson, 258- 
60; writes to Mrs. Carr re 
garding Emerson, 261; at \ 
grave of Emerson, 261, ii, 
267; described by Sarah Jane 
Lippincott, i, 262; meets 



Henry Edwards, 262; collects 
butterflies for Edwards, 263, 
264, 292; urged to come out 
of his solitude, 265, 293; his 
view of glaciers, a form of 
terrestrial love, 266; letter on 
the things accomplished by 
glaciers, 266-68; sends article 
to Mrs. Carr, 269; letter on 
the Sequoias, 270-73; as to 
the time when he began to 
advocate the glacial erosion 
theory of the origin of the 
Yosemite, 278-86; his rejec 
tion of Whitney s theory of 
the origin of the Yosemite, 
287; on the frightful tenden 
cies of a "Christian" school, 
288, 289; discovers dead 
glacier in the Yosemite Val 
ley, 289-91; continues his 
glacial investigations, 294; 
urged by Runkle to write out 
his glacial theory, 295; con 
siders his financial situation, 
296; considers writing out 
his theory, 296, 297; contin 
ues his study of glacial ero 
sion, 298-308; his "Yosem 
ite Glaciers" published in 
New York "Tribune," 308, 
316; disapproves of Pro 
fessor Kneeland s paper, 
309; makes first expedition 
to Hetch-Hetchy, 310-13; 
states intention of writing a 
book containing his erosion 
theory, 314, 315; writes vari 
ous articles on the Yosemite, 
316, 317; his literary power 
accurately estimated by Mrs. 
Carr, 317, 318; on Ruskin s 
attributes of Nature, 319; 
his unconditional surrender 
to Nature, 320; gets in touch 
with Emily Pelton again, 
321; undying loyalty and 

devotion a trait of, 322; his 
friendship for Keith, 322; 
LeConte makes first pub 
lished announcement of his 
discovery of living glaciers in 
Sierra Nevada, 323 ; urged to 
publish his own discoveries, 
323; engagements of, 324; 
compares Nature and civili 
zation, 325; his opinion of 
men, 325, 371, 373, 374; en 
joys earthquakes, 325-29; 
knows not what to write, 
336; meeting with Asa Gray, 
337; visited by Merrill 
Moores, 338; Mrs. Carr s 
plan for his study of the Coast 
Range, 338, 339; his glow at 
turning to the mountains, 
341; nurses disappointment 
over Gray, 342; wins ap 
proval from Agassiz, 342; 
and John Torrey, 343; begin 
ning of his friendship with 
William Keith, 343; his first 
full account of discovery of 
living glaciers in Sierra Ne 
vada, 344-52; his "Living 
Glaciers of California," 352; 
was the first who demon 
strated the part that ice 
played in the making of 
Yosemite, 356, 357, 361; his 
"Studies in the Sierra," 358; 
E. C. Andrews s tribute to, 
359; did not take up question 
of the pre-glacial Yosemite, 
360, 361; evaluation of study 
of the Yosemite, 361, 362 ; en 
joyed deeper satisfactions of 
the soul, 362, 363; legends 
about, 364; his cabins, 364- 
66; climbs Glacier Point in 
the snow, 367, 368; meeting 
with Sill, 368; excursion to 
Cloud s Rest, 368-71; letter 
of acknowledgment for pre- 



sent of lamp, 372-74; critique 
of dualism and artificiality 
of Ruskin s nature philoso 
phy, 374-78; a letter on 
plants sent to Gray, 379-81 ; 
on the shortcomings of words, 
382 ; list of writings to be sent 
to Mrs. Carr, 383, 384; hopes 
to put his mountain studies 
in permanent form, 385; 
makes excursion to Kings 
River, 385-94; his ascent of 
Mount Whitney, 395; never 
left his name in the wilder 
ness, 396; enters Tuolumne 
Canon, 397; projected writ 
ings of, 396, 398; developed 
muscle sense, 397, 398;. 
takes room in home of J. B. 
McChesney, 399. 

"The strangle Oakland 
epoch" in his life, ii, 3; con 
tributions to the "Overland 
Monthly," 4, 5; his "Sierra 
Studies " in large measure due 
to Mrs. Carr, 5, 6; his distaste 
for the mechanics of writing, 
6, 7 ; his dislike for the solitari 
ness of writing, 7, 8; chafed at 
being among men, 8; as a con 
versationalist, 7-9 ; further 
articles, 9, 10; goes for his 
health to the Yosemite, 10; 
his joy at returning to the 
mountains, 10-13; traces 
embroidery left in sand, 13- 
17; catches eternal harmo 
nies of Nature, 17; in the 
Valley of the Merced, 18; in 
the Valley of the Tuolumne, 
19-21; on a night- tramp in 
the mountains, 21-26; pre 
pares to leave the Yosemite 
forever, 26-29; his purpose 
in life "to entice people to 
look at Nature s loveliness," 
29; ascends Mount Shasta, 

29-36; letters in "Evening 
Bulletin," 32, 36, 51, 62, 71, 
98, 123, 125, 163, 174, 190; 
his fondness for children, 33; 
around Shasta, 37-41 ; studies 
sheep on Mount Brewer, 41; 
climbs Douglas spruce in 
order to enjoy storm, 41, 
42; enjoyed storms, 4246; 
sometimes apologizes for the 
life he leads, 13-15; in a 
storm on Mount Shasta, 49- 
51, 84; has deepening interest 
in trees, 51, 52, 54, 56; glad to 
be free from problems of life, 
54; tries to arouse sentiment 
against forest devastation, 
58, 59; lectures, 60, 61, 71; 
on blessings of domestic life, 
62; enjoys writing his first 
book, 63; his preference for 
quills, 64, 65; visits Utah, 
65-67; goes to Los Angeles, 
67, 68; visits Congar, 69; 
Shasta with Hooker and 
Gray, 72, 80-84; descends 
Sacramento River in skiff, 
73-80; discovers Linncea 
borealis, 81, 82; on Thanks 
giving dinners, 83, 85, 86; ac 
count of summer s wander 
ings, 87-90, 94, 95; his gains 
from wanderings, 91; joins 
survey bound for Nevada, 97, 
101 ; guest in Strentzel house 
hold, 100; his account of 
Nevada trip, 101-16; has 
lodgings with Isaac Upham, 
117; difference between his 
spoken and written words, 
119, 120; brilliancy of his con- 
versation, 120; his boyhood 
memoirs taken down by di 
rection of E. H. Harriman, 
120, 318; Miss Strentzel an 
attraction to, 121, 122; be 
comes engaged to Miss Strent- 



zel, 123; goes to Alaska, 123; 
with S. Hall Young, 123, 124; 
looked upon as mysterious 
being by the Indians, 124; 
scares Indians by fire on 
mountain, 124; his gains in 
Alaska, 126; correspondence 
with Katharine Merrill 
Graydon, 126-30, 133-35; 
marriage announced, 131; 
as an arguer, 132; wedding, 
135; home of, 136; leaves on 
second Alaska trip, 137; his 
second trip to Alaska, 138- 
61; daughter born to, 161; 
joins Arctic relief expedition, 
161; his account of the ex 
pedition to Wrangell Land, 
163-91; on Wrangell Land, 
163; his collection of plants 
gathered in Arctic lands, 
191 ; happy in the enjoyments 
of home, 192; his earnings 
from magazine articles, 193; 
his summary of the years, 
1881-1891, 193, 194; takes 
wife to Yosemite Valley, 
194; second daughter born 
to, 195; Helen Hunt Jackson 
applies to, for itinerary, 196- 
98; his answer to Helen Hunt 
Jackson s letter, 198-202; 
his letter to Helen Hunt 
Jackson answered, 202, 203; 
his premonition of Daniel 
Muir s death, 204-06; last 
meeting with his father, 206- 
08; his account of Daniel 
Muir s death, 208-10; re 
visits old scenes and people, 
210-13; correspondence with 
Janet Moores, 213-18; un 
dertakes to edit and contri 
bute to "Picturesque Cali 
fornia," 218; feels the strain 
of care and worry, 218-20; 
experience with a reporter, 

221-24; passages for "Pic 
turesque California," 226- 
30; meeting with Robert Un 
derwood Johnson, 233; takes 
Johnson through the Yosem 
ite, 234-36; writes articles 
for the "Century," 234; in 
itiates project of establish 
ment of Yosemite National 
Park, 234; on the Yosemite 
Park project, 237-42, 244; 
memories of Torrey, Gray, 
Kellogg, and Parry, 242, 
243; his third trip to Alaska, 

Advocates enlargement of 
Sequoia National Park, 253, 
254; president of Sierra 
Club, 256 ; meeting with J. W. 
Riley, 259; goes East on 
way to Scotland, 261; visits 
Chicago World s Fair, 261- 
63; in New York, 265, 266; 
in Boston, 266, 269; visits 
Concord, 266-69; visits Cam 
bridge, 270; visits Manches 
ter, 271; at Edinburgh, 272- 
73; at Dunbar, 273-80; at 
various places in Scotland, 
280, 281, 283; visits Sir 
Joseph Hooker, 282, 283; 
visits Ireland, 283; his 
"Mountains of California," 
288, 289; revisits Hetch- 
Hetchy, 289, 290; attempts 
to secure him as teacher, 
291-93; visits Yosemite 
Valley, 294, 295; awarded 
honorary degree by Harvard, 
295, 296, 298; has premoni 
tion of his mother s death, 
296; accompanies unofficially 
the Forestry Commission, 
297-302, 399; his Eastern ex 
periences, 298, 299; defends 
recommendations of Forest 
Commission, 304; joins Sar- 



gent and Canby on expedi 
tion to Rocky Mountains and 
Alaska to study forest trees, 
304, 305; degree conferred 
upon, by University of Wis 
consin, 304 n.; on his diffi 
culty of writing, 306; discov 
ers flowers of red fir, 307, 
308; makes trip into the Al- 
leghanies, 311, 312; with the 
Osborns, 312-14; goes with 
Sargent to Florida, 313-16; 
urged to write his autobi 
ography, 317; joins Harri- 
man Alaska Expedition, 
318, 320, 321; his account of 
the Expedition, 322-33; re 
ceives letters of apprecia 
tion, 336-38; receives invi 
tation to visit the Osborns, 
340; literary plans, 341- 
43; on killing of wild an 
imals, 349, 350; visits foreign 
lands, 350, 351; his work in 
securing union of Yosemite 
Valley with Yosemite Na 
tional Park, 351, 352, 355- 
57; death of wife, 352, 353; 
discovers petrified forest, 
353; doubts being able to ac 
complish literary plans, 353- 
55; visits South America, 
354, 369-73; visits South 
Africa, 354, 374; rewrites au 
tobiographical notes, 359, 
362; at work on Yosemite 
notes, 364; degrees conferred 
on by Yale, 365; has finished 
a volume of his autobiogra 
phy, 366; his preference 
among trees, 380, 381 ; death, 
390, 391. 

And California, what they 
did for each other, 392; 
the idea of national re 
serves conceived by, 392, 
393; his services in the cause 

of forest reservations, 395, 
396; effect of his "Moun- i 
tains of California" in awak 
ening the public mind, 397; 
understands outcry against 
forest reservations, 401; 
urged to write syndicate let 
ters on forest reserves, 402; 
writes articles for forest re 
servation, 403-05, 407, 408; 
his efforts for forest reserva 
tion successful, 406; in the 
High Sierra with President 
Roosevelt, 408-13 ; friend 
ship with President Roose 
velt, 411, 415, 416; results of 
his trip with President Roose 
velt, 414; urged to write a de 
scription of the Grand Canon 
of the Colorado, 414; writes 
description, 415; suggests to 
President that he proclaim 
the Grand Canon a national 
monument, 415; letter to 
President Roosevelt on the 
Hetch-Hetchy Valley ques 
tion, 417-20; effect of his 
letter, 421. 

Muir, Mrs. John (see Louie 
Wanda Strentzel) daughter 
born to, ii, 161 ; second daugh 
ter born to, 195 ; concerned for 
her husband s health, 220; a 
stimulating and appreciative 
helper of her husband, 221; 
death, 352, 353; letters to, 
138-57, 163-91, 208-13, 221- 
31, 235, 246, 261-83, 322-33. 

Muir, Margaret, sister of John, 
i, 16. 

Muir, Mary, aunt of John, 
i, 4, 5, 7. 

Muir, Mary, sister of John, i, 
16; letter to, 136. 

Muir, Sarah, sister of John, i, 
16; goes with father to Amer 
ica, 37; marries David M. 



Galloway, 50. See Galloway, 

Sarah Muir. 
Muir, Sarah Higgs, paternal 

grandmother of John Muir, i, 

Muir, Wanda, daughter of John 

Muir, advised as to lessons 

by her father, i, 30; ii, 278; 

.letters to, 278, 299-302, 322; 

married, 357; her home, 382, 

383, 388. 
Muir Glacier, ii, 124, 160, 246, 

247; sled-trip across upper 

reaches of, 248-51 ; revisited, 


Muir Inlet, ii, 246, 247. 
Muir s Lake. See Fountain 


"My First Summer in the Si 
erra," ii, 359, 362, 396. 
"Mysterious Things," ii, 203, 


Names, at Trout s Hollow, i, 

National Forest Commission, 
C. S. Sargent Chairman of, 
ii, 297; appointed, 398; mem 
bers of, 398; Muir travels 
with, unofficially, 297-302; 
its recommendations defend 
ed by Muir, 304. 

National Monuments, created 
by President Roosevelt, ii, 

National parks, the idea of, 
conceived by Muir, i, 158- 
60; ii, 392, 393; the number 
of, doubled under President 
Roosevelt, 414. 

"National Parks and Forest 
Reservations," address on, 
i, 158-60. 

Nature, the attributes of, ac 
cording to Ruskin.i, 319; and 
civilization, compared, 325, 
342; insinuates herself into 

humanity, 373; according to 
Ruskin, 376-78; huckster ap 
praisement of, ii, 8, 9; eter 
nal harmonies of, 17; Muir a 
purpose to entice people to 
look at her loveliness, 29; 
storms one manifestation of, 
42 ; the Scriptures of, 42 ; close 
contact with, needed, 46. 

Nebraska, the, steamship, i, 
175, 177. 

Nebraska, character of the 
State, ii, 300. 

Nelson, E. W., collector for 
Smithsonian Institution, ii, 

Nevada, Muir joins survey 
party bound for, ii, 97, 
101; Muir s account of trip 
through, 101-16. 

New England, the people of, ii, 

New York, Muir s feeling 
about, i, 174, 175; Muir 
visits, on way to Scotland, 
ii, 265, 266; another visit of 
Muir to, 298. 

New Zealand, visited by Muir, 
ii, 350. 

Noble, John W., Secretary of 
the Interior, ii, 253, 254, 395; 
a faithful and far-sighted 
servant of the American 
people, 253, 395; established 
first forest reserves under 
Act of March 3, 1891, 257. 

Norton, Mr., accompanied 
Muir to Mount Hamilton, ii, 

Oakland, California, epoch of, 

in Muir s life, ii, 3. 
Oban, visited by Muir, ii, 280. 
Ocean, Muir s recollections of, 

i, 31-33. 
O Flanagan, James Roderick, 

his novel, "Gentle Blood, or 



The Secret Marriage," i, 
278 n. 

"Old Log Schoolhouse," juve 
nile poem of Muir, i, 65-68. 

Olmsted, Frederick Law, ii, 

Olney, Warren, Sr., and the 
Sierra Club, ii, 256; letter to, 

Osborn, Professor Henry Fair- 
field, visited by Muir, ii, 266, 
298, 312-14; letters to, 349, 
360, 374, 384-86; some of 
Muir s writing done at home 
of, 354, 367; Muir goes to 
Yosemite with, 359. 

Osborn, Mrs. H. F., ii, 299; 
letters to, 340, 368, 374, 

"Our National Parks," ii, 306. 

"Our New Arctic Territory," 
ii, 187. 

Ouzel Basin, ii, 130. 

Over-industry, vice of, i, 48-50. 

"Overland Monthly," the, edi 
torial direction of, i, 317; ii, 
3, 4; a costly magazine, i, 
317; ii, 4; Muir publishes 
"Yosemite Valley in Flood" 
and "Twenty Hill Hollow" 
in, i, 317; "Living Glaciers 
of California" published in, 
352; "Studies in the Sierra" 
published in, 358, 396; ii, 4; 
Muir writes occasionally for, 
i, 385; "Hetch-Hetchy Val 
ley" and "Explorations in 
the Great Tuolumne Canon 
published in, 396; contrib 
utors to, ii, 4; abandoned, 
5; "Wild Wool" in, 41; "A 
Flood-Storm in the Sierra" 
in, 44, 45. 

Pacheco Pass, the, i, 179, 180. 

Page, Walter Hines, friendship 

with Muir, ii, 306; stimu 

lated Muir s literary pro 
ductiveness, 306; Muir at 
his home, 312; urges Muir to 
write his autobiography, 317; 
letters to, 320, 335, 341; 
opens pages of "Atlantic 
Monthly" for "The Amer 
ican Forests," 403; urges 
Muir to write a description 
of the Grand Canon of the 
Colorado, 414. 

Page, Mrs., W. H., ii, 306. 

Palmer, Howard, letter to, ii, 

Palmetto, the, Muir enrap 
tured with, i, 169. 

Panama, Isthmus of, trip 
across, i, 176. 

Para, Brazil, visited by Muir, 
ii, 368-71. 

Pardee, Governor George C. t 
ii, 355. 

Paregoy, Mr., i, 330. 

Parkinson, John D., tutor, i, 

Parkman, Francis, ii, 270. 

Parks. See National parks. 

Parry, Charles C., i, 343; 
death, ii, 242; memories of, 

Parsons, Captain, of the Island 
Belle, i, 172-74. 

Parsons, Mr. and Mrs. Ed 
ward J., letter to, ii, 376. 

Parsons, Marion Randall, ii, 

Parsons, Mr., superintendent 
of Central Park, ii, 270. 

Pelton, Emily, letters of Muir 
to, descriptive of botanical 
tour, i, 97-106; Muir again 
gets in touch with, 321; 
comes to the Yosemite Val 
ley, 322; ii, 28; letter to, i, 
323; Muir calls on, ii, 29, 40, 

Pelton family, i, 82. 



Perkins, Senator, of California, 
ii, 400. 

Peters Colonization Com 
pany, ii, 99. 

Petrified forest, remnants of, 
discovered by Muir, ii, 353. 

Petrified Forest National Mon 
ument, ii, 353. 

Phelan, James D., his igno 
rance about the Hetch- 
Hetchy Valley, ii, 419. 

Phelps, Professor, ii, 365. 

"Picturesque California," ii, 
218-30, 394. 

Pinchot, Gifford, ii, 265; of the 
National Forestry Commis 
sion, 398; suggests that San 
Francisco take its water sup 
ply from the Yosemite Na 
tional Park, 420, 421. 

Pine, sugar, ii, 52; white, 115; 
foxtail, 116; yellow, 116, 300. 

Piper, A. D., promoter of Amer 
ican colonization scheme, i, 

Pixley, Frank, ii, 236. 

Plant-stem register, invention 
of Muir, i, 88. 

Pohono, i, 228, 229. 

Ponderosa, ii, 300, 308. 

Prairie du Chien, i, 82, 83. 

Proteus-Muggins, ii, 309. 

Puget Sound, masts sent from, 
ii, 227. 

Purns, Agnes, ii, 279. 

Rabe, Carl, i, 396. 

Rae, James, husband of Mar 
garet Gilrye, i, 15. 

Rail-splitting, i, 46. 

Rainier, Mount, ascended by 
Muir, ii, 219, 229, 232. 

Ramsay, Dean, "Reminis 
cences of Scottish Life and 
Character," ii, 272. 

Range of Light, the, i, 201. 

Rapelye, Mrs., i, 228. 

Ravens, ii, 251. 

Red fir, flowers of, discovered by 
Muir, ii, 307, 308. 

Red Mountain glacier, i, 350. 

Redding, Cyrus, his play, "A 
Wife and not a AVife," 278 n. 

Redwood, the, ii, 51, 68. 

Reid (Harry Fielding) and 
Gushing party, in Alaska, ii, 

Reid, Harvey, fellow student of 
Muir, i, 85. 

Religiousness, in household of 
Daniel Muir, i, 59-63; if 
warped, may cause harm, 62. 

Repose, an attribute of Nature, 
i, 319. 

Ribbon glacier, i, 304-06. 

Riley, Henry, ii, 259. 

Riley, James Whitcomb, meet 
ing with Muir, ii, 259. 

Rio de Janeiro, its harbor a 
glacial bay, ii, 372. 

"Rival of the Yosemite, A," ii, 

River, a dead, ii, 43. 

Rocky Mountains, studying 
forest trees in, ii, 304, 305. 

Rodgers, August F., Assistant 
of United States Coast and 
Geodetic Survey, ii, 97. 

Roosevelt, Theodore, services 
rendered by, to cause of 
forests and parks, ii, 254; 
inspires, signs, and transmits 
resolution of Boone and 
Crockett Club, 258; counsels 
Muir, 353 ; sets aside petrified 
forest, 353; supported trans 
ference of Yosemite Valley to 
Federal Government, 355; in 
the High Sierra with Muir, 
408-13; friendship with 
Muir, 411, 415, 416; results 
of his trip with Muir, 414; 
letter of Muir to, on Hetch- 
Hetchy question, 417-20; 



his answer to Muir s letter, 
421, 422. 

Roosevelt-Sequoia National 
Park bill, ii, 254. 

Rowell, Doctor Chester, Sena 
tor of the California Legisla 
ture, ii, 408. 

Royce, Josiah, ii, 270. 

Runkle, Professor John Daniel, 
i, 261; urges Muir to write 
out his glacial theory, 295 ; to 
send book to Muir, 297; tries 
to get Muir for Institute of 
Technology, ii, 291, 292. 

Ruskin, John, on the idea of 
foulness, i, 252; on the at 
tributes of Nature, as "Re 
pose," "Moderation," 319; 
critique of the dualism and ar 
tificiality of his nature philos 
ophy, 374-78; lacked "faith 
in the Scriptures of Nature," 

Russell, Israel C., gives Muir 
credit for discovery of living 
glaciers, i, 353. 

Russia, visited by Muir, ii, 

Sacramento River, descent of, 

ii, 73-80. 
"Salmon Breeding on the 

McCloud River," ii, 32. 
San Francisco, i, 177; and the 

Hetch-Hetchy Valley, ii, 360, 

361, 384, 389, 390, 419-23. 
"San Gabriel Mountains, 

The," ii, 66. 
"San Gabriel Valley, The," 

ii, 66. 
San Joachin plain, the, i, 180- 

San Joaquin River, a sail down, 

ii, 90, 93. 

Sanderson, Charles, i, 228. 
Sanford, Mr., graduate of Yale, 

ii, 370. 

Santa Clara valley, the, i, 178, 

Santiago de Cuba, the, i, 175. 

Sargent, Professor C. S., Di 
rector of the Arnold Arbore 
tum, Muir visits, ii, 269, 270; 
praises, "Mountains of Cal 
ifornia," 288; Chairman of 
Forestry Commission, 297, 
299, 398; invites Muir to ac 
company the Commission un 
officially, 297, 399; makes 
expedition to study forest 
trees in Rocky Mountains 
and Alaska, 304, 305; needs 
flowers of red fir, 307; his 
Silva, 307-10; makes trip 
with Muir and Canby into 
the Alleghanies, 311, 312; 
letters to, 316-20, 344; Muir 
goes to Europe with, 350; 
urges Muir to syndicate let 
ters on forest reserves, 402; 
works for forest reservation, 
406; urges Muir to write a 
description of the Grand 
Canon of the Colorado, 414. 

Sargent, Mrs. C. S., ii, 270. 

Sargent, Robeson, ii, 350. 

Savannah, Georgia, Muir 
camps among the tombs at, 
i, 164; revisited by Muir, ii, 
314, 315. 

Sawmill, self-setting, i, 60; in 
Yosemite Valley, 207; not 
operated by Muir after 1871, 
241; and hang-nest, descrip 
tion of, 247, 248. 

Schooling, methods of, in Scot 
land, i, 26-30; in Wisconsin, 

Scotch, the, pedagogical meth 
ods of, i, 26-30. 

Scotland, Muir revisits, ii, 272- 

Scott, Walter, i, 73; ii, 272, 



Screech, Joseph, hunter, dis 
covers Hetch-Hetchy, i, 310. 

"Scribner s," "Water Ouzel" 
appears in, ii, 127; articles of 
Muir in, 394. 

Sellers, A. H., ii, 298. 

Senger, Professor J. H., and 
the Sierra Club, ii, 256. 

Sequoia National Park, move 
ment for enlargement of, ii, 

Sequoias, letter of Muir on, i, 
269-73; Muir s interest in, 
ii, 54, 56; devastation among, 
57-59; study of, by Muir, 71, 
88, 89, 91; one of the largest, 
348; in General Grant Na 
tional Park, 402. 

Shadow Lake (Merced Lake), 

Shaler, Nathaniel S., his period 
of readjustment, i, 146. 

Shapleigh, Frank, of Boston, i, 

Shasta, Mount, ascent of, ii, 29- 
36; excursions on, 37-41; in 
storm on, 49-51, 84; botani 
cal trip to, 72-84. 

Sheep, wild, studied by Muir, 
ii, 41. 

Sheep herding, i, 190-94; ii, 

Sheep-men, deadliest enemies 
of the forests, ii, 58, 294. 

Sheeping, in the High Sierra, 
devastating effect of, i, 201; 
ii, 394; regulation of, 294, 
295, 343, 344, 395. 

Sheep Mountain, i, 393 n. 

Sheep Rock, ii, 41. 

Shinn, Charles Howard, ii, 241. 

Shishaldin volcano, ii, 328. 

Siberia, visited by Muir, ii, 

Sibley, W. E., i, 123 n. 

Siddons, Mungo, head of Davel 
Brae school, i, 27. 

Sierra, Muir s studies in the, i, 
358, 359; ii, 4, 5. 

Sierra Club, republishes Muir s 
"Studies in the Sierra," i, 
359; organization of, ii, 256; 
purposes of, 256, 396; suc 
cessful opposition of, to the 
Calminetti Bill, 257; Muir 
insists that it express itself in 
issue of cession of Yosemite 
Valley to the Federal Gov 
ernment, 302, 303; outings to 
High Sierra under auspices 
of, 351; on value of wild 
parks, 379; address of Muir 
before, on national parks, 
393; effective work of, 396, 

Sierra Nevada, the, i, 180, 181, 
203, 312; first published an 
nouncement of living glaciers 
in, 323; Muir s first full ac 
count of discovery of living 
glaciers in, 344-52; best of all 
mountain-ranges, 377. 

Sill, Edward Rowland, meeting 
with Muir, i, 368; contributor 
to the "Overland Monthly," 
ii, 4. 

Simms, William, on Kings 
River trip, i, 386. 

Sisson, Mr., ii, 31. 

Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Con 
cord, ii, 266, 267. 

Smart Billy, on canoe trip with 
Muir, ii, 157. 

Smith, Hoke, Secretary of the 
Interior, did not object to the 
Calminetti Bill, ii, 257. 

Smith s Valley, i, 310. See 

Smoky Jack. See Connel, John. 

Snakes, funny story about, ii, 

Snow Dome, ii, 250. 

Snowflakes, i, 268. 

Snow flowers, i, 244, 245. 



Soda Springs, ii, 231. 

Sonne, Mr., ii, 308. 

South America, Muir plans to 
visit, i, 173, 203; colonization 
scheme, 233; visited by Muir, 
ii, 354, 368-73. 

South Dakota, character of the 
State, ii, 300. 

Spanish-American War, ii, 405. 

Stebbins, Dr., i, 382, 383. 

4 Steep Trails," ii, 49, 66. 

Stein, Philip, impressions of 
Muir, i, 89. 

Sterling, Professor John W., of 
University of Wisconsin, i, 
91, 138, 139. 

Stewart, George W., his 
" Mount Whitney Club Jour 
nal," i, 394. 

Stickeen, the dog, on canoe 
trip, ii, 157, 160; his antece 
dents, 160 n.; Muir repeats 
story of, 265, 270, 271; story 
of, appears in the "Cen 
tury," 304. 

"Stickeen," ii, 42, 304. 

Stirling, visited by Muir, ii, 280. 

Stoddard, Charles Warren, i, 
231, 367. 

Storms, Muir s enjoyment of, 
ii, 42-46. 

Strentzel, Dr. John, career, ii, 
99; death, 252. 

Strentzel, Mrs. John, ii, 252. 

Strentzel, Louie Wanda, daugh 
ter of John Strentzel, ii, 100; 
an attraction to Muir, 121, 
122; becomes engaged to 
Muir, 123; engagement an 
nounced, 131; wedding, 135. 
See Muir, Mrs. John. 

Strentzel, Dr., Mrs. John, and 
Miss, letters to, ii, 94, 

"Studies in the Formation of 
Mountains in the Sierra 
Nevada," ii, 9, 10. 

"Studies in the Sierra," i, 358, 
359, 396; ii, 4, 5, 9, 63. 

Styles, Mr., of "Forest and 
Stream," ii, 270. 

Sugar pine, the, ii, 52. 

Sunset, a mountain, i, 369, 370. 

Swain, Mrs. Richard, letter to, 
ii, 336. 

Swett, Helen, ii,96; ill, 116, 118. 

Swett, John, with Muir in the 
Yosemite, ii, 51, 54; Muir at 
home of, 67, 68; sickness in 
family of, 116; on Muir s 
writing, 120. 

Swett, Mrs. John, letter from, 
ii, 131-33. 

Taft, William H., President, ii, 

Tahoe reservation, ii, 319. 

Taylor, J. G., impressions of 
Muir, i, 89. 

Taylor Bay, ii, 159, 160. 

Tenaya Canon, climb through, 
i, 368, 369. 

Tenaya Lake, i, 232, 299, 300. 

Tesla, Nicola, ii, 299, 314. 

Thanksgiving dinners, ii, 83, 85, 

Thayer, James Bradley, meet 
ing with Muir, i, 254; his "A 
Western journey with Mr. 
Emerson," 254 n. 

Thecla Muiri, i, 264 n. 

Thermometer invented by 
Muir, i, 75, 76. 

Thomson, William, his "Or 
pheus Caledonius, " i, 12. 

Thoreau, Henry David, his 
"Maine Woods," i, 223; 
Muir at his grave, ii, 267; 
Muir visits his residence, 268; 
verses of, quoted, 363. 

"Thousand-Mile Walk to the 
Gulf, A," i, 157, 164. 

Thurso, ii, 283. 

Torrey, John, i, 230; and Muir, 



343; death, 242; memories, 

Toyatte, death of, ii, 148, 152, 

"Travels in Alaska," ii, 123, 
390, 391. 

"Treasures of Yosemite, The, " 
in the "Century," ii, 234. 

Trees, become of interest to 
Muir, ii, 51, 52; in Rocky 
Mountains and Alaska, ex 
pedition to study, 304, 305; 
Muir s preference among, 
380, 381. Sec Sequoias. 

Trout, Harriet, of the "Hol 
low," i, 129, 150. 

Trout, Mary, of the "Hollow," 
i, 129, 150. 

Trout, William H., of the 
"Hollow, " i, 129 ; his account 
of Muir s sojourn at the 
Hollow, 130-33; last letter of 
Muir to, 150, 151; visited by 
Muir, ii, 298. 

Truman, Ben, ii, 236. 

Tule grove, efforts to secure 
inclusion of, in Sequoia 
National Park, ii, 253. 

Tuolumne Canon, i, 311, 397; 
ii, 244, 418. 

Tuolumne Meadows, i, 232; ii, 
244, 418. 

Tuolumne River, the, in the 
valley of, ii, 19-21. 

Tuolumne Yosemite, the, i, 310; 
ii, 358, 389. See Hetch- 

Twain, Mark. See Clemens. 

"Twenty Hill Hollow," i, 317. 

Tyndall, John, in the Yosemite, 
i, 230; read by Muir, 240; 
Muir receives book of, 297; a 
great man, 335, 367. 

University degrees conferred on 
Muir, ii, 295, 296, 298, 304 n., 

Upham, Isaac, Muir has lodg 
ings with, ii, 117. 

Utah, visited by Muir, ii, 65- 

Vancouver Island, ii, 139-48. 

Vanderbilt, Mr., ii, 150, 151. 

Vandever, General William, 
member of Congress, ii, 234. 

Varnel, Mr., i, 76. 

Victoria, ii, 142-47. 

Vigilance, whaler, ii, 178. 

Vroman, Charles E., his ac 
count of Muir, i, 89-91. 

Walden Pond, ii, 268. 

"Water Ouzel," ii, 127. 

Waterston, Mrs. Robert C., 
visits the Yosemite, i, 225, 
228; on Muir s letters, 225. 

Watson, Frank E., of the Amer 
ican Museum of Natural 
History, i, 264 n. 

Well-digging, i, 52, 53. 

Wesley, John, ii, 387. 

Wheeler, Benjamin Ide, ii, 409. 

Whipping, a Scotch fashion, i, 

White, Senator, of California, 
ii, 400. 

White Pine, ii, 115. 

White Pine mining region, ii, 

Whitehead, James, buys Foun 
tain Lake farm, i, 50 n., 

W T hitney, Mount, i, 392-96. 

Whitney, Josiah D., on the 
Yosemite, i, 215; State Ge 
ologist of California, 274; 
made Professor of Geology at 
Harvard University, 275; 
publishes books on the Yo 
semite, 275; his theory of the 
origin of the Yosemite, 275- 
77, 287; his "Yosemite 
Guide-Book," 275, 277, 282; 



in Th6rese Yelverton s novel, 
279, 282; scorns Muir s 
theory of origin of the Yo- 
seraite, 287, 288; repudiates 
former statement, 302; be 
ginning of the end of his 
theory, 309; his impressions 
of the Sierra Nevada, 312; 
refuses to accept theory of 
living glaciers, 353, 355, 356; 
and King s views of the 
Yosemite, 357; statement on 
entrance of Tuolumne Canon 
disproved, 397. 

Wild animals, preservation of, 
ii, 349-51. 

"Wild Sheep in California," ii, 

"Wild Sheep of the Sierra," ii, 

"Wild Wool," ii, 41. 

Williams, Sam, editor of San 
Francisco "Evening Bul 
letin," ii, 125. 

Willymott, William, his " Selec 
tions from the Colloquies of 
Corderius," i, 28. 

Wilson, Alexander, ornitholo 
gist, i, 36. 

Wilson, Emily Pelton. See 
Pelton, Emily. 

Wilson, President Woodrow, ii, 
384, 385, 389. 

"Wind Storm in the Forest of 
the Yuba, A," ii, 42. 

Wirad, Mr., machine-shop of, i, 

Wisconsin, the Muirs settle in, 
i, 38; schooling in, 65. 

Wisconsin, University of, Muir 
student at, i, 82, 84, 85, 88- 
95; crisis at, 91, 93; reorgan 
ized, 92; Muir takes farewell 
of, 113; invites Muir to re- 
turn as free student, 139; 
confers degree upon Muir, ii, 
304 n. 

Wisconsin Agricultural Society, 
i, 79-81. 

Wisconsin River valley, botani 
cal tour down, i, 97-106; 
description of excursion in, 

Wisconsin State Agricultural 
Fair, i, 76, 79. 

Wolves, adventure with, in 
Canadian woods, i, 122; ad 
venture with, on Muir Gla 
cier, ii, 248-50. 

Works, Senator John D., ii, 

Wrangell Land, one of the ob 
jectives of relief expedition, 
ii, 162; difficulty of ap 
proaching, 186; the Corwin 
makes landing on, 187; 
plants from, 191. 

Writing, the mechanics and 
solitariness of, irksome to 
Muir, ii, 6-8. 

Yale, confers honorary degree 
on Muir, ii, 365. 

Yellow pine, ii, 116, 300. 

Yelverton, Therese, her novel, 
"Zanita, a Tale of the Yo 
semite," i, 225, 228, 278-85; 
in the Yosemite, 228, 233, 
236; her perils in the snow, 
238; her disputed marriage 
rights, 273 n., 278 n.; envies 
Muir s calmness of heart, 
362, 363. 

Yelverton, William Charles, 
Viscount Avonmore, i, 278 n. 

"Yosemite, The," i, 386. 

Yosemite Bay, ii, 159. 

Yosemite Creek, i, 304-07. 

Yosemite Falls, upper, i, 249- 

Yosemite fountains, ii, 244. 

"Yosemite Glaciers," i, 308, 

Yosemite National Park, es- 



tablishment of, ii, 234, 394, 
395; consideration of the 
management of, 237, 238; as 
to the extent of, 238-40, 244, 
245; demands for recession 
of the Valley to, 255; attempt 
to alter the boundaries of, 
257; Yosemite Valley made 
an integral part of, 351, 352, 
355-57; need of certain road 
in, 379; invaded, 416-23. 

"Yosemite in Spring," i, 316. 

Yosemite Valley, the, Muir s 
first trip in, i, 177-88; visited 
by Muir in winter, 202-08; 
letters from Muir while liv 
ing in, 207-394; granted to 
the State of California, 224, 
225; Therese Yelverton s 
novel about, 225, 228, 278-85; 
the question of its origin early 
considered, 274; Whitney s 
theory of the origin of, 275-77, 
287; Muir s early advocacy of 
theory of origin of, 278-95; 
Muir discovers trace of gla 
cier in, 289-91; Muir contin 
ues glacial studies in, 298- 
308; a lake basin filled with 

sand and moraine matter, 
354; lakes along streams of, 
355; question of the pre- 
glacial form of, 360, 361 ; mis 
management of, by State 
Commissioners, ii, 255, 302; 
in frowsy condition, 294, 
295; bill for the recession of, 
to the Federal Government, 
302 ; made an integral part of 
the Yosemite National Park, 
351, 352, 355-57; question of 
allowing automobiles to en 
ter, 378. 

Yosemite Valley, a new, ii, 91. 

"Yosemite Valley in Flood," 
i, 317. 

"Yosemite in Winter," i, 316. 

Young, Reverend S. Hall, mis 
sionary, ii, 123; accom 
panies Muir on expeditions, 
123; his "Alaska Days with 
John Muir," 124, 137; his 
rescue from death on Glenora 
Peak, 124; with Muir at Fort 
Wrangell, 149, 151, 153, 155, 
156; on canoe trip, 157. 

Young Glacier, ii, 158. 

Yuba River, ii, 41, 45. 


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