John Muir naturalist, conservationist, author and protector of all nature. These are the names most people know him by. But John Muir was man who accomplished many things. In fact, there was only one thing in life that he wanted but never got. I'll tell you more about that later.
Born in Scotland on April 21st, 1838. At age 11, his family moved to Wisconsin, USA. His father was a strict man, a religious man. His mother was known as a compassionate woman. John was the oldest of seven children. He had two brothers and four sisters.
In 1880, he married 33 year old Louisa (Louie) Strentzel. He was 41 years old. They had two daughter together, Wanda and Helen.
There is no doubt in my mind, that this is a man who loved the outdoors. Muir was a man who loved to work with his hands. And he had a gift of using the right words to describe what he saw. He was a Christian man who loved God, his family and the people he met. John Muir loved to read scientific books and the Bible.
He grew up on a farm and spent his spare time tinkering with inventions.
At age 22, he won some prize money and left home. Traveling to many states he found himself in the state of Indiana. He went on to invent labor saving machines that were put in several factories.
In 1867 he almost lost his sight in one eye, due to an industrial machine malfunction. He recovered from the injury. During this time he had read about Yosemite Valley. And ever since reading about Yosemite National Park, he thought of going there. He thought about Yosemite daily. Once he recovered from his eye injury, he headed out to California.
John Muir naturalist. I think the name stuck because he was a man who loved nature. When he came to Yosemite Valley, he was forever changed. When he was in Yosemite he was home. He wrote, "I am hopelessly and forever a mountaineer. I care to live only to entice people to look at nature's loveliness."
For a time, John was a sheep herder in Yosemite. It gave him the time to climb the mountains, forge trails and discover this place that he called, "God's natural cathedral." He studied rocks, plants, flowers, bugs, animals and the weather.
Even though he tended sheep, he hated them. He referred to sheep as "four legged locust!" He thought the sheep were destroying the Yosemite landscape. The Sierra Nevada Mountains, Tuolumne Meadows, the big trees and all of nature itself were sacred to John Muir.
John Muir Didn't Like Tending Sheep In Yosemite NP
Seeing the sheep destroy the meadows and the high country, spurred him on to fight for natures protection. John Muir naturalist, the name fit. He fought to get the sheep removed by giving speeches and writing newspaper articles and books. It became his life to educate the public to preserve nature.
John Muir wrote about his long hikes. His articles were published in newspapers and turned into books. He co-founded the Sierra Club. He devoted his life to conservation. He understood that everything in life is connected. He didn't want anyone or anything to destroy nature. If nature was destroyed, he believed it would affect everyone. He was really the first person to create an
environmental awareness. He was vocal enough to persuade public opinions.
John Muir knew Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada Mountains so well, that he personally gave tours to President Theodore Roosevelt and President William Howard Taft. Anyone who was of importance or power and who could help him preserve nature, he was there to give personal guides and educate them on the importance of protecting what God had given us.
John Muir made pencil sketches of what he saw when he hiked. Many of his hand written journals have been preserved.
The only fight he ever lost was Hetch Hetchy. This is a valley that mirrors Yosemite. San Francisco wanted to put up a dam and use the water reservoir for the people of their city. John fought hard to prevent this.
On December 14, 1914 the five year fight was lost. San Francisco won the right to make Hetch Hetchy its water reservoir.
John Muir called it, "a monumental mistake and a monumental crime." He was 75 years old. His body caught a nagging cough. A cold set in. And on December 24th, 1914, John Muir died.
All the places that John Muir explored have been mapped out and photographed. Yosemite is home to the John Muir trail. A 212 mile trail that starts in Yosemite Valley and goes to Mount Whitney.
John Muir naturalist, passionate about the mountains...lives on through his books. He left a legacy for all of us to learn from. He would encourage us to enjoy the mountains and all that mother nature has to offer.