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John Muir's Gravesite

"Death is a kind nurse saying, 'Come, children, to bed and get up in the morning' - a gracious Mother calling her children home." -- John Muir

John Muir, Home to Rest

John Muir's burial site is in a quiet, tree-shaded spot near the banks of Alhambra Creek. In the spring, the sounds of the flowing water fill the air. This historic gravesite lies approximately one mile south of the Muir homestead. For many years privately owned, it is now part of the John Muir National Historic Site, operated by the U.S. National Park Service. John Muir was buried here beside his wife, on Sunday, December 27, 1914.

John Muir, the champion of wilderness, died of pneumonia on Christmas Eve in Southern California while visiting his younger daughter, Helen.

Dr. John Strentzel (John Muir's father-in-law) and his wife Louisiana Strentzel chose this site as their final resting place. Dr. Strentzel planted the pear orchard, as well as the manna gum and the incense cedar in the southwest corner of the cemetery area.

Headstones and Markers

John and Louie Muir's tombstones

John and Louie Muir's headstones are made of Black Academy Granite with Raymond Granite bases. Both display an ornate floral design believed to be the thistle, the national emblem of John Muir's Scottish homeland.

The cemetery plot is defined by a curb (cope) of Raymond Granite (now called "Sierra White") from the Raymond quarry near Knowles, California, The Strentzel monument and family headstones are also cut from the same granite.

Pilgrimages to the Gravesite

Since Muir's death in 1914, many people have made pilgrimages to the gravesite to honor Muir and his contribution to the conservation movement. In one such ceremony, each pilgrim stepped forward to lay a rose upon John's grave.

Pilgrims included such people as William Colby, co-founder of the Sierra Club; David Brower, long-time Executive Director of the Sierra Club; and Linnie Marsh Wolfe, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of John Muir.

A Family Cemetery

In addition to Dr. John Strentzel and his wife Louisiana, other members of the Strentzel family lie interred here. Louie Strentzel Muir, John Muir's wife, had two siblings, both of whom passed on at an early age. Her sister Lottie died after only four months of life. Though this loss occurred long before the Strentzel's came to the Alhambra Valley, the infant's body was most likely moved because a headstone at the site bears the name LOTTIE. Louie's other sibling, John Erwin Strentzel, died at the age of nine. Louie's uncle, Henry Christian Strentzel, was buried at the gravesite in 1865.

The last two people buried at the gravesite were Wanda Muir Hanna (in 1942) and her husband, Thomas Rae Hanna (in 1947). Wanda was John and Louie Muir's older daughter. Muir's younger daughter Helen spent her later years in Spokane, Washington, and at her death was buried there.

Visitation is problematic for this site. It is located in a residential neighborhood with virtually no parking. The National Park Serivce is working on improving methods of public access; contact the John Muir National Historic Site for more information.

Source: National Park Service

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