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Edward Henry Harriman

1848-1909

Edward Harriman, about 1905 - Photo from Library of Congress
  • Railroad magnate and financier.
  • Harriman seems an unlikely person to befriend John Muir. But Harriman, when ordered by his doctor to take a vacation, organized the "Harriman Expedition" to Alaska in 1899, to be accompanied by many prominent scientists and writers of the time, he invited John Muir to join the expedition.

  • Harriman converted a steamship, the George W. Elder, into a luxury "floating university," populated by some of America's best and brightest scientists and writers, including John Muir. Those aboard encountered a land of immeasurable beauty and impending environmental calamity. This was Muir's seventh trip to Alaska, to Wrangell, Glacier Bay, Sitka, and Prince William Sound. Muir made many friendships on the vessel, and would later write stories about this trip, about the people on board, and the Natives.
  • Muir was reported to have said on the trip, "I don't think Mr. Harriman is very rich. He has not as much money as I have. I have all I want and Mr. Harriman has not." Harriman apparently took this in good humor. He told Muir, "I never cared for money except as power for work... What I most enjoy is the power of creation, getting into partnership with Nature in doing good, helping to feed man and beast, and making everybody and everything a little better."
  • In 1908 Muir visited Harriman at his country lodge at Pelican Bay on Klamath Lake, Oregon. To encourage Muir's book-writing, Harriman instructed his private secretary to follow Muir around and record in shorthand everything he said. The resulting transcript eventually became The Story of My Boyhood and Youth. Hariman also helped fund Muir's world travels by giving him free passage on his steamship lines.



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