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John Muir-Yosemite California State Quarter

Final Design of John Muir Yosemite California State Quarter

Why Mint Muir?

by Harold Wood

Sierra Club John Muir Education Committee

There are three crucial reasons I and other John Muir enthusiasts advocated the John Muir - Yosemite coin to be adopted as the California State Quarter: (1) concern for the future, (2) educational value, and (3) relevance.

Concern for the Future

We believe that of all the designs, the John Muir / Yosemite design has the greatest value and relevance to Californians to not only celebrate California history but to contemplate the future. In this design, when Muir looks at Yosemite he sees California's future, in a most profound way. Muir's vision of preserving our natural resources is integral to what the future requires. John Muir understood and communicated the crucial ecological principle that "everything is hitched to everything else." This is an insight that in many ways can be said to be one of California's great gifts to the world, as recognized by the California Historical Society when they voted John Muir "the Greatest Californian" in 1976.

Each year, Yosemite is the number one tourist destination for 4 million domestic and foreign visitors for a reason: it is emblematic of the state's natural beauty and it is the crown jewel of the entire U.S. National Park System. It is the one place in our State that, unlike human structures, is permanent, universally loved by both northern and southern Californians, and representative of the beauty of California's natural landscape. Human-made structures, even those as well known as the Golden Gate Bridge or the Hollywood Sign, pale in significance. Yosemite is the supreme and ultimate California lodestar that is internationally revered and will still be here long after currently-popular man-made icons are gone.

Educational Value

The United States Mint has stressed the importance of developing educational materials about how the 50 State Quarters® Program honors America's union. The United States Mint is working with educational organizations to develop educational materials and an interactive Web site that will enable educators to bring to their classrooms the rich history of the Mint and how the 50 State Quarters® Program honors America's union. The one quarter design with the most educational value, incorporating not only history, but the environmental concerns which are so important to the California lifestyle, is the John Muir-Yosemite coin design. John Muir Day is recognized in the California Education Code, and the Governor proclaims John Muir Day every year on his birthday, April 21. This connection between California education law and the potential for U.S. Mint educational curricula is particularly significant. Muir’s life opens the path to learning about California’s rich natural resources and geography in a most substantial way.

The Yosemite-John Muir Quarter provides an excellent opportunity for increasing the public appreciation for John Muir and his vision for the future. John Muir's writings are inspiring reading in this era of focus on reading and school reform. As an immigrant to California, Muir provides a role-model to the many immigrant children in California classrooms today.


Muir is the one person from our state history whose story captures people’s imagination as someone who is still relevant today. All his books are still in print, 90 years after his death! John Muir is not just an environmental icon - he is an inspirational person for anyone who wants to "make a difference" in the world. John Muir’s vision is at once a scientific and a poetic voice for preservation of the natural environment. John Muir's life teaches that everyone can make a positive difference in the world, especially through the combined power of scientific understanding and the written word. John Muir was a model citizen, who helped to make the world a better place by learning the power of a persuasive pen.

As Garrett Burke, this coin’s designer, says, "What Muir stood for is really what all Americans, and all citizens of the planet, should stand for: Making a difference and living in balance with nature and just realizing that we're only on this planet for a very short time and that what we do every day counts."

John Muir's vision for a better world is still sorely needed.

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