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Robert Moran

  • Park Philanthropoist, Shipbuilder, Mayor of Seattle (1888 to 1890) who presided over the City's rebuilding after the devastating fire of 1889.
  • Robert Moran met John Muir when Moran was the ship's engineer on board the Cassair and later on the Gertrude, the ships Muir took to Alaska in 1879 and 1880. According to Muir biographer Linnie Wolfe, Muir and Moran "hobnobbed" in the engine room of these ships and Moran provided Muir with "much first hand knowledge about forest destruction in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia." These conversations provided Muir with important information about the increasing problem of forest destruction and the need for forest conservation.
  • After these brief encounters, there appears to have been no further contact between Moran and Muir until 1912 when Moran reintroduced himself to Muir in a short letter that notes "our mutual friend Professor Meany recalled to my mind our acquaintance in Alaska."
  • Moran "attributed to Muir's influence the fact that he became a conservationist." When Moran retired in 1904 he moved to Orcas Island in Puget Sound. His estate, "Rosario" included over 2700 forested acres around Mount Constitution. Starting in 1911, he tried to donate the land for a state park. At first, the state of Washington refused the donation, but finally after a long campaign, the gift was accepted and Robert Moran State Park established in 1921. The park now includes over 5000 acres. In 1919, he was a founder and later vice president of the National Park Foundation of Washington at the instigation of Stephen Mather, the first Director of the National Park Service.
  • You can learn more about Robert Moran's conservation activities in Thomas R. Cox, Chapter 2, "Weldon B. Heyburn and Robert Moran: Two Men and Two Parks" in The Park Builders: A History of State Parks in the Pacific Northwest, (Seattle, University of Washington Press, 1988) pp. 14-31. Also of interest is Christopher M. Peacock, Rosario Yesterdays: A Pictorial History, Rosario Productions, 1985. Among the many books about the Northwest, Moran's library includes a copy of Muir's The Story of My Boyhood and Youth and S. Hall Young's Alaska Days with John Muir.

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