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Carl Sharsmith

1903 - October 14, 1994

  • Dr. Carl Sharsmith was a long-time seasonal ranger-naturalist who served at Yosemite National Park, primarily at Tuolumne Meadows, during most summers from 1931-1994.
  • According to Sharsmith biographer Elizabeth O'Neill, at age 15, in Galveston, Texas, Carl "the dearest books of all, the books that would illuminate his entire life so that it glowed with an inner warmth and purpose, were those by John Muir.... In his notebooks Carl patiently wrote out long sections by Muir and read them over until they were imprinted in his memory." Carl said Muir's writings "set me afire."
  • Inspired by Muir and other naturalists, Sharsmith became a botanist and university professor and the oldest and longest serving National Park Service interpretive ranger.
  • Beloved by generations of visitors who found Carl's wildflower walks to be exceptionally educational and inspiring, Sharsmith is featured in many books, magazine articles, and film documentaries about Yosemite.
  • Carl Sharsmith created a 15,000 sheet herbarium, at San Jose State University where he taught and was Professor Emeritus, now named the Carl W. Sharsmith Herbarium.
  • Carl and his wife Helen named their son "John," who was born in 1939, after John Muir.
  • In his later years, Sharsmith was overjoyed to be allowed to personally view Muir's herbarium at the John Muir National Historic Site.
  • For more information, read Mountain Sage: The Life Story of Carl Sharsmith, Yosemite's Famous Ranger/Naturalist by Elizabeth Stone O'Neill and Climb Every Mountain: A Portrait of Carl Sharsmith by John Sharsmith and Allan Shields (Mariposa, CA: Jersesydale Ranch Press, 1996).

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