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Questions and Answers

A collection of questions posed by visitors to the John Muir Exhibit. The answers are provided by Harold Wood, Chair of Sierra Club California's John Muir Education Project.

A note from Harold Wood:

Although I am an ardent John Muir enthusiast, please remember that I am not a professional historian nor a Muir scholar. I've given the best answers I know, but I welcome corrections or contributions from others who might be able to add further light on any of these topics. Also, any opinions given are solely my own, and do not represent the opinion of the Sierra Club or Sierra Club California.


Question: Quotations About California Central Valley Wildflowers

I'm working on an article for Sunset Magazine I'm calling "Valley wildflowers as Muir saw them". It is an environmental piece about the last great displays of valley flowers, and I'm hoping to contrast what you see today against what Muir saw when he first walked across the Central Valley which was an epic garden "all level and flowery like a lake of pure sunshine".

I was hoping that, as a Muir scholar, you might be able to direct me to a couple of more descriptive Muir quotes about valley wildflower displays.

Thank you for any help you can give me.

[visitor's name]
Senior Writer
Sunset Magazine
1996 September 12


In response to your question about Muir quotes about San Joaquin Valley wildflowers, I can think of two or three. The most famous one, of course, is his description of Pacheco Pass:

"Looking eastward from the summit of Pacheco Pass one shining morning, a landscape was displayed that after all my wanderings still appears as the most beautiful I have ever beheld. At my feet lay the Great Central Valley of California, level and flowery, like a lake of pure sunshine, forty or fifty miles wide, five hundred miles long, one rich furred garden of yellow Compositae. And from the eastern boundary of this vast golden flower-bed rose the mighty Sierra, miles in height, and so gloriously colored and so radiant, it seemed not clothed with light but wholly composed of it, like the wall of some celestial city.... Then it seemed to me that the Sierra should be called, not the Nevada or Snowy Range, but the Range of Light. And after ten years of wandering and wondering in the heart of it, rejoicing in its glorious floods of light, the white beams of the morning streaming through the passes, the noonday radiance on the crystal rocks, the flush of the alpenglow, and the irised spray of countless waterfalls, it still seems above all others the Range of Light."

Also, there are a couple of others from A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf :

"The valley of the San Joaquin is the floweriest place of world I ever walked, one vast, level, even flower-bed, a sheet of flowers, a smooth sea, ruffled a little in the middle by the tree fringing of the river and of smaller cross-streams here and there, from the mountains."

"Florida is indeed a 'land of flowers,' but for every flower creature that dwells in its most delightsome places more than a hundred are living here [San Joaquin Valley]. Here, here is Florida! Here they are not sprinkled apart with grass between as on our prairies, but grasses are sprinkled among the flowers; not as in Cuba, flowers piled upon flowers, heaped and gathered into deep, glowing masses, but side by side, flower to flower, petal to petal, touching but not entwined, branches weaving past and past each other, yet free and separate - one smooth garment, mosses next the ground, grasses above, petaled flowers between."

"Before studying the flowers of this valley and their sky, and all of the furniture and sounds and adornments of their home, one can scarce believe that their vast assemblies are permanent; but rather that, actuated by some plant purpose, they had convened from every plain and mountain and meadow of their kingdom, and that the different coloring of patches, acres, and miles marks the bounds of the various tribes and family encampments."

You might also find some more good quotes from the same book, in the final chapter, "Twenty-Hill Hollow". For example:

"In March and April the bottom of [Twenty-Hill] Hollow [at the eastern edge of the San Joaquin Valley] and every one of its hills are smoothly covered and plushed with yellow and purple flowers, the yellow predominating. They are mostly social Compositae, with a few glaytonias, gilias, eschscholtzias, white and yellow violets, blue and yellow lilies, dodecatheons, and eriogeonums set in a half-floating maze of purple grasses."

Pages 117 through 119 of the Sierra Club paperback reprint of A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf provide Muir's detailed descriptions of the flowers from January through May and even October and November, which bloomed at Twenty-Hill Hollow. A few excerpts:

February: "Flowers were born every day, and came gushing from the ground like gayly dressed children from a church."

March: "Toward the end of this month or the beginning of April, plant-life is at its greatest height. Few have any just conception of its amazing richness. Count the flowers of any portion of these twenty hills, or of the bottom of the Hollow, among the streams: you will find that there are from one to ten thousand upon every square yard, counting the heads of Compositae as single flowers. Yellow Compositae form by far the greater portion of this goldy-way. Well may the sun feed them with his richest light, for these shining sunlets are his very children -- rays of his ray, beams of his beam! One would fancy that these California days receive more gold from the ground than they give to it. The earth has indeed become a sky; and the two cloudless skies, raying toward each other flower-beams and sunbeams, are fused and congolded into one glowing heaven."

October: "...a most extraordinary outgush of plant-life, at the very driest time of the whole year. A small, unobtrusive plant, Hemizonia virgata, from six inches to three feet in height, with pale, glandular leaves, suddenly bursts into bloom, in patches miles in extent, like a resurrection of the gold of April. [This is generally known as 'tarweed' Muir notes.] .... In our estimation, it is the most delightful member of the whole Compositae Family of the plain."

The article has now been published in Sunset Magazine, (Vol. 200, No. 3, March 01, 1998), p. 82

1996 September 12

Question: John Muir's Walking

After spending time in Yosemite, we were discussing how physically demanding it must have been for John Muir to walk without the benefit of a well worn trail or even a destination. The questions we want answered are "How far would he walk on a typical day?" and "Did he eat from the land or bring food with him or both?"

[visitor's name]
Yosemite Lover
1996 August 14


You are certainly right that Muir was very prodigious in his walking. If you read some of his suggestions in "the Yosemite", he talks casually about "running up" to one place or another; if you look at the distances involved going from one end of the Valley to another in one day, he literally must have meant "running!" not "walking!."

On the other hand, Muir hated the concept of "hiking." He preferred to "saunter" through the woods. He undoubtedly could make time (and distance) whenever he wanted, but he also would sit down by a tree or a flower for a couple of hours to commune.

I don't think there are any clear records of the distance that Muir could make when traveling through the wilderness, as there are for Bob Marshall. In his prime Muir could and would spend a day climbing a mountain or two, then either come down after sunset or, rarely, spend the entire night dancing on top to keep warm!

It appears that he rarely ate from the land. He talked of bringing flour, or home-made sun-baked flour-and-water "bread" along with some tea on his outings. He would stop sometimes at lumber camps (!) to get a bite to eat! He often just sort of fasted in his travels, eating when he could. He used to complain that bread was a limiting factor for his travels. Lakes weren't stocked with fish when he spent his time in the Sierra, so he couldn't fish, although he was known to have eaten trout when staying at a Yosemite hotel in his later years.

There is a third-person account of a camping trip by an artist with Muir. The artist said that Muir had a perfect contempt for food or eating well on a trip, preferring to focus on the mountains. The artist, lover of beauty that he was, would have preferred some decent meals!

1996 August 19

Question: John Muir Made Sequoia Writing Ink

I understand that John Muir made writing ink for his notebooks on location. I believe that it may had been from redwood or sequoia trees. I am an artist researching historical art and writing inks. Thank you for any information you might have.

[visitor's name]
1996 January 29


In an amazing letter written in 1870, Muir wrote to Jeanne Carr, his mentor, about "King Sequoia" and using Sequoia ink. It was written from "Squirrelville, Sequoia Co., Nut Time". In it Muir writes,

"The King tree & me have sworn eternal love -- sworn it without swearing & I have taken the sacrament with Douglass Squirrell drank Sequoia wine, Sequoia blood, & with its rosy purple drops I am writing this woody gospel letter. I never before knew the virtue of Sequoia juice. Seen with sunbeams in it, its color is the most royal of all royal purples. No wonder the Indians instinctively drink it for they know not what."

The letter goes on to rhapsodize about the Sequoia.

The full letter can be found in Michael Cohen's book, The Pathless Way , pages 122-123. According to Cohen's footnote, the letter was originally published in Bade's The Life and Letters of John Muir , Vol. 1, 270-73. The manuscript is in Yosemite National Park Research Library, File 9189. Cohen states, "The letter is written in ink prepared from Sequoia cones".

Question: John Muir Genealogy

I have a genealogical question to ask. John Muir had a brother named Danny. Who are Danny's descendants? I would greatly appreciate an answer, as I believe I might be a relative of his. My grandfather's name was Eugene Muir, and he lived in Weiser, Idaho most of his life. Any information you might be able to send me would be greatly appreciated.

[visitor's name]
Boise, Idaho
1995 December 29


An excellent resource for tales about John Muir's Wisconsin family roots is The Heart of John Muir's World: Wisconsin, Family and Wilderness Discovery by Millie Stanley. There is a press release about the book on the John Muir Exhibit.

That book lists Muir's brother Daniel as born in 1843. It goes on to indicate Dan's only child as: "Mabel - daughter of Dan and his first wife, Emma". Apparently he had no other children. Unfortunately, The Heart of John Muir's World has no index, so, although Mabel's birth date (or approximate birth date) might be contained in the book, I cannot readily determine it.

It is possible the custodians of the John Muir Papers at University of the Pacific might know more about relatives.

Since you live in Idaho , I am sure the local Mormon genealogy center could help you out on this.

1996 January 6

Question: Stephen Lyman: Another "John Muir"

If you happen to meet or already know Steve Lyman (great artist of the Yosemite) who just has a book out, Into the Wilderness, please say hello to him. I was just in Yosemite a couple of weeks ago and remembered a backpacking trip we took there when we were still in college in Pasadena. Please tell him his book is awesome and I love it.

I live in Rochester, New York. I don't think too many people know of John Muir here in these part of the woods, if you know of any let me know, thanks. My closest connection with John Muir is that I hiked the John Muir trail once, took 20 days but it was a wonderful thing to do.

[visitor's name]
1995 November 1


I met Stephen Lyman at an art gallery book signing in 1995,and have enjoyed his art for years. His book Into the Wilderness: An Artist's Journey , published by The Greenwich Workshop, contains the best examples of Lyman's exquisite wilderness art, plus text which is full of quotes from John Muir, as a co-author describes Lyman's unique style of backpacking in the Yosemite wilderness. In the foreword of the book, by famous artist Bev Doolittle, she describes Lyman as "the other John Muir". Anyone who likes John Muir and likes Wilderness, ought to get hold of Lyman's book -- they will love it, too!

Although Into the Wilderness doesn't contain it, an art "chapbook" of Lyman's published several years ago includes some discussion of Muir by Lyman, and a very nice sketch portrait of Muir done by him. (While I've written Greenwich Workshop for permission to post this portrait here, I've never received a reply.)

Stephen Lyman tragically died in a rock-scrambling accident in spring of 1996 [see the "memorial" links at the end of this answer].

The biggest connection I know of for John Muir with New York is his friendship with John Burroughs. Isn't "Slabsides" open to the public as a literary monument to Burroughs? If so, they ought to maintain some connection with Muir since the "two Johnny's" were great, if sometimes querulous, friends!

Muir also wrote much of his autobiography in New York, at the home of Fairfield Osborne. It's time for New Yorkers to appreciate John Muir and their links to him!

Other links about Stephen Lyman

Question: John Muir in Prince William Sound, Alaska

Did John Muir visit Prince William Sound in Alaska? I believe one of his visits was with the Harriman expedition but I don't know when that was. There is a Muir Peak in Harriman Fjord in the Sound.

I would appreciate any help you can give me with this info.

[visitor's name]
1995 August 15


Most of Muir's five trips to Alaska were concentrated in Southeast Alaska. The only reference to Prince William Sound in Linnie Marsh Wolfe's biography, Son of the Wilderness: the Life of John Muir, was to the Harriman Expedition.

The Expedition ship, the George W. Elder, with Muir on board, reached Prince William Sound on June 24, 1899. According to Marsh, Muir felt sure that the trend in the mountains would lead to a passage in around the ice and rock. Marsh doesn't elaborate beyond this. But in James Clarke's The Life and Adventures of John Muir, Clarke tells the same story (page 289 of the paperback edition), stating that Muir led the ship into a heretofore undiscovered fjord which proved to be fifteen miles long. Five glaciers never seen before were discharging bergs into it. Muir, exercising his right of discovery, named both the fjord and one of the glaciers for Harriman. In a footnote, Clarke states that for Muir's account of the discovery of Harriman Fjord, see George Kennan's Edward Henry Harriman, Vol., 1, p. 450.

Neither of Muir's books Travels in Alaska or The Cruise of the Corwin cover Prince William Sound, so that's about all I can discover in a few minutes of research. There may be another description in some of Muir's letters or journals.

The most complete description of the Harriman Expedition is in Looking Far North by William Goetzmann, Viking Press, 1982. Muir wrote a piece for the expedition's publication called "Notes on the Pacific Coast Glaciers" reprinted in Alaska: The Harriman Expedition, 1899, Dover Publications, 1986.

Question: John Muir's Gravesite

Where was John Muir laid to rest? I remember reading he died in Los Angeles, or there abouts, but don't know for sure if he was buried there. When I visited the National Historic site up in Martinez, I don't recall seeing a grave there.

1995 June 17


John Muir was 76 years old when he died of pneumonia in a Los Angeles hospital on Christmas Eve day in 1914. He had been visiting his daughter Helen and her family in Daggett (near Barstow), California, when his cold developed into pneumonia.

John Muir's gravesite is located at the Strentzel family cemetery in Martinez, about a mile from the John Muir National Historic Site . If you ask at the Historic Site, they will give you a map and directions to the location. Muir's grave is next to his wife's, Louie (she died in 1905), under a beautiful set of manna gum and incense cedar trees, in a pear orchard.

The cemetery plot is not part of the NHS, but is currently privately owned by the American Land Trust awaiting eventual purchase by the National Park Service. Visitors are welcome so long as they are courteous.

You can find a photo of Muir's grave and more information on our page about the gravesite.

Question: John Muir, Boyhood Inventor

In the library of Newton MA I was looking at John Muir books. Among the books about and by JM I found a small volume of autobiography describing his childhood in Dunbar, the move to the US, his inventions, and life in college. [This is The Story of My Boyhood and Youth ]

It is a delightful book which could be read with pleasure by someone who had never heard of John Muir or the Sierra Club. As a mechanical engineer I was delighted to discover that John Muir's first recognized talent was as an inventor. All his early machines were made from wood -- the only material available to him. One which he sold to several people was a bed which tipped you out when the alarm went off. Another would light the stove before you got up.

It would make a great children's book with illustrations, for example, of the house John Muir's father, with the help of neighbors, built in a few weeks from local materials. It's the best account I have seen of what it was really like to settle in the new continent.

[visitor's name]
[committee chair]
Massachusetts Chapter, Sierra Club
1995 April 18


Thanks much for your message about John Muir, and his autobiography, The Story of My Boyhood and Youth That book is available on the John Muir Exhibit at the link noted above, and is still in print, in paperback editions published by both the University of Wisconsin and by the Sierra Club as part of its John Muir Library series . The Sierra Club edition includes a foreword by David Quammen. It is indeed a great introduction to Muir. Parts of it are on a cassette tape as part of Lee Stetson's one-man plays about John Muir . The essence of the book has now been made into a film, The Boyhood Of John Muir.

A good sequel is Muir's A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf. There are now many good children's books about Muir in print which draw heavily from these two books.

Did you know that Muir visited Massachusetts and especially Walden Pond? He was fond of both Emerson and Thoreau.

Question: John Muir in Australia and New Zealand

Someone on the net recently asked the following question, which I've also thought about a number of times:

John Muir, pioneer conservationist and father of national parks, was supposed to have visited Australia (among other places) in the late 1800's. Do you know any details of where he went and where his writings about that trip can be found? Have Muir's journals pertaining to his trips outside the US ever been published? Did he ever write a journal for those trips?

[visitor's name]


John Muir did indeed visit Australia as part of his 1903-1904 world tour.

Here's a bit of information about his travels to Australia and New Zealand from the John Muir Day Study Guide , a part of the John Muir Exhibit.


John Muir visited zoological and botanical gardens and parks in Fremantle , Melbourne , and Sydney . He traveled inland to see the eucalyptus forests of the Great Dividing Range and took the train from Sydney to Mt. Victoria in the Blue Mountains to see the Jenolan Caves. He went to Queensland to see the Hoop Pine and saw the Great Barrier Reef from his ship.

The Narbethong Special Purposes Reserve preserves some of the beech trees, eucalyptus, and tree ferns that Muir saw on his trip.

New Zealand

Arriving in Auckland on North Island , John Muir visited the Rotorua region of forests, hot springs, and geysers. Traveling southward, he was impressed by the volcanic peaks of Mounts Tongariro, Ngauruhoe, and Ruapehu . On South Island , Muir visited Christchurch's botanical gardens and Mt. Cook with Mueller Glacier at its foot.

Today, Mt. Cook, New Zealand's highest mountain, is one of several New Zealand National Parks, attracting visitors from around the world.

The best source for information about Muir's Australian travels is the article "John Muir's Travels in Australasia, 1903-1904: Their Significance for Conservation and Environmental Thought" by C. Michael Hall, in John Muir: Life and Work edited by Sally M. Miller (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1993). C. Michael Hall is with the Department of Tourism and Communication, University of Canberra , Australia.

Muir's journals of his Australia trip have never been published, but can be found, together with letters he wrote from Australia to family and friends, in the John Muir Papers, Microform edition, at the University of the Pacific .

Question: John Muir Films

I am doing some research about the life of John Muir and was wondering if you know about any films (feature films, documentaries) that were made about him. I seem to remember a PBS documentary and I thought there was a film also. I would appreciate any assistance you could give.

[visitor's name]


Our on-line John Muir Bibliography contains a comprehensive listing of films and videos about John Muir. Unfortunately, the only Hollywood feature film to briefly include Muir (which I won't dignify by naming!) portrayed him in a rather ridiculous and inaccurate way. Fortunately, there are several excellent documentary films and videos which provide excellent information about Muir and the wilderness issues he campaigned for. One of those is the PBS documentary from "The Naturalists" series, which is the film shown at the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez, California. A more recent film, excellent especially for children as well as adults, is John Muir: The Man, The Poet, The Legacy . New in 1997, we have a new film, The Boyhood Of John Muir, which will be shown as the Christmas Day Special in 1998 on PBS.

Question: John Muir and Native Americans

An Evergreen State College (Olympia, WA) student asked me how Muir felt about Native Americans who lost their lands when national parks were established. All I could find were dome descriptions of Indians in Summer in the Sierra and Travels to Alaska, which I am sharing with him. He is otherwise enchanted with Muir's life, and I always like it when some modern person feels this way. My daughter Barbara started a tradition of having a birthday party for Muir at Camp Muir on Mt. Rainier and since she has moved away people stop me and say .... I feel really bad that we are not having the party there this year. She would read Muir (of course). Then people would borrow her book, and that always made her feel good. She is in Kentucky now, hoping to work in Bulgaria next year on a thesis about how small local NGOs and international NGOs interact and work together to save parks in places like Bulgaria.

I assume Muir was a man of his time, and the issue of native rights was not ripe for concern. He did say really nice things about them, though. Has this ever come up otherwise?

[visitor's name]


I doubt that the Indians lost their lands when the National Parks were established -- in most cases, Yellowstone perhaps excluded -- the Indians were long gone before any of the National Parks were established. In the case of Yosemite, the Valley was discovered by Whites chasing a band of Indians, but that was decades before it became a National Park. Of course, because the Indians were run off before the Parks doesn't make that part of our history any better!

I did read somewhere that by the time Muir visited the Sierra, few Indians were left, which is why he could consider it a beautiful wilderness, home only to wildlife. In reality, go back one or two hundred years and the Sierra were certainly traveled and lived in by Indians, as well as the lowlands, although their major living space in California would have been where oak trees were abundant at lower elevations. In fact, where I live in Visalia was once the largest population of Indians in California, because of the ample supply of acorns due to the range of oak trees from the foothills all the way to long-gone Tulare Lake.

I can think of two major writings concerning John Muir's relationship with Indians. The first is a book; here's the info from the on-line John Muir Bibliography :

Fleck, Richard F., Henry Thoreau and John Muir Among the Indians (Hamden, Connecticut: Archon Books, 1985).

The author, a professor of English at the University of Wyoming, devotes considerable space in this small book about John Muir among the Digger, Thlinkit, and Eskimoan People. Fleck believes that the Indians of California and Alaska confirmed Muir's belief in the need for a harmonious relationship with nature. Includes a fascinating appendix of Thoreau and Muir's unpublished manuscripts on primal cultures of the American Wilderness.

Richard Fleck comments in this book how Muir didn't think much of the California Indians, who he considered dirty, but the Alaska Indians, by contrast, won his respect.

The other item is a short essay on the subject written by a student at the University of the Pacific. He is a member of the Mescalero Apache tribe: "Muir's Early Indian Views, Another Look at My First Summer in the Sierra" in John Muir Newsletter , Vol. 5, No. 1, (Winter, 1994-95). The author concludes that Muir indeed had trouble escaping from his cultural biases.

There are also some essays about Muir's relationship with Indians in some of the three books published from the Muir Conferences at the University of the Pacific . See the John Muir Bibliography for a description of those books.

Question: Hetch Hetchy Illustrations

We are taking up your offer to send you our e-mail questions as we research our History Day project on John Muir. We have visited Hetch Hetchy Dam and took photos. We have found black and white photos of the valley before it was filled with water.

We are trying to find any paintings of Hetch Hetchy Valley by Muir's friend, artist William Keith, that he might have painted long before it was covered by water. Are copies of his Hetch Hetchy paintings published? Where can we see or get them? Thank you for helping us on our search.

[names of two visitors]
8th Grade Students
Santa Lucia Middle School
Cambria, California


I am not aware of any paintings of Hetch Hetchy Valley by William Keith, but I don't know much about Keith. I have a book titled William Keith: The Man and the Artist by Eugene Neuhaus, but I found nothing about Hetch Hetchy in it.

It is my understanding that most of Keith's paintings are in private collections, but some are at the Oakland Museum of California and Mills College in Oakland , the Crocker Art Gallery in Sacramento , and several at St. Mary's College in Moraga .

For some interesting color illustrations of Hetch Hetchy as it might look upon three different phases of restoration (the last looking like Hetch Hetchy may have looked before the Dam), see "Hetch Hetchy Restored: A Look Into a Possible Future", illustrated by David English, in Los Angeles Times Magazine, December 27, 1987. I assume you already know the book by Holway Jones, John Muir and the Sierra Club which has the best discussion and pictures of Hetch Hetchy before the dam that I know of.

Question: John Muir and History Day

We are eighth grade students at Bernardo Yorba Middle School in Yorba Linda, California. As you may know, there is a History Day program throughout the United States. The topic this year is someone that took a stand in history. We have chosen the renowned John Muir. Can you give us some insight about John Muir and the Sierra Club and any other organizations he was involved with?

[names of two visitors]
Yorba Linda, California


Thank you for your inquiry about John Muir for your History Day project. Muir does indeed make a perfect person for this year's theme, "The Individual or a Group: Taking a Stand, Making a Change in History."

You asked about the other groups that started after the Sierra Club in 1892. An excellent resource for this information is the book, John Muir and his Legacy: The American Conservation Movement by Stephen Fox. The first half of the book covers Muir; the second half goes into other people and organizations like Audubon , the National Parks and Conservation Association , the Wilderness Society , and other groups. I think this book is essential for understanding how Muir and the later environmental groups relate to each other. I do not have a chronological list of the founding dates for the various other environmental groups, but I think you could glean much of this information from Fox's book. See also the description of other outdoor organizations in Muir's time, below.

Another book, Stephen Mather of the National Parks by Robert Shankland, might also be of assistance in showing how the national parks movement grew and expanded after Muir's early years. And you should try to find a back issue of Cobblestone, The History Magazine for Young People , for August, 1989, Vol. 10, No. 8. This issue covers "Environmentalism" in general, including along with articles about John Muir, other notable environmentalists since his time to the present. If you can't find a copy in your library, the address is 30 Grove Street, Peterborough, NH 03458.

P.S. You can see some History Day Projects done by students on our History Day Page.

Question: John Muir's Philosophy

I would like to know what title book contains the philosophy of Muir. I have read The Yosemite and would like much more of his ideas rather than descriptions of the wild.

Thank you.
[visitor's name]


Muir never wrote all his philosophy in a single place. One of the best resources for this, however, is the final chapter, entitled "The Philosophy of John Muir" in Edwin Way Teale's anthology, The Wilderness World of John Muir.

You will find many of these, and other quotes, on my Favorite Quotations from John Muir page.

You'll also find more of Muir's philosophy scattered in his other books, especially John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, edited by Linnie Marsh Wolfe; and also Muir's A Thousand Mile Walk to the Gulf. I and most reviewers feel The Yosemite, is probably Muir's least rewarding book in terms of insights. It was intended more as a travelogue than a real celebration or interpretation of the world which is so vibrant in his other books. I know some important people disagree with this view -- especially Galen Rowell, whose photographic celebration of that book is truly a delight!

Question: John Muir and Other Organizations

Do you know of any other organizations John Muir supported or was part of besides the Sierra Club?


Yes, Muir worked with many other organizations.

Part of the Hetch Hetchy campaign was done under the name of an organization called the "Society for the Preservation of the National Parks", formed by Muir and other Sierra Club leaders to ensure freedom of action. As described in Stephen Fox's book, John Muir and His Legacy: The American Conservation Movement, page 144, a minority of Club members actually supported the proposal to dam Hetch Hetchy, until a vote was taken within the Club, after which the Club vigorously opposed the dam.

The Sierra Club, from its early days, as today, cooperated with other outdoor and hiking clubs, like the Mazamas in Oregon, and the Mountaineers in Washington. and the Appalachian Mountain Club on the east coast.

The leaders of the Mazamas and the Mountaineers were both friends and supporters of John Muir's conservation efforts. The Mazamas were founded in 1894 in Oregon and their Seattle members formed the Mountaineers as an independent club in 1906. The Mazamas and later the Mountaineers worked actively to establish and protect the Cascade, Pacific and Olympic Forest Reserves in Oregon and Washington as well as Crater Lake and Mount Rainier National Parks and the Olympic National Monument. Many members of these two clubs were members of the Sierra Club and participated in its summers outings while some Sierra members like Edward Parsons and William Colby were also officers and members of the Mazamas. The Sierra Club's summer outings program was based on the similar annual outings held by the Mazamas. Both clubs were actively involved with Muir and the Sierra Club's campaign to protect the Hetch-Hetchy Valley in Yosemite.

According to an article by Richard Fleck, Community College of Denver , Muir was an "honored member" of the Appalachian Mountain Club. Muir attended a dinner at the Appalachian Mountain Club on May 10, 1911, in Boston . An interview of Muir was published in The Sunday Herald of May 11, 1911. See Professor Fleck's article, "A Note on John Muir and the Appalachian Mountain Club" in the John Muir Newsletter Vol. 5, No. 4, Fall 1995, for excerpts.

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