107 Facts About John Muir


John Muir, known as "John of the Mountains" and "Father of the National Parks", was an influential Scottish-American naturalist, author, environmental philosopher, botanist, zoologist, glaciologist, and early advocate for the preservation of wilderness in the United States of America.


John Muir's activism helped to preserve the Yosemite Valley and Sequoia National Park, and his example has served as an inspiration for the preservation of many other wilderness areas.


John Muir has been considered "an inspiration to both Scots and Americans".


Muir's biographer, Steven J Holmes, believes that Muir has become "one of the patron saints of twentieth-century American environmental activity", both political and recreational.


John Muir was noted for being an ecological thinker, political spokesman, and environmental advocate, whose writings became a personal guide into nature for many people, making his name "almost ubiquitous" in the modern environmental consciousness.


John Muir's Birthplace is a four-story stone house in Dunbar, East Lothian, Scotland.


John Muir was the third of eight children: Margaret, Sarah, David, Daniel, Ann and Mary, and the American-born Joanna.


John Muir held a strong connection with his birthplace and Scottish identity throughout his life and was frequently heard talking about his childhood spent amid the East Lothian countryside.


John Muir greatly admired the works of Thomas Carlyle and poetry of Robert Burns; he was known to carry a collection of poems by Burns during his travels through the American wilderness.


John Muir returned to Scotland on a trip in 1893, where he met one of his Dunbar schoolmates and visited the places of his youth that were etched in his memory.


John Muir never lost his Scottish accent since he was already 11 years old when he and his family emigrated to America.


In 1849, John Muir's family immigrated to the United States, starting a farm near Portage, Wisconsin, called Fountain Lake Farm.


Stephen Fox recounts that John Muir's father found the Church of Scotland insufficiently strict in faith and practice, leading to their immigration and joining a congregation of the Campbellite Restoration Movement, called the Disciples of Christ.


Fifty years later, the naturalist John Muir described the day in his autobiography.


John Muir took an eclectic approach to his studies, attending classes for two years but never being listed higher than a first-year student due to his unusual selection of courses.


John Muir left school and travelled to the same region in 1864, and spent the spring, summer, and fall exploring the woods and swamps, and collecting plants around the southern reaches of Lake Huron's Georgian Bay.


John Muir hiked along the Niagara Escarpment, including much of today's Bruce Trail.


John Muir lived with the Trout family in an area called Trout Hollow, south of Meaford, on the Bighead River.


In March 1866, John Muir returned to the United States, settling in Indianapolis to work in a wagon wheel factory.


John Muir proved valuable to his employers because of his inventiveness in improving the machines and processes; he was promoted to supervisor, being paid $25 per week.


John Muir was confined to a darkened room for six weeks to regain his sight, worried about whether he would end up blind.


In September 1867, John Muir undertook a walk of about 1,000 miles from Kentucky to Florida, which he recounted in his book A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf.


John Muir had no specific route chosen, except to go by the "wildest, leafiest, and least trodden way I could find".


When John Muir arrived at Cedar Key, he began working for Richard Hodgson at Hodgson's sawmill.


However, three days after accepting the job at Hodgson's, John Muir almost died of a malarial sickness.


One evening in early January 1868, John Muir climbed onto the Hodgson house roof to watch the sunset.


John Muir saw a ship, the Island Belle, and learned it would soon be sailing for Cuba.


John Muir boarded the ship, and while in Havana, he spent his hours studying shells and flowers and visiting the botanical garden in the city.


In 1878, John Muir served as a guide and artist for the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey, on the "Survey of the 39th Parallel" across the Great Basin of Nevada and Utah.


Finally settling in San Francisco, John Muir immediately left for a week-long visit to Yosemite, a place he had only read about.


John Muir climbed a number of mountains, including Cathedral Peak and Mount Dana, and hiked an old trail down Bloody Canyon to Mono Lake.


John Muir built a small cabin along Yosemite Creek, designing it so that a section of the stream flowed through a corner of the room so he could enjoy the sound of running water.


John Muir lived in the cabin for two years and wrote about this period in his book First Summer in the Sierra.


John Muir went into business for 10 years with his father-in-law managing the orchards on the family 2600 acre farm in Martinez, California.


John Muir was sustained by the natural environment and by reading the essays of naturalist author Ralph Waldo Emerson, who wrote about the very life that Muir was then living.


John Muir maintained a close friendship for 38 years with William Keith, a California landscape painter.


In 1871, after John Muir had lived in Yosemite for three years, Emerson, with a number of academic friends from Boston, arrived in Yosemite during a tour of the Western United States.


John Muir spent time with photographer Carleton Watkins and studied his photographs of Yosemite.


John Muir soon became convinced that glaciers had sculpted many of the features of the Yosemite Valley and surrounding area.


In 1871, John Muir discovered an active alpine glacier below Merced Peak, which helped his theories gain acceptance.


John Muir had no such fear and promptly made a moonlit survey of new talus piles created by earthquake-triggered rockslides.


John Muir made four trips to Alaska, as far as Unalaska and Barrow.


John Muir traveled into British Columbia a third of the way up the Stikine River, likening its Grand Canyon to "a Yosemite that was a hundred miles long".


John Muir returned for further explorations in southeast Alaska in 1880 and in 1881 was with the party that landed on Wrangel Island on the USS Corwin and claimed that island for the United States.


John Muir returned to the hills to recover, climbing Mount Rainier in Washington and writing Ascent of Mount Rainier.


John Muir threw himself into the preservationist role with great vigor.


John Muir envisioned the Yosemite area and the Sierra as pristine lands.


Johnson agreed to publish any article Muir wrote on the subject of excluding livestock from the Sierra high country.


John Muir agreed to use his influence to introduce a bill to Congress to make the Yosemite area into a national park, modeled after Yellowstone National Park.


On September 30,1890, the US Congress passed a bill that essentially followed recommendations that John Muir had suggested in two Century articles, "The Treasures of the Yosemite" and "Features of the Proposed National Park", both published in 1890.


One week later John Muir was elected president, Warren Olney was elected vice-president, and a board of directors was chosen that included David Starr Jordan, president of the new Stanford University.


In July 1896, John Muir became associated with Gifford Pinchot, a national leader in the conservation movement.


When Pinchot reiterated his position, John Muir told him: "I don't want any thing more to do with you".


John Muir later relied on his friendship with Harriman to pressure Congress to pass conservation legislation.


John Muir joined Roosevelt in Oakland, California, for the train trip to Raymond.


John Muir then increased efforts by the Sierra Club to consolidate park management.


John Muir's first appearance in print was by accident, writes Miller; a person he did not know submitted, without his permission or awareness, a personal letter to his friend Jeanne Carr, describing Calypso borealis, a rare flower he had encountered.


John Muir often compiled and organized such earlier writings as collections of essays or included them as part of narrative books.


John Muir thought they did and "saw in his entries evidence of genius worthy of special recognition", notes Miller.


John Muir was often invited to the Carrs' home; he shared Jeanne's love of plants.


At one point she asked John Muir to read a book she felt would influence his thinking, Lamartine's The Stonemason of Saint Point.


John Muir sent many of her friends to Yosemite to meet Muir and "to hear him preach the gospel of the mountains", writes Gisel.


John Muir tried to promote Muir's writings by submitting his letters to a monthly magazine for publication.


John Muir came to trust Carr as his "spiritual mother", and they remained friends for 30 years.


John Muir's friend, zoologist Henry Fairfield Osborn, writes that John Muir's style of writing did not come to him easily, but only with intense effort.


John Muir often told her, "This business of writing books is a long, tiresome, endless job".


Miller speculates that John Muir recycled his earlier writings partly due to his "dislike of the writing process".


John Muir adds that Muir "did not enjoy the work, finding it difficult and tedious".


John Muir was generally unsatisfied with the finished result, finding prose "a weak instrument for the reality he wished to convey".


John Muir believed that to discover truth, he must turn to what he believed were the most accurate sources.


John Muir eventually memorized three-quarters of the Old Testament and all of the New Testament.


John Muir's father read Josephus's War of the Jews to understand the culture of first-century Judea, as it was written by an eyewitness, and illuminated the culture during the period of the New Testament.


John Muir came to believe that God was always active in the creation of life and thereby kept the natural order of the world.


Williams concludes that John Muir saw nature as a great teacher, "revealing the mind of God", and this belief became the central theme of his later journeys and the "subtext" of his nature writing.


Historian Catherine Albanese stated that in one of his letters, "John Muir's eucharist made Thoreau's feast on wood-chuck and huckleberry seem almost anemic".


John Muir was extremely fond of Thoreau and was probably influenced more by him than even Emerson.


John Muir often referred to himself as a "disciple" of Thoreau.


However, John Muir took his journal entries further than recording factual observations.


John Muir felt that his task was more than just recording "phenomena", but to "illuminate the spiritual implications of those phenomena", writes Williams.


John Muir often described his observations in terms of light.


John Muir often used the term "home" as a metaphor for both nature and his general attitude toward the "natural world itself", notes Holmes.


John Muir often used domestic language to describe his scientific observations, as when he saw nature as providing a home for even the smallest plant life: "the little purple plant, tended by its Maker, closed its petals, crouched low in its crevice of a home, and enjoyed the storm in safety".


John Muir saw nature as his own home, as when he wrote friends and described the Sierra as "God's mountain mansion".


Not surprisingly, John Muir's deep-seated feeling about nature as being his true home led to tension with his family at his home in Martinez, California.


Ecofeminist philosopher Carolyn Merchant has criticized John Muir, believing that he wrote disparagingly of the Native Americans he encountered in his early explorations.


John Muir was given the Stickeen name "Ancoutahan", meaning "adopted chief".


John Muir spoke and wrote about the equality of all people, "regardless of color, or race", and wrote about the immorality of slavery in his final book, Travels in Alaska.


John Muir was not immune to the racism peddled by many in the early conservation movement.


John Muir made derogatory comments about Black people and Indigenous peoples that drew on deeply harmful racist stereotypes, though his views evolved later in his life.


John Muir passionately opposed the damming of Hetch Hetchy Valley because he found Hetch Hetchy as stunning as Yosemite Valley.


John Muir wrote to President Roosevelt pleading for him to scuttle the project.


John Muir felt a great loss from the destruction of the valley, his last major battle.


In 1878, when he was nearing the age of 40, John Muir's friends "pressured him to return to society".


John Muir went into partnership with his father-in-law John Strentzel, and for ten years directed most of his energy into managing this large fruit farm.


John Muir's wife understood his needs, and after seeing his restlessness at the ranch would sometimes "shoo him back up" to the mountains.


Folsom House, where John Muir worked as a printer, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


John Muir became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1903.


John Muir died, aged 76, at California Hospital in Los Angeles on December 24,1914, of pneumonia.


John Muir had been in Daggett, California, to see his daughter, Helen Muir Funk.


John Muir co-founded the Sierra Club, which helped establish a number of national parks after he died.


John Muir has been called the "patron saint of the American wilderness" and its "archetypal free spirit".


John Muir did so by describing the natural world as "a conductor of divinity", and his writings often made nature synonymous with God.


John Muir's friend, Henry Fairfield Osborn, observed that as a result of his religious upbringing, Muir retained "this belief, which is so strongly expressed in the Old Testament, that all the works of nature are directly the work of God".


John Muir is one of three people so honored in California, along with Harvey Milk Day and Ronald Reagan Day.


John Muir was featured on two US commemorative postage stamps.


The John Muir Trust is a Scottish charity established as a membership organization in 1983 to conserve wild land and wild places.


The John Muir Birthplace Charitable Trust is a Scottish charity whose aim is to support John Muir's birthplace in Dunbar, which opened in 2003 as an interpretative centre focused on Muir's work.