John Muir’s Trail in History
States and in the preservation of it’s beauty. His tireless efforts to protect
outdoors. Muir took a stand against the destructive side of civilization in a
dauntless battle to save America’s forest lands. The trail of preservation that
experience nature’s magnificence.
John Muir was born on April 21, 1838 in the small rural town of Dunbar,
Scotland. As a boy, Muir was ?fond of everything that was wild?(My Boyhood and
Youth 30) and took great pleasure in the outdoors. In 1849, Muir and his family
emigrated to Wisconsin to homestead. The great forests of Northern United
States captivated him and fueled his desire to learn more. Muir later enrolled
After his education, Muir began working in a factory inventing small machines
and contraptions. However, a serious working accident in the factory left Muir
to the fullest and devote everything he had to nature.
At the age of 29, Muir made a thousand-mile walk from Indianapolis to
Muir and compelled him to extend his travels. With his family’s blessings (his
wife and two daughters), he began to wander America’s forests, mountains,
valleys, and meadows extensively. Alone and on foot, he filled his notebooks
definitely made an impact in Alaska’s history: Mount Muir, Muir Glacier, Muir
Point, and Muir Inlet all carry his name.
However, it was California’s Sierra Nevada and Yosemite Valley that
truly claimed him. In 1868, he walked across the San Joaquin Valley through
would write: “Then it seemed to me the Sierra should be called not the Nevada,
or Snowy Range, but the Range of Light…the most divinely beautiful of all the
mountain chains I have ever seen”(Wolfe, 230).
By 1871, Muir had found living glaciers in the Sierra and had conceived
his controversial theory of the glaciation of Yosemite Valley. Muir’s
Gray and Ralph Waldo Emerson ? made their way to the door of his pine cabin.
expounded his naturalist philosophy, and beckoned everyone to “climb the
to action by the enthusiasm of Muir’s own unbounded love of nature.
Through a series of articles appearing in Century magazine, Muir drew
attention to the devastation of mountain meadows and forests by sheep and cattle.
Forest and Grand Canyon National Parks. Muir deservedly is often called the
“Father of Our National Park System.”
Johnson and others suggested to Muir that an association be formed to
protect the newly created Yosemite National Park from the assaults of stockmen
and others who would diminish its boundaries. In 1892, Muir and a number of his
wildness and make the mountains glad”(Muir, Summer, 47). It was established
specifically to rally citizens who believed in the preservation of the High
Sierra and who understood the need for eternal vigilance in its protection.
Muir served as the Club’s first president.
In 1901, Muir published Our National Parks. The book brought him
captivating scenery and beauty of the valley. For the duration of the three-day
camping excursion, Muir preached the importance of preventing ?the destructive
work of the lumbermen and other spoilers of the for-est?(Wadsworth, 112). There,
together, beneath the trees, they laid the foundation of Roosevelt’s innovative
and notable conservation programs.
However, the trail of John Muir was not always a smooth one. He fought
fighting… is a part of the eternal conflict between right and wrong, and we
cannot expect to see the end of it?(Browning 53).
The growing city of San Francisco was in need of a constantly expanding
water supply. Hetch Hetchy Valley, north of Yosemite Valley in Yosemite
would be no private property to buy the land from. Muir was strongly opposed
of the proposition right from the beginning. He argued that ?This valley… is
and submerge it would be contradictive [to what] they were intended for when the
Park was established?(Silverberg, 233).
To Muir’s dismay, he found the Sierra Club was divided: a strong
minority of members, living in San Francisco, were ready to sacrifice Hetch
Hetchy to the city’s needs. Muir and his Sierra Club associate William Colby
then set up a new organization, the Society for the Preservation of National
Parks. At first the new organization was a success and it seemed that Hetch
Hetchy would be safe. However, when Woodrow Wilson took office in 1913, the new
Secretary of the Interior, a San Franciscan lobbyist of Hetch Hetchy, pushed a
Hetchy was lost. Muir later said: ?Dam Hetch Hetchy! As well dam for water-
tanks the people’s cathedral’s and churches, for no holier temple has ever been
consecrated by the heart of man?(Browning, 65-6).
During this unpleasant affair, Muir’s health had been failing
dramatically and the defeat was a devastating blow to his already weakened
condition. On December 24, 1914, Muir died at the age of 76 in Los Angeles.
In acknowledgment of his achievements, California has greatly recognized Muir as
an important man to honor in the state’s history. The Muir Woods National
Monument in Marin County, Calif., and The John Muir Trail extending from
Yosemite Valley to the summit of Mt. Whitney were established. Mount Muir, Muir
Gorge, Muir Grove, Muir Lake, Muir Mountain, Muir Pass, and Muir’s Peak were
also named after him. 1976 the California Historical Society voted John Muir
proclaimed every April 21 John Muir Day in honor of his birthday.
John Muir was perhaps this country’s most famous and influential
stepping stone for today’s environmental activists.
Richard Hawley, an active environmentalist and executive director and
on the achievements of Muir. ?John Muir was a dedicated man that had a vision…
The legacy of John Muir lives on through The John Muir Trail and Yosemite
National Park.? Hawley went on further to say that ?conservation is critical…
and Muir set [the environmental movement] in motion.?
Many people today follow the path of John Muir’s conservation. His
teachings of nature and life live on through his writings. He possessed the
foresight to know that the forests needed to be protected. He knew that they
wouldn’t have lasted forever. The Sierra Club that he founded has helped save
millions of acres of forest lands, and other national monuments that otherwise
would have been destroyed. He truly took a stand for nature, and in doing so,
took a stand for mankind.
“The whole wilderness seems to be alive and familiar, full of humanity.
The very stones seem talkative, sympathetic, brotherly. No wonder when we
consider that we all have the same Father and Mother.”
-John Muir, April 1911