Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

John Muir

When a young Scotsman named John Muir arrived in San Francisco in 1868, it is said that he asked for directions to "anywhere that's wild." He was pointed toward the Sierra Nevada, and it was there that a love story between man and nature began.

Legend has it that he shouted with joy when he first saw Yosemite. Over the next few years, he worked as a millworker, shepherd and hotel clerk in order to live there. In his journals, he wrote, "Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."

Muir was not pleased to see the Yosemite he loved invaded by cattlemen, shepherds and land speculators. One summer, with his trusty mule Brownie, he traveled extensively in the Sierra Nevada to study the threatened territory. He was exhilarated each time he encountered an alpine meadow of wildflowers, but also wondered if their kind would survive to witness the 20th century. His arguments for preserving them included their value as watersheds for the water-dependent San Joaquin Valley agricultural industry. Muir worked ceaselessly to keep Yosemite intact and in its original state. Among his many notable accomplishments, Muir was a charter member and the first president of the Sierra Club, which was formed in 1892 to secure Federal protection for the Yosemite region. He was born on April 21, 1838, and died on December 24, 1914, at the age of 76.