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John Muir

John MuirBorn: 21-Apr-1838
Birthplace: Dunbar, Scotland
Died: 24-Dec-1914
Location of death: Los Angeles, CA
Cause of death: Pneumonia
Remains: Buried, Muir-Strentzel Hanna Cemetery, Martinez, CA

Gender: Male
Religion: Deist
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Activist, Author, Botanist

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Patron saint of Yosemite National Park

Military service: US Coast and Geodetic Survey (1843-47)

Born in Scotland, 19th century fruit rancher, philosopher, and conservationist John Muir immigrated to America with his family when he was ten years old, settling in Wisconsin. In his teens he invented an alarm-clock bed that literally shook its occupant onto the floor, a device he used to gain extra reading time in the early morning hours. As a young man he attended the University of Wisconsin for three years before dropping out to attend what he called the "University of the Wilderness" his wanderlust.

He explored the shores of the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers, eventually taking work in Canada at a broom factory, then came to Indianapolis and labored in a carriage repair shop. At the latter workplace he suffered a severe eye injury when an awl pierced his right eyeball, followed soon by what is now called sympathetic ophthalmia, in which the second eye mimics the injury to the first, leaving Muir's eyesight in both eyes seriously damaged. In the course of six months of bed-rest and recuperation, he promised himself that if he recovered his full vision, he would never again return to work in an ordinary job.

In September 1867, about six months after the accident, he deemed himself well enough to embark on a 1,000-mile walk to the Gulf of Mexico, where he contracted a mild case of malaria. He then took a steamer to California, where he settled and stayed for decades, and conducted the work for which he is best known. In a series of essays published in 1889 he urged establishment of a national preserve in the Yosemite region, and in 1890 the area was designated Yosemite National Park. He established the Sierra Club in 1892, and served as that organization's president for the rest of his life. He traveled extensively, visiting Africa, Australia, China, Europe, Japan, South America, but was best known for his extensive writings and activism to protect the Yosemite Valley in California. He is remembered today as a founding father of America's national parks system.

Muir spent his last years leading the fight against a plan to flood Yosemite's Hetch Hetchy Valley, but nine years after his 1914 death, O'Shaughnessy Dam was constructed inside Yosemite National Park, creating a giant reservoir of drinking water for San Francisco and drowning the Valley. The Sierra Club has continued to advocate for the dam's removal and restoration of the valley. Muir is the namesake of the Muir Woods National Monument, a 550-acre park near San Francisco.

Father: Daniel Muir (b. 1804, d. 6-Oct-1885)
Mother: Ann Gilrye Muir (b. 17-Mar-1813, m. 1833, d. 23-Jun-1896)
Sister: Margaret Muir Reid (b. 30-Sep-1834, d. 22-Jun-1910)
Sister: Sarah Muir Galloway (b. 1836, d. 1932)
Brother: David Muir (b. 11-Jul-1840, d. 28-Oct-1916)
Brother: Daniel Muir (b. 1843)
Sister: Mary Muir Hand (twin b. 5-Oct-1846)
Sister: Annie Muir (twin b. 5-Oct-1846, d. 15-Jan-1903)
Sister: Joanna Muir Brown (b. 1850)
Wife: Louisa Wanda Strentzel ("Louie", b. 6-Jul-1847, m. 14-Apr-1880, d. 9-Aug-1905)
Daughter: Anne Wanda Muir Hanna (b. 25-Mar-1881, d. 29-Jul-1942)
Daughter: Helen Lillian Muir Funk (b. 23-Jan-1886, d. 7-Jun-1964)

    University: University of Wisconsin (attended 1860-63)

    Sierra Club Founder (28-May-1892)
    Sierra Club President (1892-1914)
    American Academy of Arts and Letters
    American Association for the Advancement of Science
    Washington Academy of Sciences
    National Cowboy Hall of Fame (2006)
    Scottish Ancestry
    Naturalized US Citizen
    Asteroid Namesake 128523 Johnmuir
    Risk Factors: Malaria

Author of books:
The Mountains of California (1894)
Our National Parks (1901)
Stickeen (1909)
Edward Henry Harriman (1911)
My First Summer in the Sierra (1911)
The Yosemite (1912)
The Story of My Boyhood and Youth (1913)

Appears on postage stamps:
USA, Scott #1245 (5, issued 9-Apr-1964)


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