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John Muir's Birthday: A Date to Reflect on the Literary Gifts of a Famed Conservationist

Sunday, April 21, marks the 175th anniversary of John Muir’s birth.

Why this date matters to so many modern-day outdoor-loving people:

• A native of Dunbar, Scotland, Muir became early advocate of wilderness preservation in the United States and in 1892 was named the first president of the Sierra Club.

• He helped draw the proposed boundaries of Yosemite National Park and is widely acknowledged as the "father of the National Park System."

• He camped with President Theodore Roosevelt for 3 nights in the Yosemite backcountry in 1903. They spent one night at Glacier Point and its face-to-face view of Half Dome. Muir turned Roosevelt into a Yosemite supporter, and in 1905 Congress added Yosemite Valley, originally excluded from Yosemite National Park, to the park.

• His books and writings have been canonized as some of the most moving and influential literature dedicated to the natural world.

Muir quotes? Everyone has their favorites, and many are well-known. Below are a few lesser-known gems, words that can stir the hearts of those who find some of life’s greatest joys in the outdoors. Feel free to chime in with a few quotes of your own in the comments section at the bottom of this post.

"Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike."
            —from The Yosemite

"Nature is always lovely, invincible, glad, whatever is done and suffered by her creatures. All scars she heals, whether in rocks or water or sky or hearts."
            —from Muir’s journals

"From garden to garden, ridge to ridge, I drifted enchanted, now on my knees gazing into the face of a daisy, now climbing again and again among the purple and azure flowers of the hemlocks, now down into the treasuries of the snow, or gazing afar over domes and peaks, lakes and woods, and the billowy glaciated fields of the upper Tuolumne, and trying to sketch them. In the midst of such beauty, pierced with its rays, one's body is all one tingling palate. Who wouldn't be a mountaineer! Up here all the world's prizes seem nothing."
            —from My First Summer in the Sierra (see 100th anniversary edition)

muir-roosevelt-glacier-point-nps

President Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir in Yosemite. (NPS historic photo)

"Surely all God's people, however serious or savage, great or small, like to play. Whales and elephants, dancing, humming gnats, and invisibly small mischievous microbes—all are warm with divine radium and must have lots of fun in them."
            —from The Story of My Boyhood and Youth

"There is a love of wild nature in everybody, an ancient mother-love ever showing itself whether recognized or no, and however covered by cares and duties."
            —from Muir’s journals

Posted on at 6:00 AM

Tagged: John Muir, John Muir Day, Sierra Club and Yosemite

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RogerR

"The mountains are calling, and I must go."
John Muir

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jeremys

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home.

-- John Muir

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