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|Birthplace||Dunbar, East Lothian, Scotland|
Engineer, naturalist, writer, botanist, geologist
|Known for||Founder of Sierra Club|
Muir, John, 1838–1914, American naturalist, b. Dunbar, Scotland, studied at the Univ. of Wisconsin. He came to the United States in 1849 and settled in California in 1868. In recognition of his efforts as a conservationist and crusader for national parks and reservations, Muir Woods National Monument was named for him. He made extended trips throughout the country, often on foot; he also traveled in Alaska (discovering Muir glacier) and in Russia, India, and Australia. His books include The Mountains of California (1894), The Story of My Boyhood and Youth (1913), Steep Trails (1918). John of the Mountains (1938; ed. by L. M. Wolfe) contains his journals.
See biographies by W. F. Bade (2 vol., 1924, repr. 1972), L. M. Wolfe (1945, repr. 2003), and D. Worster (2008); study by R. Silverberg (1972).
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Muir, John(1838–1914) explorer, naturalist, conservationist; born in Dunbar, Scotland. Brought by his family to Wisconsin in 1849, he grew up on a farm; he studied at the University of Wisconsin (1859–63; no degree, as he refused to take required courses). He was an ingenious inventor of mechanical devices but he lost an eye in 1867 in an industrial accident and so turned to his other interest—natural history. He had already walked through parts of the Midwest and Canada, and in 1867 he walked from Indianapolis to the Gulf of Mexico. In 1868 he moved to California and for the next 12 years he studied the natural world he saw on his extensive travels—going up to Alaska (where in 1879 he discovered Glacier Bay and the glacier later named after him) and to South America, Africa, and Australia—but with a special concern for California's Yosemite Valley. In 1880 he married Louie Wanda Strentzel, the daughter of an Austrian who established the Californian fruit and wine industries, and he spent the next 11 years successfully engaged in growing fruit trees. Meanwhile, he led the campaign that culminated with the act of Congress establishing Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks (1890). In 1891 Congress also passed a bill authorizing the setting aside of forest preserves; opposition by commercial interests forced Muir to continue campaigning, through speeches and magazine articles, to save the forests, but it wasn't until he persuaded President Theodore Roosevelt that any substantial acreage was set aside. In 1892, Muir had also founded the Sierra Club and was the first president of this leading conservationist organization. In addition to his many articles, he published several books during his lifetime—The Mountains of California (1894), Our National Parks (1901)—while others were published posthumously—Travels in Alaska (1915), A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf (1916). A sequoia forest near San Francisco was named Muir Woods in his honor, and the John Muir Trust to acquire wild land in Britain was established in 1984.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.