John Muir: His Achievements/JourneysJohn Muir worked at a factory in Canada.
He invented time and moneysaving machines for the factories. But one day an accident changed his wholeoutlook on life. As he was tightening a machine belt with a file, the file flewout and pierced his right eye.
His left eye grew dim to the reaction.John’s friends and neighbors tried to help him and brought doctors.Some friends read to him. Children brought him flowers and listened to hisstories. He finally began to regain his sight. His employer, grateful for thework that he had done for his company, offered John a job as foreman and afuture partnership. But John gave up the chance to be a wealthy business manbecause he wanted to use his precious sight to enjoy the creations of nature.
On September 1, 1867, John stepped off a train in Louisville, Kentucky.The next day he set out on foot to walk from Louisville to Florida, a distanceof 1,000 miles. In Florida, he planned to catch a boat for South Americabecause he was eager to observe the plants of southern lands. This was known asthe thousand-mile walk. During his journey, he would stop to collect plantsamples and write about his observations in his journal.John was weak from the trip and thought that he would need much moreenergy to travel to South America.
He decided to visit Yosemite Valley, wherehe would regain his strength. He took up the job as a herder there and began toexplore the area. Then he got a job as guide to the Yosemite. Muir quicklybecame an expert on Yosemite. John believed that glaciers had helped in theformation of the valley. People began to pay attention to his ideas. Someagreed and some didn’t.
John spent years studying glaciers and trackingglaciers in the Sierra Nevada.In 1874, Jeanne Carr introduced John Muir to Louie Wanda because shewanted John to leave his lonely life. John first tramped the wilderness ofCalifornia, Nevada, Utah, the Pacific Northwest, and Alaska. Then he decidedthat he should settle down and went to visit Louie Wanda in the Alhambra Valley.
They got married and had two daughters, Annie and Helen Wanda.John worked on Louie’s farm for many years, but started to miss thewilderness. Louie Wanda saw what was happening to John and decided to let himtravel to Alaska. He visited the Alaskan tribes and Glacier Bay. In the nextten years of visit to Alaska, Muir would track glaciers and observe them.John Muir will spend the rest of his life writing books about nature andspeak out for nature. He will suffer the lost of his wife and abate his griefby observing a pertrified forest.
John Muir really was a man of the mountains.I believe that John Muir was a very hard working and determined man.The fact that he overcomes the struggles of his life to accomplish all that hedid makes him an even more remarkable man. I think that it is great that thereis a man that would speak out for such a wonderful thing like nature in a timewhere people didn’t care. He has accomplished so much in his life that I amsurprised that he is not as well-known. He should be written about and taughtabout more. John Muir can inspire a person to care more for nature and becomemore considerate and passionate to it.
CHILDHOODJohn Muir was born in Dunbar, Scotland, on April 21, 1838. He had twoolder sisters named Margaret and Sarah and two younger brothers named David andDaniel, Jr. and twin sisters named Mary and Annie. They were all born in Dunbarexcept a younger sister, Joanna, that was born after they moved to the UnitedStates. John’s father was Daniel Muir and John’s mother was Ann Gilrye Muir.Daniel was a man of strong feelings.
His religious beliefs made him putaside fun and music thinking that they were the devil’s workshop. He believedthat mealtime was a sacrament and that idle talk and laughing had no place atthe table. John was forced to memorize a passage from the bible every day. Hewould be beaten if he did not recite them correctly.John’s mother was a gentle and kind woman.
She had been brought up toappreciate poetry and art. Her parents had forbidden her to marry Danielbecause they considered him to be too strict and too passionate in his religiousviews. But Ann was strong-willed and she loved Daniel.
The life of the Muir’s in Scotland would soon change. Daniel Muir hadbecome unhappy with the Presbyterian church of his wife’s family so he joinedthe Disciples of Christ. A few of his fellow Disciples had begun to formreligious communities in North America. There they had found rich farmland anda chance for success. On February 18, 1849, Daniel rushed back home and toldthem that they would be on their way to America in the morning. The boys werecrazed with excitement, but Grandfather Gilrye told them that they would find alot of hard work there.After a journey of a few months, the Muir family settled in MarquetteCounty, Wisconsin.
Daniel Muir worked the children hard. He had become apreacher and a strict parent who believed that when he whipped his children, hewas beating the devil out of their souls. While the children planted, hoed,raked, and harvested, Daniel spent less time on the farm work and more timestudying his bible. When Daniel was away, John and the rest of the family wouldjoke and sing. The girls could take out their embroidery, which their fatherconsidered frivolous, and John could recite a poem or dance a highland jig.
Since John was the oldest son, he had the hardest work on the farm.John had to split rails for fences, pry up rocks, and haul wood. When John justturned twelve, his father sent him out to plow the first fields. The ground hadnever been broken, so John had to dig out roots and guide the plow as the oxenpulled it.After eight years, the Muir’s farm became drained of nutrients. Theythen moved to a place they called Hickory Hill.
John had to labor in the fieldsagain. He had to clear the new land for the crops again. It was very hard workfor a boy and affected John’s health. John learned endurance and developedstrength in the ten plus years of farm work. During that time, he also learnedto respect and love the creatures of the woods and farm. ATTENDING SCHOOLJohn and his brothers and sisters did not go to school during their years offarm work.
But John borrowed books from neighbors who kept a small library.His father saw no reason to read anything else besides the Bible and otherreligious text. So he would not allow John to stay up to read after the othershad gone to bed.
He did allow John to get up early in the morning to read.It was too cold to sit still and read in the winter so John beganworking in the cellar on ideas for labor-saving machines. His first inventionwas a model of a sawmill. Soon he also invented many other things like thewaterwheel, thermometer, clocks, a device for lighting fire, and a machine thatwould wake you up. A neighbor encouraged John to take his inventions to Madisonwhere he could exhibit them at the state’s agricultural fair. His inventionswere a hit at the fair and were written about in the local newspapers. Hisfamily back at home was very happy and proud of him, but his dad warned him toavoid the “sin of vanity”.
At the fair, John Muir met Jeanne Carr, a woman that would change hislife. Mrs. Carr was impressed with John. Her husband, Dr. Ezra Carr, was aprofessor of natural science at the university.
John would later enroll intocollege and become a very good friend of the Carrs’. John did not immediatelyenroll at the university because he had concerns about money. Instead, hehelped build iceboats, addressed advertising circulars, and drove a coach for aninsurance agent. One day he learned that he had enough money to enroll intocollege, but he would have a very tight buget.
He spent little on clothes andfood.The next year at the university, John acquired a teaching job in a one-room school. It was hard to keep up with the teachings and his studies, but themoney helped him considerably.
John took chemistry and geology with Dr. Carrand Latin and Greek classes with Dr. James Davie Butler.
Both men opened newworlds for John.During John’s college years, the United States was suffering through theCivil War. Many university students joined the army, but John saw the woundedfrom the war and disliked it.
He decided to go botanizing in Canada to dodgethe draft. His brother Daniel, Jr. had already gone to Canada, and John plannedto meet him near Niagara Falls in September.BIBLIOGRAPHY1) JOHN MUIR SAVING THE WILDERNESS; Corinne J. Naden and Rose Blue;The Millbrook Press; 19922) JOHN MUIR SON OF THE WILDERNESS; Linnie Wolfe; The Ryerson Press;1945