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John Muir, Nature Writer

John Muir (1838-1914) was the co-founder of the Sierra Club and is famous for his love of the wilderness and desire for its preservation. His work has had a huge impact on the environmental movement right up to the present time.

He wrote a number of books, magazine articles, and always kept journals, some of which were published after he died. His writings are all celebrations of the natural world and what he encountered on various travels through wilderness areas.

Although John Muir was born in Scotland and was especially associated with the Yosemite wilderness in California, the first wild place which took hold of his imagination was in the town of Buffalo, Wisconsin.

The Muir family moved to Wisconsin when John was 11 and lived near a wild area of fields surrounding a lake. Before he left home on one of his many journeys, he expressed a wish that this land would be preserved from development and kept wild, simply because of its beauty. In a real sense, this was the beginning of his life’s work.

Today, some of his writings are regarded as controversial because of a pejorative perspective of Native Americans. At the same time, his initiative as the first writer to meticulously describe the natural landscapes of the US West maintain his place in the canon of environmental literature. A list of his writings, with links to complete texts of his work, is here, courtesy of the Sierra Club: https://vault.sierraclub.org/john_muir_exhibit/writings/books.aspx.

John Muir Park in Marquette County

Muir’s dream about his childhood home’s wilderness was fulfilled when the John Muir Park was created. The land remains undeveloped and visitors have a chance to see the place which so inspired one of the remarkable leaders of the environmental movement. At the park is a plaque put up by the Sierra Club in John Muir’s honor.

See the California and Alaska pages for more on John Muir.

This is the third stop on our Wisconsin Author Adventures Trail.

Rebecca Blake Beech