Cover image for Essential Muir
Essential Muir
Uniform Title:
Works. Selections. 2006
Publication Information:
Berkeley, Calif. : Heyday Books, c2006.
Physical Description:
xx, 131 p. ; 22 cm.
Personal Subject:
Added Author:


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book 508.7 MUI 1 1

On Order



Preservationist. Inventor. Lobbyist. John Muir was many things at once, and he is California's best-known icon--so much so that his image was chosen to appear on the new state quarter. But the best way to know the man who founded the Sierra Club and helped create Yosemite National Park is to read his own words. Essential Muir is the second volume in the California Legacy Essentials Collection. Taking the best of John Muir's writings on nature--in which he waxes ecstatic even as he accurately describes the scientific attributes of a flower--as well as his thoughts on religion and society, this book presents a fresh look at one of California's greatest literary figures. His love for nature was so powerful--and his description of it so compelling--it still inspires us a century later.

Author Notes

The naturalist John Muir was born in Dunbar, Scotland. When he was 11 years old, he moved to the United States with his family and lived on a Wisconsin farm, where he had to work hard for long hours. He would rise as early as one o'clock in the morning in order to have time to study. At the urging of friends, he took some inventions he had made to a fair in Madison, Wisconsin. This trip resulted in his attending the University of Wisconsin. After four years in school, he began the travels that eventually took him around the world.

Muir's inventing career came to an abrupt end in 1867, when he lost an eye in an accident while working on one of his mechanical inventions. Thereafter, he focused his attention on natural history, exploring the American West, especially the Yosemite region of California. Muir traveled primarily on foot carrying only a minimum amount of food and a bedroll. In 1880 Muir married Louie Strentzel, the daughter of an Austrian who began the fruit and wine industry in California.

One of the first explorers to postulate the role of glaciers in forming the Yosemite Valley, Muir also discovered a glacier in Alaska that later was named for him. His lively descriptions of many of the natural areas of the United States contributed to the founding of Yosemite National Park in 1890. His urge to preserve these areas for posterity led to his founding of the Sierra Club in 1892.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Table of Contents

Introductionp. ix
Part 1 The Visionary Inventorp. 1
"Knowledge and Inventions," from The Story of My Boyhood and Youthp. 3
"The World and the University," from The Story of My Boyhood and Youthp. 11
Part 2 The Wandering Minstrelp. 23
"Through the Cumberland Mountains, the River Country of Georgia, and across Florida to Cedar Keys," from A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulfp. 25
Part 3 The Nature Scribe and Rhapsodep. 35
"A Near View of the High Sierra," from The Mountains of Californiap. 37
"A Windstorm in the Forest," from The Mountains of Californiap. 55
"Yosemite Falls at Midnight," from The Life and Letters of John Muirp. 65
"Nut Time in Squirrelville," from The Life and Letters of John Muirp. 69
"Yosemite Glaciers," New York Tribune, Dec. 5, 1871p. 73
Part 4 The Global Adventurerp. 85
"Eskimos and Walrus," from The Cruise of the Corwinp. 87
"Stickeen vs. the Glacier," from Stickeenp. 93
"Voyage to East Africa," from John Muir's Last Journeyp. 101
Part 5 The Planet Stewardp. 111
"God's First Temples: How Shall We Preserve Our Forests?" Sacramento Daily Union, Feb. 5, 1876p. 113
"The Wild Parks and Forest Reservations of the West," Atlantic Monthly, August 1897p. 119
Sourcesp. 127
Major Works by John Muirp. 129
About the Editorp. 131