People & Events|
John Muir took it upon himself to impress his fellow countrymen with the importance of preserving and respecting what he saw as a rapidly dwindling natural bounty. Often referred to as the "father of wilderness," Muir had long before devoted his life to documenting the wonders of nature. A native of Scotland, Muir emigrated to Wisconsin in 1849. Intent on becoming an inventor, he was temporarily blinded by an industrial accident in 1867. Nearly losing his vision became a transforming experience for Muir who emerged from his blindness ever more keen to the splendor of the natural world around him. Eager to witness nature in her various guises, Muir undertook a 1,000 mile hike from Indianapolis to the Gulf of Mexico. By 1868, he had emigrated to California where he would spend the next decade honing his skills as a horticulturist and publishing articles extolling the beauty of places like Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada. Largely at his urging, Congress established Yosemite National Park in 1890 and created the National Forest reserves in 1891. By 1900, America could boast of 5 national parks. In 1892, Muir founded the Sierra Club with the intent of rallying like-minded individuals to speak out on behalf of conservation. Among those impressed by Muir's writings was Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt confessed great admiration for "Our National Parks," the book Muir had begun in 1900. The book would remain in print throughout the 20th century.