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John Muir in his beloved Sierra Nevada. Photo courtesy the National Park Service.
John Muir in his beloved Sierra Nevada. Photo courtesy the National Park Service.

Happy John Muir Day! Born 176 years ago today, John Muir is possibly the most renowned American naturalist, writer and philosopher — and for good reason! Muir helped preserve Yosemite Valley and Sequoia National Park, he founded the Sierra Club, and he is considered a father of the National Parks idea.

In celebration of John Muir’s birthday, let’s reflect on his legacy with three surprising facts you may not have known about Muir:

  1. There is a veritable laundry list of places that bear the name John Muir: the John Muir Trail, Muir Woods National Monument, Muir Beach, John Muir College and Muir Glacier, to name a few. Whew! But, did you know that there is a planet named after him? While “128523 Johnmuir” is technically a main-belt asteroid that’s only 1 mile in diameter, the astronomical honor is fitting for a man who wrote his address as “Earth-Planet, Universe.”
  2. Muir was a gifted inventor. He created a study desk that could retrieve, open, and turn the pages of a book; even more sophisticated, the desk’s machinations were triggered to commence by the rising sun. After he was temporarily blinded while working in a factory, he forsook his mechanical inventions and devoted the rest of his life to “the study of all the inventions of God.”
  3. One of Muir’s most famous voyages was his 1,000 mile walk from Louisville, Kentucky to Cedar Key, Florida. But did you know that excluding Antarctica, Muir traveled to every continent on Earth? Not an easy feat at the turn of the century. In his lifetime, he journeyed to the Nile River, the Himalayas in Darjeeling, and Victoria Falls in southern Africa; and at the age of 73, he hiked the slopes of volcanoes in the Chilean Andes in search of the Monkey Puzzle Tree.

John Muir is truly an inspiration. Do you know any other amazing secrets from his life? Share your stories with us in the comments!


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About Jennifer Benito-Kowalski

Jennifer joined Save the Redwoods League in 2007 as the Director of Outreach, charged with leading the organization's marketing communications and outreach efforts to connect people to the peace and beauty of the redwood forests.


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