April 22nd is Earth Day, but did you know that April 21st is John Muir Day? John Muir, influential naturalist and conservationist, was born on April 21, 1838 in Dunbar, Scotland. His family emigrated to the United States in 1849 and settled on a farm in Wisconsin. Muir attended the University of Wisconsin where he studied science and medicine, but left after five semesters. After an accident that temporarily blinded him, he became an avid explorer of the wilderness and proponent of protecting our natural resources.
Muir’s writing career was launched by a series of articles about the Sierra Nevada, which he called, “the most divinely beautiful of all the mountain chains” he’d ever seen. Muir travelled the globe and wrote many books and magazine articles chronicling his travels and urging everyone to appreciate the great outdoors.
His naturalist philosophy and love of nature inspired others to action. In 1890, Yosemite National Park was created through an act of Congress, largely due to Muir’s influence. Muir’s also credited with helping to create other national parks, such as Sequoia, Mount Rainer, Petrified Forest and the Grand Canyon, hence he’s earned the well deserved titles, “Father of Our National Park System” and “Citizen of the Universe.”
In 1892, Muir and a handful of like-minded naturalists founded the Sierra Club in efforts to educate and protect Sierra Nevada. Today, the Sierra Club is one of the largest grassroots environmental organizations, not to mention the oldest and most influential.
Muir’s contribution to humanity has been recognized in many ways, including postage stamps, his depiction on the California State Quarter, a minor planet, a liberty ship in WWI, and The John Muir Trail - a 215 mile trail in Yosemite. He truly was one Great Scot.
“The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” ― John Muir