John Muir



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"The Big Tree (Sequoia Gigantea) is nature's forest masterpiece, and as far as I know, the greatest of living things." In this article, Muir expands and enhances his earlier chronicle of his exploration of the Sierra south of Yosemite with his mule Brownie (no. 80). Written more than two decades later, it reflects Muir's matured writing style, which had mellowed over the years. His extensive travels in the States as well as Alaska had not only increased his deep love and admiration of the sequoia, inspiring some of his finest writing, but had also increased his indignation of the destructive practices that continued to "threaten the existence of the noblest of God's trees." He writes: ''In nature's keeping they are safe, but through man's agency destruction is making rapid progress, while in the work of protection only a beginning has been made." He closes his long essay saying, "To the dwellers of the plain, dependent on irrigation, the Big Tree, leaving all its higher uses out of count, is a tree of life, a never failing spring, sending living water to the lowlands all through the hot, rainless summer. For every grove cut down a stream is dried up. Therefore all California is crying, 'Save the trees of the fountains!' Nor, judging by the signs of the times, is it likely that the cry will cease until the salvation of all that is left of Sequoia Gigantea is sure." This article was widely read and was influential in preparing the way for the conservation measures that followed during President Theodore Roosevelt's administration.


The Atlantic Monthly, v. 88, no. 527


pp. 305-320

Hunting Big Redwoods.



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