John Muir



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William and Maymie Kimes Annotation

Muir was grossly misquoted in this article and was extremely exasperated and embarrassed by the unbelievable stories with which he was credited. The reporter quotes Muir as saying: "There are so many things new and strange up there . . . that have not yet come to the knowledge of the public that one who has seen them hesitates where to begin. Now, I said these elephant remains were found all over the great valley of the Yukon. As a matter of fact they are found everywhere throughout the great southwestern slope of Alaska. Dana and Sir Charles Lyell startled the world by announcing that hairy, frozen elephants were found wedged among the Siberian icebergs, but scarcely anybody knows that throughout Alaska are remains of countless thousands of these huge mastodons. You can dig them out and find them on the surface anywhere." Concerning the bridging of the Behring Sea, the writer relates the following as Muir's story: "Senator Stanford's girdle of steel around the earth via Behring Sea is a perfectly feasible scheme . . . . It is only sixty miles across in the narrowest place, and there are three islands strung along in it. This would divide the bridge up into four divisions. But, besides this, the water is very shallow. In many places it is not over twenty feet deep . . . . The only trouble would be with floating icebergs, but that could easily be overcome by constructing swinging bridges like they have across the river at Chicago." The remainder of the article stays somewhat closer to the truth, but is ineptly written. In the summer of 1889, Muir was being pressured by The J. Dewing Company for his article "Washington and Puget Sound," which he had agreed to write for Picturesque California . . . In order to have uninterrupted time to write, he went to San Francisco and secluded himself in the Grand Hotel. In a letter dated July 4th to Louie, his wife, he wrote: "Last evening an innocent-looking 'Examiner' reporter sent up his card, and l, really innocent, told the boy to let him come up. He began to speak of the Muir Glacier, but quickly changed the subject to horned toads, snakes and Gila monsters . . . . He said snakes were his specialty . . . . I talked carelessly for a few minutes, and judge of my surprise in seeing this villainous article. 'John Muir says they kill hogs and eat rabbits . . . ' [see no. A6]. It's so perfectly ridiculous, I have at least had a good laugh out of it." Two days later he wrote: "Oh, dear Louie, here are more of 'them snakes' . . . . And when, oh, when, is that fatal interview to end? How many more idiotic articles are to grow out of it? 'Muir's Strange Story,' 'Elephants' bones are sticking in the Yukon River, says geologist John Muir!' 'Behring Straits may be bridged because Behring Sea is shallow!' Oh! Oh! if the 'Examiner' would only examine its logic!!! Anyhow, I shall take fine cautious care that the critter will not examine me again."


The [San Francisco] Examiner


p. 4, col. 7. [Scrapbook I, p. 38.]



Many Elephant Bones. They and the Bodies With Flesh Yet on Them in Alaska. Muir's Strange Story. Behring Sea Can Be Bridged-How He Found the Great Glacier.



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