John Muir


[Elizabeth N. Moores]


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[6] 6-18-1867Towards night he complains that his thread was wearing out from too great friction, I suggested that a horses head which lay near might be stuck upon the pole, & that a stronger elevating string of horse hair would pass smoothly over its nose, Merrill thought it strange that a horses tail should pass over a horses head - remarked that it was a curious meeting of extremes, etc - all this last night & much now of a similar nature of nonsense, wit, & invention; but here is what I wanted to tell you when the wheel had wound up the cup to the top of the pole Merrill the Engineer dashed his joined hands into the falling stream & caused the water to shoot over instead of under the wheel thus reversing its motion and lowering the cup. I objected that this was a very imperfect re- versing [contrivance], & suggested levers that would be self acting. Since com- mencing this letter he burst into the room exclaiming with glowing Archimedean enthusiasm "Ive got it!" - dont need any levers! then followed an ardent des- cutition of the newborn reversing apparatus to be regulated by clock work hidden in the dam beyond the reach of meddlesome boys and said he I can make a larger one to pump water or elevate wheat & I can patent it & said he - his eyes twinkling & sparking "all inventors have trade marks and mine shall be a horses head on a pole with hair hanging from the holes where its eyes were"[in margin: Merrill read your [letter] a few minutes ago I [hoped] to hear that you were better. Tell [Chas] [& Laura] & Katie that we often speak of them and will soon write to them.]


[Portage, Wisc.]

Date Original

[1867] Jun 18

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 01, Image 1086

Copyright Statement

The unpublished works of John Muir are copyrighted by the Muir-Hanna Trust. To purchase copies of images and/or obtain permission to publish or exhibit them, see

Owning Institution

Indiana Historical Society Library. Please contact this institution directly to obtain copies of the images or permission to publish or use them beyond educational purposes.

Copyright Holder

Muir-Hanna Trust

Copyright Date


Page Number

Page 5


John Muir, correspondence, letters, author, writing, naturalist, California, correspondent, mail, message, post, exchange of letters, missive, notes, epistle