John Muir


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The fertile soil bed on west side of river much wider than that of east. At least up to 3.3 k.m.[kilometers] The pyramids valley seldom out of sight, big and little and of several forms (sketches), the plain, straight-lined true pyramid, far the most effective. Back of all the green hopeful, foodful region reached by the river - pure desert on both sides. Near Cairo the bluffs of yellow limestone, wherever the pyramid stone was derived, these quarries still worked. The bluffs in some places 20 miles apart, yellow brown whitened here and there with drifted sand, variously sculptured but flat on top showing edge of tableland instead of top of mountain ridges. Countless dahabeahs, graceful, great expanse of sail like huge moths or gulls greatly enliven the view. A good many fellahs [fellows] lifting irrigating water by a counter-weighted sweep - should have mills. What would the Dutch say. Saw only one steam pump irrigating sugar cane. Talked too much, took cold a week ago, throat sore, wind very chilly in shady drafts on ship. November 8th Pretty hoarse. Views along river in the main like those of yesterday. Palms and sugar corn fields, gray adobe villages like boxes each house utterly void of color. Here and there a factory, sugar or cotton. At 10:00 A.M. passing large herds of cattle and sheep and goats, donkeys, etc. The average height of delta plain 4 or 5 feet above present level of river. A short time ago the whole sheet of fields on both sides were under water. Now the crops are dark green and tall and vigorous, yet water is being lifted on to many of the corn fields by sweep and bucket at short intervals. The cost of such labor being I suppose very little. At 2:00 P.M. came to where the river runs close along the desert edge on east side and had cut it into bluffs, the highest perhaps 2 or 3 hundred feet high, mostly of yellow bedded rocks sandstone or lime[stone] (?) cut by narrow side gorges and shallow vertical groves. (Sketch).

Date Original

November 1903


Original journal dimensions: 11 x 16.5 cm.

Resource Identifier



Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library

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John Muir, journals, drawings, writings, travel, journaling, naturalist