John Muir


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spread their great arms in welcome. I have seen oaks of many species in many kinds of exposure and soil, but those of Kentucky excel in grandeur all I have ever before beheld. They are broad and dense and bright green, and in the leafy bowers and caves of their ample branches dwell magnificent masses of shade, and every tree seems to be blessed with a double portion of strong exulting life. Walked twenty miles mostly on river bottom and found shelter in a rickety tavern. Escaped from the dust and squalor of my garret bedroom to the glorious forest. All the streams that I tasted hereabouts are salty and so are the wells. Salt River was nearly dry. Much of my way this forenoon was over naked limestone. After passing the level ground that extends 25 or 30 miles from the river I came to a region of rolling hills called Kentucky knobs, hills of denudation covered with trees to the top – some of them have a few pines. [Tiny drawing – “Kentucky knobs”] For a few hours I followed the farmers’ paths but soon wandered away from roads and encountered many a tribe of twisted vines difficult to pass. Emerging about noon from a grove of giant sunflowers, I found myself upon the brink of a tumbling rocky stream. I did not expect to find bridges on my wild way, and so started to ford at once, when a negro woman on the opposite bank earnestly called on me to wait and she would tell the “men folks” to bring me a horse – that the water did not appear to be deep, and that if I were carried away I was a good swimmer and would soon dry in the sunshine. But the cautious old soul replied that “no man ever waded that river”, and set off for a horse, saying that iw as “no trouble at all.” In a few minutes the ferry horse came cautiously down the bank through vines and weeds. His long stilt legs proved him a natural wader. He was white and the little sable negro boy that rode him looked like a bug on his back. After many a cautious tottering halt the outward voyage was safely

Date Original

July 1867


Original journal dimensions: 10 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