John Muir


[John Muir]


Sarah [Muir Galloway]


[Original letter in possession of Sarah Muir Galloway]In the sawmill,Yosemite Valley, April 5th, l871.Dear Sister Sarah:This is one of the most surpassingly glorious of Yosemite days, and I have suddenly thought to write you. We have rain and storm. The vast column of the upper Yosem[ite] falls is swaying with wonderful ever-changing forms of beauty, and all our mountain walls are wreathed in splendid clouds. In some places a strip of muffy white cloud reaches almost from the bottom of the wall to the top, and just across the meadow the summit of a pine-crested mountain is peering above the clouds like an island in the sky — thus:[sketch]It is hard to write here, as the mill jars so much by the stroke of the saw, and rain drips from the roof, and I have to set the log every few minutes. I am operating this same mill that I made last winter. I like the piney fragrance of the fresh-sawn boards, and I am in constant view of the grandest of all the falls. I sleep in the mill for the sake of hearing the murmuring hush of the water beneath me, and I have a small box-like home fastened beneath the gable of the mill, looking westward down the Valley, where I keep my notes, etc. People call it the hang-nest, because it seems unsupported, thus [sketch].Fortunately the only people that I dislike are afraid to enter it. The hole in the roof is to command a view of the glorious South Dome, 5000ft. high. There is a corresponding skylight on the other side of the roof which commands a full view of the upper Yosemite falls, and the window in the end has a view sweeping down the Valley among the pines and cedars and silver firs. The window in the mill-roof to the right is above my bed, and I have to look at the stars on calm nights.Two evenings ago I climbed the mountain to the foot of the upper Yosemite falls, carrying a piece of bread and a pair of blankets so that I could spend the night on the rock and enjoy the glorious waters, but I got drenched and had to go home, reaching the house at two o'clock in the morning. My wetting was received in a way that I scarcely care to tell. The adventure nearly cost all. I mean to go tomorrow night, but I will not venture behind the column again.Here are the outlines of a grand old pine and gnarly mossy oak that stand a few steps from the mill. You liked[the] flowers. Well, I will get you a violet from the side of the mill-race, as I go up to shut off the water. Goodnight, with a brother's warmest love. [Sketch][John Muir]


Yosemite Valley

Date Original

1871 Apr 5


Original letter dimensions: 33 x 21.5 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 02, Image 0423

Collection Identifier

Online finding aid for the microform version of the John Muir Correspondence

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

Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific 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



1 page


Environmentalist, naturalist, travel, conservation, national parks, John Muir, Yosemite, California, history, correspondence, letters



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