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

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

University of the Pacific Library Holt-Atherton Special Collections. 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



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