John Muir


John Muir


Louie [Strentzel Muir]


01186[1][1885][rusty paperclip mark on page]Portage City Aug 30.Dear Louie, I am with my mother at last & Sarah & David & their families, all that is left of them. Arrived here yesterday morning at 12.30' oclock & went to bed at a hotel. Found Davids store in the morning he recognized me instantly strange to say & took me to Mother & Sarah - they saw me afar off guessing by Dave & the satchel who I was. Anna too is here living with Mother & Sarah who have rented a house in common. All are well as usual - Mother does not seem so much older as I expected, is yet [illegible] & [quiet?] in conversation though her voice has failed somewhat. Sarah is easily agitated & is far from strong. Anna is much better since her return to Portage but whether she is out of danger or not I am not at

2all cure. She sits up most of the time but any slight walk or exertion in the kitchen exhausts & sends her to bed for an hour or two. I dont know what to do as to advising her to stay here or undertake the journey with her to California. David is much bent & worn & bears the marks of all these years with their hardness of care & grief - The two girls Carrie & Anna are fine sensible well behaved young women. The elder is to go from home tomorrow to teach music. The other will keep house for David & the two boys. Little John Muir is an amiable little fellow, the picture you have is good. the other boy is quite a carpenter & is building a boat. Sarahs girls are fat & strong well able to care for themselves excepting Gracie the baby. who is bright & interesting Of course they are like to eat one up & I have had a busy

3talking time rambling over all the occurances of these 18 years since last we met - & as I lost some sleep arriving in the middle of the night I have not been feeling very well. I had a hard time in the yellowstone park though I saw so much to interest me. The forests, the parks, the canon, the falls, the lake, the geysers, the hot coral springs. I joined a party of three that I met on the cars & employed a guide & cook to furnish horses tents & do all the camp work etc. The roads & the weather & the food & the cooking were all very rough. In galloping along a smooth piece of ground my horses front feet broke into a hole & he fell head over heels pitching me ahead half a mile or so, whirling me over in somersaults in such a way that I was

[4]oblivious for a few moments to geysers & everything else though I escaped without a scratch. As for the weather we had cold rain & hail storms every day excepting one in a ride of 150 miles - & the cooking was awful. My stomach, or organ as grandma calls it soon began to murmur & by the time we reached the Wonder Firehole basin containing the great geysers I was suffering so much that I feared I would have to leave the party & go to bed in some house Then just as the geyser called Old Faithful began to play spouting a huge column of boiling water into the sky my organ began spouting vast quantities of hot acid water in close accord. How the water got into my stomach I dont know. Certainly I never drank it & how the sympathy

01186 5was established between the geysers & organ I dont know but it was all very violent & very painful & very wonderful The last day of the excursion I ate a teaspoonful of rice for breakfast & galloped 30 miles through the cold rain on the roughest quartz mill horse I ever saw, my poor organ seemingly co[illegible]lsed into a hard knot about the size of a walnut. Arriving at the main hotel near the railroad I took off my wet clothes, swallowed a lot of the Drs ground brass in desperation & went to bed – next day better & on the train well as ever. The weather has been cool & cold mostly through Montana & Dakota & [illegible] requiring overcoats & fires in the cars. We are sitting today in Sarahs & Mothers house by a fire. The sky is dark & rainy, all the grass

[6]rank & green. The sod in general all through Dakota Min & Wis is now green without a hint of drouth. So far not one hot day has been encountered since leaving Oregon & now I’m feeling pretty well though rather weak & lanquid. I mean to stop with mother about ten or twelve days. Then go to Fountain Lake one day to see the lilies that used to charm me when a boy, & the Calopoyons & Cyprep[illegible] & Osmundas - & a few of the old settlers who used to care for me & lend me books especially Mr Duncan a Scotch Mason who still remembers me. Then on to Kansas City & Crete perhaps spending a week in the two places. I should like to spend a few weeks about the Lake Region to learn the glacial inscriptions recorded there but that would throw all the labor of shipping the muscats

[7]on the Dr just when he had the Ferraras to look after so Ill have to forgo that in the meantime & try to gain strength to work later, Im beginning to lose confidence in my powers of endurance though I think lying in the Sierra forests with plain good food [would?] give some strength again. I suppose you have learned ere this that Mrs Jackson is dead. I called at the house on Taylor St the night before I left but the curtains were drawn & no answer came to my knocking & I feared she might have died & hoped that possibly she might have gone to Mt Shasta or Santa Cruz. Im glad to hear through you Portland letter, which has just been received here

8that grandma is daily growing stronger & that all goes well The first word I have had from you since leaving home. I enquired at the Park P.O. & at Livingstone & at Portland just before leaving these places without finding a word. Tell my Wanda that Ill soon be back to her, & be careful never to talk in any other than a light cheery way about me to her. Also grandpa Galloway has just been her to see me. — David Galloways father. He is 84 yrs old & still quite well & wide awake to general news & interests. How cool the weather is & how green the grass & how small the trees look & how low the hills. Nothing high enough for a land mark. & how lavish the flow of water in the streams. Dont make Wanda fret about me. Take care of your health as you value your own & the happiness of us all. Tell the Doctor I am obliged to him for the kind way he is bearing my burdens [in margin: & with love to all & from Mother & Sarah I am ever yours John Muir]


Portage City, [Wisc]

Circa Date

[1885] Aug 30


Original letter dimensions: 41 x 13 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 05, Image 0386

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



8 pages


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



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