R[obert] U[nderwood] Johnson
February 20th, 1890
Dear Mr. Muir, -
I am very glad to learn that you are at work on the proposed extension of the Yosemite Valley Grant.
As you seem a lit tied troubled about going over the old ground of the Yosemite itself, I have hit upon a man who will relieve you of that part of it, leaving you free to consider only the portion outside of the Valley, and [illegible] Big Tree reservation. Of course, this will not cut you off from mentioning anything you want inside of the present grant; but it would relieve you of the necessity of going over the whole ground.
I inclose a copy of the map sent to me by Robinson, and anything coming within this limit could not fail to be apropos.
After you have given a comprehensive idea of the whole field, you might go frankly into the dangers, as well as the difficulties, of the present system of management.
We should like to illustrate your paper with engravings of any photographs you may know, and with your sketches and Keith's. If the last cannot be had in convenient form, except by photographing them, please have that done.
Among the sketches which we ought to have are:- Cathedral Peak, the Tuolumne meadows and mountains beyond them, water falls
in the Tuolumne Canyon, a view in the Hetch-Hetchy, and perhaps a view from the top of the cliff above the hotel ("the rustic lookin' place"). Of course, it is our rule to pay for the use of sketches.
I wish you would select from Robinson one or two of the very best he has, and then ask Hill whether he would be willing to have us engrave his view from Inspiration Point; in which case we should need a photograph. Whatever you do, don't send us any large paintings!
I will perhaps also write to Keith, Hill and Robinson; but may I not depend on you to collect the sketches, and send them on as soon as you can, for we can be going ahead with the illustrations while you are writing.
The main thing in regard to the text is that you should have a definite point of view; and I think that this is supplied in the proposed extension, and in the fact that the public knows nothing of the region outside of the Yosemite Valley. It is not necessary to have a long article of details, but to cover the ground comprehensively so that the reader may have a broad idea of the region. Send us seven to ten thousand words by the middle of April, if you can.
I presume you are doing what you can to create public opinion, or at least to influence influential persons in California in re-
gard to the Yosemite. I have shown Robinson's photographs to a great many people, and I inclosed you in another wrapper [illegible]an extract from the New York"Post"of last night which it might be useful to have reprinted in the "Bulletin". Kate Field is going to take the subject up in an Open Letter to Senator Stanford in her paper. I sent "The Century" articles to the Senator, and asked him if he had yet introduced the extension bill, to which he replied that he would be glad to introduce a "suitable bill" if I would prepare it. For fear that after I should prepare it it would not be deemed a "suitable" bill, I wrote him again that I should not consider any bill for the extension "suitable" that did not provide a better government for the whole, old and new, than now exists for the old.
I wish you would tell me whether you, think it would be practicable to pass a bill granting the extension on condition that the state should put the Commission on a new basis. If so, what do you think that basis had better be? Would not a Commission of three, consisting of an expert in forestry, an army officer, and the superintendent of the Park, the last named to reside for six months of the year in the Yosemite, be the best way of arranging it? The appointment, it seems to me, ought to be taken out of the hands of the Governor. Would it do to put it in the hands of the President of the University of California, or of the Trus-
If this bill would not be feasible, what would you say to a bill taking back the Valley into Government possession on the ground that the original stipulations have not been observed by the state of California? I believe that this could be proved, and that some good could be accomplished even by the introduction of such a bill, as the country, especially California, would be aroused on the subject by such action. Please think the matter over, and let me know v/hat you think would be best to do.
It is astonishing to me to note the supineness of California in regard to this matter. I feel certain I could organize one hundred of the best men in New York, within a fortnight, in the interest of the Yosemite Valley; but it would, of course, be much better if the initiative could be taken in the state itself. Knowing you as a gentle hermit, I do not expect propagandism from you; but I should think with little effort you could interest some in-J fluential people to organize quietly so as to make themselves felt.
Please tell me if the legislature is now in session.
With regards to Mrs. Muir
…Union Square, New York
1890 Feb 20
Original letter dimensions: 27 x 21 cm.
Johnson, Robert Underwood, "Letter from R[obert] U[nderwood] Johnson to John Muir, 1890 Feb 20." (1890). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 1882.
Reel 06, Image 0357
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