Geo[rge] G. Mackenzie


[Robert Underwood] Johnson




Nevada Falls,

Yosemite, Nov. 15., '90

Dear Mr. Johnson:

I have been here for a week, taking care of a man whom I found here injured while at work on a bridge and unable to help himself. Yesterday I went to the Valley for mail, and rec'd your note of the 3d. I also found that a Mr. Newsham, a representative of the Interior Dep't, had arrived on Sunday, coming to the Valley with Henry Washburn in the latter's private buggy. In fact, on my way down to the Valley, I met Mr. Newsham coming up the trail with Galen Clark. The latter introduced me to the visitor, but said nothing of his official condition. I learned, however, in the Valley who the stranger was, and Henry Washburn told me that Newsham had been inquiring for me. Consequently, as I had to come back here yesterday, I timed myself so that I caught the gentleman at the foot of the trail. I told him that I understood he was from the Interior Dep't and that he wanted to speak with me. He said that there was nothing in particular for which he wished to talk with me, but that he had only wanted to make acquaintance



with the people here. I then told him that I would be happy to accompany him around the Valley, and would place myself at his disposal for a day or a week or whatever time he had at command. He hesitated momentarily, and then said that he was going to the Big Trees today with Mr. Washburn, that he possibly might come back, and if he should return he would send me word through Mr. Clark! With that we parted. I had half a mind to go down again to the Valley last evening and ask Mr. Newsham exactly what he came here to do or to learn. If he came to see the condition of the Valley he went about it in a queer way. He arrived on Sunday - the exact hour I have not yet learned. He has left (I suppose) this morning. He came in with Washburn, could only have had an hour or two on Sunday to see the Valley, and yesterday was spent in coming up here, as his return to the Valley was too late to leave him time for any other trip. I at first thought that he might have come about the Little Yosemite business, but the young man whom I have been nursing here tells me that Clark and the other could not have gone up the trail further than to the head


of the Nevada Fall. I will find out about that today from clark himself. Perhaps Mr. Newsham's business is not in connection with Yosemite mismanagement. However, he gave it out freely in the Valley, and told the young man here, that he had come "from the Secretary of the Interior himself" to see about the National Park. Anyway I think it right that you should know just how he came and by whom he was "steered" while here. To me it looks very suspicious that the first representative of the Department who shows himself should let himself be "steered" by Washburn, the head-center of the ring, and by Clark, the ring's subservient tool. It is suspicious, too, that Mr. Newsham did not take a look at Little Yosemite, after the Department's promise to you that that business should be investigated at the earliest practicable moment. Any day now may bring a storm that will prevent approach to Little Yosemite. I hope that you have preserved your correspondence with the Dep't on that point. If I get the least ground for believing that the Dep't intends to yield to the influence of the Yosemite



ring I will tell the story in print, and charge Noble with being a party to the fraud. I would therefore like to know what you wrote to the Dep't and what, and from whom, you were answered. Of course I don't jump to the conclusion that anything is wrong; but it is well to be ready for anything wrong. I heard yesterday that the Examiner has published a letter from me. As I have written none to that paper, I do not know what the letter can be. I hope to see a copy today. I would have left here last week, had I not found the injured man at this place. As it is I will probably be around here for at least a week more. I will not go to the ranch of which I spoke before, and am therefore wholly uncertain as to my movements. I have no money to take me to any town, but will shift along down either to the Raymond country, where there is a little house that I can use, or go down to Oakdale. But if you have occasion to write, address me here until I send other word. Before I leave I hope to finish some writing that will bring in some of the [sinews?] of war.

Yours Very Truly

Geo. G. Mackenzie

Yoseimte - 18 Nov.

I have just learned that the Yosemite Nat'l Park Act is defective. The western boundary is improperly described. I will write about it to some paper, and send copy to you, so that you can understand. Newsham left this afternoon, having visited Glacier Point with Clark this morning. Why could he not have accepted my offer to show him around the Valley? The thing doesn't look right - that is, if Newsham came to investigate and not on a mere pleasure trip. He told Clark that he was a particular friend of Noble, etc. etc. The Examiner's article (referred to above) was a telegraphic condensation of my letter to Noble. The Examiner has an editorial on it, but my words are greatly misrepresented and the whole effect weakened.



Yosemite [Calif.]

Date Original

1890 Nov 15, 18


Original letter dimensions: 25 x 19.5 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 06, Image 0731

Collection Identifier

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

Copyright Statement

Some letters written to John Muir may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

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.


5 pages


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



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