Peter L. Trout
Martinez, California, March 28, 1899.
Peter L. Trout.
Dear Old Friend
I was delighted to receive your long newsy letter the other day from Circle City. What an interesting eventful life you have led & how fine a thing it would be had you kept a diary as fully & minute as Boswells. You should begin now jotting down at least a few lines every night. It would be interesting not only to your friends but to most everybody & even to yourself. I'm sorry you did not even keep a list of your writings. You have been the wanderer of your family as I have been of mine. It is very difficult to get reliable measurements of forest trees, that is of exceptionally large ones, so few ever see them & of those who do [scarer?] one ever takes the trouble to measure them & place them on record. I'm sorry your fortunes have been so hard. I feel sure you deserved better luck & now hope that the afternoon of your life will be bright & happy. As far as mere wealth is concerned you are likely now with your hard earned experience to get enough of it All that will
do you any good. That your health is good is of itself a grand foundational blessing that you should make the most of. As for my laugh over your celestial theory of the origin of gold that is nothing. I too suppose that the gold & every other mineral was at one time in our star's history a float in the sky But if you consider how completely the gold regions of the North were covered with slow crawling down grinding in & how far the waste of [demidation?] is carried, in some cases hundreds of miles, even the heavy gravels & boulders while the finer particles are carried thousands of miles in rivers & ocean currents & the winds ere they come to rest in beds, then you will have less difficulty in accounting for the wide distribution of gold even in regions where the bed rocks are barren.
You are no doubt right in your theory of the formations of
round topped hills & ridges & wide smooth bottomed valleys. All these have the form of greatest strength with reference to the action of an over flowing ice sheet that no doubt covered all the country like a mantle as Greenland is covered today & also the lands about the south pole. This accounts for the occurrence of gravel on hilltops & hillsides & for the gold contained in it. The rounding of the moraine material the making of angular masses into smooth pebbles & cobbles was done by the streams that issues from the ice sheet & separate glaciers when it was melting & withdrawing at the close of the glacial period. At the fronts of many of the glaciers of S.E. Alaska you may see all this work being done just now. Your trip in from Chilcoot to Dawson & down the river was very adventurous & interesting. It is too bad that you have not received pay for your writings. Much that was not half so good as yours was well paid for. I wish you could send me a few of the staminate & pistillate flowers of the
the few coniferous trees that grow in your neighborhood also of the birch trees. Also a few of the cones. The birch flowers perhaps in June. The spruce perhaps a month later. You will find the fertile flowers (that is those that grow into cones) on the top branches. The cones require two years to mature. Of course some of the leaves should be sent, but the specimens need not be at all large. Your account of the topography & notes of on the trees, brush, grass flowers etc & the action of fire on the tundras is all very interesting to me & I would like lots of the same. I saw a good deal of tundras from Saint Michael Northward - [Goloria?] Bay, Norton Sound Kotzebue Sound & around Point Barrow. Also on the shores of Behring Sea on the Siberian side. Have walked over those [turrocky?] [bogs?] you so well describe & know well what Arctic Mosquitoes are. When on the Jeanette search Expedition, I had many opportunities for short trips, & have been on the headwaters of the Yukon & MacKenzie but never have been in the interior region of the basin. Therefore all your observations on weather streams snow ice topography geography etc etc will be interesting If I can be of use to you here let me know. I wish you Godspeed & good luck & when your pile is big enough come & see me. Take precious care of your health.
Ever Your Friend
1899 Mar 28
Original letter dimensions: 27.5 x 21 cm.
Muir, John, "Letter from John Muir to Peter L. Trout, 1899 Mar 28." (1899). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 2371.
Reel 10, Image 0717