[Robert Underwood] Johnson
Martinez, Sep. 12, 1895
My dear Mr Johnson,
I have just got home from a six weeks ramble in the Yosemit & Yosemite National Park. For three years the soldiers have kept the sheepmen & sheep out of the park & I looked sharply at the ground to learn the value of the military influence on the small & great flora On the sloping portions of the forest floor when the soil was loose & friable the vegetation has not yet recovered from the [illegible]bblin & destructive action of the sheep feet & teeth, but where a tough sod on meadows was spread the grasses & blue gentians & [erigerous?] are again blooming in all their wild glory. The sheepmen are more than matched by the few troopers in this magnificent park & the wilderness rejoices in fresh verdure & bl[oom?] only the Yosemite itself in the middle of the grand park is downtrodden, frowsy, & like an abandoned backwoods pasture No part of the Merced & Tuolumne wilderness is so dusty, downtrodden, abandoned & pathetic as
the Yosemite. It looks ten times worse now than when you saw it seven years ago. Most of the level meadow floor of the valley is fenced with barbed & unbarbed wire. & about 300 head of horses are turned loose every night to feed & trample the flora out of existence. I told the hotel & horsemen that they were doing all they could to prevent lovers of wild haunts from visiting the valley & that soon all tourist travel would cease. This year only 1200 regular tourists visited the valley while 2000 campers came in & remained a week or two.
But a change in the management is now on. One of the eight commissioners, Mr Fields told me that from a conversation he had with me 3 years ago he had been looking for a landscape artist to lay out the floor of the valley & at last had found him. A Mr Radford who told me that he had been associated with Olmsted 30 years. He has just completed a survey of the Yosemite & is now laying out a plan of roads paths clearing etc. Do you know him. Please inquire of Olmsted & let me know how much I may rely on him.
Mr Fields is the one Commissioner who is devoutly trying to mend Yosemite matters. He it was who brought in Mr. Radford & who told me that since he had done so he wanted me to stand in with him. I have little hope for Yosemite. As long as the management is in the hands of eight politicians appointed by the every changing governor of California there is but little hope. I never saw the Yosemite so frowsy, scrawny, downtrodden as last August & the horsemen began to enquire "Has the Yosemite begun to play out." This year 2000 campers have entered the valley and only 1200 regular tourists, & in the Yosemite National park I have found more than a hundred for every one five years ago. I went down the [Munce?] to Tuolumne Canon thence to Crockers the Big Tuolumne Canon [diacritic]. Thence to the Yosemite [illegible]
Ever yours John Muir
1895 Sep 12
Original letter dimensions unknown.
Muir, John, "Letter from John Muir to [Robert Underwood] Johnson, 1895 Sep 12." (1895). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 3136.
Reel 08, Image 1161
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