John Muir


John Muir


[Annie Kennedy] Bidwell


In Camp near Austin Nevada, Aug’ 6th, 1878 —

Dear Mr Bidwell

What magnificent floods of sunshine we have here; open, shadeless, unmitiagated sunglow & [Boo?] how hot it is riding all day on the gray plains. We set out from Sacrament on horseback & though but fairly begun have already ridden 700 miles across plains & mountains [ Mary O.?] We spent the 4th of July at glorious Tahoe sailed once more around the lake enjoying the ravishing beauty of the water. Thence we pushed eastward to the Wassuck mountains near Walker Lake Thence North to old Fort Churchill on the Carson – was delighted to find the ancient outlet of the Walker River basin. It flowed from the North end of Mason Valley into the Carson opposite the old fort. It appears therefore that the great Carson & Humboldt Sink also received the waters of Walker River towards the close of the Glacier Period. From the fort we pushed off in a North Easterly direction across the Sink & ascended the gray ashy looking range that bounds it on the East. How the sun shone, & how the burning air wavered & ripped – strange that even the very sunlight may become dreary The gray alkaline levels have a weird mysterious influence. Yet there is no real cause to make one lose his senses. The delicate pink Abronia is in full bloom, & one sunflower & a leguminous bush with purple flowers, & even the Sage is beautiful if one only takes the times to look at it deliberately.

[Page 2]

and several species of grass spread their handsome [illegible]iles in the openings – Immense areas however are perfectly smooth hard white & plantless. Here is what the early emigrants called the 40 mile-desert well marked even now by bones & wagon wrecks. Anyhow it is beautiful however unfit for juicy fruits & wheat. From the mountains we had a glorious view of this rare old lake. Towards sunset it was one mass of color beautiful & delicate as tints rose petals or the lips of shells. One of the most ineffably beautifully of all Natures paintings. The gray forbidding mountains too are rich in gardens watered by streams to small to sing audibly. Wish I had space to tell you about them, but Alack! a letter tells nothing. We next ascended the Augusta Range. Then crossed more hot valleys & passed over the Desetoya & Shoshone ranges – crossed Reese River Valley & climbed one of the highest of the Toyabe summits – (11,000 feet). From here we will proceed in a general easterly direction to the Wasatch Mountains – will probably be out until November. I was thinking of your leafy home the other day. Will the changed state of affairs of the Sierra lumber Co. allow the waters of Chico Creek to flow once more in natural purity? We are all baking & browning finely, some roses blooming & shedding scale-like petals. Mine is not yet so far advanced & the heat has but little effect. Had a letter from your sister & Prof Gray just before leaving San Fran. My next address good for two weeks from this date will be [underlined: Eureka, Nevada]. Care A.F. Rodgers, U.S. Coast Survey I see that the irrepre[illegible] Gunning has been in Yosemite. He is mistaken about the moraines he mentions.

[in margin: With cordial regards to the General. I am ever your friend John Muir.]


In Camp near Austin Nevada

Date Original

1878 Aug 6


Original letter dimensions unknown.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 03, Image 0868

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, click here to view the Holt-Atherton Special Collections policies.

Owning Institution

The Bancroft Library, University of California at Berkeley. 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



2 pages


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



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