John Muir


John Muir


[John] Strentzel



[ Ward?] Nevada Saturday morning Sep’ 28th 1878.

Dear Doctor, Your kind letter of the 8th [illegible] reached me yesterday. having been forwarded from Hamilton This is a little three year old mining town where we are making a few days halt to transact some business & rest the wary animals. We arrived late when it was too dark to set the tents & we recklessly camped in a corral on a breezy hilltop. I have a great horror of sleeping upon any trodden ground near human settlements not to say amoniacal pens but the captn had his blankets spread alongside the wagon & I dared the worst & lay down beside him. A wild equi[illegible]tial gale roared & tumbled down the mountainside all thru the night sifting the the dry fragrant snuff about our eyes & tears notwithstanding all our care in tucking & rolling our ample blankets. The situation was not exactly distressing but most absurdly & damnidly ludicrous. Our camp trups – basins, bawls, bogs went speeding wildly past in screeching rumbling discard with the earnest wind- -tones. A heavy mill-frame was blown down, but we suffered no great damage. Most of our remaining gear having been found in fence corners. But how terribly we stood in need of deodorizers – not de- -alkalizers as you suggest. Next morning we rented a couple of rooms in town where we now are & washed rubbed dusted & combed ourselves back again into countenance. Half an hour ago after reading your letter a second time I tumbled out my pine tails tassels & burrs & was down on my knees on the floor making a selection for you according to your wishes & was casting about as to the chances of finding a suitable box when the captain


returning from the post office handed me your richly laden grape box & now the grapes are out & the burrs are in. Now this was a coincidence worth noting, was it not? better than most peoples special pro[illegible]ces. The fruit was in perfect condition every individual speroid of them all fresh & bright & as tightly bent as drums with there stored up sun-juices The big bunch is hung up for the benefit of eyes most of the others have already vanished causing as they fled a series of the finest sensuous [illegible] imaginable. The weather is now much cooler. The nights almost bracingly cold & all goes well. Not a thirst trace left We were weather bound a week in a canon of the Golden Gate Range not by storms but by soft balmy hazy Indian summer in which the mountain aspens ripened to flaming yellow. While the sky was too opaque for observations upon the distant peaks Since leaving Hamilton have obtained more glacial facts of great interest. Very telling in the history of the Great Basin. Also many charming additions to the thousand thousand pictures of Natures mountain beauty. I understand perfectly your criticism on the blind pursuit of every scientific peeble wasting a life in microscopic examinations of every grain of wheat in a field, but I am not so doing. The history of this vast wonderland is scarce at all known & no amount of study in other fields will develop it to the light. As to that special thirst affair I was in no way responsible I was fully awake to the danger but I was not in a position to prevent it. Our work goes on hopefully towards a satisfactory [ termination?] Will soon be in Utah. All the mountains yet to be climbed have been seen from other summits – save two on the Wasatch viz Mt Nebo & a peak back of Beaver. Our next object will be Wheelers peak 40 miles east of here.


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The fir I send you is remarkably like the Sierra [underlined: Grandis], but much smaller, seldom attaining a greater height than fifty feet. In going East from the Sierra it was first met on the Hot Creek Range & afterwards on all the higher rangers thus far. It also occurs on the Wasatch & Oquirrh mountains. Of the two pines, that with the larger cones is called “Ulule Pine” by the Lettlers. It was first met on Carys Peak west of Walker Lake & afterwards on all the mountains thus far that reached an elevation of 10,000 feet or more. This I have no doubt is the species so rare on the Sierra & which I found on the Eastern slope opposite the head of O[illegible] Valley. Two years ago I saw it on the Wasatch above Salt Lake. I mean to send specimens to Gray & Hooker as they doubtless observed it on the Rocky Mountains. The other species is the [underlined: Aristata] of the Southern portion of the Sierra above the Kern & Kings rivers. Is but little known though exceedingly interesting. First met on the Hot Creek Range & more abundantly

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on the White Pine mountains – called Fox-tail pine by the miners on account of its long bushy tassels. it is by far the most picturesque of all pines, & those of these basin ranges far surpass those of the Sierra in extravagant & unusual beauty of the picturesque kind. These three species & the [ Fremont?] or Nut pine & juniper are the only comfe[illegible] trees I have thus far met in the state Possibly the Yellow Pine – (ponderosa) may be found on the Snake Range. I observed it last year on the Wasatch, together with one Abies. Of course that small portion of Nevada which extends into the Sierra about Lake Tahoe is not considered in this co[illegible]ion for it is naturally a portion of California.

Cordially Yours, John Muir

Nest address, [underlined: Pioche Nevada]


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[underlined: Bulletin Third]. Portage Wis. Oct 10th ’78.

Dear brother Dan.

Tonight Father wishes me to tell you that this is the best day he has had since he was sick that he has eaten a baked sweet apple and relished it very much, the barley tea he likes very much also, all to the praise and glory of God, he says, He sends his warmest love to you and Emma. Annie and I have been


Ward, Nevada

Date Original

1878 Sep 28


Original letter dimensions: 31 x 20.5 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 03, Image 0922

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

University of the Pacific Library Holt-Atherton Special Collections. 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



5 pages



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