Dec. 20, 1901 -
My dear Harry Randall.
I'm delighted to hear from you & get a sketch of you life, though a meagre one, in the long eventful years since our Yosemite days. I have no lack of friends & have acquaintances in every rank almost everywhere nowadays, but I never forget old friends, & those of early pioneer days in the grand Sierra are my especial delight. I have often wondered where you were & how the battle of life was going with you. I remember you took a great liking to Mr Hamilton the carpenter who was working with Mr Hedges & he to you & I think you told me that you were going into partnership with him to raise cattle in some of the wild states. I'm glad to learn you
settled down & are enjoying a fair share of peaceful prosperity - Had you stayed with me I might perhaps have pushed you a little farther ahead, but Heaven guides us more than we know & our fate none of us can forsee. Mine has been to wander in all wild places as a lover of nature botanist, geologist, naturalist And though I never intended to write or lecture or seek fame in any way I now write a good deal & am well known - Strange is it not that a tramp & vegabond without worldly ambition should meet such a fate. I spent about ten years altogether in the Sierra Nevada & Utah, then I wandered through the mountains of Oregon & Washington then began a system of exploration in Alaska, especially with a view to forests, glaciers, mountains etc. In 1881 I went to the Arctic regions about
Behring Sea on the Steamer Corwin in search for the lost Jeanette Expedition during which I saw a good deal of the frozen Arctic region along the coast of Siberia & the northern extremity of the N. American continent. Later I spent a little time in Montana, Idaho, Colorado Arizona - Also in the New England States & Southward through Delaware, Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama & Florida - studying the forests mostly. Also made a short run into Canada. In 1893 I went to my old home in Scotland., visited Ireland, England, Norway, Switzerland, & Italy. In the summer of 1899 I joined the "Harriman Alaska Expedition" The Narrative part was published this last fall & you should try to get it from your Worcester Library. It is splendidly illustrated. I wrote one of the Chapters of the first volume. Last summer I took my two girls, 15 & 19 yrs. old to Yosemite & eastward toward the summit at the headwaters of the
Tuolumne. When you visit Yosemite you will not find many of the old times inhabitants. Galen Clark, now nearly ninety years old is living in the Valley & is in good health. I also saw Old Coulter, George Kenny's fatherinlaw; George has grown up sons & daughters He is fat & heavy - perhaps drinks a little too much. but attends sharply to business with the Washburns in the saddle train business & I guess is pretty well off. The [Lirdig?] Hotel is gone, pulled down by the Commissioners & [Lirdig?] & his wife are keeping a hotel or eating house at Raymond for the [Washburn?] Stage Co. I saw them there not long ago. Black's Hotel has also vanished, & Mr Black died long ago. Mrs Black is still living. She visited me here several times a few years ago. There is only one hotel now in the [in margin: cedar cottage] Valley, on the river bank at the old Hutchings place. The Old Hutchings Hotel is now a picture gallery & lodging house The big Cedar tree is still growing through the roof. Hutchings Winter Cabin where we boarded & ate those memorable muffins is still standing but was full
of hay last time I saw it. & of the cabin we built not a vestige remains, I tried to show my girls where it stood but could not exactly. The apple trees are still alive but they get no care neither do those of the Lamon orchards, they are now hay fields. Good old Lamon died about 20 years ago. Mr Hutchings is still lively & over 80 & with his fourth wife is keeping the Sperry Hotel at the Calaveras Big Trees. His first wife the one we knew is I belive still living though I have not seen her for many years. She obtained a divorce from Hutchings or he from her long ago - The second wife was a schoolteacher & artist a fine woman everybody says. She died in Yosemite. The third I never saw that I know of - she also died. The present wife was a teacher - a nice woman as far as I learn - I stopped at the hotel a day or two summer before last. Mr Hutchings has never been quite successful, & never has quite failed. Had he more business sagacity he might have been well off.
Flora's fate was very sad. you know she was a queer girl, When she grew up her parents sent her to school at San Francisco - but she was strangely unmanageable the teachers could do nothing for her & expelled her - then in Yosemite she became a ladies guide - dressed in mens clothes, rode like a cowboy or a Tomboy, & was a great favorite with the visitors. When she was about 17 years old, she was converted & was very devout. One day as she was guiding a party of ladies up the Glacier Point trail she dismounted in front of the Sentinel Rock & climbed up a few feet to get some ferns for one of the ladies. There is a small stream there & in climbing she slipped & got her feet wet in the icy current at a critical time, took sick died. In so simple a way notwithstanding her vigorous constitution & constant exercise poor Floy lost her life. She was sincerely mourned. She lies in the little graveyard a few hundred yards east of the old mill. I visited her grave last summer Al. May also lies there, deid long ago. Dick Horton was shot in a quarrel about the
Cascade Meadows at the foot of the Valley Indian Tom was shot by that little Jimmy who couldn't speak plainly Ive forgotten his surname. Willie, the baby of Hutchings family when we went to the Valley never was perfectly well. He is undersized & a cripple He learned to do fine carpernter work & carving, inlaying etc. He was keeping a store in Yosemite this summer that belonged to a dealer in fancy woodwork. I went into the store & asked him if he knew me. He answered no. I said I have know you for over 30 years "Then said he you must have know me all my life for I'm not much over 30 yrs of age" - I made him guess a while then had to tell himmy name. His father they say has never done much for him. Cosie I think I told you about in my first letter. She is happy from all reports & always was a favorite & a capital
Billy Bowen is living at Garrote not doing much of anything That was a pretty hard tramp into the Valley in the fall laden like pack animals, & your pack was heaviest. And that walk, or scramble rather, down the river from the Valley to the plains was pretty rough most of the long way. I must write an account of it some time. I guess we were the only ones who ever made the trip. Well I remember that good Sabbath days journey up the Glacier Point side canon, along the rim of the Valley to the head of the Bridal Veil thence down into the Valley by the south side of the Cathedral Rocks & up to our cabin in the starlight - arriving at 3 o'clock in the morning. That night for the first & last time in my life I saw the shadows from the trees & stones that Venus cast, they were perfectly distinct. Perhaps you remember my calling attention to the wonderful
brightness of that planet. She seemed half as big as the moon. A glorious sight worth any amount of rough night rambling to see. Well Harry I guess you will think that this letter ramble is about long enough It is the longest that I have written in more than ten years to anybody. I spend my summers in study & exploration in the wilderness, my winters in writing books or magazine articles. I'll send you a copy of my last book with this. My first was published by the Century Co. of New York six years ago. It is called "The Mountanis of California Write again soon & tell me more about yourself, & believe me
Ever Your friend
1901 Dec 20
Original letter dimensions: 27.5 x 28 cm.
Muir, John, "Letter from John Muir to Henry Randall, 1901 Dec 20." (1901). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 4509.
Reel 11, Image 1013
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