John Muir


John Muir


[Strentzel Family]


[circled: 1]

Steamship California, On the Columbia, a few miles below Astoria, July 9th 1879.

Dear friends three,

Your bottles & letters, one from Louie & one from the Doctor were received at Seattle two days ago, the whole sinking or raising me more & more irredeemably in debt. I am on my way to Alaska, will go as far as Sitka to obtain general views of the Coast & as much of the interior as good & safe opportunities chance to offer. The California is a staunch little screw steamer smooth & narrow & will no doubt roll & plunge in a rough sea like a porpoise at play but I can not how rough the way that leads where I want to go, & as for storms I heartily enjoy them either on land or sea. I mean to stop over one trip so I will probably be in that northland a month or two. After leaving Olympia at the head of Puget Sound we returned to Victoria & sailed thence to New West – -minister on the Fraser River. Then took another steamer to Yale about a hundred miles up- the head of navigation. Spent one day in the mountains there, & returned to Victoria. Then sailed again for Seattle & Tecoma. At the latter place took the Cars for Kalama on the Columbia 105 miles then a steamer from Kalama for 5 o’clock. The California & Oregon were lying at

[in margin: 00857]

[Page 2]


the dock, both to sail at 3. [underlined: A M] next morning. Magee took the one for his wife-home-&-business I the other for ————— & trees-& ice etc. The Overland expedition is therefore definitely postponed for at least a year. The way for all I could learn was clear enough, but I would not choose to undertake it alone. Lieutenant Hooper commanding the steamship Wo[illegible] invited me to go to Alaska with him in the Reven[illegible] Cutter lying at Port Townsend. I would have a good time with him, but as he did not know within a month or two when his sailing orders would arrive I concluded to go less comfortably & at greater expense on this black porpoise. We will touch at Victoria & other ports - thus it will appear that I will have visited this British City four times besides sailing the whole length of Puget Sound three times, & up & down a hundred miles of the Fraser & Columbia rivers. So much I have seen of water & shore, forests & mountain it seems incredible to me that the Almanac time since leaving San Francisco should be less than three weeks. Sheldon Jackson the missionary & commissionary man who lectured in Yosemite on Alaska will go with us. We have only about a dozen passengers aboard as yet, but will pick up more at Victoria, & port Townsend. On my return I hope to make some good excursions into the woods & up some of the snowy Cones in W. T. & Oregon. The owner of the mills at Burrard Inlet

[Page 3]


who sent that famous plank & douglass spruce to the centennial is anxious to have me visit the woods there. So also the owners of the Coal mines at Seattle & Carbon are offering their mines as just the spots of greatest interest to a geologist. At Port Townsend I met Mr Webster the [Collection?] of customs & a Mr Swan who has long been a correspondent of Agassiz Also a [illegible] hunter & mountaineer by the name of Stratton. These gentlemen offer to make up a party to explore the Olympic Range when I return, So you see I will not be alone unless I so choose. The season is not yet sufficiently advanced for excursions into the dense woods, or up the snowladen peaks. The streams are all deep & the ground is covered with a saturated sponge of mosses. From one point on the Columbia a few miles below the mouth of the Wal[illegible]ette I saw five snowy cones from ten to fourteen thousand feet high. Mt Rainier, Mt St Helens Mt Adams, Mt Hood, & the North Sister? Rainier & St Helens are the noblest mountains I ever saw, surpassing even Shasta in the beauty of their lines & in [illegible]ciness & in whiteness Hood is much less imposing – sharp & rugged & wanting in solid massiness Rainier is best seen from Tecoma on Puget Sound, St Helens from the Columbia The one is the

[in margin: 00857]

[Page 4]


pole star – the great white light of the sound, the other of the lower Columbia. We are just approaching the bar, & our little ship is beginning to plunge. We will probably reach Victoria tomorrow where I will mail this. I sent some books that I did not care to carry from Victoria a week ago. Also some plants to Louis, & again at Seattle the other day a bookful of colored maple leaves & a box of burs & bushes etc, should you get them soon some of them – the arbor vitae & spruce may grow — [my?] how we are pitching end on crossing the bar, Two hours ago the wind [began?] to blow hard from the sea, sending a [fleet?] of fishing boats scudding home some 30 or 40 of them like frightened gulls. I must go on deck & sea the famous bar Your loving kindness & confidence are very comforting to a lonely wanderer I feel strong & well & if spared will return to you notwithstanding your sacrificing care for me makes me uneasy when I think about it, accustomed as I have been to fight on & walk on relying only on God & myself

[in margin: In the meantime I only say thank you. Ever truly John Muir]


Steamship California, On the Columbia…below Astoria

Date Original

1879 Jul 9


Original letter dimensions: 27 x 21 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 03, Image 1098

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

Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library. 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



4 pages


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



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