J. Horace McFarland


James R. Garfield


J. HORACE MCFARLAND. President, Harrisburg. Fa. ifC. -INTON ROGERS WOODRUFF. First yice-President and Secretary, PhiladelphiaWILLIAM B. HOWLAND, Treasurer, New York ROBERT C. OGDEN, Chairman Advisery Committee, New YorkVice-Presidents: GEORGE B. LEIGHTON, Monadnock, N. H.ROBERT WATCHORM, New York.L. E. HOLDEN, ClevelandFIELDING J. STILSON, Los AngelesFOR A BETTER AND MORE BEAUTIFUL AMERICADepartment Vice-PresidentsArts and Crafts. . . MRS. M. F. JOHNSTON,, Richmond, Ind.Children's Gardens . MISS MARY MARSHAL BUTLER, YonkeRS, N. Y.City Making .... FREDRICK L. FORD. Hartford. Conn.Factory Betterment . GEORGE OTIS DRAPER. Hopedale, MassLibraries ....... MISS MARY E. AHERN, ChicagoOutdoor Art .... WARREEN H. MANNING, BostonParks and Reservations, HENRY A. BARKER, ProvidencePress....... R. B. WATROUS. MilwaukeeDepartment Vice-PrealdentsPublic Nuisances . . . HARLAN P. KELSEY, Salem, Mass.Public Recreation . . . MRS. GEORGE F. FRENCH, Portland. Me.Railroad Improvements . MRS. A. E. MCCREA, ChicagoRural Improvements . D. WARD KING. Maitland. Mo,School Extension . O. J. KERN, Rockford, Ill.Soctel Settlement. . . GRAHAM ROMEYN TAYLOR, ChicagoWomans League . . . MRS. AGNES MCGIFFERT POUND, Ashitabula, OOFFICE OF THE PRESIDENTHARRISBURG, PA.May 19, 1908Hon, James Rudolph Garfield,Secretary of the Interior,Washington, D. C.Dear Sirs: In compliance with my promise, I enclose herein a copy of the memorandum received form Mr. Muir in regard Hetch Hetchy matter, of which I spoke to you last Thursday evening. You will note that MR. Muir is in direct comflict with certain allegations which have been made in regard to the facts of the matter.At this time I promed for your consideration to remain in the Hetch-Hetchy Valley In the event of the development by the city of San Francisco of the rights granted to it under your permit of May 18.Recognising as I do the absolute fairness of your intent,having much better knowledge since reading ths statement of the governing factors in the case, I yet feel that it would not have been other than proper and fortunate to have specifically mentioned the necessity for every possible consideration to be given to the preservation of the scenic features of this valley. As the matter stands there ia no direct declaration upon this subject. The power of the Secretary of the Interior continues, but if he does not at the time of the development happen to be addressed particularly upon the subject, it would not be improbable that Hon. Jamas Rudolph Garflaid - 2tha development of electric power and the building of the reservoir could so occur as to unnecessarily spoil the scenery.That there exists preccedent for such action as this is well shown in tha action of Secretary Taft in giving permits a for the use of Niagara water and the introduction of Niagara-generated elactricity from Canada, under the act of June 20, 1906, known as tha Burton Bill. Specific and definite reservation has bean made of the powers of the Secretary with respect to the scenic importance of Niagara Falls. Aa a result conditions are improving at the Falls in respect to the one worst American offender,and as a further result the erection of a bridge which would have been most offensive has been definitely prevented.If in your wisdom you should think it worth while to show attention to the wishes of those unselfish persons who, like Mr. Muir,are protasting from no thought of personal or corporate action, but at considerable expense of time, energy and effort, it might yet be possible to qualify your permission of May 12 to result of compelling attention by those thus permitted to enter upon a National Park, supposed by the people at large to be really a National Park, to consider the scenic feature of the location, and to fight ao far as it might be possible to avoid any unnecessary interference with scenic attractions.JHM/SCG - ACAYours truly,[illegible]President HETCH-HETCHY DAMMING SCHEME(Memorandum from John Muir, President the Sierra Club,received May 14, 1908,by J. Horace McFarland, President American Civic Association)The better part of the world is beginning to know that beauty plays an important part in human progress, and that regarded even from the lowest financial standpoint it is one of the most precious and productive assets any country can possess.Most of our forests have already vanished in lumber and smoke,mostly smoke. Fortunately the Federal Government is now faithfully protecting and developing nearly all that is left of our forest and stream resources; nor even in these money-mad commercial days have our beauty resources been altogether forgotten. Witness the magnificent wild parks of the west, set apart and guarded for the highest good of all, and the thousands of city parks made to satisfy the natural taste and hunger for landscape beauty that God in some measure has put into every human being.Timber and water are universal wants, and of course the government is aware that no scheme of management of the public domain failing to provide for them can possibly be maintained. But however abundantly supplied from legitimate sources, every national park is besieged by thieves and robbers and beggars with all sorts of plans and pleas for possession of some coveted treasure of water, timber, pasture, rights of way, etc. Nothing dollarable is safe, however guarded. Thus the Yosemite Park, the beauty glory of California and the Nation, Nature's own mountain wonderland, has been attacked by spoilers ever since it was established, 2and this strife I suppose, must go on as part of the eternal battle between right and wrong. At present the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and certain monopolising capitalists are trying to get the Government's permission to dam and destroy Hetch-Hetchy, tho Tuelumne Yosemite Valley, for a reservoir, simply that comparatively private gain may be made out of universal public loss.Should this wonderful valley be submerged as proposed, not only would it be made utterly inaccessible, but the sublime Tuolumne canyon way to the heart of the High Sierra would be hopelessly closed. None, as far as I have learned. of the thousands who have visited the park. as infavor of this destructuve and wholly unnecessary water scheme. Very few of the state-ents made by tha applicants are even partly true.Thus, Hetch-Hetchy, they may is "a low-lying meadow". On the contrary it is a high-lying natural landscape garden. "It is a common minor feature, like thousands of others". On the contrary it is a very uncommon feature, and after Yosemite the rarest, most beautiful and in many ways the [illegible]As well say damming New York's Central Park would enhance its beauty! "Hetch-Hetchy water is the purest and the only available source of supply for San Francisco".It is not the purest, because it drains a pleasure ground visited by hundreds of campers with their animals every season, and soon these hundreds will be thousands. Anf there are many other adequate and available sources of supply, though probably they would be somewhat more costly; and so with all their bad, cunning arguments, boldly advanced under the general ignorance of the subject.JOHN MUIR


Harrisburg, Pa.

Date Original

1908 May 19


Original letter dimensions unknown.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 17, Image 0577

Collection Identifier

Online finding aid for the microform version of the John Muir Correspondence

Copyright Statement

Some letters written to John Muir may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.). Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Owning Institution

National Archives. Please contact this institution directly to obtain copies of the images or permission to publish or use them beyond educational purposes.


4 pages


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



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