S[amuel] S. Shull
LAW OFFICES OFSAMUEL S.SHULLGERMAN-AMERICANBANK BUILDING[TOP FLOOR]ST JOSEPH, MO. June 28th '09.Prof. John Muir,Martinez, Calif.Dear Sir: After many days of wandering, I presume, my letter to you of date Jany 6th, reached you. I should have picked up the book:" Who's Who'. and there I would have gotten your address. I thot that a simple address "to California" would reach you. You may see now that you are not well known in Calif. Had I better say this is written as a joke? I guess you would see it without. Well, I am glad the letter reached you - especially for the reason that it brought from you so nice a reply. I refer to the invitation. I would surely avail myself of your invitation if I were to be in your part of the country. I shall not be on the coast this yr unless plans change. I was well through Calir last summer, with my wife and two boys, but this summer I am unable to move them to travel. I could chastise the wife into my way of thinking but the boys can not be so esily made to give up. Now, I wish to thank you for the invitation to visit you and I shall have that pleasure within a year, I hope - possibly before the coming fall.Now, you are much to blame for my troubles for almost two years - had you not written of the alpenglow, I might not have become interested in it - I might not have climbed Pike's Peak at night to be there for sun rise - I might not have seen that what04536 LAW OFFICES OFSAMUEL S.SHULLGERMAN-AMERICANBANK BUILDING[TOP FLOOR]2ST. JOSEPH. MOyou were plcased to call:" the most wonderful of all the terrestrial manifestations of God". Having seen it and being of a peculiar turn of mind, I sought to learn the cause of the phenom. I turned to the tourists about me who also were witnesses. I asked first one then another. None knew the cause. All were travellers but not all were philosophers. I then went into the Summit House where I knew the people had looked into the phenom. I knew they must have been driven by the greatness of the wonder to look into its cause. They too, understood it not. I went down among the good people of the Springs and sought knowledge. Few of them had even been to the top of the Peak, let alone at a time to see the sun rise. I returned to my home and sought knowledge from the learned - from educators and physicists,- but they seemed bent only on entangling me. I went to the works on light, but they did not touch my subject. I looked into books of travea among the Alps and found Conway writing "The Alps". There I gave it up. Yet, I resolved that after some rest, I would perhaps try again. I may now understand the cause of the phenomenon. I am working on it.I take it that the phenom is seen from mountain tops that rise above timber line? That it may be seen just after sun rise and just before sun set - for about 3/4 of an hour? That the red lying near the horizon after sun set or beiore sun rise, has nothing to do with the alpenglow. That may be seen from lower levels and arises from a diiferent cause? am I right? I take it that04536 LAW OFFICES OFSAMUEL S.SHULLGERMAN-AMERICANBANK BUILDING[TOP FLOOR]3ST. JOSEPH. MOwhile one may stand on a mountain peak and look toward the sun and behold the "glory of God". using Moses term, at that same time one below the summit or on the plain below might look in vain for the phenom? To the one on the peak looking to the east the whole plain would seem bathed and filled with crimson or purple light, the one down on the plain could look about him and see noth ing unusual? Is that right? I was on Tamilpais and on Mt Lowe and saw no alpenglow. That was last summer. I think they never present the spectacle. Is it not your observation that it is to be seen only from peaks that rise above the timber line". I observe that you saw it from a point below the top of Ritter. But were you not above the timber liner from the top of Ritter did not the glow seem stronger than from the lower heights?ST.When one below beholds the peak at sun rise, it seems to be on fire - the peak seems to be on fire. Now if he were standing in that fire or glow and looked out thereof he would be looking through a colored atmosphere and all beyond the zone of colored light would partake of that color just as when one looks thru a piece of colored glass, all beyond the glass partakes of the color of the glass. The sun's rays reflecting and refracting from the bare rocks give rise to the glow. The rocks must have some color to them and be above timber line in order to do their work unhampered by any growth. One could take in his pocket several small04536 LAW OFFICES OFSAMUEL S.SHULLGERMAN-AMERICANBANK BUILDING[TOP FLOOR]4ST. JOSEPH. MOpieces of glass and from them get many alpenglows. It seems too bad that it is true - if it is true. He could have them colored crimson and olive green and red and blue [illegible]c and have all kinds of alpenglows. Too bad if true. I felt such exaltation of soul at the scene from Pike's Peak that I could not rest till I had a theory. The theory takes away much of the "soul feeling". Moses on Sinai could not have felt more than I felt on Pike's Peak. It Sinai were also a volcano emitting a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire, even that could not have added to "The Glory of God" on the mountain top. I have talked with many who set a view of the Grand Canyon of Arizona above a view Crom Pike's peak - but is safe to say that in all these cases they did not see the Peak under proper conditions. I saw the uanyon last summer under proper conditions. It is not to be compared with the alpenglow from a proper view point. I had purposed to write an article for a magazine on the subject of the alpenglow. Still, if my conclusions are right, it would seem a pity for the truth to be well known to viewers - it would cheat them out of much exaltation of soul. It would be purchasing truth at a high price. Miracles cease to charm when all the phenomena can be accounted for without a resort to miracle.I would be very glad to have your observations on this phenom04536 LAW OFFICES OFSAMUEL S.SHULLGERMAN-AMERICANBANK BUILDING[TOP FLOOR]last.ST. JOSEPH. MOan d what you think of iay theory.I would like to know when it seems strongest - whether is about half an hour by sun or when. I would like to know what shade of color appears first, then what shade comes next and so on. are there different shades of color? My recollection is that there are. I mould like to have them seriatim. When I saw this sight, I was not then thinking of exact Knowledge.I have enjoyed tresspassing on your time and patience whether you take the trouble to help me out or not. I desire to learn from you and to have your opinion on the matter I have submitted. I hope you may take the trouble to help me out.Yours very truly.S.S.Shull04536
St. Joseph, Mo.
1909 Jun 28
Original letter dimensions: 27.5 x 21.5 cm.
Shull, Samuel S., "Letter from S[amuel] S. Shull to John Muir, 1909 Jun 28." (1909). John Muir Correspondence (PDFs). 5814.
Reel 18, Image 0576
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