John Muir


[John Muir]


[Louie Strentzel Muir]



would have been in the harbor by this time had it not been for a heavy headwind that began to blow early this morning. It has been a cold blusterary howling stormy day, with rain hail & snow beating the deck besides the waves that are breaking over the rail. Every moveable thing in the cabin flying from side to side. The weather has been cold all the way from California First an average day temperature of about 55°, with a gradual fall to 35°. Still I have been very comfortable. The cold wind is bracing & I have the best bed in the ship in which I sleep 9 hours every night. There are but three of us in the cabin, the Captain the Surgeon & myself & only the same three at table


[1881.] At sea, 50 miles from Oonalaska Sunday evening, May 15, half past 6 o’clock. half past 9 Alhambra time.

[in margin: Address John Muir Steamer Thomas [Carwig?] Oonalaska, care Alaska Commercial Company San Francisco, Cal.]

My beloved wife.

All goes well on our little ship, & not all the tossing of the waves, & the snow & hail on the deck & being out of sight of land so long can make me surely feel that I am not now with you all as ever, so sudden was my departure, & so long have I been accustomed in the old lonely life to feel the influence of loved ones as if present in the flesh, while yet far, and so my dear wife & own dear child & self [denying?] mother & father I seem to be with you all, so vividly are you present to the inner eye.

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and when after going again & again up the little crooked stairs to look at my beautiful baby I wake to the sad knowledge that I am indeed unable to touch her with my hand as usual then I begin to think of the distance & the time that are separating us, & I can only pray that God our Father will keep you tenderly & bring us again together with the added blessings of work well done. I was very seasick for two days, probably because of my sickly wearied condition when I came aboard. I was unable to eat at Swetts, felt sea-sick & began to vomit when I awoke the morning before we sailed. But I am well already & look so red & weather beaten you would scarce know me, & I sleep well, & eat well eat like a mountaineer let the [coruin?] toss & tumble as she may,


eat ham, eat bacon, eat onions, boiled, onions fried, eat onion – stuffing in chicken, eat onion – hash, & ere I return will no doubt eat polar bears, walruses, seals, whales, gulls, & at least a hundred other rank fishy horrible greasy meats, & mixtures with bland submissive thankfulness We have not been in sight of land since we left the vicinity of the Golden Gate, as we made a straight course across the ocean 2000 miles to [Gonalaska?] We would see some of the snowy volcanic cones now were they not hidden by clouds, (Ill run up to the pilot house & see if they have not come to view since I commenced this letter) No, the clouds are still close down to the water, we

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[in margin: I will write again in port.]

according to the many variable known & unknown circumstances of the case. Of course if DeLong is found we will return at once. If not, a persistent effort will be made to force a way to that mysterious ice, [illegible] Wrangel Land, since it was to is that DeLong was directing his efforts when last heard from. We will be cautious however, & we hope to be back to our homes this fall. Do not allow this outline of Captain Hoopers plan to get into print at present, Good night Love Goodnight to all good night [Annie?] Wanda. It is a wild rough night.

[in margin: in circle 6]

[5] 00998 2

so that there is no crowding. We will probably get into port tomorrow forenoon & remain about 3 days Coaling talking in more stores, etc. Then we will call at the seal Islands St Paul & St George Then push on along the She[illegible] Coast to about Cape Serdze if the ice will allow & there send out a party of four or five, with dogs to draw provisions, to search the North Siberian Coast as far to the W. as possible in a month or two for tidings of the Cost explorers or whales. This party I do not intend to join. I mean to stay on board the

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steamer wh in the meantime will return out of the ice as far as St Michals at the mouth of the Yukon & thence Northward again to Kotzebore?] Sound where we mean to do some little exploring up the Buckland River while the ice is being melted or driven back sufficiently to let us pass out of the Straits into the Polar Sea. Then after picking up our land party we will probably push as far East[illegible] as possible around [illegible] & then towards the close of the season proceed westward along the edge of the ice-pack


opposite the N Coast of Siberia with a view to discovering some opening in the ice to allow our pressing on to Wrangel Land. Should we be successful in reaching Wrangel Land we would very likely be compelled to winter on it, exploring while the weather permitted. In case we are unsuccessful in reaching Wrangel Land, we may get caught farther west & be able to reach it by dog sledges in winter while the pack is frozen. As we may winter on the Siberian Coast etc etc


At sea, 50 miles from Oonalaska, [Alaska]


Original letter dimensions: 20 x 25 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 04, Image 0536

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.

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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



4 pages



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