John Muir


[John Muir]


[Louie Strentzel Muir]


Unalaska Harbor,

Tuesday, May 17th. 1881.

2 P.M.

Dear Louie:

The gale having abated early this morning, we left our anchorage on the south side of the island and steamed round into the Strait to try it again after our last evening's defeat, and this time we were successful, after a hard contest with the tide which flows here at a speed of (10) miles an hour.
The clouds lifted and the sun shone out early this morning, revealing a host of mountains nobly sculptured and grouped and robed in spotless white. Turn which way you would, the mountains were seen towering into the dark sky, some of them with streamers of mealy snow wavering in the wind, a truly glorious sight. The most interesting feature to me was the fine, clear, telling, glacial advertisement displayed everywhere in the trends of the numerous inlets and bays and valleys and ridges, in the peculiar shell-shaped névé amphitheatres and in the rounded valley bottoms and forms of the peaks and the cliff fronts facing the sea. No clearer glacial inscriptions are to be found in any mountain range, though 1 had been led to believe that these islands were all volcanic upheavals, scarce at all changed since their emergence from the waves, but on the contrary 1 have already discovered that the amount of glacial degradation has been so great as to cut the peninsula into islands. I have already-been repaid for the pains of the journey.
My health is improving every day in this bracing cold, and you will hardly recognize me when 1 return. The summer will soon pass and we hope to be back to our homes by October or November, but in any case the time will soon pass and you must make yourself strong for the sake of Annie Wanda and all of us, and for your own dear sake. You must not fret. I do not much fear that you will, for you must needs be busy with many things, and with our babe above all. This is a beautiful harbor, white mountains shutting it in all around -- white nearly to the water's edge.---
[We will probably be here until Saturday next, as we have to take on a hundred tons of coal and some stores, etc.]
I will write again ere we leave, and then you will not hear again, probably, until near the middle of June, when we expect to meet the St. Paul belonging to the Alaska Com. Co. at St. Michael. Then 1 will write and you may receive my letter a month or two later.
Goodbye until tomorrow.

[John Muir]

May 19th.

[This morning I jumped up in bed, dreaming that I heard our baby crying.]



Oonalaska Harbor

Date Original

1881 May 17


Original letter dimensions: 33 x 21.5 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 04, Image 0552

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



1 page


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



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