John Muir


John Muir


Mother [Ann Gilrye Muir]



St Michaels Alaska July 4th 1881 –

My dear Mother. Since I wrote you before from this place we have been again in the Arctic Ocean in search of the land party that we sent out from near Kol[illegible]chin Island to explore the Asiatic Coast to the westward, in search of tidings of the Jeanette & the two lost whalers Vigilant & [Mr Wolastan?]. We found our party near Cape Serdze waiting our arrival & succeeded in getting them safely on board after much difficulty on account of the ice that was packed a mile or two wide along the shore, & beaten by a heavy sea that kept the loose blocks on the

[Page 2]

edge of the pack in violent motion They found difficulty in obtaining food for their 25 dogs, & also from the rough condition of the ice & depth of soft snow making travel very laborious. They were successful however in getting sure intelligence of one of the whalers at Cape Wankerem. The men here told them that they had found a wrecked whale ship drifting in the pack about five miles from shore when they were hunting seals last fall & that they went aboard & found everybody dead & the hold full of water. They brought off a great number of articles from the wreck which they showed to our party, thus placing the fate of one of the missing ships beyond doubt

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[18?] 2

After taking our men aboard we made haste southward before a rising north gale, & stopped at anchor at East Cape a day & a half, where we had to land one of the native dog drivers who had been with the party. Here I climbed the mountains, & had very telling evidence of the grand ice-sheet that once flowed over them all on its way south & also obtained a few specimens of flowers. The sun does not set at all now, & it has been light enough to read the finest print at midnight for more than a month, wh is very convenient for making long excursions, but tedious & confusing in the matter of bed time & in keeping trace of the dogs. The last month has been one big eternal day. From E. Cape we went down the Asiatic Coast nearly to Plover Bay then crossed to this point

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calling at St Laurence Island again on the way. We will leave here tomorrow or next day, & arrive along the American Coast around by Point Barrow & then, when the ice is likely to be most open, push off as far into the Arctic Ocean towards Wrangel Land. We may find traces of the Jeanette on Wrangel Land in case we should be able to reach it through the ice & if so we will be back to San Francisco in October or November, But if not we will come again to St Michael, take nine months provisions on board & go again to the northward prepared to winter somewhere on the north coast of Asia & make search journeys with dogs & sleds over the frozen ocean. I am afraid I may not hear a single word from you dear mother, nor from any of the family until the cruise is done, or until the arrival [in margin: of next years whaling fleet in June of 1882. Love to all John Muir]


St. Michaels, Alaska

Date Original

1881 Jul 4


Original letter dimensions unknown.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 04, Image 0640

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

John Muir National Historic Site. 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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