John Muir


John Muir


[Louie Strentzel Muir]


01024 [letterhead] Point Barrow, Aug’ 16th, 1881. 10.45 P.M.

My beloved wife. Heaven only knows my joy this night in hearing that you were well. Old as the letter is & great as the number of the days & nights that have passed since your love was written, it yet seems as if I had once more been up stairs & hold you & Wanda in my arms. Ah you little know the long icy days so strangly nightless that I have longed & longed for one word from you. The dangers great as they were while groping & grinding among the vast immeasurable ice fields about that mysterious Wrangel Land would have seemed as nothing before I knew you. But most of the special dangers are past & I have good news for you my love for we have succeeded in landing on that strange re[illegible] country & our work is nearly all done & I am coming home by the middle of October No thought of wintering now & attempting to cross the frozen ocean from Siberia. We will take no more risks. All is well with our [staunch?] little ship, she is [in margin: seems already in my arms. Not in dreams this time. From father & husband & lover John Muir. Point Barrow Aug 18th We are still here, will leave today for the southward Have written two Bulletin letters to go down by the Legal Tender. These will give you particulars of our ice battles.]

[Page 2]

scarce at all injured by the pounding & grinding she has undergone, & sailing home seems nothing more than crossing San Francisco bay. We have added a large territory to the domain of the United States & amassed a grand lot of knowledge of one sort & another. Now we sail from her tomorrow for Cape [Lisburne?] or if stormy to Plover Bay to cool & repair our rudder wh is a little weak. Thence we will go again around the margin of the main polar pack about Wrangel Land but not into it, & possibly discover a clear way to land upon it again & obtain more of its geography, then leave the arctic about the 10th of Sep’ call at St Michaels & at Oonalaska & then straight home. I shall not write at length now as this is to go down by the Legal Tender who sails in a few days & expects to reach S.F. by the 20th of Sep, but we may reach home nearly as soon as she. I have to dash off a letter for the Bulletin tonight yet, though I ought to go to bed, Not a word of it is yet written. We came poking & feeling our way along this icy shore a few hrs ago through the fog little thinking that a letter from you was just ahead. Then the fog lifted & we saw four whalers at anchor & a strange vessel. When the Captain of the Belvidere shouted “Letters for you Captain” by the Legal Tender” wh was the strange vessel. Our hearts leaped, & a boat was speedily sent along side. I got the letter package & handed them round, & yours love was the very last in the package & dreaded there was none. The Rodgers has not yet been heard from [in margin: Goodbye love I shall soon be home. Love to all. My wee lass-love she] [in margin: One of the whale ships was caught here & crushed in the ice & sunk in 20 minutes a month ago.]


Point Barrow, [Alaska]

Date Original

1881 Aug 16


Original letter dimensions: 25.5 x 20.5 cm.

Resource Identifier


File Identifier

Reel 04, Image 0686

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

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



2 pages



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