Muir's Conservation Legacy Lives On
"Why should man value himself as more than a small part of the one great unit of creation?" John Muir asked. His remarkable visionthat all creation is one community made up of equal companionsstill inspires people to love nature and to work to save wildlands and wildlife. Muir is often called the father of national parks and forest reservations, forerunners of national forests. Muir urged people to experience wild nature so they would be inspired to defend it and save it.
At the University of Wisconsin, Muir read Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau on nature. He studied Louis Agassiz's new geology and Asa Gray's plant science. Later, he used these tools to achieve success in conservation. Muir arrived in California in 1868. He lived in the Yosemite area of the southern Sierra Range off and on for several years, and studied its botany and geology. In 1871, in an article in the New York Tribune, Muir argued that glaciers had carved Yosemite Valley. California's state geologist ridiculed his views, which were substantially correct. After five years as an active fruit rancher, Muir began his most important campaign to preserve the American wilderness. Muir enraged critics with the charge that lumbermen and sheepherders, with their "hoofed locusts," were ruining Yosemite's wildness. He attacked the prevailing notion that nature existed only to provide commodities for humans. With Century magazine editor Robert Underwood Johnson, Muir pushed for the creation of Yosemite National Park. His magazine and newspaper articles helped change Americans' attitude toward wilderness and wildness (see timeline). After Muir's death, his journals and other writings provided material for many more books.
Muir & Family in Martinez
John Muir married into the fruit-ranching Strentzel family in 1880 at age 42. Martinez would be his home until he flied in 1914. He and wife Louie raised their two daughters here. Hard-working and astute, Muir took over the fruit business and earned enough in five years to support the family for his lifetime. Louie then urged her overworked husband to revisit the wilds and resume his conservation writing and advocacy. Their daughters inherited the house from Louie in 1905. Muir bought it in 1912.
Few people associate raising a family and fruit ranching with "John of the Mountains" Muir, but he thrived at both. As a young man he achieved success as an inventor and machine shop designer and operator. Muir's Strentzel in-laws had pioneered the fruit business, but Muir made it pay handsomely. He grew up on a Wisconsin farm and knew the value of hard work. Passionate about efficiency and savvy about business. he closely followed his father-in-law's horticultural experiments and innovations, influential throughout California. (Dr. Strentzel showed 91 varieties of seven fruits at one county fair.) The family eventually owned 2,600 agricultural acres in Martinez. Muir focused solely on fruit ranching from 1882 through 1887, when Louie, concerned about his health, convinced him to turn the operation over to others and resume his conservation work and travels. After Dr. Strentzel died in 1890, the Muir family moved to the big house. Here in his second floor "scribble den" Muir wrote most of his published writings and all of his bookswhich place him among the world's classic nature writers. From here Muir also traveled to Alaska to study glaciers and around the world to study trees and other plants. Everywhere he went, Muir advocated saving wildness.
Visiting the Muir Home
The house and grounds are open daily, 10 am to 5 pm. The park is closed Thanksgiving Day, December 25, and January 1. Allow 1½ hours to tour the house and grounds, and view the film. The visitor center and first floor of the house are wheelchair-accessible. We strive to make our facilities, services, and programs accessible to all; call or check our website. Find information about safety, and on walks and hikes on Mount Wanda (open year-round, sunrise to sunset), at the visitor center. For firearms regulations check the park website.
Source: NPS Brochure (2013)
Brochures ◆ Site Bulletins ◆ Trading Cards
Cultural Landscape Report for John Muir National Historic Site, Volume 1: Site History, Existing Conditions, and Analysis (Jeffrey Killion and Mark Davison, 2005)
Cultural Landscape Report for John Muir National Historic Site, Volume 2: Treatment (Jeffrey Killion, 2005)
Feasibility Report: John Muir Home and Vicente Martinez Adobe, Martinez, California (John Hussey, Ronald N. Mortimore, Charles S. Pope, Lewis Koue and John Wosky, March 1963)
Genetic Analysis and History of the Mount Wanda Olive Orchard at John Muir National Historic Site Final Report (April 1, 2021)
Geologic Resources Inventory Report: John Muir National Historic Site NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/NRSS/GRD/NRR-2021/2333 (Katie KellerLynn, November 2021)
Historic Furnishing Report: Strentzel-Muir House John Muir National Historic Site (Mary Grassick, 2006)
Historic Structure Report: Martinez Adobe, John Muir National Historic Site, California (Steve M. Burke, Diane L. Rhodes, Kevin L. Baumgard, Mark L. Tabor and Charles R. Svoboda, August 1992)
Mt. Wanda Historical Ecology Investigation: A Reconnaissance Study Investigating Historical Landscape Data for the John Muir National Historic Site (Sean Baumgarten, Erin Beller and Robin Grossinger, San Francisco Estuary Institute Aquatic Sciences Center, March 2015)
Museum Management Plan East Bay Parks (John Muir NHS, Eugene O'Neill NHS, Port of Chicago Naval Magazine NMem and Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front NHP) (David Blackburn, Kent Bush, Dave Casebolt, Carola DeRooy, Lucy Lawliss, Diane Nicholson and Paul Rogers, May 2007)
National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form
John Muir House (and Martinez Adobe) (Charles W. Snell, November 26, 1962)
Natural Resource Condition Assessment, John Muir National Historic Site NPS Natural Resource Report NPS/JOMU/NRR-2014/897 (David M. Stoms, Frank W. Davis and Patrick A. Jantz, December 2014)
My First Summer in the Sierra (John Muir, 1911)
The Mountains of California (John Muir, 1894)
The Story of My Boyhood and Youth (John Muir, 1913)
The Yosemite (John Muir, 1912)
Stability of Alhambra Creek at the John Muir National Historic Site NPS Technical Report NPS/NRWRD/NRTR-2002/297 (Richard Inglis, April 2002)
Watershed Condition Assessment for Sub-drainage Zone No. 1167, John Muir National Historic Site, Martinez, California NPS Technical Report NPS/NRWRD/NRTR-2000/262 (Richard Inglis, February 2000)
Handbooks ◆ Books
Last Updated: 16-Dec-2021