He has been called " the father of our national parks." As an environmentalist pioneer, her was the first to speak out against adverse logging and farming practices. John Muir devoted his life to the study of the natural world and it was an incident in Indianapolis that led him to his destiny.
John Muir was born in Dunbar, Scotland in 1838. He was surrounded by the North Sea, the Lammer-Muir Hills, and the Firth of Forth ( the point where the Forth River meets the ocean). His first 11 years were spent observing the natural struggle between the sea and the mountains.
In 1849 Muir came to America with his father. They settled in Wisconsin and the rest of the family joined them within the year. It was on the Muir Wisconsin farm that John developed an appreciation for nature. He became an avid reader and was considered to be a self-taught expert in botany and geology. As the Civil War began in 1862, Muir entered the University of Wisconsin. Two years later he moved to Canada where he spent time exploring and working in a sawmill.
After the Civil War in 1866 Muir returned to America settling in Indianapolis. He found work at Osgood, Smith & Co., a factory devoted to the production of hubs, spokes, and other carriage wheel parts. Muir's employers were so impressed with his inventions which helped increase productivity, that they wanted to make him a partner. One day as he was working, a file flew off a conveyor belt and struck him in the eye. While he lay in the darkness, Muir thought of his happiest times which were when he was hiking through the forests and mountains. He was convinced that he would never be able to enjoy the wilderness again. Eventually, Muir did recover most of his sight and made the decision to leave Indianapolis and search the world. After a 1000-mile walk to Florida, where he documented his experiences, Muir set off for Yosemite in California.
John Muir was instrumental in preserving the ancient sequoias; helped make Yosemite a national park; was the first to recognize the work of glaciers upon the Yosemite landscape; and, one of the founders of the Sierra Club. John Muir lived in a time when the American frontier was being settled and destroyed. He raised the concern of dynamiting trees instead of cutting them, overgrazing by livestock on grasslands, and the cutting of plants incorrectly, causing erosion.
John Muir died in 1914. He had a profound impact on the way Americans viewed their natural resources. And, without his brief stop in Indianapolis, Muir might never have fulfilled his dreams.
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