John Muir National Historic Site

Audio Available:

OVERVIEW: About this audio-described brochure

Welcome to the audio-described version of John Muir's National Historic Site official print brochure. Through text and audio descriptions of photos, illustrations, and maps, this version interprets the two-sided color brochure that John Muir National Historic Site visitors receive. The brochure explores the history of the park through a time line that starts at John Muir's birth in 1838 to his death in 1914 highlighting events in his life, historical developments surrounding the history of the park as well as information for planning your visit. 

This audio version lasts about 27 minutes which we have divided into 42 sections, as a way to improve the listening experience. Sections 1 to 24 cover the front of the brochure and Sections 25 to 42 cover the back of the brochure. 

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OVERVIEW: John Muir National Historic Site

John Muir National Historic Site is located in Martinez, California. John Muir, the Father of the National Park Service spent the last 24 years of his life in the Italianate mansion located within the site. He worked in the fruit orchards, raised a family, and wrote some of the most influential articles and books about conservation of America’s wild places. Visitors can tour the house and grounds. The Martinez Adobe built in 1849, contains exhibits about the Juan Bautista de Anza trail. Visitors can also follow hiking trails up Mt. Wanda, named after Muir’s daughter. 

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OVERVIEW: Front side of brochure

The front of the brochure includes quotes, historic photographs, photographs of artifacts, a painting of John Muir and an overview map of North America indicating John Muir's serendipitous 1000 mile walk. Most photos are black and white unless indicated as color. The text on the front of the brochure is presented in form of individual paragraphs and a regressing timeline, which covers important events in the life of John Muir in the time period from 1836 to 1908. All images, descriptions and text are presented under their own sections.

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John Muir

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INFOGRAPHIC: Painting of John Muir near Yosemite Falls

CAPTION:

Muir was most at home on planet Earth in Yo­semite. This painting shows him near Yosemite Falls.

Credit:

ILLUSTRATIONS National Park Service / ARCHIL PICHKHADZE

INFOGRAPHIC DESCRIPTION:

An artist's rendering of John Muir in Yosemite National Park sitting on a large rock leaning on his walking stick. Mr. Muir has a long grey beard and is slight of build. He is wearing a fedora felt hat, long sleeve white shirt and a brown vest. In the background is a lake of blueish grey water and the shoreline in the distance is a dense forest of green conifer trees. Directly behind the trees is El Capitan, a granite formation rising 3,000 feet from the valley floor.



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TEXT: Quote from John Muir

The battle for conservation will go on endlessly. It is the universal warfare between right and wrong.

John Muir, 1896


The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness.

John Muir, 1890


Climb the mountains and get their good tidings.

John Muir, 1901


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Muir’s Conservation Legacy Lives On

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TEXT: 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 vision—that all creation is one community made up of equal companions—still 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.

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TEXT: Timeline 1836-1860

1836

Nature by Ralph Waldo Emerson published.

1838

John Muir born April 21, Dunbar, Scotland.

1845

Potato crop fails; famine in Europe.

1849

Family emigrates to Wisconsin farm.

1854

Walden by Henry David Thoreau published.

1860

Leaves home; inventions win state fair prize; meets mentor Jeanne Carr.



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TEXT AND IMAGE: Muir's Education

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.

CAPTION:

Muir invented a clock desk (right) to turn book pages to keep up his reading speed.


Credit:

State Historical Society of Wisconsin


IMAGE DESCRIPTION:

 As a young man Muir invented or improved for efficiency numerous mechanical devices. The device pictured here is John Muir’s Clock Desk. It is designed to give Muir an allotted period of time to study each subject. When time was up it would close the book, rotate filling the space with the next book. It is a complicated device made of wood that is red in color wood and round in shape. There are gears and levers throughout the desk. 

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TEXT: Muir and Today’s National Park System

TEXT:

Muir’s love for wild na­ture aided the creation of several national parks (map below). Our National Parks (1901), a collection of articles he wrote for the Atlantic Monthly about Yellow­stone, Yosemite, Sequoia, and General Grant (now part of Kings Canyon) national parks, is still in print.




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TEXT AND IMAGE: Timeline 1861

1861

Enters University of Wisconsin; Civil War begins.


CAPTION:


John Muir, 1861.


Credit:


STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF WISCONSIN


IMAGE DESCRIPTION:

Pictured here in a photograph is a young John Muir from the chest upward at age twenty three. He is slightly turned to his right and looking off to the distance with no expression on his face. His black hair reaches his collar and he has a full black beard. Muir is wearing a black coat closed and a white shirt peeking out of the top.  

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TEXT: Timeline 1862-1866

1862

Postpones studies to teach school; Thoreau dies.

1864

To Canada; botanizes and works in a sawmill; Man and Nature by George Perkins Marsh published; federal land in Yosemite ceded to California for public use.

1866

To Indiana; works in carriage factory.


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TEXT AND IMAGE: Timeline 1867

1867

Factory accident damages eye; 1,000-mile walk from Kentucky to Gulf of Mexico; writes first journal en route.

CAPTION:

On his 1,000-mile walk, Muir kept this journal, published as a book after his death.


Credit:

HOLT-ATHERTON UNIV. OF THE PACIFIC


IMAGE DESCRIPTION:

John Muir kept a daily journal that he referred to when writing his twelve books. Pictured here is a page from Muir’s journal when he walked 1000 miles from Kentucky to the Gulf of Mexico. The words are blurred and cannot be read.  


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MAP: Muir’s Serendipitous Trip to California

CAPTION:

After walking 1,000 miles from Kentucky to the Gulf of Mexico, Muir sailed to Cuba, bound for South America. Short of money and ill with fever, he sailed instead to New York and from there, in steerage, to Panama and California.


Credit:

National Park Service


MAP DESCRIPTION:

This is an image of a map of North America. The map shows the route of John Muir’s journey from Indianapolis, Indiana, by train and his 1,000 mile walk from Jeffersonville, Kentucky, to Cedar Keys, Florida. While in Florida, Muir was stricken with malaria. His planned final destination was the Amazon. The map continues, showing his boat trip to Havana, Cuba after his recovery. While in Cuba he fell ill again and decided to sail to New York to obtain steerage to California. Muir then boards a ship to Panama and voyages to San Francisco, California. Highlighted on the west coast of the United States are National Parks Muir was involved in creating: Mount Rainier National Park, Muir Woods National Monument, Yosemite National Park, Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, and Petrified Forest National Park.




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TEXT: John Muir's Writings

After five years as an active fruit rancher, Muir began his most important campaign to preserve the American wilderness (see other side). 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.

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John Muir Earth Planet Universe

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TEXT: Timeline 1879-1888

1879

First Alaska trip.


1880

Second Alaska trip.


1881

To Alaska on the ship Corwin.


1882

Emerson dies.


1882–87

Manages fruit ranch at Martinez (see other side).


1888

Health poor; climbs Mount Rainier; wife urges return to conservation writing.


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TEXT AND IMAGE: Timeline 1889-1890

1889

Campaigns for a Yosemite National Park.

1890

Writes Century magazine articles; Yosemite National Park established (without Yosem­ite Valley); explores what is now Muir Glacier in Glacier Bay, Alaska; US census cites end of frontier.


CAPTION:


In love with Yosemite, Muir stayed five years in the valley. He worked as a shepherd, sawyer, and guide. He filled his journals with sketches and musings on the ‘‘mountain mansion.”


Credit:


The Sierra Club


IMAGE DESCRIPTION:

This image is a black and white photograph of John Muir sitting in profile on a granite outcropping. His hat is lying next to him on the rock. He has long shoulder length gray hair and a long gray beard. Muir is wearing a long sleeve white shirt, and a vest. There are a number of large conifer trees surrounding a lake or pond. The trees are reflected in the water much like a mirror.  

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TEXT AND INFOGRAPHIC: Timeline 1892

1892

Helps found Sierra Club; elected its first president; forest reserves established in three western states.


CAPTION:

Sierra Club logo


Credit:


Sierra Club


INFOGRAPHIC DESCRIPTION:

Pictured is the Sierra Club logo. The center of the logo is an oval with a Sequoia tree in the middle and depictions of Half Dome and El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. Both features are outcroppings of granite. Underneath the Oval are the words Founded 1892. Off to the right of the Oval are the words Sierra Club logo.





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TEXT: Timeline 1893-1901

1893–94

To Europe; first book, The Moun­tains of California, published.

1896

Tours forests with National Forestry Commission; honorary degree from Harvard.

1898

Honorary degree from University of Wisconsin.

1899

Travels with Harri­man Alaska Expedition.

1901

Our National Parks published.



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TEXT AND IMAGE: 1903-1904

1903–04

Camps in Yosemite with President Theo­dore Roosevelt; makes world tour; first federal wildlife reserve established.


CAPTION:


Muir camped with President Theodore Roosevelt, a fan of his writings, near Glacier Point in Yosemite.

Credit:

COURTESY BANCROFT LIBRARY, UNIV. OF CALIF., BERKELEY


IMAGE DESCRIPTION:

This black and white photograph is of Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir (left to right) at Glacier Point in Yosemite. They are standing atop a rock outcropping with Yosemite Valley behind them. On the left of the picture you can see a waterfall cascading down. Theodore Roosevelt is dressed in a felt hat, neckerchief around his neck, jodhpur riding pants and knee-high boots. John Muir is wearing a felt hat and baggy jacket.

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TEXT AND IMAGES: 1905-2000


1905

California cedes Yosemite Valley back to the federal government.


1906

Explores Arizona and Petrified Forest.


1908

Muir Woods National Monument established; begins fight against damming Yosemite National Park’s Hetch Hetchy Valley.


1909

Stickeen published.


1911

My First Summer in the Sierra published; travels to South America and Africa; honorary degree from Yale.


1912

The Yosemite published.


1913

The Story of My Boyhood and Youth published; Hetch Hetchy battle lost; honorary degree from University of California.


1914

Dies December 24, age 76.


2000

Creation of Sequoia National Monument continues Muir’s conservation agenda


CAPTION:

Muir studies petrified wood in what is now Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona.


Credit:

COURTESY BANCROFT LIBRARY, UNIV. OF CALIF., BERKELEY

IMAGE DESCRIPTION:
This black and white picture shows John Muir kneeling on one knee. His arm is bent and resting on his other knee His face is barely showing. You mostly see the top of his hat. He is examining a large piece of petrified wood about three feet long and three feet tall. The specimen clearly has the appearance of a section of a tree with coarse bark and internal layers. It appears to be a very arid and sandy terrain. 

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IMAGES: Stamps of John Muir

CAPTION:


Postage stamps in 1964 (left) and 1998 commemorate John Muir’s founding role in the American conservation movement.


Credit:


STAMP DESIGNS © (1964, 1998) US POSTAL SERVICE. REPRODUCED WITH
PERMISSION. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


IMAGE DESCRIPTION:

Two postage stamps are pictured. The first is from 1964. Along the top is written John Muir and along the right side the word conservationist. The bottom states 5 cents and United States Postage. The left side of the stamp depicts several sequoia trees with no foliage. In the center of the stamp there is a depiction of John Muir’s head with white hair and beard floating above a small figure of someone hiking with a hiking stick. Sunlight appears to be shining through the sequoia trees, into Muir and onto the hiker below.

The second stamp from 1998 depicts John Muir in Yosemite National Park during sunrise. He is standing in the foreground wearing his typical garb; felt fedora hat, suit coat, vest and tie and sporting a long white beard. Half his face is in shadow and the sun is casting a golden glow on him. In the background on the left are some granite formations. One being El Capitan lit up with an orange coloring from the sunrise. Half Dome, a large granite outcropping appears in a blueish gray color. The sky has clouds glowing in yellows and oranges from the sunrise.



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OVERVIEW: Back side of brochure

The back side of the brochure includes two quotes and a painting of John Muir. Furthermore, it contains a selection of historic photographs of John Muir with his family.  Most photos are black and white unless indicated as color. The text on the back of the brochure is presented in form of individual paragraphs and a regressing timeline, spanning from the 1760s to 1915 and focuses on the Muir family home in Martinez and the surrounding historical events before John Muir was born in 1839. All images, descriptions and text are presented under their own sections.

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John Muir: Fruit Rancher

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TEXT AND INFOGRAPHIC: John Muir Fruit Rancher

I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though they liked it …

John Muir, 1890

Heaven knows that John the Baptist was not more eager to get all his fellow sinners into the Jordan than I to baptise all of mine in the beauty of God’s mountains.

John Muir, 1871


CAPTION:

In an upstairs “scribble den” Muir wrote the books and articles that secure his role as a leading voice in American conservation history.

Credit:

ILLUSTRATIONS National Park Service / ARCHIL PICHKADZE

INFOGRAPHIC DESCRIPTION:
This is an artist rendering of John Muir sitting at his desk in his office he called his “scribble den”. Muir is the center with dark hair parted on the right side and a long brown beard speckled with gray. He is wearing a brown jacket, brown vest and a white shirt. Muir’s right arm is draped over the back of his chair and his left arm is resting on the desk. In the foreground, the desk is scattered with papers. On the right center is a quote from Muir: “I never saw a discontented tree. They grip the ground as though the liked it… John Muir, 1890. In the background is a book shelve.



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Muir & Family in Martinez

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TEXT: 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 died in 1914. He and wife Louie raised their two daughters here (photos at right). 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.



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IMAGES: Muir's Wife and Daughters

CAPTION:

Louisa “Louie” Wanda Strentzel Muir

Credit:

HOLT-ATHERTON UNIV. OF THE PACIFIC © MUIR-HANNA TRUST

IMAGE DESCRIPTION:

This photograph in black and white is John Muir’s wife, Louie Strentzel as a young woman. The background is oval in shape and tilted to the right. Louie is looking directly into the camera with no expression on her face. What appears to be her wavy dark hair seems to fall just at her neck. Crowning her head is a bonnet the is pointed in the from and curves around the head to the back of her neck. On the front of the bonnet is a cluster of dark and white flowers. 

CAPTION:

Annie Wanda (left) and Helen Muir

Credit:

STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY OF WISCONSIN

IMAGE DESCRIPTION:

This is a serpentine photograph of John Muir’s daughters Wanda and Helen. The background is oval in shape and slightly skewed to the right. It appears that Helen, the youngest of the two, is sitting on her older sister’s ,Wanda, lap. The photo is from the shoulders up. Both girls have an angelic face with pursed lips and plump cheeks, long eyelashes and curly light brown glistening hair. Each one has a white garment on.

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Family and Fruit Ranching

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TEXT: Timelline 1760s-1823

1760s

Karkin Indians of Ohlone group are still living in the area.

1769

Spanish expeditions enter San Francisco Bay.

1770–1834

Mission life in California at its peak.

1820

Mission records show no Ohlones left in area.

1821

Mexico wins independence from Spain.

1823

Don Ygnacio Martínez gets 17,700-acre Rancho El Pinole land grant in Contra Costa County.



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TEXT: Family and Fruit Ranching

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 books—which 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.



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TEXT AND IMAGE: Timeline 1849

1848

United States takes California in war with Mexico; gold discovered at Sutter’s Mill in California.


1849

Col. William Smith acquires 120 acres from Martínez family and founds city of Martinez.


1849

Don Ygnacio’s son Vicente Martínez builds two-story adobe home (now a part of John Muir National Historic Site).


CAPTION:


Exhibits in the 1849 adobe tell the history of the Mar­tinez area and the Juan Bautista de Anza Expedition.


Credit:


National Park Service


IMAGE DESCRIPTION:

A slightly blurred photograph of the historic Martinez Adobe, built in 1849 by Vicente Martinez. There are two rows of fruit trees leading to the adobe. On the right there is a pathway lined with fruit trees. The adobe is two stories tall. Only the second floor is visible. There is a large tree taller than the adobe off to the right of the building. In the background, there is a slope with what appear to be grapevines and open grass areas along with clusters of trees.

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TEXT: Timeline 1853-1881

1853

Dr. and Mrs. John T. Strentzel buy land in Alhambra Valley.

1869

Dr. Strentzel extends markets by devising carbonized-bran method of shipping fruit; trans­continental railroad completed.

1877

Central Pacific Railroad reaches Martinez, provides long-distance shipping for Alhambra Valley produce.

1879

Engaged to Strentzel daughter Louisa “Louie” Wanda.

1880

Muir marries April 14, age 42; Martinez population 875.

1881

Daughter Annie Wanda Muir born.



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TEXT AND IMAGE: Timeline 1882

1882

Father-in-law Dr. Strentzel builds the Italianate house on the hill.

CAPTION:

In 1882 the Strent­zels built the hilltop house now known as the John Muir Home.

Credit:

COURTESY STEVE AND PATTY PAULY


IMAGE DESCRIPTION:

The predominant feature in this black and white photograph is the 17 room Italianate Victorian home that John Muir occupied the last 24 years of his life. The house was built on a hilltop and stands three stories tall and is painted white. The view of the house is from the rear. On the right side of the house there is a vertical addition that created three additional rooms to the house. On the left side there is a porch running the length of the house. Four chimney stacks are protruding from the roof and in the center there is a cupola. The house is surrounded by trees and vegetation. The slope of the hill is denude of vegetation. There are rows of fruit trees filling the photograph from left to right. In the distance, beyond the orchard there are taller trees, rolling hills, and barely visible: the town of Martinez.

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TEXT: Timeline 1884-1915

1884

Telephone service brought to house.

1886

Daughter Helen Muir born.

1890

Father-in-law Dr. Strentzel dies.

1890s

Muir adds brick water tower to rear of house; paints house smoky gray with red trim.

1897

Mother-in-law Louisi­ana Strentzel dies.

1905

Wife Louie dies; house passes to daughters.

1906

Earthquake strikes; Muir repairs chimneys, and reconfigures first floor.

1912

Muir buys house from daughters.

1914

House electrified; Muir dies December 24, age 76.

1915

Helen and Annie Wanda sell house.


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IMAGES: Family and John Muir

CAPTION:

Muir, his wife Louie, and daughters Annie Wanda (left) and Helen pose on the front steps of the big house.

Credit:

COURTESY BANCROFT LIBRARY UNIV. OF CALIF., BERKELEY


IMAGE DESCRIPTION:

This is a black and white posed picture of John Muir, Louie his wife and his adult daughters Wanda and Helen on the front steps to the house. Wanda and Helen are sitting on the top step both with their hair up in a bun, light color blouse and floor length skirts. Helen is sitting slightly with her body pointing to the left. Loue is sitting two steps below the sisters. Her hair is up and she is wearing a black floor length dress. Muir is standing on the ground just below Louie. He is standing up straight looking towards the camera. In the background is a small portion of the house and vegetation. The most predominant feature is a California Palm, a tree with rough bark and large grooves with individual shoots of thin green leaves coming out of the top.


CAPTION:

COURTESY BANCROFT LIBRARY UNIV. OF CALIF., BERKELEY


Credit:

Muir’s successful fruit-ranching business built on his father-in-law’s pioneering horticulture.


IMAGE DESCRIPTION:

This is a black and white, slightly blurred, photo of John Muir standing among grapevines. A fedora hat is perched on top of his gray hair. His gray beard extends down to his upper chest. Muir is wearing his typical dark coat, vest and tie. In the distance sitting on top of the hill is the Italianate Victorian house where Muir lived with his family. The first floor is obscured by trees that wrap around the house. The two upper floors are visible and the copula on the roof. The house is dark in color.

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Visiting the Muir Home

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TEXT: 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.

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OVERVIEW: Accessibility

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.

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OVERVIEW: More information

John Muir National Historic Site is one of over 400 parks in the National Park System. To learn more about national parks and National Park Service programs in America’s communities, visit www.nps.gov.

Address:

John Muir National Historic Site
4202 Alhambra Avenue
Martinez, CA 94553-3883

Phone number:

925-228-8860

Website:

www.nps.gov/jomu

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