Saturday, March 6, 2010

John Muir Home- Martinez California

This historic site is a short distance from where our home is parked now. John Muir is the man we have to thank for our national park system. He led the crusade for wilderness preservation. He was also the founder of the Sierra Club. In 1867 he began a thousand- mile walk from Indiana through the Appalachians to the Cedar Keys of Florida. Next he sailed to California and found the Sierra Nevada, his "Range of Light". He became an expert on Sierra plants, trees and geology. Over time he was in great demand as an authority on problems of the environment. Another important piece of his life took place in this fruit ranch and home which we toured yesterday. It was his father-in-law who built the home and started the orchards. In the ten years of partnership with Dr. Strentzel John Muir was able to become financially independent. Some of the orchard trees are still on this land, as well as a vineyard which was replanted by Muir's grandson, John Hanna in 1976.
The grounds which surround the house are quite splendid. Besides the orchards there is a grove of coastal redwoods which Muir planted, as well as one giant sequoia. And, as you can see from the picture below, the house was also quite beautiful to tour.
The rooms with their twelve-foot ceilings were heated by seven fireplaces of imported onyx. In 1906 the fireplace in the east parlor was badly damaged by an earthquake. Muir replaced it with a brick fireplace so he could have a "real mountain campfire".

  It was a thrill to see the most important room of the house, Muir's study, located upstairs. He called it his "scribble den". Here he wrote many books and articles which influenced preservation of wild places in the United States. Also reflective of his spirit is his bedroom where there are no curtains because he did not want to shut out the outdoors. Above the second floor is an attic from which we climbed to the tower of the home. Here Muir would spend his time in the early morning hours of the summer to meditate. There is also a Sierra Club Exhibit room in the house which shows the plants collected by Muir. He had a life-long interest in botany. The tour of the home and the grounds gave us a lot of information about this most influential man. I think from now on we will be more appreciative of him when we tour the national parks!

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