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John Muir, the father of our National Parks

As a company who designs National Park maps and donates to the Sierra Club, it is no coincidence that part of our name was inspired by John Muir. He was an incredibly important conversationalist and is in fact called the father of National Parks. John Muir was instrumental in the founding of Yosemite National Park, as well as Petrified Forest and Grand Canyon National Parks, General Grant and Sequoia National Parks.
 
Ken Burns, the filmmaker who made the awesome documentaries about the National Parks, Civil War, and Jazz amongst others, wrote that we should consider John Muir to be in the “pantheon of the highest individuals in our country; I'm talking about the level of Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, and Thomas Jefferson, and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Jackie Robinson – people who have had a transformational effect on who we are.”
 
Ok, so we can consider him pretty darn important. But who exactly was this man that we named our company and our national park maps after?
John Muir was born in 1838 in Dunbar, Scotland to an incredibly strict Calvinist father. He moved to Wisconsin in 1849 and studied botany and geology at the University of Wisconsin. In his early life, Muir took a series of odd jobs that would have frustrated any parent pushing their child to have direction. He worked in labor, including as a foreman for Osgood, Smith & Co. where he was temporarily blinded in a work accident. He also worked as a sheepherder and traveled to Florida, then Cuba, and finally to California.
 
Soon, though, he became entranced with California. And who could blame him? If we do say so from our highly biased selves, California is an excellent place to be. Muir took a job in Yosemite Valley and became spiritually connected to the place. “Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to the body and soul alike,” he wrote in a later book called The Yosemite (1912).
 
Muir became a leader in the conservation movement through his writings, which we tell you more about in the next blog post. Don't worry, it's more exciting than your middle school books reports. After all, we've convinced you that our Father of the National Parks is a pretty cool guy, right?
July 02, 2015 by Jared Prince
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