John Muir: The Scot who fathered America’s national parks

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John Muir helped federalise America’s national parks on a camping trip with President Roosevelt and yet he was relatively unknown in his native Scotland until the 1970’s.

Born in the East coast town of Dunbar in 1838, Muir fell in love with the natural world on long walks through the fields with his grandfather and climbed up the ruins of Dunbar Castle. He only lived in Scotland for 11 years. His father – a devout Christian belonging to a group called disciples of Christ – emigrated to America with his family. He grew up in America carving clocks and inventing curiosities, such as his contraption that would tip you out of bed before dawn. A blinding eye accident shifted his focus to the natural world and he began several years of wanderlust. Soon after, he began convincing the American government to adopt a forest conservation policy culminating in a successful camping trip with President Teddy Roosevelt on Glacier Point, Yosemite. Today, he’s widely considered the father of National Parks in America.

(Left) Muir and President Roosevelt pose atop Glacier Point in Yosemite and (Right) a young John Muir

(Left) Muir and President Roosevelt pose atop Glacier Point in Yosemite and (Right) a young John Muir

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