Posts filed under ‘John Muir’

Arbor Week: Oregon

(Photo by sillydog)
Happy Arbor Week, Oregon!

Oregon celebrates its Arbor Week the first full week of April, so Happy Arbor Week Oregon!

Oregon selected their State Tree in 1939. They picked the Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii). It was a valuable timber tree in the Oregon Territory, in part for its great strength. The wood is said to be stronger than concrete.

Naturalist John Muir was also aware of the strength of this particular tree. In 1874, he went hiking to witness the effects of a wind storm. Even though he could hear trees fall “at the rate of one every two or three minutes”, he decided to climb a tree to get a better view. He chose a Douglas-fir tree (or Douglas Spruce as he called it). He climbed to the top and hung on as the tree swayed in the strong winds. At times the tree’s top oscillated in a thirty degree arc, but Muir did not worry.

“I felt sure of its elastic temper, having seen others of the same species still more severely tried–bent almost to the ground indeed, in heavy snows–without breaking a fiber. I was therefore safe, and free to take the wind into my pulses and enjoy the excited forest from my superb outlook. “

He stayed in his “lofty perch for hours.”

You can read more about Muir’s adventures that day in Chapter 10 of The Mountains of California.

To find out when your state celebrates Arbor Day, check out Arbor Day Dates Across America at

April 6, 2009 at 9:53 pm 3 comments

Happy Birthday, John Muir!

Today is the birthday of preservationist John Muir (the founder of the Sierra Club). He would have been 170 years old today. Not familiar with John Muir? He may be closer to your life than you would think. Perhaps you have a California State Quarter loitering in the change pile in your car (He’s on the back). Or you might be like me– running across his quotes for years without realizing who he was.

My favorite John Muir quote was one of those accidental encounters. I saw it on a sign in Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Clingman’s Dome:

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find that going to the mountains is going home.

I fancy it, because that is exactly how I feel about the Appalachian Mountains.

They are home.

April 21, 2008 at 9:47 am 5 comments

Theodore Roosevelt – An American Lion

Last week, I watched Part II of Theodore Roosevelt: An American Lion courtesy of Netflix. And now, I am totally smitten with T.R. Just like my visit to Jamestown, Valley Forge and even Evansville, Indiana, I uncovered a lot about history that I did not know (or at least remember). Here are a few snippets I found of interest.

Nobel Prize
Roosevelt was the first American to win a Nobel Prize! He got the Peace Prize for negotiating the end of the Russo-Japanese War. Though, in this quote to his son, the “peacemaker” doesn’t seem especially fond of either side:

I am having my hair turned gray by dealing with the Russian and the Japanese peace negotiations. The Japanese ask too much, but the Russians are ten times worse than the [Japanese] because they are so stupid and won’t tell the truth.

Muir and Roosevelt
Roosevelt considered his greatest legacy the Panama Canal. Bah! If I had a say, I would lobby for his conservation work. The land he set aside for the National Forests was greater than France, Belgium and Holland combined. But here is the really cool part— Theodore Roosevelt hiked with John Muir in Yosemite. #@!*&) John Muir! Founder of the Sierra Club! The same John Muir who uttered one of my favorite quotes:

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find that going to the mountains is going home.

Booyah! Roosevelt hiking with Muir!

I’m not sure who to be more jealous of– Roosevelt or Muir.

Roosevelt and Taft
I was pretty darn oblivious of friction between Roosevelt and Taft. Taft was Roosevelt’s Secretary of War. When Roosevelt’s second term was coming to an end, he pretty much handpicked Taft to be his successor. By promoting Taft, Roosevelt insured his protégé an easy win in 1908. However, when Roosevelt felt Taft was being weak on big business and undoing all his conservation work, he turned on his good friend. Roosevelt had so many harsh criticisms of Taft, the documentary said Taft was brought to tears.

Taft and Roosevelt fighting in a political cartoon

Their feud, which split the Republican Party in 1912 allowing Woodrow Wilson to take office, was so well-known and widespread, it made headlines in the New York Times when the two men shook hands and when they embraced.

Headlines of Roosevelt and Taft shaking hands and embracing (from New York Times)

A mentor. A protégé. The rivalry. The resentment. All the attention on handshakes and hugs. It seems Roosevelt and Taft were the Bill Belichick and Eric Mangini of the early 1900s. The media is different now, but the headlines are the same.

Google results for “Belichick Mangini Hug”. Their rift was so strong that Belichick uttering Mangini’s name was noteworthy! There is also a “Great Belichick-Mangini Handshake Debate” discussion!

January 20, 2008 at 9:16 pm 11 comments

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