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John Muir's Birthplace - a Photo Essay

John Muir will be forever linked with the High Sierra and California, but it was far from there that his life began, in the little coastal town of Dunbar on the southeast coast of Scotland.

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by Chris Townsend | 2009-04-14 00:00:00-06

John Muir will be forever linked with the High Sierra and California, but it was far from there that his life began, in the little coastal town of Dunbar on the southeast coast of Scotland. Here, Muir was born and lived until age eleven, when his family moved to the USA. Muir has long been honoured in the USA for his pioneering conservation work, but was little known in Scotland until recently, and his birthplace was forgotten. Only when the John Muir Trust was set up to protect wild land in Scotland in 1983 did his name start to become known; it was not until 1998 that the John Muir Birthplace Trust was formed, and work began to preserve the house he was born in to turn it into an interpretative centre about his life and work.

I first read John Muir back in 1982, when I was hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and picked up an old copy of The Mountains of California. I have read most of his writings since then, some many times, and he has been an ongoing source of inspiration. Some years ago I visited his house in Martinez, California, which is now a National Historic Site, but I had never been to Dunbar until last autumn when I spent a cold, windy November day wandering the town and the coast, thinking about Muir and the valuable legacy he left us.


John Muir Birthplace Trust

John Muir National Historic Site

John Muir Trust

John Muir Way

Photographic note: the photos were taken as raw images with a Sigma DP1 camera and processed and converted to JPEGs in Adobe Lightroom.


"John Muir's Birthplace - a Photo Essay," by Chris Townsend. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2009-04-14 00:00:00-06.


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John Muir's Birthplace - a Photo Essay
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Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
John Muir's Birthplace - a Photo Essay on 04/14/2009 23:59:24 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

John Muir's Birthplace - a Photo Essay

(cuzzettj) - MLife

Locale: NorCal - South Bay
RE: "John Muir's Birthplace - a Photo Essay" on 04/15/2009 07:13:28 MDT Print View

Chris -

Nice Essay. These are really a favorite of mine. Keep them coming.

greg hummel

Locale: Southern California
Re: John Muir's Birthplace on 04/15/2009 09:13:44 MDT Print View


Great photo essay, informative, inspirational and so on focus.

BTW, since you hiked the PCT in '82, do you or any of your co-thrus have a list of '80's PCT hikers? I have a nearly complete list up to 1979 that I'm constantly revising as new info surfaces. It would be fun to extend it into the '80's.

Greg Hummel

Chris Townsend
(Christownsend) - MLife

Locale: Cairngorms National Park
PCT Hikers in the 80s on 04/16/2009 16:07:29 MDT Print View

Greg, I don't have an 80s PCT hikers list I'm afraid. It would be interesting to see one.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: John Muir's Birthplace - a Photo Essay on 04/16/2009 17:59:37 MDT Print View

Very nice addition to BPL's articles. Even after all of these years, his phrasing and insights to the world around us still sound wonderful.

Russell Swanson
(rswanson) - F

Locale: Midatlantic
Thank you on 04/17/2009 06:18:09 MDT Print View

This is one of my favorite BPL articles to date. Excellent job Chris and much thanks.

Brian Peck
(brianpeck) - MLife

Locale: North America
Intersting article on 04/24/2009 22:26:10 MDT Print View

Chris, An interesting article and great quotes. I still recall reading your own long distance hiking exploits from my early days hiking, which were inspiring as well. Someday I'll indulge in a long hike!

John Coyle

Locale: NorCal
John Muir National Historic Site on 04/29/2009 11:45:34 MDT Print View

Some of you might also be interested in the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez California (near San Francisco in Northern California) which is administered by the U.S. National Park Service. It includes the house in which Muir wrote most of his important works and part of the financially successful ranch that allowed him to pursue his interests. (he raised fruit and nuts) Muir is buried nearby. The information can be accessed by Googling John Muir National Historic Site.