John Muir (1838-1914) was a naturalist and conservationist, and the founding president of the Sierra Club. Born in Scotland, he immigrated to America in 1849. Raised in rural Wisconsin, he enrolled at the University of Wisconsin at age 22. He left after three years, traveled extensively, and worked as a machinist and inventor. In 1867, an accident in a carriage factory left him blinded for over a month. Upon recovering his sight, he vowed to devote his life to the exploration and study of nature.
Muir traveled extensively, but California's Sierra Nevada mountains received his most ardent attention. He published his first articles on the mountain range – "Studies of the Sierras" – in 1874. These literary efforts were part of a broader goal of winning federal protection for tracts of wilderness. His work contributed to the expansion of Yosemite National Park and the creation of Sequoia and Mount Rainier National Parks. His final years were dominated by an unsuccessful attempt to prevent the damming of the Hetch Hechy Valley in Yosemite and a successful effort to win congressional approval for the creation of the National Park Service.