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Writing About the Grandeur of Yosemite

Few places inspire more awe than the view of Yosemite Valley from Glacier Point. The Scotsman, John Muir, fell in love with the rugged beauty of the landscape and through his writing and political activism convinced lawmakers to preserve Yosemite Valley and much of the surrounding country.
“Only by going alone in silence, without baggage, can one truly get into the heart of the wilderness. All other travel is mere dust and hotels and baggage and chatter.” –John Muir in a letter to his wife Louie in July 1888

John Muir has inspired Yosemite’s travelers to see under the surface through his poetic imagery: “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine into trees.” Muir, who came to California seeking the solitude of nature, decided to stay—dabbling as a glaciologist, a wilderness activist, and a writer who published persuasive ecological articles with a quill made from a golden eagle feather found on Yosemite’s Mount Hoffmann.

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The Russian-American Company in California

Fort Ross commemorative stamp
Fort Ross, California
Fort Ross, located just north of San Francisco and the “Russian River,” was the site of the Russian-American Trading Company. The wooden fort, with its onion dome chapel, still stands.

Fort Ross, once shown on maps as “Fort Russe”, is a remnant of the Russian effort to build a thriving fur industry. This southernmost settlement of the Russian empire was supposed to grow wheat that could be shipped north to Sitka. A secondary goal was to provide an additional source of pelts after the population had been decimated by overharvesting of squirrels, sea lions, otters, and foxes.

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