header image

[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Santa Clarita CA
Partly sunny
Partly sunny
Today in
S.C.V. History
September 26
1876 - California oil industry born as CSO No. 4 in Pico Canyon becomes state's first commercially productive oil well [story]
Pico No. 4

Take a Hike | Commentary by Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel
| Sunday, Apr 12, 2015

DianneErskineHellrigelJohn Muir, so famous for his conservation work in California, was born in Scotland in 1838. Muir was adventurous, even at an early age, and loved the outdoors.

At age 10, his family moved to Wisconsin, and Muir continued to explore the outdoors. Muir attended the University of Wisconsin where he studied philosophy, literature and science. He fell in love with botany, which would lead him to more outdoor adventures in Canada, where he spent time collecting specimens and recording them in a journal.

Following an industrial accident later in life which almost cost him his sight, Muir decided to devote the rest of his life to the “beauty of God’s creation.” He first traveled to Cuba and had planned to go to the Amazon rainforest, but due to illness he went to California instead.

John_Muir_CaneHe began this adventure in San Francisco and then traveled to Yosemite Valley. From Yosemite, he climbed into the Sierra Mountains into what was then a state park. He visited the Giant Sequoias and was awed by their size.

To make money at this time, he took a job breaking horses and then landed a job as a shepherd. He camped with his flock in Yosemite and was overcome with joy, being in this lovely place and in such peace. There is a tale that he took chances doing various, dangerous things such as clinging to the edge of a waterfall just to feel the spray on his face.

He journaled all of his experiences, including not only what he saw and experienced, but also his enthusiasm, enlightenment and amazement.



He finally landed a job at a saw mill in Yosemite. The saw mill cut up dead trees in the area. His boss owned the Yosemite Hotel, and because of this Muir was able to interact with tourists there.

This is where he met his idol, Ralph Waldo Emerson. He was hired as a guide by Emerson and was able to show him the Sequoias, teach him botany, and lead him on hikes into the mountainous regions.

Muir had also developed a theory that glaciers formed the valley. This theory was discounted, and the widely accepted theory that earthquakes created the valley stood firm. Muir and Emerson became fast friends, and they continued to correspond until Emerson’s death.

John MuirMuir began writing articles about his theory that Yosemite was created by glaciers and backed his theory up with scientific fact and reasoning. His theory began to gain popularity, and his name was a household word.

He met the love of his life and married at age 41. He and his wife had two daughters, Annie and Helen. He purchased land and became a fruit farmer, but this enterprise, although successful, did not last long. They sold the property so he could continue to adventure into the arctic, do research and write.

Muir in Muir Woods

Muir in Muir Woods

He began his quest to establish the Yosemite area as a national park. At the time, Yellowstone was the only national park. Muir turned his passion to this cause and wrote article after article to persuade the public to write to Congress and demand that they establish the national park.

Despite fierce opposition from loggers and miners, both Sequoia and Yosemite national parks were created in 1890. In 1892, Muir established the Sierra Club.

He continued to use his expertise and influence to move public opinion and government toward conservation of our wild places. In 1907, he began to try to save Hetch Hetchy. Instead, a dam was built that completely destroyed the area.

Muir was crushed by this defeat, and he died of pneumonia in 1914.



Dianne Erskine-Hellrigel is executive director of the Community Hiking Club and president of the Santa Clara River Watershed Conservancy. If you’d like to be part of the solution, join the Community Hiking Club’s Stewardship Committee. Contact Dianne through communityhikingclub.org or at zuliebear@aol.com.



Hetch Hetchy before (above) and after (below).



O'Shaughnessy_Dam at Hetch Hetchy

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.


  1. Cathy says:

    Learning about John Muir and his work still inspires me today. The same battles he fought for back in the 1800s are still relevant today.

  2. Melissa says:

    Wonderful article about a great man. Can you imagine what the Sierras would look like today had it not been for his (and others) diligent efforts to preserve both mountains and forests?

    Thanks for including the old picture of Hetch Hetchy before it was flooded to insure a continuing supply of water for San Francisco.

  3. Susan says:

    John Muir has inspired me through life and I am grateful when others take the time to keep him current to our lives. Mr. Muir certainly knew that Nature is an important part of each and everyone of us. Thanks.

  4. Another great article!

Leave a Comment

Opinion Section Policy
All opinions and ideas are welcome. Factually inaccurate, libelous, defamatory, profane or hateful statements are not. Your words must be your own. All commentary is subject to editing for legibility. There is no length limit, but the shorter, the better the odds of people reading it. "Local" SCV-related topics are preferred. Send commentary to: LETTERS (at) SCVNEWS.COM. Author's full name, community name, phone number and e-mail address are required. Phone numbers and e-mail addresses are not published except at author's request. Acknowledgment of submission does not guarantee publication.
Read More From...
Thursday, Sep 16, 2021
Today’s blog is the third and final installment in a series in which I review how the Los Angeles County Animal Care & Control (DACC) has improved its operations over the past 20 years.
Thursday, Sep 2, 2021
According to the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics, youth drug abuse is a high-profile public health concern that is on the rise.
Wednesday, Sep 1, 2021
You simply have to drive through our community to appreciate the natural beauty of Santa Clarita
Thursday, Aug 26, 2021
The recent events in Afghanistan and their mental health ramifications for our military community remind us that there are challenges beyond the pandemic.
Tuesday, Aug 17, 2021
I am still haunted by a case I had in 1986 when I was a newly minted animal cruelty investigator in Houston, Texas. I had received a complaint from a resident about her neighbor, who had dozens of animals inside her home that were ill and often dying.
Tuesday, Aug 3, 2021
As you drive around Santa Clarita, do you ever wonder what work is being done at your neighborhood park? Or when the new Sheriff’s Station will be complete? Maybe you want to go ice skating at The Cube or find out what issues are going before the City Council. There are several ways you can discover what’s going on in your city.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
1876 - California oil industry born as CSO No. 4 in Pico Canyon becomes state's first commercially productive oil well [story]
Pico No. 4
1970 - Lagasse family helps save Mentryville buildings as Newhall and Malibu brush fires erupt & join into worst fire in SoCal history. Twelve fires over 10 days burn 525,000 acres, kill 13 people and destroy approx. 1,500 structures. [story]
Clampitt fire
After news reports detailing sexual assault allegations against a Newhall massage therapist on Sept. 2, a half-dozen additional victims have come forward, according to sheriff’s investigators.
Additional Victims Come Forward in Newhall Massage Therapist Sexual Assault Investigation
Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, welcomed news of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s veto of Assembly Bill 616 on Wednesday.
Newsom Vetoes Agricultural Worker Union Elections Bill Opposed by Wilk
Los Angeles County Public Health officials on Friday confirmed 32 new deaths and 1,238 new cases of COVID-19 countywide, with 35,524 total cases in the Santa Clarita Valley. Additionally, Public Health announced that eligible Los Angeles County residents can begin receiving their booster doses at any of the hundreds of sites offering the Pfizer vaccine.
Friday COVID-19 Roundup: County Announces Pfizer Booster Available to Eligible Residents; 35,524 Total SCV Cases
Yair Haimoff, SIOR and Randy Cude of Spectrum Commercial Real Estate, Inc., are pleased to announce a recent 71,874-square-foot ground lease located in Valencia, CA.
Spectrum CRE Completes Ground Lease with Tenant In-N-Out Burgers
Los Angeles County announced it is now administering Pfizer booster third doses after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle P. Walensky endorsed the CDC Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices’ recommendation for a booster dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in several population groups. The CDC also recommended a booster dose for those in high-risk occupational and institutional settings.
County Begins Administering Pfizer Booster to Eligible Residents
1855 - Sanford & Cyrus Lyon establish Lyon's Station (for stagecoaches) near today's Sierra Hwy & Newhall Ave [story]
Sanford Lyon
Officials from Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital are once again urging those eligible to get vaccinated, as the hospital is experiencing a marked influx of COVID-19 patients, hospital spokesman Patrick Moody said Thursday.
Thursday COVID-19 Roundup: Henry Mayo Hospital Admittance Up 50%; SCV Cases Total 35,477
A “significant amount of smoke” from the Windy and KNP Complex fires northeast of Bakersfield in the Sequoia National Forest have entered the Los Angeles area, according to a Thursday morning tweet from the U.S. National Weather Service Los Angeles.
Hazy SCV Skies from Sequoia Forest Fires
Spookiness is on its way to Main Street in Old Town Newhall.
Scarecrow Alley Coming to Old Town Newhall
The Chiquita Canyon Landfill Technical Advisory Committee met Wednesday afternoon to discuss updates at the Val Verde landfill.
Chiquita Canyon Landfill Health Report Nearing Final Process
Following a record-breaking event in 2020 – Soup for the Soul will once again be presented virtually in 2021.
Tickets Now on Sale for Bridge to Home’s 2021 Soup for the Soul Virtual Fundraiser
The city of Santa Clarita’s annual Evening of Remembrance event will occur on Wednesday, Sept. 29, beginning with a Walk of Remembrance at 6:15 p.m., followed by the program at 6:45 p.m.
Community Invited to Annual Evening of Remembrance
College of the Canyons is continuing its tradition of inviting community groups to experience Cougar football during the 2021 season, with all healthcare workers and first responders invited to attend Saturday’s game vs. Palomar College free of charge.
Cougars Football Continuing with Community Invite Tradition
The Santa Clarita chapter of the American Cancer Society is excited to announce its annual leading fundraiser of the year — Relay For Life - will take place on Saturday, Oct. 2, at the Westfield Town Center Mall, from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Oct. 2: American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life
At least one person was reported wounded in a shooting in Newhall Wednesday night, prompting a response from law enforcement and medical personnel.
Newhall Shooting Sends One Person to Hospital
Are you ready for a “Partea”? Circle of Hope’s 17th Annual Tea Celebration will be held at the Hyatt Regency Valencia on Saturday, Oct. 9, beginning at 11:00 a.m.
Oct. 9: Circle of Hope’s 17th Annual Tea Celebration
SACRAMENTO — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond proudly recognized Betty Reid Soskin, a pioneering Bay Area civil rights activist and the oldest living National Park Ranger serving in the United States, as an Ambassador to California Education on her 100th birthday.
Betty Reid Soskin Named California’s Newest Education Ambassador
The Mojave Area California State Parks  recently announced status updates for public use.
Status Updates Released for Mojave Area State Parks
1948 - Agua Dulce Women's Club organized [timeline]
Women's Club
The Santa Clarita Planning Commission approved the installation and operation of a Verizon wireless communication facility that will expand wireless coverage in the city’s center. 
Verizon Wireless Facility Approved By Planning Commission
State Senator Scott Wilk is honoring four Hispanic community leaders to commemorate National Hispanic Heritage Month. 
Wilk Honors Local Hispanic Community Leaders
Los Angeles County Public Health officials on Wednesday confirmed 41 new deaths and 1,750 new cases of COVID-19 countywide, with 35,403 total cases in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Wednesday COVID-19 Roundup: Nursing Facility Numbers See Decline; Santa Clarita Cases total: 35,403
%d bloggers like this: