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January 24, 2006
Famous Conservationist Selected for Induction at
National Cowboy Museum

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John Muir (1838-1914), America's most famous and influential naturalist and conservationist has been selected for induction into the Hall of Great Westerners at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum® in Oklahoma City. The induction will take place during the Museum's annual Western Heritage Awards April 22, 2006.

Muir is one of California's most important historical personalities. He has been called "The Father of our National Parks," "Wilderness Prophet" and "Citizen of the Universe." He once described himself more humorously, and perhaps most accurately, as a "Poetico-trampo-geologist-botanist and ornithologist-naturalist etc. etc.!!!!"

Legendary librarian and author Lawrence Clark Powell (1906-2001) said of Muir, "If I were to choose a single Californian to occupy the Hall of Fame, it would be this tenacious Scot who became a Californian during the final 46 years of his life."

The dedicated conservationist and explorer didn't just "talk the talk;" he literally "walked the walk." Among his many treks was a foot tour of Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois and Canada in 1863, and a 1,000 mile walk to 1867. As his passion for open spaces grew, Muir searched for signs of glaciers in California, 1869, and made trips to the Utah mountains, 1879 and to Alaska, 1880, 1890 and 1899. He enjoyed an extensive ranching period from 1882-1892 before helping form the Sierra Club, 1892, an organization dedicated to "exploring, enjoying and rendering accessible the mountain regions of the Pacific Coast."

Believing that protecting wilderness was an act of worship, Muir plunged into the battle with religious intensity. He explained the philosophy of the Sierra Club in 1901 when he wrote, "Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is a necessity; and the mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life."

Muir was influential in establishing Yosemite National Park, 1890; Mount Rainier National Park, 1899; Grand Canyon National Park, 1907, and with creating the National Park Service in 1916. He helped to preserve the Petrified Forest National Park as a national monument in 1906.

During his lifetime, Muir received honorary degrees from Harvard University, 1896; University of Wisconsin, 1897; Yale University, 1911; and the University of California, 1913. He served as president of both Sierra Club and the American Alpine Club.

The major bulk of Muir's archival materials are preserved at the University of the Pacific, Stockton, California. The John Muir House was declared a National Historic Site, 1964. His 150th Birthday Year Celebration took place in 1988, and April 21 was proclaimed annual John Muir Day in California in 1989.

Also selected for induction into the Hall of Great Westerners is Oklahoma rancher Frederick Drummond. News releases on Drummond and other Western Heritage Awards honorees can be accessed by viewing, or calling (405) 478-2250, Ext. 221.

Accredited by the American Association of Museums, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is located in Oklahoma City's Adventure District at the junction of I-44 and I-35. The Museum is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day.

Editors Note: For related photos, visit Click on Western Heritage Awards - Inductees. After accepting Use Agreement, select photo and follow the instructions at the top of the page.