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John Muir reclines while on a saunter in the mountains.

John Muir reclines while on a saunter in the mountains.

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Pacific News

Pacific brings alive lesser-known Muir 150 years after he lands in California

Symposium to focus on his life as inventor, nut rancher, correspondent and family man
Mar 1, 2018

On the 150th anniversary of John Muir's arrival in California, University of the Pacific will explore the lesser known aspects of his rich life and legacy during a weekend of events, March 23-24.

While Muir is best known as a mountaineer, environmental activist, co-founder of the Sierra Club and father of our national parks, this year's John Muir Symposium will celebrate his fascinating life as an advocate of the practical as an inventor, nut rancher, correspondent, lecturer and family man. The symposium is open to the public and people wishing to attend can register at the John Muir Center's webpage.

"John Muir is best remembered as naturalist and conservationist - the 'father' of our national park system - yet he was much more," said Bill Swagerty, director of the university's John Muir Center on the Stockton campus. "In an era of rapid technological change and Progressive Era scientific management, Muir stuck to his belief in the rights of nature, the need to preserve natural resources, the dignity of all species, including man, and the expectation of reward for hard work, honesty and family values."

Muir scholars and guests on March 23 will follow his footsteps on a day trip to Yosemite National Park during which they will examine the history and geology of the Central Valley, Sierra Nevada and Yosemite.

They will convene on Pacific's Stockton campus the following day for papers, presentations and discussion. A complete program can be found on the John Muir Center webpage.

The symposium will include presentations from Muir scholars from around the world, including Matt Blessing, Peter and Donna Thomas, Bob Hare, and Dean King and Langdon Moss.  Renowned John Muir re-enactor Lee Stetson, author of "The Wild Muir: Twenty-Two of John Muir's Greatest Adventures," will take attendees back in time during his keynote address. 

Muir's great-great-grandson, Robert Hanna, will give attendees a close-up look at Muir's life from his family's point of view.

Pacific students from the Department of History and the Media X program will present projects they developed using Muir's journals, letters and drawings, which are held at Pacific's Holt-Atherton Special Collections.

"The John Muir papers have had a home here at Pacific since 1970, and it is exciting to see how our students are using emerging digital technology such as virtual reality to find new ways to explore Muir's legacy," said Mike Wurtz, the head of special collections.

To register for the John Muir Symposium, visit the John Muir Center.

Media contact:

Keith Michaud | 209.946.3275 (office) | 209.470.3206 (cell) |

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