As a boy growing up in the Scottish town of Dunbar, John Muir spent most of his childhood either starting fights or looking for birds nests. Based on the passion that Muir applied to his later career as a naturalist and preservationist, the world lost a truly hellacious fighter when the young Scotsman first became interested in botany.
The Muir family moved to Wisconsin when he was eleven, where the unruly John sporadically attended UW-Madison before jumping ship to Canada to avoid being drafted in the Civil War. While he was shirking his patriotic duty to die a horrific death, Muir wandered the forest and swamps around Lake Huron, gaining an appreciation for nature as well as experience as a woodsman.
After an accident nearly cost him his sight, Muir resolved to celebrate the beauty of nature in its purest form and advocate for its preservation. Hiking a thousand miles from Indiana to Florida, Muir took a boat to California and discovered the wilds of Yosemite.
He was so taken with its beauty that he spent most of the rest of his life fighting to preserve the area as a national park. By founding the Sierra Club in 1892, Muir began a campaign of wilderness preservation that has led many to refer to him as “the Father of the National Parks.”