Sierran Masthead

Muir Historical Marker in Indy May Be a Reality

Most Hoosiers do not know that John Muir, who founded the Sierra Club over 100 years ago, lived in Indianapolis and worked at the Smith, Osgood Company.

The Smith, Osgood Company ran a wheel factory located on south Illinois Street, between South Street and Pogue’s Run. Pogue’s Run is a little hard to find these days because it is covered over and is essentially a sewer along the stretch as it empties into White River.

Muir’s technical expertise was highly valued by Smith, Osgood, where he performed the first time-and-motion studies and introduced valuable labor-saving devices in the production of wheels.

Muir frequented the wild land surrounding Indianapolis in the early 1870s and pursued his passion of botany when he was not on the job. However, a freak accident while unlacing a belt that drove the machinery cost him his sight. This event was a turning point in Muir’s life. While recuperating, he made the decision to end his engineering career and devote the rest of his life to the study of nature. Muir eventually regained his sight.

It has been the dream of a number of Hoosier Sierrans to find a way to commemorate this signal event in Muir’s life, which occurred in Indiana.

One way is to have an Indiana Historical Marker placed on the site of the Smith, Osgood factory. The process for doing this consists of two steps.

The first is the submission of a prospectus, which has been completed by Bill Hayden, conservation chair for the Hoosier Chapter. The prospectus has been reviewed and accepted by the Indiana Historical Bureau. The second step is the submission of a 250-word historical essay based on primary sources. This is the chief source for the language that would be placed on the marker. The deadline for the second step occurs this month.

Sierrans hope that the essay will be completed satisfactorily, and that we can look forward to getting a John Muir historical marker in historic downtown Indianapolis.

Copyright © 2007 Hoosier Chapter Sierra Club, all rights reserved.[7/11/02]efp

Summer 2001