Sierran Masthead

John Muir Remembered in Indiana with New Historical Marker

By Lori Hazlett, Chapter Coordinator

The Hoosier Chapter has erected an Indiana State Historical Marker in honor and in memory of John Muir. John Muir, who founded the Sierra Club over 100 years ago, lived in Indianapolis and worked at Osgood, Smith & Company.

Chapter members, activists, and others celebrate the new John Muir marker in Indianapolis.
All photos by Tom Ransburg

The historical marker sits at the intersections of Merrill, Illinois, and Russell streets in Indianapolis. It is in this general area that the Osgood, Smith & Company stood. At this carriage factory, John Muir was blinded when a broken power belt pierced his right eye. During his recovery, John Muir had much time to reflect on what was important in his life. Thus, he determined he would devote his life to the "inventions of God."

When Muir's sight returned, he left Indiana to embark on a 1,000-mile walk to the Gulf of Mexico, aiming for the rainforests of the Amazon. A bout with malaria caused him to take a 44-year detour on his intended destination, leading to a career as wilderness explorer and defender in the American West. Muir founded the Sierra Club in 1892 and was its first president.

Many Hoosiers as well as others who are familiar with the life and works of John Muir are not aware that the turning point in his life occurred right here in Indiana. An Indiana State Historical Marker allows Sierra Club members as well as those who pass by the marker to remember this great man and the great deeds he did for the environment.

Member John Ulmer and chapter coordinator Lori Hazlett spent many hours planning the historical marker.

Greg Ellis, a relative of John Muir and an Indianapolis resident, joined chapter members and environmental activists at the marker's dedication on July 2.

Glenn Pratt, chapter vice chair, and Greg Ellis, John Muir's relative, reflect on Muir's accomplishments.

The chapter worked many months to gain approval for the marker, including obtaining permits, completing paperwork, and seeking a licensed and bonded contractor to dig a hole for the marker. We thank Eddie Rishel of Rishel Excavating, McCordsville, Indiana, for digging the post hole. It may seem like a simply thing-a hole in the ground-but you would not believe the process. Through the chapter's work, the city now has procedures that streamline the historical marker approval process for other nonprofit organizations.

Many thanks to the members who made contributions to fundraising efforts for the historical marker.

View the research paper that was written for the Indiana Historical Bureau

Read general information on John Muir in Indiana

Copyright © 2007 Hoosier Chapter Sierra Club, all rights reserved.[08/25/04]efp

Fall 2004