When Muir was eleven years old, his family moved from Dunbar, Scotland to the Wisconsin prairie, where the family established a farm on the frontier. As Muir later recounted in The Story of My Boyhood and Youth (1912), his father was a stern Christian fundamentalist who used the bonfires in which they burned the brush cleared from the land as a religious lesson, “comparing their heat with that of hell, and the branches with bad boys.” Although Muir loved life on the frontier, he chafed under the austere authoritarianism of his father, and left home in 1860 to study at the University of Wisconsin where he studied geology and botany. After leaving the university in 1863, Muir went to Canada, a decision that was partly motivated by his desire to botanize there and partly by a desire to avoid the Civil War era draft. After recovering from a sawmill accident that nearly cost him his eyesight, Muir embarked on a walking tour from Indianapolis to Florida in September 1867. The journal notes from that trip were published after Muir’s death as A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf 1916). The following year, Muir sailed to San Francisco, and made his first visit to the Yosemite Valley. In 1869 Muir took a job as a sheepherder in the Sierras, an experience he describes in My First Summer in the Sierra (1911).
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