JOHN MUIR MEMORIAL PARK - STATE NATURAL AREA
Access: The county park is located in
the Town of Buffalo, Marquette County, 11 miles north of Portage and 8 miles
south of Montello. It is imediately east of County Highway F, 1.25 miles north
of County Highway O.
Site History: The area was settled in
1849 by the Muir family and was the boyhood home of John Muir, founder of the
Sierra Club, who admired the natural beauty of the area. The area, a popular site for
school field trips, is used extensively during the day. Motorized vehicles and outboard
motors are strictly prohibited.
Description: The lake is a 30-acre
kettle lake in ground moraine. The water is clear, has a pH of 8-8.2, and a
methyl orange alkalinity of 198-201 ppm. The lake is spring and seepage fed with
a marl bottom, and the maximum depth is 30 feet. The plant communities include a
rich fen that lies along the outlet stream, sedge meadow, open bog, northern wet
forest dominated by tamarack, southern dry forest, oak opening, and wet-mesic
prairie. The fen and wet-mesic prairie are highlighted by such showy species as
New England aster, bottle and small fringed gentians, prairie blazing star,
grass of parnassus, pitcher plant, nodding ladies tresses, prairie dock, and
Acreage, Location, and Boundary:
||14 and 23
A granite monument was erected in 1957 when John Muir Memorial
Park was dedicated to Muir. Recommended by Professor Iltis, the site was
designated a state natural area in March 1972.
The text on the marker reads:
Foster son of Wisconsin
born in Scotland
April 21, 1838
He came to America as a lad of eleven, spent his 'teen years in hard work
clearing the farm across this lake, carving out a home in the wilderness. In the
"sunny woods, overlooking a flowery glacial meadow and a lake rimmed with water
lilies," he found an environment that fanned the fire of his zeal and love for
all nature, which, as a man, drove him to study, afoot, alone and unafraid, the
forests, mountains and glaciers of the west to become the most rugged, fervent
naturalist America has produced, and the father of the national parks of our
Large Photo of Monument
In 1988, the John Muir Chapter f the Sierra Club erected a sign to commerate the 150th anniversary
of John Muir's birth on April 21, 1838.
Sign Erected By Sierra Club
Sketch of Fountain Lake by John Muir
Natural Division: Central Oak-Pine
Barrens and Meadow Plain.
Reason For Preservation: John Muir
memorial Park contains many interrelated terrestrial plant communities and an
aquatic community. A state-threatened plant species occurs on the site.
Land Control and Management: Owned by
Compatible Uses: Group Use, Research
Use, Individual Nature Study, Fishing.
The Cradle Of Our National Parks
"Oh that glorious Wisconsin wildnerness!
Everything new and pure in the very prime of spring when Nature's pulses
were beating highest and mysteriously keeping time with our own! Young
hearts, young leaves, flowers, animals, the winds and the streams and
the sparkling lake, all wildly, gladly rejoicing together!"
John Muir, The Story of My Boyhood and Youth, (Boston and New
York; Houghtom Mifflin Company, March, 1913)
"The preservation of specimen sections of natural flora--bits of pure
wildnerness--was a fond, favorite notion of mine long before I heard
of national parks. When my father came from Scotland, he settled in a
fine wild region of Wisconsin, beside a small glacier lake bordered
with white pond-lilies..."
"And when I was about to wander away on my long rambles I was sorry to
leave that precious meadow unprotected; therefore, I said to my
brother-in-law, who then owned it, 'sell me the forty acres of lake
meadow and keep it fenced, and never allow cattle or hogs to break into
it, and I will gladly pay you whatever you say. I want to keep it
untrampled for the sake of its ferns and flowers; and even if I should
never see it again, the beauty of its lillies and orchids are so pressed
into my mind I shall always enjoy looking back at them in imagination,
even across seas and continents, and perhaps after I am dead."
"But he regarded my plan as a sentimental dream wholly impracticable.
The fence he said would surely be broken down sooner or later, and all
the work would be in vain. Eighteen years later I found the deep-water
pond lilies in fresh bloom, but the delicate garden-sod of the meadow was
broken up and trampled into black mire."
John Muir before the Sierra Club, November 23, 1895.
"This was John Muir's first attempt to preserve the land for its beauty
alone. Accordingly, as early as February, 1864, in the Town of Buffalo,
Marquette County, Wisconsin, the seed of the idea of land preservation
was planted in John Muir's heart and mind. The seed germinated, took
root, and grew into his major contribution to the formation of the
national park system."
Millie Stanley, The Heart of John Muir's World, Prairie
Oak Press, Madison, Wisconsin, 1995.
Photos of Muir Park