John Muir, noted naturalist and conservation leader, spent several months in Florida in 1867. He arrived at Cedar Key in October, seven weeks after setting out from Indiana on a "thousand-mile walk to the Gulf." Muir's journal account of his adventure, which was published in 1916, two years after his death, includes interesting glimpses of the quality of life in the post-Civil War south. "The traces of war," he wrote, "are not only apparent on the broken fields, mills, and woods ruthlessly slaughtered, but also on the countenances of the people." Florida deeply impressed the twenty-nine year old Muir.
He remembered the "watery and vine-tied" land where "the streams are still young," which he had seen and sampled on his way from Fernandina. It was while recovering from a bout with malaria in Cedar Key that Muir first expressed his belief that nature was valuable for its own sake, not only because it was useful for man. This principle guided John Muir throughout his life. In early 1868, he left Cedar Key and eventually settled in California, where he helped establish the Yosemite National Park and, in 1892, the Sierra Club, which became one of our nation's best known environmental organizations.