In 1870 John Muir, father of our National Parks, wrote to his brother, “The happiest days and scrap portions of my life were spent in that old slant-walled garret and among the smooth creeks that trickled among the sedges of Fountain lake meadow.”
That “slant-walled garret” was the Muir family’s first home right here in Marquette County.The great naturalist spent his childhood running through the prairies, climbing the hills, and searching for bird’s nests just south of Montello after he and his father, sister and brother emigrated from Scotland and built a home here so the rest of the family could follow.
John was 11 years old in 1849 when he first saw the lovely little lake that became so dear to him and where his father Daniel, in May of that year, stopped the oxen hauling the household goods and began a new life.
In My Boyhood and Youth Muir wrote, “Oh that glorious Wisconsin wilderness! Everything new and pure in the very prime when Nature’s pulses were beating highest and mysteriously keeping time with our own!Young hearts, young leaves, flowers animals, the winds and streams and the sparkling lake, all wildly, gladly rejoicing together!”
That glorious Wisconsin wilderness has been preserved in Muir Park off County Road F south of Montello where you can walk the land that John Muir loved so well.The Ice Age Trail takes you through prairie, forest, and wetlands where the landscape changes beautifully with the seasons.Muir tried three times to buy this piece of land from his brother after he began his extensive travels that took him to Alaska, California, and Canada and although he wasn’t successful in preserving his glorious childhood lake, others did that for him and for you so you can, too, can revel in that glorious Wisconsin wilderness.