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John Muir Still Yosemite’s Best Salesman

| August 7, 2009

Ken Burns latest film “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” is full of breath taking footage of Yosemite and our other National Parks. But that’s not all the film is about. It’s about the men and women who dedicated their lives to preserving these wild place so that you and I, their descendants, would have a chance to view them as they did. One person in particular stuck with Burns through out film making and opened a whole new world to him, John Muir.

Mercury News: Muir’s story is widely known, but Burns, who had never visited Yosemite before the production began, said he had only superficial knowledge of the man.

“It’s such a great thing to be hit over the head while making a film. I don’t think I was prepared for what a great writer he was,” Burns says. “Mark Twain said the difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug. John Muir was lightning.”

Burns’ staff spent substantial time at the John Muir National Historic Site in Martinez conducting research and securing archival material for the production. A lovely passage from Muir opens the series and several pieces of his writings are incorporated throughout.

“My eyes, at times, would fill with tears in the editing room as we worked on telling Muir’s story,” Burns says. “I was a pleasure getting to know him better.”

“The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” is scheduled to air Sept. 27 on PBS. You can find your local PBS station by visiting PBS.ORG/tvschedules


Category: History


About Loyd: For over 30 years I've enjoyed hiking, backpacking, fishing, photographing and exploring Yosemite and the Sierra Nevada. More About the Author. View author profile.

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