John Muir and the Family Ranch in Martinez

By Victor A. Walsh

The large, two-story, white Italianate home with an ornate bell tower stands on a grassy knoll near the quiet town of Martinez, California. The bare, tawny limbs of the almond, cherry and apple orchards sparkle in the gray winter light.

We walk up the hillside through a rose garden gone dormant in the winter, canopied beneath beautiful broadleaf evergreens. Two tall Washington palms flank the broad veranda steps leading to the elegant home, where the famed Scottish-born conservationist John Muir lived from 1890 until his death in 1914. A Giant Sequoia stands majestical...

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