John Muir's Birthplace – Dunbar, Scotland - Atlas Obscura
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Dunbar, Scotland

John Muir's Birthplace

The small Scottish townhouse where the "Father of the National Parks" was born. 

This humble white townhouse in Dunbar, Scotland, was the birthplace of the co-founder of the Sierra Club and the pioneering conservationist who would go down in history as the father of the U.S. National Parks System.

Born in 1838, John Muir moved to the United States with his family at the age of 11. His early boyhood explorations around the coasts and hills of East Lothian instilled in him a love of nature, which was to become the driving force behind his campaign to form Yosemite National Park.

Muir fell in love with the natural beauty of the American West, especially the Sierra Nevada mountains. After visiting the Yosemite Valley wilderness with Muir, President Theodore Roosevelt decided to extend the area protected under Abraham Lincoln’s Yosemite Grant to include the surrounding mountains. It is widely considered that this led to the birth of the U.S. National Parks System.

The restored house where Muir was born is now a museum and visitor center opened in August 2003, dedicated to his pioneering works. The building consists of three floors, covering the life of John Muir. The first floor is dedicated to his life in Dunbar. The second and third floor contain documents and drawings from his time in America leading up to him becoming a well-renowned conservationist. The town has other memorials to “John of the Mountains,” including Valentin Znoba’s bronze statue of Muir as a young boy, close to the town clock, and a memorial bench overlooking the coast. The statue marks the eastern end of the John Muir Way, a 130-mile walking and cycling trail.

Know Before You Go

Admission is free, though donations are encouraged. Consult website for opening times. The building is wheelchair accessible.

Apart from John Muir, Dunbar is also famous for the high-quality, award winning public toilets in the town center. They really are magnificent, as they're pristine and have amazing flowers.

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