JOHN MUIR MEMORIAL PARK – STATE NATURAL AREA
Access: The county park is located in the Town of Buffalo, Marquette County, 11 miles north of Portage and 8 miles south of Montello. It is imediately east of County Highway F, 1.25 miles north of County Highway O.
Site History: The area was settled in 1849 by the Muir family and was the boyhood home of John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, who admired the natural beauty of the area. The area, a popular site for school field trips, is used extensively during the day. Motorized vehicles and outboard motors are strictly prohibited.
Description: The lake is a 30-acre kettle lake in ground moraine. The water is clear, has a pH of 8-8.2, and a methyl orange alkalinity of 198-201 ppm. The lake is spring and seepage fed with a marl bottom, and the maximum depth is 30 feet. The plant communities include a rich fen that lies along the outlet stream, sedge meadow, open bog, northern wet forest dominated by tamarack, southern dry forest, oak opening, and wet-mesic prairie. The fen and wet-mesic prairie are highlighted by such showy species as New England aster, bottle and small fringed gentians, prairie blazing star, grass of parnassus, pitcher plant, nodding ladies tresses, prairie dock, and golden alexanders.
Acreage, Location, and Boundary:
A granite monument was erected in 1957 when John Muir Memorial Park was dedicated to Muir. Recommended by Professor Iltis, the site was designated a state natural area in March 1972.
The text on the marker reads:
Natural Division: Central Oak-Pine Barrens and Meadow Plain.
Reason For Preservation: John Muir memorial Park contains many interrelated terrestrial plant communities and an aquatic community. A state-threatened plant species occurs on the site.
Land Control and Management: Owned by Marquette County.
Compatible Uses: Group Use, Research Use, Individual Nature Study, Fishing.
The Cradle Of Our National Parks
“Oh that glorious Wisconsin wildnerness! Everything new and pure in the very prime of spring when Nature’s pulses were beating highest and mysteriously keeping time with our own! Young hearts, young leaves, flowers, animals, the winds and the streams and the sparkling lake, all wildly, gladly rejoicing together!”
“The preservation of specimen sections of natural flora–bits of pure wildnerness–was a fond, favorite notion of mine long before I heard of national parks. When my father came from Scotland, he settled in a fine wild region of Wisconsin, beside a small glacier lake bordered with white pond-lilies…”
“And when I was about to wander away on my long rambles I was sorry to leave that precious meadow unprotected; therefore, I said to my brother-in-law, who then owned it, ‘sell me the forty acres of lake meadow and keep it fenced, and never allow cattle or hogs to break into it, and I will gladly pay you whatever you say. I want to keep it untrampled for the sake of its ferns and flowers; and even if I should never see it again, the beauty of its lillies and orchids are so pressed into my mind I shall always enjoy looking back at them in imagination, even across seas and continents, and perhaps after I am dead.”
“But he regarded my plan as a sentimental dream wholly impracticable. The fence he said would surely be broken down sooner or later, and all the work would be in vain. Eighteen years later I found the deep-water pond lilies in fresh bloom, but the delicate garden-sod of the meadow was broken up and trampled into black mire.”
“This was John Muir’s first attempt to preserve the land for its beauty alone. Accordingly, as early as February, 1864, in the Town of Buffalo, Marquette County, Wisconsin, the seed of the idea of land preservation was planted in John Muir’s heart and mind. The seed germinated, took root, and grew into his major contribution to the formation of the national park system.”