5 Influential American Outdoorsmen and the Legacies They Left
America’s vast and varied landscape makes it into one of the most beautiful and treasured lands in the world, especially by those proud to call the country home. America has a long history of brave and dauntless individuals who dared to venture into America’s wilds to better understand its mysteries.
Here are a handful of America’s most prized outdoorsmen and the gifts their intrepid spirits gave to our currently great nation. The adventures had by those on this list are amazing even by today’s standards, so if you’d like to emulate one of the following heroes, make sure you look into our satellite phone products to keep you safe on the trail.
It could be argued that John Muir was America’s first conservationist. Muir, dubbed the “Father of the National Parks,” worked tirelessly to preserve America’s great outdoors. He successfully petitioned Congress to protect Sequoia and Yosemite from urban development, and he wrote extensively on the beauty of nature; his enthusiasm and respect for nature is credited for convincing countless social activists, representatives, senators and even presidents of the importance of preserving the American wild. He believed that the soul of America lived not in its urban areas but in the peaceful and powerful wilderness.
Muir’s legacy lives on in each and every national park, though his presence is most acutely felt in the wilds of California. His Sierra Club continues to campaign for environmental safety, and countless trails and natural areas have been named in his honor, including the venerable John Muir Trail and Muir Beach.
Lauded as one of America’s first folk heroes, Daniel Boone was an iconic outdoorsman, even if in life he denied many of the fantastic feats attributed to him. One of the first truly American explorers, Boone is credited with surveying the land that mostly makes up modern-day Kentucky. Aside from this, Boone was an active military man, fighting first against the French in the French and Indian War, then against the Brits in the American War for Independence. At the time, he was also praised for his harsh stance with Native American populations that threatened the safety of white settlements.
Many detailed stories concerning Boone’s adventures must be taken with a grain of salt, but it’s a fact that Boone lived and breathed the outdoors. Many groups have come to extoll the virtues that directed Boone’s life, and one, Sons of Daniel Boone, developed into a recognized and celebrated outdoors organization of today: the Boy Scouts of America.
Roy Chapman Andrews
Explorer, adventurer, naturalist — you name it, Roy Chapman Andrews did it in the name of science. Andrews was fascinated by biology and zoology, and most of his adventures were made in the spirit of academic and scientific discovery. He made numerous trips with his wife into the wilds of Far East Asia, primarily the rather unexplored Gobi Desert, in search of biological treasure. Andrews dug up countless valuable fossils and was the first to uncover a nest of dinosaur eggs.
Because of his travels, Andrews is often touted as the real-life Indiana Jones. His adventures into the then-unfamiliar wilds of the Far East, his upstanding status, Anglo-Saxon virtues and his penitence for flair make him viable as the real-life counterpart to America’s favorite fictional adventurer.
Though slightly more academic than adventurer, Aldo Leopold worked tirelessly to educate Americans about the importance of the environment. Leopold initially gained his reverence for the outdoors when he was tasked with ridding the countryside of its volatile predators: bears, cougars and wolves. He became an expert on wildlife management and called for wilderness preservation not just for sentimentality but for ethical and scientific reasons as well.
Leopold’s emphasis on ecological research lives on in the National Forest Service’s Wilderness Research Institute. Like John Muir, Leopold was influential in his extensive writing, which continues to expound the importance of ecological preservation to this day.
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark
A list of American outdoorsmen couldn’t be complete without the most well-known explorers America has ever produced. Lewis and Clark were tasked by President Thomas Jefferson with charting the newly gained expanse of American territory from the Louisiana Purchase. Their expedition lasted two years and four months and took them through the vast and unseen (by white Americans, at least) territory of the American West. Though their goal was to find “the most direct and practicable water communication across this continent, for the purposes of commerce,” Lewis and Clark found so much more. In their journals, they expounded on the raw beauty of the land yet untouched by contemporary civilization and the intricacies of Native American life.
An American West without the discoveries of Lewis and Clark is difficult to imagine, but the existence of America’s wilderness areas without the works of many men on this list is likely impossible. Honor their efforts by exploring your homeland.
Written by Steve Manley