An Overview of the Murie Legacy



Murie is the name of a famed American family of naturalists, brothers Olaus and Adolph, and their wives Margaret “Mardy” and Louise. Based in Grand Teton National Park, the Muries were active in conservation throughout the twentieth century.

Olaus Murie was a talented artist and a pioneering field biologist for the U.S. Bureau of Biological Survey. He left federal service in 1945 to become the president of The Wilderness Society, which helped establish the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and was influential in the passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964.  Learn more »

Adolph Murie, an ecologist, was a pioneering advocate of biodiversity and was a major promoter of the Denali National Park.  Learn more »

Margaret “Mardy” Murie (married Olaus, 1924) helped bring about the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in 1980, the greatest land preservation act in U.S. history, and was the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998. Learn more »

Louise “Weezy” Murie (later MacLeod), a botanist, accompanied her husband Adolph (married 1932) on twenty-five expeditions to Mount McKinley (now Denali) National Park. Weezy lived in Jackson, WY until she passed away at the age of 100. Learn more »


“The Murie Ranch is the one property that best represents the nationally historic contributions of Olaus Murie, Adolph Murie, and Margaret (Mardy) Murie and that also is best representative of the themes of Biological Science and Resource Management and Conservation in the United States.”

– National Park Service, US Dept. of the Interior, Murie Ranch Historic District Report


 The Murie Historical Timeline

1889 – Olaus Johann Murie is born on March 1  in Moorhead, Minnesota.

1899 – Adolph Murie is born in Moorhead, Minnesota.

1902 – Margaret (Mardy) Elizabeth Thomas is born on August 18 in Seattle, Washington.

1906 – Congress Passes the American Antiquities Act, which allows presidents to establish protected wild lands.

1916 – Congress Passes the National Park Service Act to protect scenic wild lands.

1912  – Louise “Weezy” Murie born in Fairbanks, Alaska.

1914 – Olaus Murie spends two years in the Canadian Artic collecting birds for theCarnegieMuseum.

1920 – Olaus Murie, as a government biologist, takes part in a six-year caribou study in theAlaskaTerritory.

1921 – Mardy met Olaus Murie, through a mutual friend in Fairbanks and agreed to stay in touch while she was away in Boston and he was in the Brooks Range on dogsled

1922 – Buster Estes homesteads what will later become the Murie Ranch. Olaus meets Mardy while he is preparing for an excursion into the Alaskan Wilderness.

1924 – Mardy becomes the first woman graduate of the University of Alaska with a degree in Business.

1925 – Olaus and Mardy are married on August 19th, and spend their 3 month honeymoon doing research by dogsled in the Alaskan wild.

1925 – Mardy gave birth to their first son, Martin, on July 10.

1927 – Olaus is transferred to Jackson Hole to study the elk migration. Olaus and Adolph both receive their Master’s degree from University of Michigan.

1927 – Mardy gave birth to Joanne on May 21

1929 – Adolph receives his PhD in the fledgling field of Ecology fromUniv.ofMich.

1931 – Mardy gave birth to their second son, Donald, on December 16.

1932 – Adolph and Louise are married at Olaus and Mardy’s home inJackson

1934 – Adolph Murie leaves theUniversityofMichiganto join the National Parks new Wildlife division.

1935 – The Wilderness Society is created to protect wild areas.  Olaus was on the founding board.

1940 – Adolph Murie publishes his study on “The Ecology of the Coyote inYellowstone.” This is the first true predator ecology study in the National Parks.

1945 – Olaus and Mardy Murie, along with Adolph and Louise Murie, purchase the 76 acre ranch from Buster Estes.

1946 – Olaus Murie retires the U.S. Biological Survey and becomes the director of the Wilderness Society; the Survey is renamed Fish and Wildlife Service.

1949 – Olaus went to New Zealand to study elk herds for 7 months, with Mardy as his secretary

1953 – Park Service planner George Collins reconnoitersAlaskafor inclusion in a series of parks or wildlife sanctuaries and recommends that Olaus spearhead the protection of the northeast corner of the territory

1956 – Mardy, Olaus and three young biologists (Bob Krear, George Schaller, and Brina Kessel) flew to the remote Sheenjek River Valley, AK to survey the land proposed for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)

1960 – Secretary of the Interior Seaton creates nine-million-acre ANWR by public land order.  ANWR lacks “wilderness” protection.

1962 – “Two in the Far North” is published

1963 – Olaus Murie dies of cancer on October 21. Adolph Murie is awarded the John Burroughs medal for his anthology of nature essays, “A Naturalist inAlaska.”

1964 – President Johnson signs the Wilderness Act, creating nine million new acres of protected lands in the lower forty-eight and the mechanism to study other wild lands throughout the United States for potential inclusion. Mardy invited to signing at White House.

1965 – Adolph Murie is awarded the Distinguished Service Award by the dept. of the Interior. He also retires from a 30 year career at the National Park Service.

1966 – “Wapiti Wilderness” about Olaus and Mardy’s early years in Jackson, WY is published

1968 – Mardy Murie sells the Murie ranch back to the National Parks service, with an agreement that she will be allowed to live her life out on the property

Late 1960’s – Mardy began participating in a local summer program called Teton Science School, which continues to grow into a prestigious year-round environments education center.

1974 – Adolph dies

1975 – Mardy Murie appointed member of Alaskan task force identifying and protecting wild lands.

1979 – Mardy Murie receives the Audubon Medal for her conservation achievements

1980 – President Carter signs Alaskan National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) through the Antiquities Act.  103 million new refuges and parks are created; ANWR becomes a refuge, and its size is increased to 19.6 million acres

1998 – Mardy Murie is awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, from President Clinton. The Murie Center officially opens on September 16th.

2003 – Mardy Murie dies at her home at the age of 101.

2006- The Murie Ranch becomes National Historic Landmark

2012- Louise Murie dies at the age of 100.