Todd Weber’s seemingly unbreakable bond with the American West began decades ago, shortly after he crafted his first pair of moccasins as a young teenager.
Born on the East Coast, Webber moved west early in his childhood and became enthralled with stories about the frontier, including tales of fur traders, American Indians and explorers.
Today, Weber lives in Prescott with his wife, Nadine, and carries on his passion for the West as a self-taught historian and guide.
Over the past 18 years, Weber has led several house boating trips on Lake Powell and river trips in the Grand Canyon.
However, he specializes in the Lewis and Clark expedition, the first American overland exploratory mission to the Pacific Coast and back that President Thomas Jefferson spearheaded in the early 1800s. The trip eventually led to the United States’ settling of the West.
“He wanted to try to push the country farther west, and people thought he was crazy,” Weber said of Jefferson. “But Jefferson had this idea. He saw a nation that would span from sea to shining sea.”
For the Lewis and Clark bicentennial from 2004-2006, Weber was on-board historian for a local cruise line, sharing his appreciation for the stamina, ingenuity and character of the settlers who helped shape the history of the American West.
“The expedition caught a lot of people’s interest because of the length, success and ramifications of the trip,” Weber said.
During a mid-April lunch at the Chino Valley Senior Center, Weber gave a living history presentation titled, “Along the Columbia with Lewis and Clark.”
An audience of about 40 people came to listen to Weber talk about the successes and perils of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark’s “Corps of Discovery,” as they journeyed from the Midwest to the Pacific Ocean recording their findings about Indian tribes, botany, geology, Western terrain and wildlife in journals.
“The whole impetus behind this big expedition was to find a water route to the Pacific, or the Northwest Passage,” Weber said. “Nowadays, we have Highway 89, I-17 and I-40. But back in the days of Lewis and Clark, 90 percent of the population lived within several miles of the Eastern seaboard, so the highways were rivers.”
During the presentation, Weber dressed like a mountain man and shared his awe-inspiring collection of tools, firearms and military equipment that would have accompanied the corps.
He said the corps’ men hauled 50,000 pounds of camping gear because they knew they would be gone for two and a half years and travel at least 7,000 to 10,000 miles.
“How did they know this? Thomas Jefferson was an avid reader who had the biggest library in the country at the time he was president,” Weber said.
This fall, the Weber and his wife are offering a guided sightseeing tour to the Pacific Northwest, where they will share the history of the region.
The tour, also dubbed “Along the Columbia with Lewis and Clark,” lasts eight days, from Sept. 10-17. It features several stops in Oregon, including the port of Astoria, Mount St. Helen, the Columbia River Gorge and the city of Pendleton.
Essentially, tourists traverse the last portion of Lewis and Clark’s journey to the Pacific Ocean following the Columbia River to the sea.
One of the trip’s highlights is a jet-boat excursion in northeast Oregon along the Snake River and Hells Canyon — the deepest gorge in North America — and a side trip to Spokane, Wash.
For $1,545 per person or $1,250 per person for double occupancy, tourists get motor coach transportation; seven nights lodging; one-piece baggage handling where they stay; admission to all listed attractions; four breakfasts, two lunches and a dinner; and rides to and from the airports in Spokane and Portland.
The price also includes Todd Weber serving as the historian and guide and Nadine Weber as the tour director.
|Northwest U.S. Exploration
What: “Along the Columbia with Lewis and Clark”
When: Wednesday to Wednesday, Sept. 10-17
Where: Various historical points in Oregon including Port of Astoria, Mount Saint Helen, Columbia River Gorge and Pendleton
Cost: $1,545 a person or $1,250 for double occupancy
Phone: (928) 445-2639