Travelers today are less interested in the destination than the journey, and increasingly seek learning opportunities within the travel experience. As defined by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, heritage tourism is “traveling to experience the places, artifacts and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past and present”.
This philosophy is nothing new to Shebby Lee Tours which has been exploring the history and cultural heritage of the Great American West since 1978. The company’s Vanishing Trails Expeditions allow participants to experience first-hand the sites where pivotal events of the history of the West actually took place. All expeditions feature living history, special speakers and events, authentic meals, interpretive centers, historic sites and other activities specifically related to the theme of the tour.
Participants are provided with a recommended reading list upon booking and the programs are led by tour directors carefully trained not only in the nuts and bolts of leading a professional group tour, but in the historical background for every program. They conduct the onboard discussions, provide necessary information for every stop and activity, and are there to augment the primary interpreters and re-enactors who make the subject come alive.
Participants might take a horseback ride across the open prairie, thrill to the excitement of a wild west rodeo, meet a tribal elder in his own home, or relish the sights and sounds of traditional Native American pow wow, retrace the paths of pioneer covered wagons and see the actual wagon ruts which have survived more than a century of sun, wind and weather.
Included in the series are the Oregon Trail (introduced in 1993), the Lewis & Clark Trail, Teddy Roosevelt’s Dakota, Custer’s Trail, Santa Fe Trail, American Legacy, Nez Perce Trail, Old West Trail, Nevada’s Living Ghost Towns, Siouxland: the Dakota Conflict. With the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War approaching in 2011, Shebby Lee Tours introduced Bleeding Kansas: Where the Civil War Began in 2007 and The Civil War on the Border, exploring the unique role of the state of Missouri, is in development.
In addition to its company website, owner and award-winning historian, Shebby Lee, maintains a number of history websites designed to provide background materials to prospective passengers. The sites provide historically researched background materials for armchair travelers as well as those already booked on an excursion to the past.
Shebby Lee is a historian, writer and tour operator specializing in the historic and cultural heritage of the Great American West. Her early training was in the theatre and she served a tour of duty as an entertainer with the USO. She is also an Admiral in the Nebraska Navy.