Author Vince Welch to make two local appearances

Portland-based author Vince Welch will be in town next week for two discussions centering on his latest book, “The Last Voyageur: Amos Burg and the Rivers of the West.”


On Wednesday, Nov. 14, he’ll be at the Alaska State Historical Library at noon, and then at the Downtown Public Library at 6 p.m. Books will be for sale and signing.

The subject of Welch’s book, Amos Burg, was a Juneau resident who is considered to be the only person to have run all major Western rivers from source to mouth. He began his river expeditions in 1920, beginning with the Snake and Columbia rivers, eventually taking on the Pig, Yukon, Mackenzie, Green and Colorado -- often alone. In 1934, he sailed a 26-foot wooden sailboat around Cape Horn and two years later used the same boat to explore the coast of British Columbia and Alaska. He also took a 4-month, 3,800-mile run on the Yellowstone, Missouri and Mississippi Rivers.

After many explorations through Canada and Alaska, he returned to Alaska in 1946, on the sailboat “Endeavour” and lived on board for many years, making Juneau his home base when he wasn’t traveling. He later worked for Fish and Game in Juneau, establishing the information and education section of the department in 1955. He retired in 1974, continuing to travel through the late 1970s. He died in 1986.

As a filmmaker, Berg made a series of 30 films for Encyclopedia Britannica in the late 1940s. He also shot a film of brown bears on Admiralty Island (“Giants of the North” in 1932), one of his voyage on an first inflatable raft down the Colorado River (“Conquering the Colorado” in 1938), and one of caribou crossing the Yukon (“Alaska Wilds” in 1928), among others.

Burg was also a writer and photographer for National Geographic.

Author Welch, a former professional river guide who worked on the Colorado and other major rivers, is a senior correspondent for Mountain Gazette, and has written for River magazine, The Utne Reader and Boatman’s Quarterly Review, Oregon Coast, Wend, Rivers and The Hibernacle News. He is still a part-time river guide on the Snake River and is co-author of “The Doing of the Thing: The Brief, Brilliant Whitewater Career of Buzz Holmstrom,” published in 1998.

“The Last Voyageur” was published in October by Mountaineers Books of Seattle.

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