Bob Webber

1935 - April 21, 2015

Bob Webber, a former district forester for Pennsylvania, was a special kind of outdoorsman. He and his wife Dottie lived without electricity in a cabin in the woods near Penn Creek. According to a colleague of his, Jim Hyland, who worked with Bob at the Bureau of Forestry, wrote that “[Bob] purposely chose a lifestyle that immersed him in nature. When Webber poked his head out of his cabin, he appeared as natural as a chipmunk poking out from a tree stump. His skin was tan, weathered and ruddy, as if he had evolved his own camouflage.”

Bob understood the natural balance – while he would feed corn to deer right from his hand, he also harvested many types of wildlife to sustain himself and Dottie. Yet, his true legacy lies in the trails he constructed over his lifetime. After seeing the Adirondacks as a boy, he imagined a similar network of trails in northcentral Pennsylvania. While he didn’t build the entire Black Forest Trail, he used his knowledge of the backcountry to connect old log slides, railroad grades, and game trails into a 42-mile loop. He dug each connection by hand. He also helped create and maintain the Golden Eagle Trail, his namesake Bob Webber Trail, and many cross-country ski trails.

Bob hiked at least 50,000 miles in his lifetime. Into his 70s, he could hike straight up the steep, rocky ridges of the Pine Creek Valley without much effort. Jim Hyland said, “He was a living example of the type of intelligent, hardened, and determined men who had been members of the Corps of Discovery, who had built the infrastructure of this country, and who had been victorious in World War 2.”

It is fitting, then, that his memory will live on as generations hike the trails he lovingly put in place.

Photo by permission of Jim Hyland.