Bridges to the Past

by Patrick Farneman, photos by David Beckstead

Bridges to the Past is a non-profit organization headquartered in Valley, WA, dedicated to education in ancestral skills. The mission of Bridges to the Past is to bring people together through ancestral, cultural and environmental experiences. ​We do this mainly through workshops and gatherings (extended workshops) though ancestral skills and material arts. We facilitate connection to our shared human history, we teach people self-sufficiency and problem solving, and encourage confidence in building a sustainable future through living smaller. We started as a small group of people in 2008, and we have expanded over the years to include events that serve several hundred people. We have always had the intention of having a permanent campus to call home in Stevens County, WA, where we can build some permanent structures and put down some roots, and in 2020 we finally realized that goal on 40 acres in Valley, WA. We look forward to sharing this land with you, and to hosting our events and gatherings in that location. We hope you will love it as much as we do.

Our two main events during the year are Between the Rivers Gathering in late May/early June, and Fall Camp, taking place in early October. These events are extended workshops in ancestral skills where teachers and students camp together creating an intentional community for the duration. Skills taught at gatherings range from lithic technology, fibers, leather, and wild edibles to blacksmithing and homesteading skills, and everything in between. Our instructors range from local experts and enthusiasts to well-known and seasoned masters of their disciplines from around the continent and even the world. Each event brings a different group of teachers and students creating a unique set of learning and teaching opportunities. Our participants at gatherings come from our local and regional communities and also from far and wide. Their interest in our events varies from living historians, skills practitioners, bushcrafters, survivalists, craftspersons, preppers, homesteaders, rewilders, and casual weekenders and the curious.

For more information about Between the Rivers Gathering and Fall Camp please see their respective websites at and

In April of this year we are offering a first of our intensive workshops in traditional timber framing led by David Kretchmar and Jed Petterson of Sandpoint, ID. Participants will take part in and learn the aspects of building a small traditional wood joinery 3 bent 14X20 timber frame structure from the layout process, the cutting of the mortises and tenons and making pegs, and the raising of the frame by the end of the week, all using simple hand tools and square rule. No previous experience required! The building erected during this workshop will serve as the field office for our future events on our campus. Information for this workshop is found at:

Bridges to the Past and its events maintain an online presence on Facebook and Instagram to help spread the word of what we do, and we maintain a Facebook group where we can inform of upcoming opportunities, and where participants can share experiences, photos and videos of their adventures. Please feel free to search for us and join in the fun.

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