Hells Canyon Scenic Byway > Events > Learn Pioneer Skills for Fun, Hobby or Otherwise

Flora, Oregon__At the north end of Wallowa County, in the tiny community of Flora, skills associated with pioneers and early settlers are valued and passed along. These skills are demonstrated each year during Flora School Days, while classes and activities from July through October teach the skills. Vanessa Thompson describes the upcoming activities:

If you love getting your hands dirty on worthwhile projects, why not take the drive to Flora, at the North end of Wallowa County. There will be a work party at the Flora School, Saturday, August 18, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Working on the Holloway/Pie Social/Upper Elementary Room (goes by several names): painting, sheet rock and possibly stripping paint on the wood. Also working on the Sewing/Lower Elementary Room: clearing it out, cleaning it and then varethane the floor. Wear your grubbies in layers (cool in morning, hot hot later in the day). Bring snacks since we will have a potluck at 2pm (hold off on lunch until then). At 2pm we will also hold the annual GBU (The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) discussion for School Days 2018. Everybody is welcome to stay, enjoy the potluck and participate in the meeting. If you cannot attend the meeting, but have suggestions for the GBU for School Days, please email Vanessa at floraschool@tds.net. Remember all ages are welcome and all skill levels too (none to professional).

Lodging is available close at hand for all classes and activities. Plus, there are places to park RVs, pitch tents or setup cots in the school itself. For one-day classes and activities it is generally recommended to bring a sack lunch unless stated otherwise. Sometimes a Dutch oven lunch is offered as a fundraiser for the school, for a cost of $10, which includes a drink. For two-day or more classes potluck breakfasts and dinners can be set up in advance – just bring whatever you want to share.

Dan Thompson, head Dutch oven cook at School Days, will be teaching Dutch oven cooking in September.


Blacksmith classes and quilting activities, always the favorites, headline the teaching through October. Classes teaching the use of Earth ovens, Dutch oven cooking, making pioneer cookies and more, balance out the season at the Flora School. People of all ages have two chances to pound hot metal (blacksmith) this summer. The suggested age limit is no younger than high school age, unless a parent enrolls, too (10% discount for two from one family). The August intermediate class also contains a beginner’s class for those that could not make the July class. Check with the instructor on possible future classes if you cannot make this class or email floraschool@tds.net. Questions? Call of email Nathan, blacksmith and teacher, 509.876.7812 or dirtdart1981@yahoo.com.

  • “Begin at the Beginning: Blacksmith I”  $100 includes use of equipment (although if you have equipment, bring it) and materials needed for class. Learn skills to make tools that you need as a blacksmith.
  • “Second Iron Step on the Blacksmith Ladder”  $100 includes use of equipment and materials needed (again, bring your own equipment if you have it). The intermediate students need to have had a beginner’s class or to speak with the instructor. Tongs and hammers will be made in this class.

Sewing classes for beginners and sewing activities in general will team up opposite the blacksmith classes. Questions? Call or email Vanessa at 541.828.7911 or info@floraschool.org.

  • “Begin at the Beginning: Sewing!” TBD. Let’s get you started. Bring your sewing machine so you can learn with that one. Sew pillowcases easily! And bring a picture/pattern of something that you really want to learn to sew! Email/call Vanessa for a list of what to bring and when you want to do the class. We will get a group together! 8hr class $50. Some machines available for use.
  • “Sipping & Sewing” class takes place Tuesdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., except Sept 4. Bring whatever project you want to work on and hopefully finish. Or maybe a project on which you need suggestions for completion. Or, start a new project. If you plan on coming back the next Tuesday, then leave your project laid out and ready to start back at it next week. Remember: no phones or anything to interrupt your ‘Sipping and Sewing’ time! Bring your drink and lunch!

For more classes and activities, and information on each, visit the school’s website at www.floraschool.org, see the Facebook page, call the message phone, 541.828.7911, or email info@floraschool.org.

Pre-registration is not required but is helpful. Classes will be held even if only one student shows up!

About the author