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The Skunk Train Back Up and Running


On April 11, 2013 the famed Skunk Train had a tunnel collapse. This tunnel was dug by hand in 1893 and they needed to get it back open.

With a goal of $300,000 to fix the collapsed tunnel #1, private donations for the last two months from 449 people raised $56,800. But a big thank-you to San Francisco’s Save the Redwoods League who stepped up with fix-it money. This non profit conservation group purchased a $300,000 option to establish an easement protecting  redwoods and ensuring public access along the 40 mile Skunk Train Railroad Line. This was exactly the amount of cash the strapped Skunk Railroad needed to fix the tunnel. The owners spent months rebuilding the tunnel, which collapsed under the pressure of the massive rocks, forcing the closure of the Skunk Railroad Line, which had run continuously for 128 years. This tunnel was originally dug by hand and is a monument to both the Chinese & Italian immigrants who painstakingly worked in very tough conditions for six years.

Operations for the Skunk Train from Fort Bragg resumed on Saturday, August 17, 2013 and their contractors will continue to do their work under traffic.

History of the Skunk: Built as a logging railroad in 1885 by Charles R. Johnson, the “Redwood Route” was a logical vehicle for moving massive redwood logs to Mendocino coast sawmills from the rugged backcountry. The train played a vital role during this time in transporting families and workers who set up the various logging camps along the route and in doing so, became an entirely different type of line. It played an important part not only in the area’s industrial life, but also in its social and cultural activities. No other logging railroad in America has made the deep impression on American life that was created by the line from Fort Bragg – first by the natural beauty of its route and later, by the distinctiveness of its equipment.

“Smells Like a Skunk!” The nickname “Skunk” originated in 1925, when motorcars were introduced (today sometimes referred to as railbuses or railcruisers). These single unit, self-propelled motorcars had gasoline-powered engines for power and pot-bellied stoves burning crude oil to keep the passengers warm. The combination of the fumes created a very pungent odor, and the old timers living along the line said these motorcars were like skunks, “You could smell them before you could see them.”

 Half Day to Northspur Station

From Fort Bragg: This 3.5- to 4-hour round-trip travels along the Pudding Creek estuary immediately out of the city limits. Quietly slipping into Tunnel No. 1, the train emerges into the Noyo River Canyon, the river you will cross for the balance of your journey to Northspur. Traveling at the base of the canyon, you are constantly looking up to see the tops of redwoods.

From Willits: This 3.5- to 4-hour round trip on our vintage rail cruiser departs Willits and begins the steep ascent (3.5% grade) to the summit of our line at 1,740 feet. Traveling through Tunnel No. 2, the trip descends into the Noyo River Canyon. In one spot, the vintage rail cruiser travels 8.5 miles to cover a straight-line distance of less than one mile in a serpentine of switchbacks.

Food and beverages are available in our concession car on each trip, with more options available seasonally at Northspur station.

Event Trains:

Crab (Crab & Wine Express) Skunk Train from Fort Bragg: Enjoy a train ride through the majestic Redwood forest on board the Skunk while being treated to a delightful bounty of crab and wine at Camp Mendocino. All Ages Ride.

 Easter Egg Express:

Mothers Day Brunch: All aboard for this annual tradition. Come enjoy music, hot chocolate, sinfully good cookies, and of course to visit with Santa. All Ages Ride.

Fathers Day BBQ:

Grand Ole Time: Grand Ole Time on the Train. In its 8th year come ride the Skunk for an enjoyable day of music from the David Thom Band at Northspur and enjoy a delicious BBQ lunch. All Ages Ride.

Beer & Bratwurst (Willits to Northspur): Beer & Bratwurst at Northspur Station. Come on out for a trip through the redwoods on the back of the historic Skunk Train and enjoy Mendocino County beer along with Bratwurst and some awesome potato salad.

Pumpkin Express: All Aboard the Pumpkin Express! Travel through the redwoods to the pumpkin patch at Northspur Station. Kids get treats on board and it is sure to be a fun day. All Ages Ride.

Mushroom, Wine & Beer: Our annual benefit train is held the first weekend in November. Tickets for this year’s event, to be held on Saturday, November 2, 2013 and is available through the Mendocino County Museum. 707-459-2736.

Christmas Train: All aboard for this annual tradition. Come enjoy music, hot chocolate, sinfully good cookies, and of course to visit with Santa. All Ages Ride.

For additional information call 707-964-9371 or there website Skunk Train.

Stevenswood Spa Resort is only 15 minutes south of Fort Bragg and the Skunk Train Depot. Plan on coming to the coast and enjoy one of our suites, dinner and relax and get pampered in our spa.

For dinner phone 707-937-2810 or online at urban spoon.

For lodging phone 707-937-2810 or online at reservations.

For spa reservations phone 707-937-2810 or online at Indigo Eco-Spa.

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