The Skunk Train is one of the most popular visitor attractions in California's North Coast and is considered to be one of the ten most scenec rail traips in North America. Built as a logging railroad, the Skunk Train follows the same coastal redwood route from Fort Bragg to Willits as it has since 1885, when it was known as the Fort Bragg Railroad. Trains are pulled by the Old 45 steam locomotive or one of three diesel locomotives.
Historic motorcars are also available. The Skunk Train uses a variety of passenger cars including two open-air observation cars and a concessions car. Popular trips include the flagship route to Northspur from Fort Bragg or Willits, Northspur Barbecues and the one-way trip between Fort Bragg and Willits. The 40-mile trip between Fort Bragg and Willits crosses 30 bridges and trestles, goes through two mountain tunnels, passes spectacular redwood forests and includes a stop at Northspur.
One of the highlights of your journey is likely to be musical entertainment by the Train Singer. Greg Schindel, aka the Train Singer, has been delighting audiences aboard the Skunk for many years and has several CDs available of his tunes. We also play the Train Singer's songs on the Featherbed Railroad radio station.
What's In A Name?
The Skunk Train nickname originated in 1925 when the railroad began using a self-propelled Mac railbus or motorcar. The gasoline powered motorcar had a potbellied stove to keep the passengers, in this case loggers, warm during the trip. The gasoline exhaust mixed with the smoke from the stove, which was carried inland by ocean breezes ahead of hte motorcar. The locals claimed, "You could smell it before you could see it coming!" and the "Skunk" nickname was born.
In 1885 Charles R. Johnson and his fellow investors established the Fort Bragg Railroad, a division of the Fort Bragg Lumber Company. The logging and railroad became the California Western Railroad and offered passenger service from Fort Bragg to Willits along the Redwood Route in 1911. Three generations of Johnsons managed the California Western Railroad until the mid 1970s when Kyle Railways form Arizona began managing the railroad, which they subsequently bought in 1987. History was made in 1996 when a group of Mondocino Coast Investors acquired the California Western SKunk Train and operated it as an independent business. Beset by financial woes, the Skunk Train was acquired by the Sierra Railroad Company in December, 2003. In only a few months time, the popular Skunk Train was back on track offering excursions into the redwoods from Willits to Fort Bragg.
You can download the Skunk Train schedule and get your tickets directly from the Featherbed Railroad.
Distance from the Featherbed Railroad: 40 miles - approximately 52 minutes.