10/11/2006

California Trains

Hop aboard the Skunk Train

FORT BRAGG, CALIF Except for the passengers' high-tech cameras and modern garb, a time traveler from the last century would feel quite at home riding California Western Railroads Skunk Train in the 1990's. The view from the restored rail cars is pretty much unchanged: towering trees, deer drinking from the Noyo River, an isolated fisherman's cabin peeking from the forest. With occasional whistles as it chugs through tunnels, over bridges and past open meadows, the train follows the coastal "Redwood Route" as it has since 1885. Built as a logging railroad, the Skunk line began that year as a logical vehicle for moving massive redwood logs to Mendocino Coast sawmills from the rugged back country. Steam passenger service was started in 1904, extended to the town of Willits in 1911, and discontinued in 1925 when the self-powered, yellow "Skunk" rail cars were inaugurated. The little trains were quickly nicknamed for their original gas engines, which prompted folks to say, "You can smell 'em before you can see 'em." California Western welcomed more "modern" equipment in later years, which rail fans can still ride. The vintage 1925 M-100 motorcar -- the only remaining train of its kind in use anywhere today -- runs the line year-round, as does the 1935 M-300 motorcar. During the busier summer months, they are joined by three 1950's diesel-powered engines, and famous Old No. 45, a majestic 1924 Baldwin steam engine, the kind most kids dream of when they think "train." Moving at a leisurely pace (29 miles per hour maximum), the trains pull covered cars as well as open observation cars -- perfect for capturing photographs of the truly exhilarating journey. California Western was initially operated as a division of the Fort Bragg mill. In the mid 1960s, Arizona-based Kyle Railways began managing the railroad, and purchased it in 1987. In August 1996, a group comprised entirely of local Mendocino Coast investors purchased California Western, marking the first time is its 111-year history that the line would be operated as an independent business. The Skunk line runs 40 miles from Fort Bragg on the coast to Willits on US Highway 101. Along the way, the tracks cross some 30 bridges and trestles and pass through two deep mountain tunnels. The half-way point of Northspur is popular lunch spot, giving passengers a chance to snack before continuing to Willits or heading back to Fort Bragg.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Fillmore & Western Railway Company
Home of "The Movie Trains"

Spaghetti Western Dinner Train
March 17, April 28 & August 26, 2006

Ride this legendary rail line and bring back memories of the challenges and luxury from the old wild, wild west.

The evening begins as you board a vintage train that takes you on a 2 1/2 hour journey through the citrus groves of the scenic Heritage Valley while characters from the old west entertain you.

Enjoy a tasty all you can eat spaghetti dinner with salad, garlic bread, dessert, coffee or tea.

or take a Weekend Excursion Dine & Ride

Sit back on a park bench aboard our open air railcar to take full advantage of the panoramic view. Or, relax inside restored passenger coaches, Circa 1921, 1922 & 1930. However you enjoy your trip, you will feel as though you have been transported back in time.........

The 3 hour daytime excursions departs from Fillmore, have a half-way, one-hour stopover in Santa Paula. A place to see is the California Oil Museum ( Remember, you are only here for 1 hour) and then the Train returns to Fillmore..................

Anonymous said...

JOIN US DECEMBER 9, 2006,
AS WE TRAVEL BACK IN TIME TO 1941 on the Peral Harbor Troop Train


Ride along as we experience that “Day of Infamy” aboard our vintage railcar and celebrate America, our flag and our freedoms. Participate in our salute to America’s World War II heroes; watch and listen as veterans share the hopes, fears and uncertainty of the times. Honor those men and women who paid the ultimate price for the precious freedoms we often take for granted.


Help us salute our Guests of Honor, the brave Veterans who were there when Pearl Harbor erupted in flames, on December 7th, 1941. This is a rare opportunity to share the personal stories of these brave battle Survivors. Hear it just as they lived it.

These spirited men and women are now in their golden years, and growing fewer in numbers, daily. Sadly, we are now losing our WWII Veterans at the rate of 1165 a day! That means, the WWII era is quickly coming to an end. This is your opportunity to join us as we honor these wonderful patriots, to thank them for the freedoms we enjoy today.

This patriotic excursion is dedicated to all WWII veterans and those who served on the home-front. They demonstrated courage, strength of character and determination to win, while serving and sacrificing in their fight to defend freedom and our Republic. These are our Heroes.





Relive the styles and trends through the always popular and colorful WWII re-enactors, portraying civilian and military personnel of the 1940s era. Their vintage civilian attire and authentic military uniforms help to enrich the theme and delight the passengers.
You’ll love the personal narratives of the historic individuals they portray.

Trip Highlights:

Relive the 1940’s streamliner travel era
Flash back to the good old days with Christmas decorations of the 1940s
View the attack of Pearl Harbor from actual footage of the event.
Relive President Franklin Roosevelt's "Day of Infamy" speech.
Hear the story telling by Pearl Harbor Survivors
Visit with WW II Re-enactors.
Celebrate with Patriotic Music.
Relax to Holiday Music and old radio shows.
See WW II propaganda posters.
Enjoy the delicious foods of the War Years.
Savor a cup of Hot Mulling Spices.
Preserve this memory with a keepsake photo.
Have an Old Fashioned, Flag-Waving, good time
Enjoy a fresh haircut aboard the last operating railroad barbershop car (additional fee)
Prizes for ticketed passengers wearing the best 1940s costume.