The Skunk Train is one of the most popular visitor attractions in California’s North Coast and considered to be one of the ten most scenic rail trips in North America. Built as a logging railroad, the Skunk Train follows the same coastal redwoods 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.
Photo courtesy of Skunk Train
In 1885, Charles R. Johnson and his fellow investors established the Fort Bragg Railroad, a division of the Fort Bragg Lumber Company. The logging railroad became the California Western Railroad and offered passenger service from Fort Bragg to Willits along the Redwood Route in 1911. Three generations of Johnson’s managed the California Western Railroad until the mid-1970s when Kyle Railways from Arizona began managing the railroad, and then bought it in 1987. History was made in 1996 when a group of Mendocino 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 and Fort Bragg.
The Skunk Train nickname originated back in 1925 when the railroad began using a self-propelled Mac railbus, or motorcar. The gasoline powered motorcar had a pot-bellied 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 the motorcar. The locals claimed, “You could smell it before you could see it coming,” and The Skunk nickname was born.
Passengers board the Skunk Train at its station in downtown Fort Bragg just one block off State Highway One.
The address is 100 West Laurel Street, Fort Bragg, California 95437
Telephone (866) 45-SKUNK
Fort Bragg Super 8 Motel • 888 South Main Street • Fort Bragg, California 95437
Toll Free: (800) 206-9833 • Local: (707) 964-4003 • email@example.com