We would like to thank The Skunk Train for having us along for the ride. We were given tickets in exchange for our honest review. As always, opinions are completely our own.
We had tickets for the 1 pm Skunk Train in Fort Bragg, which is about 20 minutes from Little River Inn. The train is located midway through town on the west side of the main road. Tickets are located inside the station which is also a gift shop. You board the train just outside of the station. They really try to maintain the history of the train. The conductor and the other employees wear traditional uniforms and they even loudly announce “all aboard” when it’s time to board the train. As a result, you truly feel taken back to another time.
The train has 3 cars, two with seating, one with a concession stand (that is cash only BTW), and one open car in the middle that allows you to stand and see the views along the way. The trip lasts about an hour and goes 7 miles round trip, so it’s not a fast train. The back of the seats is really cool, you can simply push the backs front to back to change the direction you are seated. It amazes me that this is found on a hundred-plus-year-old train but you don’t see anything like it in more modern trains. It’s so cool and easy.
The leisurely ride gives you plenty of history of the train and the area and views of the redwoods. A musician plays train-themed music and a photographer captures the train goers. It is a wonderful way to see the Redwoods and the Pudding Creek Estuary. It is a great little ride for families especially, though we like fun little tidbits of history so we enjoyed it as adults as well.
Model Train Exhibit
If you are into model trains there is a model train exhibit next to the station. It has mini versions of the skunk train along with several other trains in a tiny little town. The attention to detail on these things is pretty incredible.
History of the Skunk Train
In the early 1880s, 3 lumbermen (C.R. Johnson, Calvin Stewart, and James Hunter) teamed up to expand timber operations in Mendocino County. The Fort Bragg Railroad was formed in 1885 to make transporting lumber easier. This was the foundation of what would eventually become the California Western Railroad, more affectionately known as The Skunk.
So Why “Skunk” Train?
In 1925 motorcars were introduced (sometimes referred to as railbuses or rail cruisers today). They are single, self-propelled units that 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. As a result, the old-timers living along the line said these motorcars were like skunks, “You could smell them before you could see them.” A reporter mistakenly referred to the train by the name and it just stuck.
To learn more about the history of the Skunk Train visit their about page.
Pudding Creek Express
We rode on the Pudding Creek Express. It’s a scenic 7-mile round trip along the beautiful Pudding Creek Estuary and over the first tracks laid down by the California Western Railroad. This trip departs from Fort Bragg depot and takes one hour round trip. It’s a great way to spend the morning or early afternoon.
January – March
Adult – $27
Child (2 to 12) – $16.20
Infant (2 and under) and Dogs- – $10.80
April – May
Adult – $28.95
Child (2 to 12) – $18.95
Infant (2 and under) and Dogs- – $10.95
June – December
Adult – $41.95
Child (2 to 12) – $25.95
Infant (2 and under) and Dogs- $10.95
They also have special holiday runs for Easter, Halloween and Christmas.
The rail bikes looked like a ton of fun, a very unique way to see the world-famous Redwood Route on a two-person Railbike. They are pedal-powered vehicles that were crafted especially for The Skunk Train and will take you on a roughly one-hour roundtrip along the Pudding Creek Estuary. It looked like an awesome excursion for couples and families although because of the nature of these bikes, they aren’t recommended for younger children.
$79.00 per person.
Wolf Tree Turn
You can also take a ride from that departs from Willits called Wolf Tree Turn. Its a two-hour round trip that runs from Willits valley to the highest point of the rail with a brief stop at Crowley.
Adult – $49.95
Child (2 to 12) – $29.95
Infant (2 and under) and dogs – $10.95
The Skunk Train is a charming ride into the Northern California forest. Therefore, I recommend seeing The Skunk Train should you find yourself in Fort Bragg. It is a wonderful piece of history and a very pretty ride.
To read more about the train visit their website: https://www.skunktrain.com
Read more about our trip to lovely Mendocino County!
Have you been on the skunk train? heard of it? Are you planning a Fort Bragg trip? Let’s chat in the comments.
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