Talk about nostalgic; this train will take you back to a time when Mendocino was best known for its logging and mills. The Pudding train is a 30-minute, 7 Mile ride along The Pudding Creek Express. It goes up the Creek for 30 minutes, and then the train reverses and you wind back where you started.
Step back in time for a magical ride through the redwoods on the world-famous Skunk Train. Since 1885 the historic Skunk has made its way through old-growth redwood groves, over scenic trestle bridges, through spectacular tunnels, and into the heart of the Noyo River Estuary. Today’s riders enjoy the same pristine views that have remained largely unchanged for well over a century.
Some History – An American Legacy:
In the early 1880s, lumbermen C.R. Johnson, Calvin Stewart, and James Hunter joined together to expand timber operations in Mendocino County. By 1885 the Fort Bragg Railroad was formed to make transporting lumber easier. This would form the foundation of what would eventually become the California Western Railroad, more commonly known as The Skunk.
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.
A Train Called 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.” Although the smell is now much reduced, we still like to think of ourselves as that little Skunk running through the redwoods.
Caretakers in Time:
California Western Railroad was initially operated as a division of the Fort Bragg mill (Union Lumber Company, Boise-Cascade). 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 in its 111-year history that the line would be operated as an independent business. Today the Skunk Train is owned and operated by Mendocino Railway.
There were lots of fun tourists on the train enjoying the full experience like I was. The conductor had some very fun stories and facts; he roves around the train and talks to all of the passengers.
It truly a nice slice of history, and be sure to check out the museum which has the miniature train set, for sure a boyhood dream of many to own and run a authentic miniature train set. I would say do the Pudding creek train, its fast ad easy and is kind of a Disneyland for adults.
100 West Laurel Street
Fort Bragg, California
The Historic Skunk Train runs both in Fort Bragg & Willits, California.
* Note Some Content Was Taken Off Of Their Website.