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The Skunk Train

by Eugenia Lazaris

Jun 12, 2020

© Marnie Patchett | Dreamstime.com

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Rail travel is becoming increasingly popular, but visitors to northern California have been enjoying rides through the majestic redwood forest for more than 100 years with the Skunk Train.

 

In 1925, motorcars were introduced to this railway, which had been transporting timber through the forest since the late 1800s. The train’s new engines earned it the nickname Skunk Train. The foul odor produced by the combination of gasoline and crude oil used to run the train created a smell that reminded locals of skunks because “you could smell the train before you could see it.” While the train no longer uses such stink-generating fuel methods, the nickname stuck.

 

As the trains meander slowly through peaceful, old-growth redwood forests, passengers are treated with unobstructed views of the impressive landscape that has barely changed since the train’s inception, creating a historic experience for passengers.

 

Trains depart from the towns of Fort Bragg and Willits and travel along routes that cut through the forest, through mountain tunnels, along rivers and over historic trestle bridges. The company operates five historic trains along two separate routes throughout the year, including special Easter and Christmas rides.

 

In addition to the rail line’s train experiences, seasonal rail bike excursions are available for those who want to power their own vehicle along the train tracks. This experience allows you to take in the beautiful scenery and forest fresh air while stretching your legs in a two-person rail bike that runs along train tracks. Rail bike run $89.95 per bike. The route runs from Fort Bragg with a 30-minute stopover in Glen Blair Junction before returning to the starting point.

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