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Skunk Train, Cliff House, Seabird Lodge, Baechtel Creek Inn, Fort Bragg and Willits, California

Skunk Train

"You can smell 'em before you can see 'em."

Fort Bragg and Willits, California

June 9 - 11, 2005


I've known hobos about whom you could say, "You can smell 'em before you can see 'em," but this statement refers not to railroad hobos, but rather to the 1920's passenger motorcars that ran between Fort Bragg and Willits, California.  The first motorcar, M-80, had such smelly gas engines that folks in these parts nicknamed them "skunks."

While the smelly engines were improved, the name stuck.  Today you can ride trains or motorcars along the "Redwood Route" from either end of the railroad in Fort Bragg or Willits.  There is even a new Overnighter where you leave Fort Bragg or Willits and ride all the way to the other town.  After staying at a hotel for as many nights as you like, take another Overnighter back to complete your roundtrip.  Overnight hotel packages include transportation between the hotel and station.

The Skunk Train has run for years and I finally had a trip planned to Northern California with time to ride nearly all of their trains.  We arrived late Thursday night, June 9, with the distinct odor of skunk wafting through our car from roadkill just south of town...what are the chances of that happening?!  In this case, we smelled 'em and never did see 'em!

We checked in at the Seabird Lodge, easily found on the right side of the road as you approach from the south.  We  were given the keys to room 133 and found 2 queen beds in an apartment-sized suite equipped with microwave oven, refrigerator,  table with 2 chairs, television, and coffee maker.  There is no Internet available, but 800 and local calls are free if you have a dialup service.  There is also an Internet coffee shop in town if you have the need to wrap those keys long distance.  I was content to edit digital photos and write this story knowing I had access later in this journey to upload my report.

With the extensive schedule in the "California Train Rides" brochure I'd requested from their website, I found up to five trains I could ride in the two days and three nights we were planning to spend in Fort Bragg and Willits.  When you receive your brochure, you will be delighted to see that there are actually four operations under the ownership umbrella of Sierra Railroad:  Skunk Train - Fort Bragg, Skunk Train - Willits, Sacramento River Train, and Sierra Railroad Dinner Train.  After experiencing the Skunk Trains, I can't wait to ride their other trains and I am especially looking forward to the Dinner Train!

Table of Contents

Click any title to go to that page, or start with the first item and read the report in the order it was written.

  1. Skunk Train in Fort Bragg, California

  2. Fort Bragg, California:   Cliff House of Fort Bragg, Seabird Lodge, and Shopping.

  3. Skunk Train in Willits, California

  4. Willits, California, The Baechtel Creek Inn & Spa

  5. Online References of this report.

Online References

Go to any of the following sites and find current information:

Tourist Railroads:   WWW., (Includes both the Fort Bragg and Willits operations),

Fort Bragg Accommodations:

Fort Bragg Dining:  Cliff House Restaurant of Fort Bragg, 701.961.0255

Willits Accommodations:

Train Singer:


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