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On to Willits and the California Western Railroad Willits to Fort Bragg BBQ Dinner Motorcar Trip 8/16/2014

by Chris Guenzler

We continue on our trip aboard the Skunk Motorcar M-100 to Willits.

We passed the sign for Sanctuary.

We crossed Bridge 22.51.

We crossed Bridge 22.68.

We ran on a straight section of track on this railroad.

We ran by the Irmulco Passenger Shelter.

We ran by the MP 24 signpost.

We dropped off passengers at Irmulco Shelter at the westbound Irmulco Station Half a mile sign.

The inside of the California Western Motorcar M-100 on our trip to Willits.

We ran up the longest section of straight track on this railroad.

We ran through Shake City. Now the real climb begins. From east of here to the Tunnel 2 we climb five loops of track and go 6.4 miles of track to do that but it is really only 1.2 miles as the crow flies. In other words we leave Shake City at 560 feet to reach Summit at 1,740 feet or a gain in elevation of 1,180 feet.

We ran by the Milepost 27 sign.

The Burbeck One Half Mile sign.

This straight track leads to Burbeck.

We next ran through Burbeck at the very bottom of the looping part of the railroad. We have climbed 100 feet from Shake City.

We ran by the Milepost 28 sign.

Heading for the bottom loop.

We ran by a pile of new ties. We ran through Soda Spring having climbed 400 feet in the last five miles.

We ran by the Milepost 29 sign.

We have the end of the bottom loop as we now start looping back to the north.

Looking down on the tracks we were once on.

Climbing the second level of the loops.

This tree fell across the railroad and had to be cut so trains could ran through. We have turned south once more.

We ran by the Clare Mill Half a Mile sign.

We climbed towards Clare Mill.

The west switch at Clare Mill.

Lumbermen house at Clare Mill. Each house could hold eight of the workers in very tight quarters.

Water tower at Clare Mill. We are now heading back north.

Climbing the grade on the third loop.

We ran by the Milepost 31 sign.

We are almost to the north end of the middle loop.

We have now turned south again heading to Crowley.

We ran through Crowley and turned north for the final time on the loops.

We ran by the Milepost 33 sign.

We are nearing Delmar.

At Delmar there is another lumbermen house that was on skids to be used when moving the camp to a new location.

Now we are turning back to the south for the final time on the loops on this railroad.

We are heading southward.

We ran by the Summit One Half Mile Sign.

We ran by the Milepost 35 sign.

Tunnel 2 came into view. It was completed in 1911 and is 812 feet long.

We travelled through the darkness of Tunnel 2.

We ran through Summit.

We crossed Bridge 35.71.

Heading for Milepost 36.

We ran by the Milepost 36 sign.

Dropping down the grade.

Milepost 37.

Heading to our next passenger stop.

Passengers detrained at the KOA Kampground Depot in Willits.

We then crossed CA Highway 20.

We rolled down some straight track as we closed in on Willits.

We crossed Bridge 37.78.

We ran by the Milepost 38 sign.

Another section of straight track.

We ran by the Willits Yard Limit sign.

I was surprised to see an old friend of the Central California Traction RS-1 at the lumber mill outside of Willits.

An old high-wide detector.

We ran by the Milepost 39 sign.

We crossed US Highway 101 on the way to the Willits station.

The Willits Arch Gateway to the Redwoods.

We crossed the Bridge 39.24.

The Willits water tower.

We came to the junction with the old Northwestern Pacific.

We rolled the final mile into Willits.

The California Western keeps a passenger train in Willits. We pulled into Willits ending our eastern trip from Fort Bragg. We had two hours in Willits to wait for our BBQ Trip back to Northspur.

California Western Motorcar M-100 at rest at the Willits station.

California Western Motorcar M-100 heads to the Willits wye to be turned for the trip back to Northspur.

The California Western station in Willits.

California Western GP-9 65 at Willits.

The railroad equipment fenced at Willits. I bought a route guide and then was given water for my mother and I during our Willits layover.

The BBQ Dinner Excursion and return trip to Fort Bragg 8/16/2014

All Aboard for our BBQ Dinner Excursion. Travel round trip from Willits to Northspur. Equipment will be a Motorcar. Travel from Willits to Northspur on a Motorcar aboard the vintage 1925 or 1935 Motorcar. From Northspur to Fort Bragg you will ride a vintage diesel power train. As you depart Willits you will begin climbing a 3.5% grade and cut through the Coast Mountain Range at Tunnel 2. From here it's long descent into the Redwoods of the Noyo River Canyon. Our dinner menu is BBQ tri-tip and chicken, green salad, potato salad, baked beans, rolls and butter and famous blackberry sundae (menu subject to change) at Northspur.

Since I documented this railroad on the eastbound trip to Willits I will only share a few pictures on this return trip to Fort Bragg. The loaded my mother aboard and then the rest of us boarded with me taking the front seat in the Skunk Motorcar M100.

We left Willits for Northspur.

We went by the Central California Traction RS-1 at the lumber mill.

The east portal of Tunnel 2. I talked with our operator and took in the scenery from the Skunk Motorcar front seat all the way down to Northspur where we detrained.

The M100 Motorcar at Northspur. Since we got in I fixed a plate of corn, beans, salad, a roll, BBQ chicken and a piece of Tri Tip for my mother and a plate of corn, two rolls, butter, BBQ chicken and 5 pieces of Tri Tip for me. My mother had a small glass of wine and I had a Mug Rootbeer. It was a very good meal. During my meal the diesel train from Fort Bragg arrived so I waited until the engine was wyed at Northspur before I took some more pictures.

CWRR GP-9 64 came out from the Northspur Wye.

It was then coupled onto the front of the Fort Bragg train for the trip back. I got my mother into position to be lifted onto the train and then I boarded for the very relaxing trip back to Fort Bragg. I rode out in the open car most of the way back to town.

Views of the return trip to Fort Bragg.

This wine barrel is full of water for their unique water lubrication system used on this railroad.

Two more views of the return trip to Fort Bragg.

The train entered Tunnel 1.

The train exited Tunnel 1. The train ran back along Pudding Creek then climbed back into Fort Bragg. It had been a fantastic day of riding the entire California Western Railroad using steam, motorcar and diesel to complete my run on this unique California railroad. We said our goodbye to Fort Bragg and I drove us over CA Highway 20 back over the mountain to Willits then US 101 south to Ukiah to the Vagabond Inn where we stayed the night.