Tuesday, August 21

The friendly train called Skunk

 


In 1956 National Geographic published an article about a scenic tourist train winding its way through the coastal Redwood forests of northern California. It described a local anecdote about the smell of the rail company's first petrol driven railcars. These fossil fuelled vehicles had replaced steam trains on the line in 1921 but according to local they came with a distinctly unpleasant oder. Shortly after this article appeared the rail company formally renamed itself the Skunk Train.

 It's an unusual rail journey crossing the coastal mountains between Fort Bragg on the Pacific Ocean and Willits, 40miles inland. Most trains coming from either terminal only travel halfway, stopping at Northspur, a remote redwood grove 21 miles from Fort Bragg. Garry and I caught one of these daily services this morning. We spent four delightful hours weaving our way through redwood forest and crossing tranquil mountain streams.

The train stopped at Northspur for 45 minutes, enough time for us to enjoy a light BBQ lunch and a cold beer under the shade of towering redwood trees. Sadly the route included only a handful of mature redwoods including one notable giant that's at least 1000 years old.

The railway was originally laid down in the early 20th Century by loggers keen to access a rich load of mature old growth trees lining the Noyo Canyon. Its location also reflected the fact that Fort Bragg had one of the region's few sheltered ports from which timber could be transported down the coast to build the city of San Francisco.


Posted from my iPhone

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