Why the name “Skunk Train”?
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 a pot-bellied stove 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.”
The railroad's historic name is California Western Railroad.
Do we need a reservation?
While you can travel certain times of the year without having booked in advance, we always encourage a reservation.
Do you accept credit cards?
Yes, we take Visa, MasterCard, and Discover. For purchases made on the train or at Northspur, we accept cash only.
Are pets allowed on the train?
Dogs are the only pets permitted on board. We do ask that you be considerate of your canine though – they simply may not like trains. Please bring whatever they need to be comfortable (food, water, dishes, a leash, etc.). Starting in 2013, there will be a charge for canine passengers.
Is the train handicap accessible?
Yes – but there are limitations, given that our railcars were built in the very early 1900s. We strive to make every guest feel comfortable and will do our very best to accommodate your visit.
Can we bring food on the train?
Only if you have dietary restrictions or are traveling with a child. Concessions are available on the train.
Can we bring alcohol on the train?
Thank you for asking, but we do not allow outside alcohol on board the train. We have a wonderful selection of wine and beer from beautiful Mendocino County – which by the way is America’s Greenest Wine Growing Region – including our very own Skunk Beer (bottled for us by Anderson Valley Brewing Company), plus a full bar on board the train.
Do your trains leave on time?
Without question we try to maintain our schedule. If you miss a train we will issue you a gift certificate for a future ride or book you on the next available departure. We will not, however, issue a refund because you’ve missed the scheduled departure.
How should we dress?
Comfortable and casual layered clothing is suggested to keep warm in the chilly months. If you plan on riding the Open Air Observation Car then we suggest dark clothing, because sometimes lighter clothing can get soot spots on it.