CWR (The California Western Railroad) – The Skunk

Our long-time secretary, Louis Hough, wrote a concise, excellent article, “The History of the Skunk “ which you can read here. This article appeared in the July 24, 2003 edition of the Mendocino Beacon and explains how the Skunk got its name.

A detailed history of the California Western Railroad (also known as the Skunk) appeared in Issue 212 of the Western Railroader magazine. Click here or on the front cover right to see an e-book of Issue 212. A pdf version can be downloaded  here. Click here for an index which enables you to locate items within the magazine. The magazine was written by Stanley Borden 

We have collected two movies of the California Western Railroad when it was the means by which the Union Lumber Company (its owner) used to transport the lumber products from its Fort Bragg Mill to Willits and from there to market via the Northwestern Pacific Railroad. Click the image on left to see one of the movies.

If you have not had the opportunity to ride #45, steam loco Skunk these two videos will give you a great idea of the treat in store. Gerald Lunn, a website and layout visitor, created these two superb videos on the history of Skunk Train and has given us permission to use them. Sit back and enjoy.


Redwoods, Iron Horses and the Pacific by Spencer Crump
ISBN 0-87046-012-9 Published in 1970

This book is contains the most comprehensive history of the California Western Railroad (aka the CWR, aka The Skunk). It has appeared in a number of different formats and was added to in successive editions by the author. The book was based on the contents of the Western Railroader , Vol 20, No. 8, Issue 212 which you can read here. A pdf version can be downloaded  here

Property of Club Member Tony Phillips

Rails Across the Noyo – A Rider’s Guide to the Skunk Train by Katy M Tahja
ISBN 978-0-933391-28-5 Published 2008

A short interesting guide to the Skunk Train. Included is a history of the Skunk line, a roster of cars and engines, what you will see along the line, nature and geology, plus trivia that comes with a more than 120 year-old railroad.

Property of Club member Tony Phillips


Roots of Motive Power “Roots Newsletter”
Volume 29 No2 CWR – A Centennial Tribute

An exceptionally well written and brilliantly researched 30 pages on the California Western Railroad by Chris Baldo and Theron Brown. The article contains a wealth of pictures from Roots of Power archives that have not seen the light of day for many a long day as well as pictures from the archives of the CWR. A tremendous resource on the history of the CWR – you can get your own copy from the bookstore in the County Museum adjacent to Roots in Willits.

Click here or the thumbnail right to see the e-book version and  here to download a pdf copy

Blowing Smoke Up the Noyo by Jerry Brooks
Published in 1994

Jerry Brooks began his railroading career as a student fireman on the California Western Railroad (the Skunk Line) and worked his way to senior engineer. The book takes the reader from Jerry’s days on steam locos to diesel and back again to steam. It’s a book full of very interesting personal anecdotes of life riding and working on the Skunk Line.