CWRR & The Skunk Train

BoxcabE50 Jul 25, 2005

  1. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Maybe John Barnhill, or one of those folks in the region can answer this- -

    The Skunk Train has been brought up in another topic. Which makes me curious- How are they doing this season?

    With new management, maybe a brighter future? Are the people showing up to ride and support them? How about needed infrastructure repairs?

    :D

    Boxcab E50
     
  2. Stourbridge Lion

    Stourbridge Lion TrainBoard Supporter

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    Last time I was there was September 29, 2000...

    [​IMG]
     
  3. John Barnhill

    John Barnhill TrainBoard Member

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    Well, I only know that the marketing team is the same handling the Sierra Dinner Train and the Yolo Shortline passenger ops. Since all roads are owned by the Sierra, they have plenty of experience to go around. I seem to remember that they planned on doing alot of infrastructure work as well on the CW but have heard nothing further. Also recall hearing the freight ops will be called the Mendocino RR or something like that. The skunk is operating this year but I know nothing more than that. Anybody else???
     
  4. SP Cabforward

    SP Cabforward TrainBoard Member

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    How can the California Western operate feight when thier only costumer was the Georgia Pacific Mill in Fort Bragg which was closed last I heard. Plus isn't the Northwestern Pacific line through Willits not operating. So I can't really see how they can have freight business.
     
  5. mcjaco

    mcjaco TrainBoard Member

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    CWR can run the entire length of their route this year. I think last year they could only run from Ft. Bragg to North Spur. They overhauled the route in the off season.

    It's still an orphaned line though. Bush's Transportation bill released funds that were held up to fix the south end of the NWP and, forgave the huge debt they owed. Hopefully, this will get things rolling out there, although that's been said lots of times over the past 8-9 years. That's the only rail link to the area is very needed to boost the economy up that way.
     
  6. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I would love to see the NWP running again.Ii understand that maintenance in many places was a major task. But what it can provide the area, in economic benefits, might just pay back. I hope.

    [​IMG]

    Boxcab E50
     
  7. mcjaco

    mcjaco TrainBoard Member

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    The line south of Willits was pretty profitable when Georgia Pacific was up there. It was the maintenance in the Russian River area that was cost prohibitive.....and it wasn't close to as bad as the North end up to Eureka! I'd like to see the south end open up again and at least get things moving along the line.

    As for the CWR, they are strickly a tourist line now. They may still run mail out to the locals along the line during the week..anyone know?
     
  8. JDLX

    JDLX TrainBoard Member

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    I do have to take exception with you, mcjaco...the south end of the NWP has never made economic sense without the lumber traffic from the Eureka region. Even with the Fort Bragg mill operating. Even when it was putting a lot of traffic on the rails the mill never produced enough to make much of a difference in the financials of the south end of the NWP. Especially in the last decade or more leading up to the end of operations in November 1998. There were some years in there when the sawmill shipped 200 loads a year or less...not enough to make the CWR a profitable freight railroad, and not nearly enough to keep the south end of the NWP healthy.

    JDLX
    Elko, NV
     
  9. mcjaco

    mcjaco TrainBoard Member

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    "Profitable" was probably not the best word to use. It gave the line a reason to be open. Although I think more than 200 car loads came out of there a year.

    I remember chasing trains through the Russian River with four or five units pulling 30-40 cars at a time over three or four days.

    Was the line a money making machine? Certainly not. But I know area residents would like to see it re-open because of the truck traffic on 101. It's still the only rail link to the northern California coast.
     
  10. beast5420

    beast5420 TrainBoard Member

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    i have a dumb question, what the heck is the skunk train? i've heard the name mentioned, but it appears it is a long way from here, so i am not sure of a local to ask...... thanks!

    beast
     
  11. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Good question! Now you have me wondering how this name became attached. 'Round here, a skunk is something people that makes folks very unhappy! In my neighborhood, they are obnoxious pests!

    :rolleyes:

    Boxcab E50
     
  12. mcjaco

    mcjaco TrainBoard Member

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    The name comes from the smell that the exhaust omits from the CWR's fleet (At one time) of rail buses.

    Take a look: Skunk Train
     
  13. beast5420

    beast5420 TrainBoard Member

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    interesting..... thanks mcjaco!!
     
  14. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    OK. At least the smell wasn't actually like a skunk. :rolleyes:

    One of these days, I'll get down there and take that ride.

    :D

    Boxcab E50
     
  15. SP Cabforward

    SP Cabforward TrainBoard Member

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    I road the Skunk Train when I was 7. That was in '94 I believe. It was a fun ride as I recall. THe train was pulled by thier steam locomotive No. 45 and it only went as far as North Spur. The steam locomotive rarely goes all the way to Willits any more. It turns on the wye at North Spur and heads back to Fort Bragg. You could go all the way to Willits, but you had to change trains at North Spur, which was pulled by one of the diesels. But that was in '94 I'm not sure if their operations changed or not.
     
  16. JDLX

    JDLX TrainBoard Member

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    What years did you see 30-40 car trains through the canyon?

    The California Western rostered a total of four railbuses. Their first was the #M-80, a Mack railbus that came to the railroad early. It was followed by three more- M100, M200 and M300- which came from various sources through the years. The M-80 was destroyed in a head on wreck with one of the other railbuses sometime around the 1960's, and the M-200 went to the Pacific Locomotive Association (Niles Canyon Railway) a decade or two ago. The other two are still on the railroad and in service today. Locals tagged the cars with the "Skunk" name early one because it was said that you could smell them before you could see or hear them coming. Once the railroad elected to jump into the passenger excursion business they adopted the skunk name for their operations.

    Jeff Moore
    Elko, NV
     
  17. mcjaco

    mcjaco TrainBoard Member

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    I want to say around '95?? I made a couple of trips out there during the mid to late 90's (right after the CFNR took over) hte last one was in '99 I think. I have video of the trips somewhere.

    I'm not saying these trains were the norm, probably more the exception but, they did have some decent traffic from time to time.

    I'm no expert on car loads for the route, it's tough for a Chicago guy to get much info on these routes, I'm going by what I saw and heard from the RR'ers back then.
     
  18. JDLX

    JDLX TrainBoard Member

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    mcjaco- that would make sense then. Prior to January 1998 the CFNR was handling almost daily 30-40 car trains south from Willits...this was before storm damage knocked the line north of Willits out. After January 1998 they only made it to Willits a couple times a week...for the few loads off of the CW, some reload traffic trucked down from the Eureka area, and a little bit of rock loaded a few miles north of Willits. This lasted through the summer of 1998, and then in November 1998 the FRA shut the entire NWP down for a number of persistent safety and track maintenance violations.

    JDLX
    Elko, NV
     
  19. mcjaco

    mcjaco TrainBoard Member

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    I've only been out there once since '98 and, the line was shut down by then. It's really quite sad.

    Glad to see the CWR is up and running though. I've heard the McCloud is shutting down freight service as well....
     
  20. JDLX

    JDLX TrainBoard Member

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    mcjaco-

    McCloud happens to be the railroad I follow the most. They do have an abandonment application pending with the STB board for the entire railroad east of McCloud. I have links to copies of all STB documents relating to the case contained in the News section of my McCloud Rails website (http://www.trainweb.org/mccloudrails).

    JDLX
    Elko, NV
     

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