A video entitled The Redwood Route (AKA The Skunk Train in the 1940’s)

This is the text that our computer guru, Roger Thornburn,  inserted at the beginning of this lengthy (44 minutes) video:

Redwood Route is a 1940’s video made by the Union Lumber Company of Fort Bragg, Mendocino, CA. The video was made to promote the railroad as a tourist attraction, and the redwood tree logging business as a modern sustainable resource. It shows both the operation and maintenance of the railroad. The video was originally shot on 16 mm film and then transferred to VHS in the 1980’s and to digital format around 2005, hence some of the quality issues.

As historian of the club I found it interesting to see how the CWR (California Western Railroad) operated up over Summit – the last big hill before you get to Willits. I also enjoyed watching how useful the Skunk train was to those who lived along the line from Fort Bragg to Willits.

PS – Roger also added the sound.

Super Blood Wolf Moon

Alas it was cloudy here in Fort Bragg, CA yesterday evening and I only got to see an itsy bitsy bit of the lunar eclipse. This evening I have been having a great old time “thumbing” through photos of the event taken by those who a) have better cameras than I and b) who know how to use them. Here’s my pick of what I have perused [click on any photo to see full size]:

Super Blood Wolf Moon #1

Super Blood Wolf Moon #1

Super Blood Wolf Moon #2

Super Blood Wolf Moon #2

Super Blood Wool Moon #3

Super Blood Wool Moon #3

Super Blood Wool Moon #4

Super Blood Wool Moon #4

How about them apples!!!!!

Logs for Today – Trees for Tomorrow – a movie made by the Union Lumber Company of Fort Bragg circa 1950

I was over at Roger Thornburn’s house a week or so ago working on a project. After our “work” we spent some time looking at “stuff” which Roger (our computer guru) had accumulated which we had not used in the websites. One of the “things” was this movie. The text and maps were added by Roger as was the music. The movie details logging from A to Z. It’s quite long (38 mins) but worth watching if you are into the history of Mendocino County logging. If you don’t have the time for the whole “show” just take a peek at the maps that Roger has inserted at the beginning.

Thanks for your efforts Roger.

A sad tale of a Caboose that lives in Florida

Bobby Cowan, notwithstanding that he lives in Florida is a member of our club, The Mendocino Coast Model Railroad & Historical Society. Bobby is coming here to Fort Bragg to assist in the restoration of “our” caboose, CWR’s (California Western Railroad) Caboose #11.  Bobby recently sent me a “heads up” about a Caboose that lives “down his street.” The”heads up” was about a piece that appeared in the The Daily News – a newspaper that serves the Emerald Coast in Florida:

The railroad ties that bind by Heather Osbourne 

VALPARAISO — Wanderlust grasped at the heart of young Randall Roberts as he watched the passenger train zoom through the Bonifay station every Sunday after church. Roberts said he would study the faces of each traveler, caught in small glimpses through the yellow glow of the train’s windows. It was the early 1940s and the United States was in the midst of World War II. Observing passengers from unknown places was a town affair, Roberts said, I’d say to myself, ’Ahh, I wish I could go, Roberts said of his 15-year-old self. “I can remember it and picture it so vividly.” Now in his early 90s, Roberts continues to spend hours gazing at trains. This time, though, it’s not a passenger train, but a red antique caboose that sits in his backyard in Valparaiso.

‘Less sense’

In 1968 Roberts and his wife traveled to Montgomery, Alabama, to do the nearly impossible. Roberts said he’d watched for years as fond memories of his childhood — cabooses traveling across the United States — were being burned for scrap. The train lover was determined to not let them go extinct. “I thought it was awful,” Roberts said. “They were burning history. We started searching for a caboose of my own. We found one in Montgomery that was downtrodden. We immediately said we’d take it.”

The journey to his new home of Valparaiso, however, would prove to be a challenge. “We had our friends pull it for us on the tracks all the way back home,” Roberts said. “This was back when I had less sense than I do now. We pulled it to a big saw mill where the Mullet Festival is held. We then had to hire a professional house mover.”

The movers, Roberts said, had to drive the large caboose over the Tom’s Bayou Bridge and through the city to their first house on Chicago Avenue. The train was moved six months later to the Roberts’ new home down the road.

The caboose has remained there for about 50 years.

Similar to a modern-style tiny house, it has a bathroom, stove, sink, fridge and living area. The caboose was placed on a few feet of tracks Roberts laid himself, which is now accompanied by an antique railroad switch just for show.

“My wife was quite the carpenter,” Roberts said. “She and my father-in-law did repair work on it. We had the conductor seats professionally reupholstered and we made curtains for it and everything. When it was all done, we borrowed incandescent lights from the city and hosted a caboose party. People came dressed in railroad overalls.”

It was a thing of beauty once fully renovated, Roberts said. He always dreamed of one day taking it out on the tracks for a trip across the country. That trip, unfortunately, hasn’t happened yet. And history, according to Roberts, is repeating itself.

Full speed ahead

The train man’s beloved caboose is slowly deteriorating. Roberts said his only wish is for it to be restored again. His carpenter wife has passed on and 90 years old is a bit too aged to be on the roof of a caboose, he said. Nevertheless, the caboose doesn’t simply remind him of his childhood anymore. It holds memories with his spouse and his friends he calls the “movers and shakers of Valparaiso” who have passed on, too. And it brings him back to a time when his children would climb up and down the little red caboose to see over the neighbors’ roofs.

“I’m going to fix it up again soon,” Rogers insisted. “It’s sad to see it like this.”

Here is a vid of Randall showing us his caboose:


Fort Bragg Coastguard leaving Fort Bragg Harbour in a recent storm

These truly remarkable pics were posted on Lynn Catlett’s Facebook page “You know you’re from Mendocino if ……..” Their willingness to go out when the sea is truly ghastly is a testament to their professionalism.