Count Mendocino County's popular Skunk Train among the wet-weather casualties, with three landslides derailing the start of the tourist season.

"It is part of the railroad business," said Wendy Squires, general manager of the California Western Railroad. "But it is a setback. We are usually running seven days a week out of Fort Bragg now."

With rain totals at 150 percent of normal, Squires blames the slides on the wet weather.

"We usually have minimal slides, but everybody has had a lot of rain this year," Squires said.

Repairs are expected to take from three to four weeks.

Crews had reopened a tunnel three miles from Fort Bragg that was closed by a slide March 8, only to have the hill slide again this past Wednesday, damaging the tunnel, Squires said.

Repairing the tunnel will require replacing some of the timbers inside the east entrance with steel plates, Squires said.

There also are two slides on the hillside east of Northspur, the halfway point on the Skunk Train route between Fort Bragg and Willits.

Squires said that next Saturday trains will begin running short routes, from Fort Bragg and from Willits, until the 40-mile line is cleared.

Trains will run 3.5 miles from Fort Bragg to Glenn Blair, through the Pudding Creek estuary, before turning around, Squires said.

"It takes you through some of the prettiest part of the line, although it is not as long, and there are not as many redwoods," Squires said.

From Willits, trains will run through to Wolf Tree, a 45-minute trip that includes an 1,100-foot tunnel.

The California Western Railroad is owned by Sierra Railroad of Oakdale. It carried 55,000 passengers last year.

You can reach Staff Writer Bob Norberg at 521-5206 or