Landslides set back start of Skunk Train

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.

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