Sep 122013

A logging railroad was built in 1885 to move the massive redwood logs to the Mendocino County, California, coast sawmills.  Skunk Train

Skunk Train Leaving North SpurThe 40 mile trip from Fort Bragg to Willits crosses the Pudding River and creeks with over 30 bridges and trestles.

Some of the original timbers buckled in one of the two  tunnels and collapsed this spring.  Over 200 tons of debris had to be cleared from the blocked portion of the 1,112 foot long tunnel.Skunk Train Entertainer

Because the redwoods absorb massive amounts of water into the six foot base of their trunks, the loggers left this very heavy part of the tree standing.  A notch was chopped into the trunk and a plank inserted above this six foot level.  Then the loggers chopped down the trees, while perched on this plank.  The six foot stumps are still solidly standing, with some regrowth showing after almost a hundred years.

The train ride would be boring, if it wasn’t for the train songs.  Even the dog had a smile on his face.

SkunkTrain Entertainer At Lunch Stop Northspur is the half way point and lunch was served under the redwoods, while the engine was switched to the front for the return trip.

The singer’s handmade flute entertained us with hauntingly beautiful music, that echoed through the trees.Skunk Train Cottage In Redwoods

Railroad workers were able to buy land for one dollar an acre.  Many families still live in, or vacation in, their grandparents cottages.

The only access to these homes is still by train.  The engineer will drop off groceries and mail to these hardy folks, as they did in the 1800’s.

California Western Rail Car

“You can smell ’em before you can see ’em” was the comment that gave the Skunk Train it’s nickname.  The combined fumes from the gas engines and the coal stoves that kept passengers warm, stunk like a skunk.

The yellow engine is an example of the gasoline powered locomotive that caused the “aroma.”

More about the skunk train can be found at this website:

I’ve always loved the majesty of trees.  My favorite is the Blue Spruce, what’s your favorite?

Enjoy other links to photos and stories at Travel Photo Discovery , the Travel Photo Monday series.

Aug 292013

The Point Cabrillo Lighthouse was built in 1909.  It’s bright beam of light was visible for more than 20 miles, to guide ships away from the jagged rocks and reefs of the Mendocino Coast.Point Cabrillo Lighthouse Scene

Lighthouse Museum California
We had to walk the one half mile to the lighthouse, since driving is restricted to service vehicles or people vacationing there.  According to the Mendocino Coast Model Railroad & Historical Society website, a French physicist, Augustin Fresnel invented the lens.
Lighthouse Museum lightLighthouse Museum FireplaceThe Fresnel lens’ glass prisms are clustered to appear like one enormous beehive.  The hand ground and polished glass prisms were fitted into the frames, so they bend the light into a horizontal beam.  Since this type of lens produces more light with less weight, the Fresnel lens has many uses even today.

The lighthouse keeper’s full-time job was to keep the lens’ oil lamps burning brightly, make sure the lens turned smoothly and clean the smoke off the prisms.  Today, this function is done electronically with minimum maintenance work involved.Lighthouse Museum toys

Originally, the fog horn had two steam-driven diaphones that produced a two-tone “bah-rump.”  The keeper and his assistants had the tedious job of tending the boilers that produced the steam.  The fog horn is no longer needed, but I wonder how the light keeper’s family slept through the noisy bah-rumps.

The children had tinker toys and a rocking whale to play with.  I love the whale’s colorful, pink lips!

The job of lighthouse keeper offered low pay, but free room and board for the families living there.  If you’ve always wanted to experience a quiet and isolated vacation, you can rent the Head Lighthouse Keepers home at this website:
This historical museum is a short distance from Fort Bragg, California.  If the youngsters in your family aren’t ready for a quiet vacation, I highly recommend visiting the lighthouse just to see this lens operate.  It is so unique and amazing to watch, as it silently sends it’s beacon out to sea.  Please share where you enjoyed your most unusual vacation.

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