Willits, California or Gateway to
Redwoods is located in Mendocino County, known for its rich wine
growing regions and tall redwood trees. Willits is located
approximately 45 miles from the California Coast and town of
Mendocino over an hour's drive away on California Highway 20.
Willits is one of
several departure points for
Skunk Train, an historic California
railroad excursion between Fort Bragg and Willits. The Skunk
Train is one of three excursion trains operated by the Sierra
Railroad Company in California. The other trains are the Sierra
Railroad Dinner Train (Oakdale) and Sacramento River Train
(Woodland and West Sacramento).
Except for the
passengers' high-tech cameras and modern garb, a time traveler
from the last century would feel quite at home riding California
Western Railroads Skunk Train in the 1990's. The view from the
restored rail cars is pretty much unchanged: towering trees,
deer drinking from the Noyo River, an isolated fisherman's cabin
peeking from the forest. With occasional whistles as it chugs
through tunnels, over bridges and past open meadows, the train
follows the coastal "Redwood Route" as it has since 1885.
For Skunk Train fares and schedule, call 866-45-SKUNK or visit
in and around Willits include Black Bart Casino, Brooktrails
Golf Course, Redwood Trees, Ridgewood Ranch - Home of 'Seabiscuit'
and Redwood Valley Wineries.
History: Mendocino County was one of California’s original 27
counties, created in 1850 by the State Legislature. Because of
its small population, Mendocino County was administered by the
government of Sonoma County until 1859, when the government was
established in a small building on Main Street in Ukiah. County
officials moved into the first courthouse at the site bounded by
Standley, Perkins, State and Schools streets on January 24,
derives its name from Cape Mendocino, which lies northward of
its northern boundary. Cape Mendocino was given its name by a
famous Spanish navigator of the 16th century, Juan Rodriquez
Cabrillo. Cabrillo discovered it in 1542 while on a voyage of
discovery along the Pacific Coast and named it in honor of Don
Antonio de Mendoza”, the first Viceroy of New Spain (Mexico),
and the patron of the voyageur.
permanent Spanish settlers came to the area in the middle 16th
century. It was almost 300 years before the first permanent
non-Spanish settlements in the county were made on the coast
north of Big River in April of 1852. Mendocino County
encompasses an area of over 2 million acres or approximately
3500 square miles.
Willits, California Photos - Mendocino County
is home of Frontier Days, Redwood Trees and Skunk Train