Things to do – Local

Links to see the local history and events around Fort Bragg

If you want to know what is going on in our part of the world take a look at this site,

Places of Interest in Fort Bragg and Mendocino:

Skunk Train

The Skunk with a full Passenger consist

The Skunk Train is Fort Bragg’s premier attraction and is the home of our model train layout. The depot is in the middle of Fort Bragg. Click here for how to ride the train and even enjoy a dinner train.

Laurel Deli Restaurant on Laurel and Main

Opposite the Skunk Train Depot is the Laurel Deli restaurant. The Laurel Deli is the site our train society’s informal Wednesday breakfasts. There are interesting railroad memorabilia hanging from the roof including two railway bicycles. There are a number of photos on the walls of CWR locomotives with informative annotations. Most important the building contains two restored locomotives, Dinky and Daisy. Louis Hough, our club’s long-time bard wrote two articles which were published in the Mendocino Beacon about these venerable steam engines – click here and here to see them.

Guest House in Fort Bragg

Guest House in Fort Bragg

The headquarters of the Mendocino Coast Historical Society. The Guest House was built primarily of coast redwood in 1892 for Tom Johnson, then a business partner in the Fort Bragg Redwood Company, as his private residence. Before the house could be finished the company’s founder, Charles Russell Johnson, directed the house become the lumber company’s guest house for visiting senior officials from the San Francisco headquarters and VIP guest visitors to the Union Lumber Company’s Fort Bragg mill and logging sites. The Guest House served as a show place for Union Lumber wood products. It was constructed from the finest old-growth redwood. – click here to get details and to access the Historical Society web site. In the garden of the Guest House there is a slice of a very large tree. Click here to see how it got there.

There are two other wonderful examples of redwood being used in construction: the Weller House and the Company Store.

Weller House

Weller House Today

The Weller House Inn, two blocks north on Main from the Skunk train depot, was built in 1886. It is the only house on the Mendocino Coast listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.Weller House when it was a Museum

It has been restored and is now a luxury bed and breakfast. It once was a museum. It has a “ballroom” upstairs, which is paneled in magnificent straight grained old growth redwood. The owner has a very interesting scrapbook about the building. You can stay in the reconstructed water tower, the tallest point in Fort Bragg.

Company Store

One block south of the Skunk train depot on the corner of Franklin and Main is the Company Store. It was the Company Store for the Union Lumber Company. When you go inside you can see a wonderful The Company Storeredwood staircase leading to the Bistro restaurant. When it was still the Company Store, the store had a cash railway. One of the many old-time photos covering the walls shows the system in action. The interior of the building was a showcase for the ULC’s lumber (just look at the beams that support the roof) and the current owner has done a marvelous job of restoring it to its former grandeur.

The Company Store soon after it was built
The Company Store today (2011)

The attached article (use the scroll bars to view all the article) which appeared in the special section of the Fort Bragg Advocate News and the Mendocino Beacon on November 7, 2002 tells the history of the Company Store.

The Company Store hasn’t changed much since it was built.Left, are pictures of the Store just after it was built and today (2011).

The Company Store Sign

Interestingly the only place you can see that the Company Store is the Company Store from the outside, is on the side near the back – see picture right.

Point Cabrillo Lighthouse

Point Cabrillo soon after it was built

Point Cabrillo lighthouse lies about halfway between Fort Bragg and Caspar. It has been completely restored and its Fresnel lens is in perfect working order. You can visit the lighthouse and the museum it now contains – click here to get details. Great half mile walk down to the lighthouse and a great whale watching – see more below.

Click here for a map of how to get to Point Cabrillo.

Ford House

Ford House

The Ford House, one of the first houses to be built in Mendocino Village, offers both historic and current information about the area, with a broad selection of brochures, books, cards and other visitor center items – click here to get details.

Whale Watching near Fort Bragg

Migrating whales pass by the Mendocino Coast beginning in December and end in May.

In December gray whales begin their annual 5,000 mile migration from the Bering Sea along the Pacific Coast from the Bering Sea to the lagoons of Baja California. The whales spend approximately two months making their 5,000 mile journey. In the lagoons of Baja California the whale calves are born. The calves spend two months growing and then they, along with their parents, return to the Bering Sea. During the summer and fall the whales feed on krill in the Bering Sea.

The gray whales are almost 50 feet long and can weigh up to 40 tons. Calves stay with their mothers for 7 to 9 months. When the journey south begins the calves are independent of their mothers. Since whaling was outlawed in 1972, the population of gray whales along the Pacific Coast has been increasing.

Favorite whale watching spots along the Mendocino Coast are Point Cabrillo (see above), Point Arena LighthouseNavarro Point, the Mendocino HeadlandsPomo Bluffs Park in Fort Bragg, Laguna Point in MacKerricher State Park, and Westport.Gray Whale Tail

Watchers should look for a heart shaped puff of steam offshore. Sometimes the whales “spy hop”, lifting their heads above water, slap the water with their tails or thrust their bodies out of the water, a behavior known as “breaching”.

Visitors can find information and exhibits about the whales at the Ford House (see above) and the visitor center at Mackerricher State Park. During the whale migration months the Ford House shows whale videos and offers guided whale watching walks on the Mendocino Headlands. Visitors to Mackerricher State Park will find a gray skeleton on display at the park entrance and other exhibits in the visitor center.

If you want to go to sea to get “up close and personal” with the whales you can do just that. Click here for details.

A whale was killed off of Fort Bragg in October 2009 – click here to read the story. The whale was cut up and then buried to bleach the bones. The bones, when clean, will be dig up and re-assembled in Noyo harbor in Fort Bragg.