Yreka, Ca — The residents of Siskiyou County are saying goodbye to one of their oldest and most famous, figures all 90 tons of it.
“In the 70’s and 80’s went to Cottage Grove Oregon, and starred in 2 movies, Emperor of the North and the Stand By Me movie as well,” said Matt Starman.
Despite being 90 tons of iron and steel Engine #19, also lovingly referred to as ‘Pancho’, could still reach speeds of about 55 miles per hour, even so it was originally built for cargo and not for speed.
“The rumor goes that while in Mexico it had a run in with Pancho Villa and his revolutionaries,” said Starman.
Few know Engine #19 better than Matt Starman.
“I rode the train as a kid, every summer, in 2008 I started volunteering, working on the steam locomotive,” he said.
He literally wrote the book on the train as a co-author of “Yreka Western Railroad”. This was a bittersweet moment for him and the Siskiyou County community.
Engine #19 was auctioned off by the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Department. Seized due to it’s previous owner’s debts.
“It’s always unfortunate when you have to seize property and auction it off, and a piece of Siskiyou county history is going with it,” said Sheriff Jon Lopey.
The new owner is a locomotive collector in Ohio and that leaves Matt Starman torn.
“It’s an odd attachment, i never tought 90 tons of steel and iron would ever make someone emotional but seeing this thing ever since i was a child and going to work with it, it holds a special place,” said Starman.
He’s hopeful old Engine #19 might hit the tracks once more.
“The other part of me would be glad to see it go someplace and be operational and be taken care of as well,” he said.
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