Yreka Western #19 is a 2-8-2 built by Baldwin
On the 9th day of April, in 1915, the 42,000th locomotive built by the Baldwin Locomotive Works rolled out of the factory, resplendent with olive green cab (with a mineral red roof), wheels, tender, domes, and pilot; a planished iron boiler jacket and black smoke box and firebox along with gold lettering and striping. The engine was a coal burning 2-8-2 logging Mikado of 90tons built for the Caddo and Choctaw Railroad as their No.4 named the R.L. Rowan. The Caddo and Choctaw was owned and operated by the Caddo River Lumber Company out of Rosboro, Arkansas. The area was in the Ouchita Mountains in Western Arkansas and was the last stand of virgin timber to be logged in the southern United States. The engine was named for a Rufus Lee Rowan who was a locomotive engineer for the Caddo and Choctaw. His name would also later grace a 70ton logging Mikado built by Baldwin sometime later.
In 1920, after about 5 years of service hauling logs in Western Arkansas, the “R.L. Rowan” was sold to the United States Smelting, Refining and Mining Company. While the company was based out of Boston, MA, the “R.L. Rowan” was sent to work out of Pachuca, Mexico, a heavy silver mining region northeast of Mexico City, for the subsidiary company of Compañia de Real del Monte y Pachuca. The “R.L. Rowan” was repainted black and re-lettered for the Cia de Real del Monte y Pachuca as their No. 105. Around the time the engine was sent to Mexico she was converted to oil. It is likely the conversion happened prior to leaving Rosboro, most likely being done by Baldwin, as other engines working on the Caddo and Choctaw were converted to oil. Another Caddo and Choctaw engine which is now known as Black Hills Central No.7, was converted from coal to oil by Baldwin and has a similar set up of the firing controls in the cab.
In 1924, the 105 was sent back north across the border, this time to the woods of Northern California, and returned to the task of hauling logs. The McCloud River Railroad was her new owner and renumbered her as their No.19. The 19 would call the roundhouse at McCloud home for the next 30 years. When the 19 arrived at McCloud the rumor is the shop forces found bullet holes in the cab and boiler jacket. The shop hands attributed this to being caused by a shoot out with Pancho Villa and his Mexican revolutionaries and thus giving the 19 the nickname of “Pancho”. However, by the time the 19 had been sent to Mexico, the revolution was already over. While in McCloud the 19 went through a number of changes and improvements. Changes made include the addition of a power reverse, a newer type K-2 dynamo, headlight moved down to the smoke box door, and the replacement of the 11” single lung air pump with a larger cross compound pump. Another change that took place towards the end of the 19's career on the McCloud was swapping out of her original 5000 gallon tender with that of a 4000 gallon tender that originally belonged to her sister engine on the McCloud, No.18.
After 30 years of hauling trains between McCloud, Mt Shasta City, Lookout Jct, and the plethora of logging branches, the 19 was replaced by a growing number of diesel electric locomotives being purchased by the McCloud River Railroad. All was not lost however and the 19 would be spared the fate of the scrapper's torch. In 1953 the Yreka Western was looking to replace their set of 0-6-0's, Nos. 7 and 8. As the YW had done in the past, they looked to the neighboring McCloud River, which had surplus engines. The 19 was purchased and No. 7 was scrapped and No.8 was kept as a back up. The Yreka Western would become the 19's owner for the next 62 years, with Yreka being her home for 43 of those years. The 19 plied the Yreka Western's 7.5 mile mainline hauling lumber from the mills and logs from a log reload in Yreka. Essentially, still performing the task she was meant. In 1956 two major things happened, the YW was purchased by Willis Kyle, which would become the start of a short line empire owned by Kyle, and the reunion of the 19 with McCloud No.18. Once the 18 was acquired, 0-6-0, No.8 was sold for scrap. The engines would spend the next few years hauling freight on the YW. However in 1958, the YW bought it's first diesel. The diesel was enough to replace both the 18 and 19, however they were kept on standby status. All was not lost for the 18 and 19, they would spend the rest of their time pulling special excursion trains on the YW, for local special events and railfan groups. It was during one of these trips in 1964, that the 18 blew a cylinder, sidelining her for the rest of her time on the YW, until 1998 when the McCloud railway purchased the engine back and restored it to operating condition.
Around 1970 Willis Kyle, bought 50% interest in the Oregon Pacific & Eastern Railroad out of Cottage Grove, OR. An excursion train known as “The Goose” was started and the 19 sent north. The next 18 years would see the 19 become immortalized as a Hollywood star. In 1972, 19 was used in the filming of Emperor of the North, starring Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, and Kieth Carradine. After the filming of the movie, the movie company paid for a complete overhaul of the 19 as agreed upon in the contract. During the 19's tenure on the OP&E, she would be used for another Hollywood movie, the 1986 film, Stand By Me. She was used in a scene where one of the main characters plays chicken with the train.
In 1988, lumber traffic on the OP&E declined and Willis Kyle sold off his half of the OP&E. In 1986, the Yreka Western had started operating an excursion train known as the Blue Goose in conjunction with the city of Yreka. After Kyle sold his half of the OP&E the 19 returned home to Yreka. It was hoped that the 19 would be able to pull the Blue Goose for the 1988 season, but her boiler wasn't up to California code and had to be overhauled. She was ready to go in 1989 and would pull the Blue Goose on the Yreka Western into the 21st century. The 19 would also return to a task she meant for, hauling freight. On more than one occasion the 19 was called upon to assist an ailing diesel to haul freight out of the lumber mill and bring back the empties. Making the 19 (at the time) the only steam engine in the US that still hauled revenue generating freight. Dennis Woodruff told a story once, when the diesel died after picking up 13 loaded chip cars at the Hi-Ridge Mill. The only choice was to get the 19, so him and also long time employee Rob Olivera, went back to Yreka and fired up the 19. The 19 took 13 loads of woodchips and the dead diesel and marched up the 2% grade of Pump House Hill, and the 2% grade coming into the interchange at Montague. It was 2:00 in the morning by the time the 19 reached Montague. There would later be phone calls at the depot later that day complaining of the loud bark from the 19 hauling the heavy load, waking the people who lived next to the track in Montague.
In 1999, it appeared the end for the Yreka Western due to the loss of the YW's main shipper. A group of citizens rallied to save the railroad. A non-profit group called the Rocky Mountain Mining and Railway Museum took notice of the effort and purchased the YW. Timber Products started shipping veneer and the 19 continued on hauling the Blue Goose. In 2005 a tunnel fire on the Siskiyou Line caused Timber Products to switch to trucks leaving the YW without any revenue. At the same time the 19 went out of service due to the federal laws in regards to the boiler and money needed to re-do the flues on the 19 had to be used elsewhere to keep the railroad afloat along with other legal problems with the YW that arose at the time. In 2006 the tunnel was re-opened, freight started flowing in record numbers on the YW and the 19 returned to service. A short 2 years later the Siskiyou Line was once again closed, mainly due to the economy and down turn in lumber traffic. November 1st saw the last run of the 19 for photo trip for the Pacific Locomotive Association. Since that time, the 19 has been embroiled in a legal battle caused by payments not being managed on the work done to her in 2006 and other debts not being paid. At this time the YW has also hit hard times, it was later decided to sell her, in late 2016, the Yreka Western finalized the sale of 19 to the Age of Steam Roundhouse
This engine was in the many movies such as: 'Emperor of the North', 'Stand By Me' 'Running a Steam Locomotive Vol. 3' and 'Grandpa Worked on the Railroad'.
The locomotive is nicknamed "Pancho" due to its time spent in Mexico in the 1920s and possible squabble with the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa.
#19 was still waring her Oregon Pacific & Eastern livery and her tender was temporarily modified for a coal load in "Emperor of the North".
The engine served many years there hauling log trains until being sold to the Yreka Western Railroad in 1953.
No. 19 used to haul passenger trains on the Oregon Pacific & Eastern Railroad.