A reader writes:

We were roaming downtown Eureka [yesterday] and on First Street and noted the train engines are gone. WOW. Any idea when or how they were moved? Is there hope that the balloon tract blight is ending? Thanks for whatever input you have.

Well, when the Outpost got down to the Balloon Track this morning it seemed that the storied engines – stranded for nearly 20 years, ever since the line south went kaput in 1998 – were still there. But were they in the same place? Were all of them still there, or were some of them gone? We couldn’t be sure.

What we did learn, though, is that for the last couple of months the City of Eureka has been actively working to get all remaining locomotive detritus removed from the Balloon Track. On Dec. 3, it issued an abatement order against the owner of the Balloon Track property – Rob Arkley’s CUE VI corporation – requesting, in the name of “community spirit,” that they work to get the all engines, cars and associated equipment off the property within 45 days.

The North Coast Railroad Authority, which has retained an easement through the Balloon Track, was copied on the letter, as were the actual owners of the defunct “rolling stock”: The Northwestern Pacific Railroad Company and a fellow from Fresno named Matt Monson.

Though the city’s deadline has passed, it seems that all parties are working to find some sort of solution. A recent item on the railroad authority’s agenda reports that the owners of the engines and cars all want to keep them, though they seem puzzled as to how to get them from Eureka to wherever they need to go. Monson apparently told the NCRA that he “was willing to cooperate” with the city’s order, though he would require Security National to pay for shipping those locomotives to Fresno. (Say what?)

NCRA Director Richard Marks recently reported on his blog that Northwestern Pacific would like to “build a decorative fence” around its own stock and call it a day. The city of Arcata, Marks writes, has volunteered to cut everything up for scrap.

City of Eureka Code Enforcement Officer Brian Issa told the Outpost this morning that the city isn’t treating the issue as a “major emergency.” It just wants those big graffiti magnets across from the Wharfinger erased from the city’s viewshed, and he said that everything appears to be headed in that direction without the need for more punitive measures from his own office. Within the next couple of months, he predicted, those majestic old wrecks will be nothing more than a memory.