The Sacramento Valley Live Steamers, a nonprofit organization runs a scale-model steam train in Hagan Community Park, has been delighting children since the early 1970s with train rides through the trees with glimpses of American River.
The railroad line has endured vandalism and the theft of tools and track before, but never something like what happened last week when somebody took their vintage tractor.
A week ago, somebody broke into a locked shipping container and took the group's red-orange 1951 Ferguson farm tractor with a front loader. The tractor is used for a variety of tasks, including carrying gravel ballast that is used under the tracks.
The group is in the process of replacing track. That's when the sturdy workhorse comes in handy.
But now it is gone, apparently driven away down the bike trail.
"I'm told that the transmission is worth $1,000 on its own," said Bill Yoder, president of the Live Steamers. "As heavy as that thing is, they will probably chop it up and sell it for scrap."
Yoder wanted help in making the public aware of the theft in hope that somebody spots the hard-to-hide tractor. The group has offered a $1,000 reward for its return in good condition.
Any information about the stolen tractor should be provided to Rancho Cordova Police, Yoder said.
Starting in March, the group plans to start excursion runs again. Yoder will use his small tractor to move gravel.
PHOTO CAPTION: The stolen vintage tractor. Sacramento Valley Live Steamers