Do railways in most cases own the land out right or are they easements ?

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Do railways in most cases own the land out right or are they easements ?
Posted by raccoon on Thursday, November 09, 2017 9:33 AM
JUST WONDERING IF ANYONE KNEW RAILWAY RIGHT OF WAYS WERE EASEMENTS OR IF THEY OWNED THE LAND OUT RIGHT THANKS.
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Posted by Firelock76 on Thursday, November 09, 2017 5:22 PM

In most cases railroads do own the land their tracks lie on. There are some exceptions, such as rail lines that were purchased by states or countys of states who puchased railines that railroads spun off as unprofitable but the states wanted to maintain some sort of rail service and hired contractors to run the trains.

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Posted by diningcar on Thursday, November 09, 2017 6:06 PM

Much to complex for a definte answer! Too many factors involved including case law that has been determined through ligitation. Even when RR's acquired ROW by warranty deed they may still have limited rights. 

No responses forthcoming here will answer your question. 

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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, November 09, 2017 6:20 PM

Like diningcar said - there are hundreds of answers to that question.

Many small railroads (ie, the Podunk and Podunk Hollow RR) relied on easements, as they didn't have the cash to buy the ROW.  If they then got folded into a larger railroad, that easement likely went along.

Oftimes the localities wanted the railroad, so offered up the necessary land.  Might have been an easement, might have been a lease, might have been an outright gift to the railroad - especially if said railroad would be likely to bring prosperity to the locality.

Sometimes railroads did outright buy the land, sometimes they merely leased it (99 years type of thing).

We won't get into land grants - that's a whole 'nother animal.

There are folks who make their living sorting out such property rights...

LarryWhistling
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Posted by ChuckCobleigh on Thursday, November 09, 2017 7:39 PM

tree68
There are folks who make their living sorting out such property rights...

And we know one of them reasonably well, don't we?

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Posted by samfp1943 on Friday, November 10, 2017 5:59 PM

ChuckCobleigh

 

 
tree68
There are folks who make their living sorting out such property rights...

 

And we know one of them reasonably well, don't we?

 

Querry, Mudchicken !  He can quote all sorts of those types of 'mis-adventursome'  tales; leaving the questioner in stunned silence, and some wonderment!  That those kinds of things can actually happen. YeahWow

Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by raccoon on Friday, November 10, 2017 7:19 PM

yes very complex. What i have is a abandoned railway dissecting through our farm. its in canada and original rail act allowed a statutory conveyance of line of way granting railway to take land (for the purpose of their railway) off original land parcel. Now the railway land abandoned and rails removed, i would say that they no longer are using the land for the purpose of what the original statutory grant give them power to use the land for. And should be bound to sell it back to parcel it dissected. Anyway have you ever heard of such a thing, and any insight or help would be much appreciated. PS this a rails to trails movement.

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Posted by Convicted One on Saturday, November 11, 2017 10:37 AM

raccoon
Anyway have you ever heard of such a thing, and any insight or help would be much appreciated.

 

Hire a lawyer, there is no other way.  There are several farmers down around Fowlerton Indiana who successfully acquired-back land abandoned  by the C&O railroad...and managed to do  so in spite of a rails to trails effort to use the land for public benefit. So you might want to have your lawyer research into their effort. Just  to see what worked for them. No guarantee the specifics will work out for you, different jurisdictions etc, but past precedent is usually of some value.

 

Good luck

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Posted by Norm48327 on Saturday, November 11, 2017 11:12 AM

I was, in a former life a land title examiner for a title insurance company but have no where near the qualifications MC has.

I was assigned metes and bounds property descriptions that were sometimes befuddling. MC has qualifications far above my pay grade of those days. Take his word. He knows of what he speaks.

Norm


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Posted by Semper Vaporo on Saturday, November 11, 2017 11:49 AM

My own take on this, as described, or at least as I understand what was described, if the RR 'took' the land, then when they are no longer using it, the land should revert to the original land-owner.  They can't "sell" it to someone else for any other purpose.  They could maybe give it to another railroad for that purpose, but none other for any other purpose.

This is the way some ROW was handled here in Iowa (different country than present situation) and the ROW was being converted to a trail, but at least one farmer went to court to stop them and won.  If you look at the Cedar Valley Nature Trail from Cedar Rapids to Waterloo, you will see at least one definite jog in the trail around a farm field.  See: 42°14'42.45"N, 91°54'51.02"W

Semper Vaporo

Pkgs.

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Posted by Euclid on Saturday, November 11, 2017 1:21 PM

raccoon

... Anyway have you ever heard of such a thing, and any insight or help would be much appreciated. PS this a rails to trails movement.

 

I have heard of that case being made by adjacent landowners, and usually it has been regarding those landowners wanting to acquire the land no longer needed for a railroad versus people wanting the land made into a public trail. 

If I were you, I would talk to a lawyer about your interest in the property.  I don't know if this type of case is always black and white.  If it isn't, I exect the trail interests will have a strong legal representation trying to push it in their favor. 

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Posted by tree68 on Saturday, November 11, 2017 1:40 PM

I'll second talking to a lawyer - specifically one with experience in real estate (some lawyers probably don't understand their own deed, much less one with such a potentially complex history).

You might want to check with a title company, too.

Many municipalities have their tax maps on-line - this might give you an idea of who they believe currently holds title.

Have any of your neighbors done anything with the ROW through their land?  Their experience could be enlightning.  

If you're fighting this thing (or at least expect recompense of some sort), you might do well to join up with your neighbors, if they feel the same as you do.  

LarryWhistling
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Posted by ChuckCobleigh on Saturday, November 11, 2017 4:44 PM

As an example of how some of these things go in the US, consider Chief Justice Roberts' opinion in MARVIN M. BRANDT REVOCABLE TRUST ET AL. v. UNITED STATES from 2014.  The history lesson is interesting, as well as enlightening about how convoluted these questions could become.  State law is perhaps as convoluted or more so on the topic.

 

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, November 11, 2017 4:55 PM

Guys, this is a specifically CANADIAN question, only answerable by those with distinctive competence in applicable Canadian law and policy.  There is no reason to discuss United States experience or credentials other than to establish that the situation can be complex. This has been done.  If there is a reason to continue the business-as-usual-here ‘discussions’ it should only be done with specific reference to actual Canadian relevance, perhaps starting with Canadian precedents on railroad ROW reversion, or any Canadian counterpart of the United States railbanking legislation.

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Posted by SD70M-2Dude on Saturday, November 11, 2017 5:06 PM

I don't want to pry too much, but how long has the line been abandoned for and what Province are you in?  That will make a difference too.

I agree with everyone else that only talking to a lawyer and the local municipality will give you a straight answer.

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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Posted by samfp1943 on Saturday, November 11, 2017 5:37 PM

tree68

I'll second talking to a lawyer - specifically one with experience in real estate (some lawyers probably don't understand their own deed, much less one with such a potentially complex history).

You might want to check with a title company, too.

Many municipalities have their tax maps on-line - this might give you an idea of who they believe currently holds title.

Have any of your neighbors done anything with the ROW through their land?  Their experience could be enlightning.  

If you're fighting this thing (or at least expect recompense of some sort), you might do well to join up with your neighbors, if they feel the same as you do.  

 

'Talking with' a Lawyer is certainly a very good place to start. BUT,bear in mind, many attorneys will expect YOU to bring them a case with your 't's crossed and the 'i's dotted.

    'Research' is a key in land cases, one of the specifics; I was exposed to, [tracking DM&A RR]it can start with the original title that was granted to the railroad, and that is usually the local county records office [around here referred to as a Registrar of Deeds]. Depending on the quality of the individuals holding those offices, the records can be illuminating or not. ie: Here in Kansas, many of the AT&SF's records are held in the files of the Kansas Historical Society [in some cases, requires a trip to Topeka!]  Enjoy 'the hunt'.  

 One of the 'hunts documented on this Forum are the tales that the ASR RR been involved in, in the Adirondacks of upstate NewYork, and the Rails to Trails folks in the Courts there.  ask Larry, tree68, about that. Whistling

Sam

 

 


 

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Posted by Convicted One on Sunday, November 12, 2017 1:38 PM

raccoon
i would say that they no longer are using the land for the purpose of what the original statutory grant give them power to use the land for

 

Not being a lawyer, I would still have to believe that how that 'original statutory grant' was worded will make all the difference in how the matter ultimately plays out. Why not entertain us and post the verbiage used toward that end? 

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Posted by zugmann on Sunday, November 12, 2017 3:48 PM

The question was answered:  that is there is no answer that can be given on a railfan forum.

As far as everything else - it's the internet.

The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

I occasionally post off-topic remarks.  Adults can handle that.

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Sunday, November 12, 2017 7:11 PM

Overmod
Guys, this is a specifically CANADIAN question, only answerable by those with distinctive competence in applicable Canadian law and policy.  There is no reason to discuss United States experience or credentials other than to establish that the situation can be complex. This has been done.  If there is a reason to continue the business-as-usual-here ‘discussions’ it should only be done with specific reference to actual Canadian relevance, perhaps starting with Canadian precedents on railroad ROW reversion, or any Canadian counterpart of the United States railbanking legislation.

"+1"  Only points I can add are:

  1. The precise wording of the statute - and the resulting deed or grant, if any - is critical, and will govern who owns it.  For example, it might be the heirs of the original owner of the ROW land, not the present owner.  Also, whether the reversion is automatic or requires the claimant to 'enter' and make a claim, etc.  Also the procedures under any supposed "rail-banking" act.
  2. What's needed is not just any lawyer, nor just one qualified in real estate, but one who has handled these kinds of cases before, preferably in the same province, and even better if it involved the same original railroad (not likely, though)

mudchicken here is the resident expert on such matters in the US.  I think I know what his response will be, but I'll let him speak for himself.

- PDN. 

"This Fascinating Railroad Business" (title of 1943 book by Robert Selph Henry of the AAR)
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Posted by David Lassen on Monday, November 13, 2017 8:04 AM

Many people sent us messages reporting abuse in this thread. All posts pertaining to that, rather than the question, have been deleted, and moderation has been imposed where appropriate. At least one suggested it be locked. I am reluctant to do that against the slim possibility that someone still has a helpful suggestion, but if there is any more off-topic posting, no matter how seemingly benign, the topic will be locked and those responsible will likely be moderated.

Please, be adults.

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Monday, November 13, 2017 11:17 AM

David Lassen

Many people sent us messages reporting abuse in this thread. All posts pertaining to that, rather than the question, have been deleted, and moderation has been imposed where appropriate. At least one suggested it be locked. I am reluctant to do that against the slim possibility that someone still has a helpful suggestion, but if there is any more off-topic posting, no matter how seemingly benign, the topic will be locked and those responsible will likely be moderated.

Please, be adults.

 

Thank you. Being a moderator is not fun.

Thanks to Chris / CopCarSS for my avatar.

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Posted by Choo Choo Lou on Monday, November 13, 2017 8:58 PM

In way of introduction, I was involved in line acquisitions and related issues in my 36 years of working for the State of Ohio.  The answer to your question for eastern railroads is that it depends on how the original railroad acquired the land.  Sometimes they bought the land outright, sometimes they only acquired an easement that expires when the line is abandoned and torn up.  The only way of knowing for sure in Ohio is to get a title search to see how each and every parcel was acquired.  In my experience there were generally parcels owned in fee by the railroad mixed in with other parcels for which there were only easements.  For parcels where there were only easements, reversionary rights would kick in upon the tearing up of the railroad (unless there was a Trails Act action through the STB which kept the parcel as an "active" RR right-of-way).  That's the way it is. One warning: Title searches can be rather expensive.  Hope that is helpful. Cheers, Lou

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Posted by mudchicken on Tuesday, November 14, 2017 11:37 AM

Choo Choo Lou

In way of introduction, I was involved in line acquisitions and related issues in my 36 years of working for the State of Ohio.  The answer to your question for eastern railroads is that it depends on how the original railroad acquired the land.  Sometimes they bought the land outright, sometimes they only acquired an easement that expires when the line is abandoned and torn up.  The only way of knowing for sure in Ohio is to get a title search to see how each and every parcel was acquired.  In my experience there were generally parcels owned in fee by the railroad mixed in with other parcels for which there were only easements.  For parcels where there were only easements, reversionary rights would kick in upon the tearing up of the railroad (unless there was a Trails Act action through the STB which kept the parcel as an "active" RR right-of-way).  That's the way it is. One warning: Title searches can be rather expensive.  Hope that is helpful. Cheers, Lou

 

Thumbs Down suddenly very disappointed in my home state (and one-time employer as a co-op student many years back, ODOT) if indeed that's what they did. Maybe they need to rename themselves as a highway department. Sounds like a waste of money and probably got less than the desired result. (nobody on the state side looked at a DV-107 or understood ICC General Orders 1 and 7 of 1914?)

That being said, the older pre-1870's lines, for various reasons, can be a struggle because of poor record-keeping, lost or destroyed records and ineptitude (on all sides of the fence).

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by Convicted One on Thursday, November 16, 2017 5:03 PM

raccoon
any insight or help would be much appreciated.

 

I do hope that once you conclude this matter, you will come back here and share with us how everything works out. Interesting topic and i think many of us would benefit from the knowlege.

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