Help with right of way.

nw-mailing-list at nw-mailing-list at
Mon Nov 7 08:16:53 EST 2005

Having been a surveyor's assistant in the distant past, I can tell you a
few things about the situation:

Almost ANY "right-of-way" will be referenced in the deed (a written
description of the property such as "4 acres more or less bounded
by....) and shown on the Plat, a surveyors map of the property. Both
documents are recorded in the deed and plat books at the county
courthouse. There should be a deed for each change of ownership BUT
(big but) not every one is recorded, particularly if it is within a
family. A new PLAT is recorded only if there is a new survey, which is
not required for some land transfers -- and some surveyors simply copy
the old plat and put a new name/date on it with out doing the field
work....There would have been a PLAT when the ROW was given to the
Railroad, you just have to find it!

A further caveat: Granting a "right-of-way" does not involve change of
ownership. The land still belongs to the original owner who gives the
railroad, power or phone company, neighbor, highway dept. or whomever
permission to cross the property for some purpose which is specified in
the deed for a certain number of years. ROWs transfer with the property
in most cases when it is sold. Some "rights-of-way" are "implied" and
automatically granted under common law and therefore quite tricky --see
you lawyer. In your case, you need to find out IF the land where the
railroad was sold to the railroad (the usual case) or if it was a
"right-of-way" that was granted with ownership retained by your relatives.

Further complication: The land with the ROW could also be owned by a
third party...not the RR itself.

Good luck,

Jim McDaniel, Delmarva correspondent.... where the land the PRR ran on
belonged to PENN-DEL Corp NOT the PRR itself

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