Help with right of way.

nw-mailing-list at nw-mailing-list at
Mon Nov 7 10:28:02 EST 2005

This is an interesting question. Railroads gained their property over the
years in several different manners. In VA. The state had a hand in the
acquisition and control of the property when the chartered the lines. If
the line were abandoned then the property reverted to the state, thus we
have such great public recreation assets as the Creeper trail in SW Va. In
NC that all changes as the company had to acquire their own right-of-way.
In the NW portion of the state the land was purchased but was to revert to
the original owner if the rail was abandoned and removed, thus the Creeper
trail stops at the NC state line and become private property and not
available for use.

>From the previous posts I am unsure if the property in question is an active

ROW or not and which state the property is in. If not in active use, and in
NC you may not have to deal with this at all.

R.D. Williams


From: nw-mailing-list-bounces at
[mailto:nw-mailing-list-bounces at] On Behalf Of
nw-mailing-list at
Sent: Monday, November 07, 2005 4:50 AM
To: NW Mailing List
Subject: Re: Help with right of way.

Boy, I sure feel for you...

As I've bragged about before (and I can't help but be proud of it), I live
along the NS right of way. A while back, I went and did my own deed title
search at the local courthouse. My land has changed hands a bunch of times
since the 1890's. That was as far back as I could get, so I didn't get to
see what arrangement the Virginia & Tennessee had with the owners of this
land in 1855-56. It seems the Civil War had resulted in the Smyth County
courthouse being burned down in 1864. So, those records no longer exist.

Good luck in your search. Please, let us know what you do find out!

Ben Blevins

nw-mailing-list at wrote:


I agree with Dave. NS may have the information, but finding the right person
to talk to, having your questions be a priority, and locating the
information in their files may be a very time-consuming process. Your best
source of information will be to do a title search at your local county

Any easements that were granted on the property to the railroad will be
recorded with the title. The original easement documents will detail the
terms, such as what happens when the railroad stops using its right-of-way.

While you should not need a lawyer to access these public records, one would
be helpful in interpreting the various deeds. If you have a lawyer you have
worked with in the past (buying real-estate or preparing wills) and already
have the various deeds and titles in-hand, they may be willing to give you a
free consultation to look them ov er and answer any questions you may have.

A survey is also a normal part of any real estate transaction.

As far as selling the property, I think all you are required to do is notify
the buyer that a railway easement exists. The normal real-estate transfer
process (title search and survey) shall advise them of the details before
they close on the deal.

Ron Davis

At 07:50 AM 11/6/2005, you wrote:


I'm not a lawyer and won't pretend to be qualified to give you legal advice.
I stand by my recommendation that he retain one to research this. In most
states the agreement that was signed would have been recorded with the
county in which the land parcel is located as an attachment or easement to
his property deed. He could find the records in the local county offices.
The records and the copy of the agreement would show the width of the right
of way. A surveyor could (and should) stake it out.

If you want to contact me off list it's drperiepa at, but what I've
recommended already is about the limits of my knowledge. I have no idea
where you'd start within NS, but if the records are there with the county
you might not need to.

Dave Phelps

In a message dated 11/6/2005 7:24:15 A.M. Eastern Standard Ti me,
nw-mailing-list at writes:

His grandfather signed an agreement for the right of way on land HE owned.

This was early 19??.

Then My great aunt got it when he died.

My dad now owns the land, but has a buyer.

He needs to find out about the width of the right of way.

One relative says 400 feet, I say 40 feet.

It’s 7 acres, with the track running down one side.

WHO within the NS organization can we contact?

He wants to sell the parcel of land.

Mark Lindsey

From: <nw-mailing-list at>

Reply-To: NW Mailing List <nw-mailing-list at>

Date: Sat, 5 Nov 2005 18:41:16 EST

To: <nw-mailing-list at>

Subject: Re: Help with right of way.

He wants to sell the land through which the right of way runs, or he wants
to sell the right of way? Does he actually have title to the right of way?
Was there an easement in place? Did full right to use revert? Some
research of the deed to the land is in order to make sure he's selling
something he has a right to sell. I suggest you hire two professionals:

- a lawyer, to make sure your dad can really do what he's proposing to do,

- a surveyor, do get the actual answer to your specific question.

Dave Phelps

In a message dated 11/5/2005 6:23:47 P.M. Eastern Standard Time,
nw-mailing-list at writes:

My dad has a piece of land in n. Carolina with a RR righ tof way. He
thinks it’s an NS track because it WAS a SRR track.

How can he find how wide the right of way IS?? He wants to sell it. The
land that is.

Mark Lindsey


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