Land Ownership (was Re: Lofton Wye again)

nw-mailing-list at nw-mailing-list at
Mon Oct 30 08:47:02 EST 2006

At 8:00 AM -0500 10/29/06, Harry wrote:

>John at Buford , Ga.

>Does NS still own the land inside the wye at Lofton ? That's an interesting

>question. As a rule of thumb, if the railroad buys the property, they retain

>ownership. But back in the 19th century, many landowners contributed land

>as an enticement for the railroad to build. In those cases, if the railroad

>abandons, then the land reverts to the property owner.

By right, the land where the Shawsville station sat should have reverted to the owners. When the abandoned-by-the-N&W station was burned by vandals in the late '70s, I was a reporter with the Radford News Journal. Someone put me on to the original deed for the land, recorded in the Montgomery County courthouse. I did some digging, called a couple of people in Shawsville and ended up talking to Madison Marye (a now-retired state senator, a great storyteller and old-school politician). He had a family connection to the families that originally put up the land for a station to serve the resort at Alleghany Springs. Madison was glad to hear he had part ownership of two acres of land in downtown Shawsville, "that's almost as good as owning 10 acres in downtown Dallas" was close to what he said. He went on to point out that after 100 years, it would not be worth the time or expense to track down all the descendants and heirs to sign away their interest so a clear title to the land could be established. So while a legal document may call for property reversion, it usually isn't an issue unless it is a major line abandonment, such as when NS "donated" to the Commonwealth the North Carolina Branch for what is now the New River Trail. It was a long time before details were worked on over one section, which adjacent landowners claimed to be theirs when the railroad ceased rail operations on the line.

The deed (a work in progress, there is a diagram I need to scan and I need to find my news story in my old clips) can be read at

Bruce in Blacksburg
Bruce in Blacksburg === In the heart of N&W territory. ===

Bruce B. Harper (540)231-4360
University Relations/Web Communications bharper at
Virginia Tech Blacksburg, Virginia 26060
See N&W WWW Page at

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