.I live in a very small town that use to have a coal mine in it. The railroad took a part of a lot of different properties to put in a spur to haul out the coal. After the mine shut down they ripped up the rail track. That was before we bought the property and at that time the previous owners put a driveway on the old track bed. When we bought the place they said they had been told that the property taken for the rail spur would revert to all the previous owners. Last summer a woman showed up claiming that her father bought the old rail spur property and that now she owns it. We have maintained the part that is next to us for at least 20 years. How can I find out if what she said is true and if the railroad had the authority to sell it to her father?
1 Answer from Attorneys
You should first look at the owner's title insurance policy that you should have received when you purchased your property. If you're not sure what to look for, you'll need to consult an attorney. The title policy should list all of the "exceptions" to ownership - and the RR right of way or easemetn may show up on it. Railroads almost NEVER release or give up rights of way or easements in case they are needed again, or as in your case, someone is interested in buying them. If it does NOT show up, you may have an insurance claim against the title company! They may search the records from the time the policy was issued to you to see if the RR actually did give up its rights, however, which would be some indication that the lady's purchase was not valid - at least as to the section of right of way / easement that affected your property. But if it does show up and nothing afterwords "released" it, bottom line you may wind up having to 'buy out' the right of way/easement from the purchaser if it was a valid purchase from the RR!!!