- November 19, 1991
- All Washington Agents
- Railroad Rights of Way
We have yet another question of title to an abandoned railroad right of way. Harris v. Ski Park Farms, Inc., 814 P.2d 684 (Wash. App. 1991). This case dealt with the railroad's title to a reserved right of way within an 1864 section land grant.
In this case Northern Pacific Railroad acquired fee title to the section by land grant. In 1874 it conveyed the section to an individual "reserving and excepting, however, from the above described premises, a strip of land two hundred feet wide...".
One hundred and ten years later the railroad abandoned this right of way. It was apparently agreed to by the litigants in this case that the federal abandonment statute, 43. U.S.C. Sec 912, applied to this right of way. The court interpreted that statute to vest title to the abandoned right of way in the owner of the "legal subdivision or subdivisions traversed or occupied by such railroad," i.e. the adjoining property owner at the time of abandonment. Title did not vest in the railroad.
Once again be very careful of titles to abandoned railroad rights of way. It is usually not possible for us to determine that title without a court order.
THIS BULLETIN IS FURNISHED TO INFORM YOU OF CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. AS A REMINDER, YOU ARE CHARGED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF THE CONTENT ON VIRTUAL UNDERWRITER AS IT EXISTS FROM TIME TO TIME AS IT APPLIES TO YOU, AS WELL AS ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS. OUR UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS DO NOT AUTHORIZE OUR ISSUING AGENTS TO ENGAGE IN SETTLEMENTS OR CLOSINGS ON BEHALF OF STEWART TITLE GUARANTY COMPANY. THIS BULLETIN IS NOT INTENDED TO DIRECT YOUR ESCROW OR SETTLEMENT PRACTICES OR TO CHANGE PROVISIONS OF APPLICABLE UNDERWRITING AGREEMENTS. CONFIDENTIAL, PROPRIETARY, OR NONPUBLIC PERSONAL INFORMATION SHOULD NEVER BE SHARED OR DISSEMINATED EXCEPT AS ALLOWED BY LAW. IF APPLICABLE STATE LAW OR REGULATION IMPOSES ADDITIONAL REQUIREMENTS, YOU SHOULD CONTINUE TO COMPLY WITH THOSE REQUIREMENTS.