was land given by land owners for building of railroad?

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i have been lead to believe by my ancestors, that the land for the seaboard railroad that ran through watkins community in vance co, north carolina,was donated to the railroad by the land owners. at the time this railroad was built, vance county was a part of granville county, n.c. can you tell me if this is true and does the abandoned track go back to the family of the land owner now. my

-- dianne w slaughter (dslau@ncol.net), February 19, 2001


Yes, in many instances the farmmers would donate land to the railroad to aid in construction of the line, knowing that they(farmers) would have a better way to get their produce to market. Some land owners also held out for other considerations, such as a life time pass to ride the trains, putting a station on their land, or even a huge amount of money. Ownership of the land after the railroad was abandoned depended on the wording in the deed. In some instances the land would revert back to the previous owner(farmer). But, not always. If the railroad had clear title, they could sell it to whom ever they chose. Many power lines are on old rights of way, sold to the power company by the railroad. One would have to see the deed. There may be a copy at the county court house. As you can see, there are different cases, depending on the original situation.

-- Tom Underwood (tlunder@attglobal.net), February 20, 2001.

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