Riding on Some else's land, problem.

I was out riding yesterday, great weather here for January, where there use to be railroad tracks but the tracks have since been remove for twenty or so years. I have been riding these trails for close to thirty years on and off with no problems. But yesterday while riding the trails a lady came down to the trail screaming at me and holding a no treaspassing sign. I stopped and politely asked here if there was a problem? She went on and on about me scaring here dogs and horse's, screaming at me to get the hell of her property. I told her I thought this land belong to the CSX Railroad but she said after they removed the track they gave her back the land? She accused me of poaching,cutting her fences or running drugs. These old railroad track trails go for miles and I've never had a problem with riding back there, Maybe I should just avoid going around her part of the trail.Is this a commen problem for other riders. I mostly see four wheelers out there when I ride and haven't had a chance to talk to anyone else about this. She seemed pretty upset about it and told me she wouldn't be responsable if I got hurt riding on her land which I don't believe is her's or maybe she was just making a threat? There is nothing out there other than a creek on one side and Hugh rock walls on the other side. I just can't see the harm this is causing or am I wrong? Any advice would be appreciated. :applause:

I'd call the town zoning office and find out the truth. It could be she's right or it could be that she's hiding something out there and doesnt want it found out. Or she's just some crotchity old bitty that doesnt appreciate hearing the sound of bukes buzzing by her house. I've never heard of the RR GIVING back anything. She might just claim it as her own because she's nearby. If you find that you do have a legal right to ride there, alert the police to the threat she made and go slow / quiet when you pass.

Good luck and ride safe - especially after the threat.

Check with the office of records. Make copies and if the land does not belong to her you are all set.

A similar thing happened to a friend of mine when he got new neighbors and they just didn't like the noise or having "strangers" near their property. They had assumed it was their land but we checked the records and there was 10 Meters of open space between properties in his area. We made copies, and we did a few circles on the property evertime we went by for weeks. Than when they finally came out and threatened us we called the police showed them the records and they were issued a citation.

It depends on your state.

Around here (SW Wyoming) the public is guaranteed access across any private land in a few instances.

One is railroad right-of-ways and limited access routes. The other is irrigation.

If its similar for you, just say you were riding down the irigation ditch to see if there was any water running and you didn't want to be shorted on it :applause:

It's one thing for the property owner to be like that if you were disrespectful to them..yah know. But she sounds like a bitch. I had an encounter like that once....I wonder how the roost tasted?? :applause:

when the RR's are closed like that, the land does go back to the owner.

Interesting lrutt -- here in indiana -- the state buys the land and puts in green ways -- lond paved walking/biking paths-- with "No motorized vehicals allowed" signs all over the place.

Interesting lrutt -- here in indiana -- the state buys the land and puts in green ways -- lond paved walking/biking paths-- with "No motorized vehicals allowed" signs all over the place.

Same thing here...it becomes an "esquatarian" easeway.

In most states - especially colonial states - the law is that railroad rights of way revert back to the adjoining owners after they are abandoned by the railroad. That is because they were generally acquired through condemnation of the land. So courts extend a lot of protections to the original property owners that were harmed (in the legal sense of the word) by the original legal action that took their land.

But, when the railroad right of way is abandoned, local governments do sometimes have the first option to acquire the rights thanks to a bunch of different state and local "rails to trails" laws. Google "rails to trails" for an overall view and then add "Tennessee" to your search to see what I mean. However, in recent court cases private land owners have successfully challenged these laws that convert old rail beds to trails under the premis that trails are not an equivalent use of the land. The legal idea being that adding trail use further "harms" their property rights without compensation which is specifically unconstitutional. So even the rails to trails stuff is not a given anymore.

If the railroad owned the land "fee simple", that is owning the land itself rather than just a right to use the land for a specific purpose, then the railroad or its successors would retain ownership after the rails were pulled. However the railroad may still have had reversion clauses in their acquisition deed, they may have deeded the land to the adjoining owners or the adjoining owners may have reacquired the bed over the course of many years by simply occupying the land through adverse possession (commonly known as squatters rights). So even that is not a guarantee that the railroad still has rights to the property.

Bottom line, the lady was probably well within her rights to to throw you off the rail bed. But railroads are a rather complicated area of property rights so who knows. Read some of the rails to trails stuff you Google and you will get an idea of whether any one of the many organizations doing it can help you. But be forewarned that most are not particularly friendly to motorized uses.

http://www.railtrails.org/

http://www.tenngreen.org/greenwaysandtrails.htm

http://www.state.tn.us/environment/recreation/plan/5_Greenways_Plan.pdf

BTW, I am a Professional Land Surveyor registered in three states and DC. I do a lot of railroad work so, in general terms, I am well versed in the property rights involved. That said, I am not licensed in Tennessee and I am not familiar with specific law or case law there so I could be mistaken about details in your area.

BTW, thanks to Gorillagrower for being polite and cooperative. That is how you keep trails open on private property. Maybe the person can be convinced to let you ride through if you agree to keep things slow and quiet across her land. Perhaps you could even offer to keep an eye on parts of her land she does not normally see. I have been allowed to ride private property denied to others simply because I was polite, cooperative and willing to help out.

Also many of you might not be aware that in most places land does not have to be posted for a property owner to take legal action against you for trespassing. If you are on private property without permission, you are subject to arrest whether or not you see a no trespassing sign. And harming even one blade of grass on private property is cause for a civil case against you. Fortunately, most land owners don't know they have this much protection either.

So if you leave the owner with a taste of roost, make sure you get away clean because you can be busted and fined as well as sued for actual damage and, in many places, punitive damage. And, trust me on this, a punitive damage award would be very, very ugly after you left the owner with a face full of dirt and a rut across their land. It is easy to find a jury sympathetic to private property rights and equally as easy to find one that detests motorcycles. Even the dumbest hack of a lawyer could easily hurt you for doing something like that.

I was out riding yesterday, great weather here for January, where there use to be railroad tracks but the tracks have since been remove for twenty or so years. I have been riding these trails for close to thirty years on and off with no problems. But yesterday while riding the trails a lady came down to the trail screaming at me and holding a no treaspassing sign. I stopped and politely asked here if there was a problem? She went on and on about me scaring here dogs and horse's, screaming at me to get the hell of her property. I told her I thought this land belong to the CSX Railroad but she said after they removed the track they gave her back the land? She accused me of poaching,cutting her fences or running drugs. These old railroad track trails go for miles and I've never had a problem with riding back there, Maybe I should just avoid going around her part of the trail.Is this a commen problem for other riders. I mostly see four wheelers out there when I ride and haven't had a chance to talk to anyone else about this. She seemed pretty upset about it and told me she wouldn't be responsable if I got hurt riding on her land which I don't believe is her's or maybe she was just making a threat? There is nothing out there other than a creek on one side and Hugh rock walls on the other side. I just can't see the harm this is causing or am I wrong? Any advice would be appreciated. :bonk:

The Quad riders made her mad and she took it out on you. :cry: Just kidding. Welcome to TT hope you get it worked out. I hate to loose good riding areas. Take care and God bless. :applause:

Luke 6:45 :cry:

Thanks for all the suggestions concerning this matter. :cry: These rail trails go on the miles and in this particular stretch there has been a lot of development. Housing,schools etc. I had made several runs up and down this stretch that day and that may have upset her. I plan on keeping a low profile of that area for a while. I would hate to run into a trail full of nails,tacks or a thin wire stretched across the trail. Or God forbid her husband with his deer rifle with me in the crosshairs. :bonk: She did strike me as a deliverance type person :applause: Even though most of the rail trails in this area are in a very deserted part of the city and there are no signs posted I don't want to cause any trouble for other riders nor myself. I plan on going to the land zoning office today to make a copy of the property she claimed to own. And keep it in my camal back just in case we run into each other again. Again guys thanks for info, happy trail riding. :cry:

for the sake of all dirt bikers, please be plolite and nice and tell her that you enjoy riding here and that you will be very respectful of her land and tell her that you use her land to get to the other trails that you ride.

When riding around her property be as quiet as possible and be respectful and ask her for permission to ride there.

No matter who owns the land i doubt that you will be "allowed" to ride there, even if it is CSX. Just be respectful, try to have a quiet muffler.

The best thing you can do when riding on land that is not your own is try to get permission and be respectful.

Just ask her if you can have a jug of that 'shine she's brewing up! :applause:

Well, I went down to the property assessment office and looked up her address and it turns out she doesn't own the rail road easement ROW. The land is own by the city. I made a couple of copies and keep them with me. I went back by there yesterday, great day to ride here for January, 60+ weather. And she had put bob wire across the the rail road easement and some no treaspassing signs. Didn't get a chance to talk to her but left a copy of her property map on the sign. She isn't worth getting into a pissing contest with, plenty of other area's to ride close by. I just wanted to make sure I wasn't breaking any laws. The folks down at the property assessment office didn't seem to care if I rode the rail trail so I'll keep slinging dirt elsewere. :applause: Didn't notice any stills around, I suppose she just wants to be left along.

That or look for her crop of "homegrown" that is back there in the trees...

IMO I would do laps around that byyatches place. She tried to pull a fast one on you so go back and show her what's up. I hate anal retentive people who have nothing better to do with their time but harrass people who are having fun. :applause:

Well even if she don't own the land that you ride on like you said, the city now owns You still should not get a ego since I would say that it is illegal to ride on city property. The city owns alot of property that they call easements that home owners are responsible for.

Property tax maps and assessment records are notoriously inaccurate. And abandoned railroad property is one of the most complex property law issues out there. I recently surveyed one that dated from 1838 and was abandoned by the railroad in the 1960's. It has several subdivision lots platted into it and even a house built partially in the right of way. So even some of the local surveyors didn't know what was going on there. Then I had three different lawyers give three different answers as to who currently owned the right of way and how. That one will be litigated for years. Now I am trying to figure out what CSX owns through DC and it is a screaming nightmare. Trust me, it ain't as easy as walking into the assessors office and looking at tax maps and assessment records.

BlaH BlAh BLaH....JUST KILL HER!!!!

Then BBBRRRRRAAAAAPPPPP

Being polite and decent was the correct thing to do. Pissing her off will not help anything because if other adjacent land owners get involved the whole riding area will become a quagmire of issues. I have been on both sides of the fence with this issue as when I was a kid we had a pristine area closed off due to an ATV rider almost dying on the property and the land owner getting scared of lawsuits. Now being older I understand his fear as I have a few acres that my family owns that my son and I ride on. When you have people get injured on your property, you are opening yourself up to lawsuits and I bet that is why she is so worried. If someone were to veer off the railway bed onto what is her property, she could be vulnerable if they were hurt. Do a search about property law suits in the legal section here on TT to get an idea of what goes on. I would just steer clear of her area and enjoy the rest as I would bet there is nothing you could say or do to make it OK with her.

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now