Landowner Challenging State’s Right-of-Way Claim

The Ellsworth American reports on a Hancock man who is challenging the State’s claim to the right-of-way, and railroad tracks that cross his land.

HANCOCK — A property owner who tried but failed to get a court order halting work on the 85-mile Ellsworth to Calais rails-to-trails project now claims the state does not own the right of way to the corridor.

Dale Henderson of Orrington bought 6,800 acres in Hancock 15 years ago. Four and half miles of the railroad tracks traverse his property.

His attorney, Tim Pease of Rudman & Winchell in Bangor, said he will file an amended complaint in Hancock County Superior Court within days.

The complaint will state that Maine Central Railroad in 1985 requested an abandonment order from the U.S. Interstate Commerce Commission for its railroad operations from Calais to Brewer.

Pease said the ICC granted the order in 1985.

In 1987, he said, Maine Central gave the state of Maine its right of way — access Pease maintains the railroad had already abandoned and no longer owned.

“Maine Central owned only a right of way, not the land, so when the railroad operations were abandoned the right of way automatically ended and reverted back to the prior owners of the land,” Pease said.

“If we are right about Mr. Henderson’s property, then the state wouldn’t be able to tear up that track and would not have the right to improve it or change it in any way,” he said.

The Maine Department of Transportation (MDOT) contends that it owns the right of way.

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