The following is from the reader and Cape Charles resident John Paffrath. He has submitted some interesting comments regarding the property and future of rail on the Eastern Shore:
Cassatt and Scott back in the day as was customary bought this land two ways, one being fee simple the other reversionary. (You must have a copy of the document if not check the National Archives in Washington DC. or Pennsylvania Railroad Museum’s archives…For our purposes we only needed to go back to the federal railroad take over of 1917 prior to the war).
The Tazewell and Randolph estates were most likely bought fee simple so they could be easily subdivided. But the rest of the narrow easements was probably bought reversionary. Meaning if the railroad abandoned the property they would have to return it to its original owners. Since they never considered the pollutants dropped on the easement you will most likely have to demand it cleaned before handing it back to the original landowners (this is what Superfunds is for). So by railbanking they avert the cost of cleaning and cap it with a bike path to avoid EPA regulations.
Get the picture.
So if you’re too lazy to run a railroad and don’t care about the environment you rail bank it and cap it with a bike path which is way cheaper than cleaning it and returning it to the landowners. Isn’t that slick.
Now I don’t want to start all the landowners saying screw the railroad or the bike path because then everyone loses except perhaps a few landowners, but not most. The increase in taxes they would pay for idle land really isn’t worth it. So if there’s no RR the bike path is the best option but not the best economic decision;
Both are best.
The RR second
Bike Path third
Return the land fourthly.
Also, consider the environmental impact of losing a properly run railroad.
1 rail car can replace 2 trucks.
1 loco can do the job of approximately 600 trucks.
Trains wheels don’t break down.
Truck tires do which adds latex,(which I am allergic to) Rubber, and 6ppd compound into the highway runoff hurting our bread and butter “The Bay”.
Furthermore, this group of experienced Railroad operators could reduce trucks on 13 by approximately 6000 annually. From an ecological standpoint that should make sense.
Then there’s tourism. Uncontrolled growth can be devastating, we see it all over the country. Bought on from tourism can literally ruin a community and also ruin itself especially if it depends on maintaining the natural beauty of our communities and farmlands, balance is the answer.
Eastern Long Island comes to mind when urban sprawl from NYC threatened to overrun the farms in Suffolk County today one of the finest collections of vineyards on the coast.
It’s not the tourists one need be afraid of, it’s our own neighbors who, extended an opportunity would sell their farms to developers(you can’t blame them). But this comes under townships’ zoning regulations. Being afraid of growth only stifles a community and dooms it for failure as we have seen evidenced in Cape Charles over the years.
Without a solid base attraction, a bike path goes and goes and goes, but doesn’t stop the spend and spend and spend.
Hence the idea of a railroad used as a multi-use venue, and leveraging the Department of Rail and Personnel Transportation for a cleaner environment is the only sensible solution.
Easement uses can include;
A bike path
Is a no-brainer. Come on folks wake up we invested in this community to see a return on our investment. Our beach gets dumped on by foreign-flagged ships but we dump our own types of excrement into the bay as well. How can we complain about the ships with our own dirty backyard?
Support the Railroad
Suport the Environment
And of course
Support each other