Over the course of 101 years, from 1875 to 1976, the federal government granted railroad companies rights of way across the United States under the General Railroad Right-of-Way Act of 1875. Stretching thousands of miles and connecting the coasts, these rights of way served an integral role in the country’s economic development and westward expansion. Later, as railroad use dwindled, railroad companies frequently abandoned these rights of way. When this occurs, what happens to the right of way?
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