(PDF provides a complete and accurate display of this text.)
Calendar No. 629
108th Congress Report
2d Session 108-305
RAILROAD RIGHT-OF-WAY CONVEYANCE VALIDATION ACT OF 2003
July 13, 2004.--Ordered to be printed
Mr. Domenici, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
submitted the following
R E P O R T
[To accompany H.R. 1658]
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was
referred the Act (H.R. 1658) to amend the Railroad Right-of-Way
Conveyance Validation Act to validate additional conveyances of
certain lands in the State of California that form part of the
right-of-way granted by the United States to facilitate the
construction of the transcontinental railway, and for other
purposes having considered the same, reports favorably thereon
with an amendment and recommends that the Act, as amended, do
The amendment is as follows:
On page 2, line 17, strike ``104'' and insert ``401''.
Purpose of the Measure
The purpose of H.R. 1658 is to validate the conveyance of
two parcels of land, which were originally part of a public
land grant to the Central Pacific Railroad Company for the
first transcontinental railroad in 1862.
Background and Need
The Pacific Railroad Act of 1862, 12 Stat. 489, granted
thousands of acres of public land to the Union Pacific Railroad
Company and the Central Pacific Railroad Company to aid in the
construction of the first transcontinental railroad. The Act
made two different types of land grants. Section 2 of the Act
granted a ``right of way through the public lands * * * to the
extent of two hundred feet in width on each side of said
railroad where it may pass over the public lands * * *.''
Section 3 made so-called ``checkerboard'' grants of ``every
alternate section of public land, designated by odd numbers, to
the amount of five alternate sections per mile on each side of
said railroad, on the line thereof, and within the limits of
ten miles on each side of said road * * *.'' Congress later
doubled the checkerboard grants to ten alternate sections per
mile of track within twenty miles on each side of the railroad.
13 Stat. 356, c. 216 (1864).
These two types of land grants were made for different
purposes and they conveyed different property interests. The
checkerboard grants were made to the railroad companies for the
companies to sell to the public to finance the cost of building
the railroad. They conveyed fee title. The right-of-way grants
were made for the companies to construct the railroad, and were
made with the condition ``necessarily implied * * * that the
road shall be constructed and used for the purpose designed.''
St. Joseph & Denver City R.R. Co. v. Baldwin, 103 U.S. 426,
429-430 (1881). The Supreme Court held that ``the grant was of
a limited fee, made on an implied condition of reverter in the
event that the company ceased to use or retain the land for the
purpose for which it was granted.'' Northern Pacific Railway
Co. v. Townsend, 190 U.S. 267, 271 (1903).
On at least one hundred occasions over the years, the
Central Pacific Railroad Company's successors, the Central
Pacific Railway Company and the Southern Pacific Transportation
Company, have attempted to convey parcels of the 1862 right-of-
way land grant to others, even though the companies did not
have the legal authority to make the conveyances and the
conveyances were made without regard to the Federal
Government's reversionary interest in the land. The Department
of the Interior has not objected to validating these otherwise
unauthorized conveyances so long as: (1) the parts of the
right-of-way in question do not traverse public land; (2) the
width of the remaining right-of-way is 50 or more feet on each
side of the center line of the main track; and (3) all oil,
coal, or other minerals are reserved to the United States. S.
Rept. 95-1287 at 12 (1978); S. Rept. 99-455 at 4-5 (1986); S.
Rept. 103-277 at 5 (1994). The Department has consistently held
this view since the Carter Administration.
Accordingly, on three prior occasions, Congress has enacted
legislation to validate conveyances made by the Central Pacific
Railway Company or the Southern Pacific Transportation Company.
These Acts can be found at Public Law 95-586, 92 Stat. 2485 (6
conveyances in San Joaquin Co., California); Public law 99-543,
100 Stat. 3040 (37 conveyances in San Joaquin Co.and 5 others
in other counties in California); and Private Law 103-2, 108 Stat. 5057
(42 conveyances in Nevada Co., California, and 8 others in San Joaquin
Co., California). Each of these Acts ``legalized, validated, and
confirmed'' the conveyances, ``as far as any interest of the United
States in such lands is concerned.'' Each included savings clauses to
avoid any implied diminishment of the right-of-way to less than 50 feet
on each side of the center of the tracks. Each reserved mineral
interests in the parcels to the United States.
H.R. 1658 amends Private Law 103-2, which validated 50
right-of-way conveyances in 1994. H.R. 1658 adds two more
conveyances in San Joaquin County, California, one to the Bank
of America, as trustee of the last will and testament of Aaron
Herschel, which was recorded in 1945, and one to the Tri-Valley
Packing Association, which was recorded in 1957, to the either
other conveyances in San Joaquin County validated by section 4
of Private Law 103-2. The savings clauses and mineral
reservation in section 5 of Private Law 103-2 will apply to
these two new conveyances to the same extent as to those
previously validated by that Act.
The Department of the Interior testified that the parcels
in question are at the northern end of the city of Stockton,
California, that they have been in private ownership for nearly
a century, and that the Administration had no objection to the
enactment of H.R. 1658 to clear title to the parcels.
H.R. 1658 was introduced by Representative Pombo on April
7, 2003. The bill passed the House by unanimous consent on
November 18, 2003. The Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests
held a hearing on H.R. 1658 on May 5, 2004. At the business
meeting on June 16, 2004, the Committee on Energy and Natural
Resources ordered H.R. 1658, as amended, favorably reported.
The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in open
business session on June 16, 2004, by a unanimous vote of a
quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass H.R. 1658, if
amended as described herein.
During the consideration of H.R. 1658, the Committee
adopted an amendment that makes a technical correction to the
legal description of one of the properties.
Section 1 contains the short title.
Section 2 amends section 4 of Private Law 103-2 by adding
two additional properties to the list of properties in San
Cost and Budgetary Considerations
The following estimate of the cost of this measure has been
provided by the Congressional Budget Office:
Congressional Budget Office,
Washington, DC, June 17, 2004.
Hon. Pete V. Domenici,
Chairman, Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has
prepared and enclosed cost estimate for H.R. 1658, the Railroad
Right-of-Way Conveyance Validation Act of 2003.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Megan
(For Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Director).
H.R. 1658--Railroad Right-of-Way Conveyance Validation Act of 2003
H.R. 1658 would amend Private Law 103-2 to clarify that the
federal government has no claim to two parcels of privately
owned land in California. Those parcels were originally granted
by the federal government to the Central Pacific Railroad in
1862 and subsequently conveyed to private landowners. Based on
information from the Bureau of Land Management, CBO estimates
that enacting H.R. 1658 would have no impact on federal
spending or revenues.
On August 6, 2003, CBO transmitted a cost estimate for H.R.
1658 as ordered reported by the House Committee on Resources on
July 9, 2003. The two versions of this legislation are similar,
and our cost estimates are the same.
The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Megan Carroll.
This estimate was approved by Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.
Regulatory Impact Evaluation
In compliance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee makes the following
evaluation of the regulatory impact which would be incurred in
carrying out H.R. 1658. The bill is not a regulatory measure in
the sense of imposing Government-established standards or
significant economic responsibilities on private individuals
No personal information would be collected in administering
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal
Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from the
enactment of H.R. 1658, as ordered reported.
On May 3, 2004, the Committee on Energy and Natural
Resources requested legislative reports from the Department of
the Interior and the Office of Management and Budget setting
forth Executive agency recommendations on H.R. 1658. These
reports had not been received at the time the report on H.R.
1658 was filed. When the reports become available, the Chairman
will request that they be printed in the Congressional Record
for the advice of the Senate. The testimony provided by the
Bureau of Land Management at the Subcommittee hearing follows:
Statement of Bob Anderson, Deputy Assistant Director, Minerals, Realty
and Resource Protection, Bureau of Land Management
Thank you for inviting me to testify.
H.R. 1658 is a private bill which amends the Railroad
Right-of-Way Conveyance Validation Act. The administration has
no objection to H.R. 1658.
In 1994, the Congress passed H.R. 1183, Private Law 103-2.
The Act validated the conveyances of 50 small tracts of land in
Nevada County and San Joaquin County, California. The lands
involved were originally part of the right-of-way grant of the
United States to the Central Pacific Railroad by an 1862 Act of
Congress. The Southern Pacific Railroad (the successor to
Central Pacific) appears to have made conveyances of small
tracts of land in some of these cases, and in others, adjacent
landowners have made inadvertent encroachments. Under the
original Act of 1862, a Federal reversionary interest existed
if these rights-of-way were abandoned by the railroad. The 1994
Act was necessary to remove any cloud on the title of these
The bill before us today amends the underlying 1994 Act by
adding two additional small parcels in San Joaquin County,
California. The parcels in question are at the northern end of
the city of Stockton, California. According to the master title
plat, maintained by the BLM, these parcels have been in private
ownership for nearly a century. We see no conflict in clearing
title for these lands through this legislation. As with the
underlying Act, the mineral estate of these lands will continue
to be reserved to the Federal government, and the lands will
continue to be unavailable to all forms of mineral entry.
Changes in Existing Law
In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by
the act H.R. 1658, as ordered reported, are shown as follows
(existing law proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black
brackets, new matter is printed in italic, existing law in
which no change is proposed is shown in roman):
Private Law 103-2
AN ACT To validate conveyances of certain lands in the State of
California that form part of the right-of-way granted by the United
States to the Central Pacific Railway Company
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of
the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Railroad Right-of-Way
Conveyance Validation Act''.
* * * * * * *
SEC. 4. CONVEYANCES OF LAND IN SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY, STATE OF CALIFORNIA.
The conveyances of land in San Joaquin County, State of
California, referred to in section 2 are as follows:
(1) The conveyance entered into between the Southern
Pacific Transportation Company, grantor, and Ronald M.
Lauchland and Lillian R. Lauchland, grantees, recorded
October 1, 1985, as instrument number 85066621 in the
official records of the county of San Joaquin.
* * * * * * *
(9) The conveyance entered into between the Central
Pacific Railway Company and the Southern Pacific
Transportation Company and the Bank of America, as
trustee of the last will and testament of Aaron
Herschel, recorded September 27, 1945, in volume 942 at
page 401 of the official records of the county of San
(10) The conveyance entered into between the Central
Pacific Railway Company and the Southern Pacific
Transportation Company and the Tri-Valley Packing
Association, recorded November 13, 1957, in volume 2016
at page 149 of the official records of the county of
* * * * * * *