The 128-year-old Stewartstown Railroad is a southern York County, Pennsylvania, landmark in the small town for which it is named. It is also at the heart of a $350,000 property dispute. The railroad’s foreclosure is likely if the debt to the estate of a deceased private lender, who made the Bucks County Historical Society a beneficiary, goes unpaid.
Because the property in question is a railroad, estate attorneys have filed a petition with the federal Surface Transportation Board, which will decide in the next four months whether to approve or deny a reverse abandonment. Approval would mean foreclosure and the liquidation of the railroad’s historic assets, including locomotives and passenger cars.
A plan to raise money by restoring the idle engines and passenger cars for freight hauling and tourist trips was rejected.
The estate’s attorney says the Stewartstown Railroad stopped making mortgage payments when its creditor died in 2008. He contends that the railroad has not been used for a decade. He explained that he sees no reason to take a credit risk by allowing the debtor to take another five years to pay off the mortgage.
If the Surface Transportation Board grants the estate’s request for a reverse abandonment, the estate will move forward to file a foreclosure petition with the York County Court. Court approval would push the railroad to a sheriff’s sale.
The Stewartstown Railroad board says it does not have the funds to pay off the debt. The only way the mortgage will get paid is through voluntary donations. The railroad is hoping it will be able to rally the community to pay off the debt before the transportation board makes a decision to shut the railroad down.
Source: WPMT-TV Fox 43, “Stewartstown Railroad Could Face Foreclosure; Wiping Out Historic Landmark,” Amber Miller, 13 July 2011