Appeal from the Circuit Court of Williamson County. No. 92-CH-31. Honorable Paul S. Murphy, Judge, presiding.
The Honorable Justice Maag delivered the opinion of the court. Welch, J., and Chapman, J., concur.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Maag
The Honorable Justice MAAG delivered the opinion of the court:
This is an action for ejectment arising out of a dispute over the placement of a Steak 'n Shake billboard sign by the defendant, Mid-America Sign Company (Mid-America). It is important to note that this dispute is between the plaintiff, Cree Development Corporation (Cree Development), the owner of the fee that is burdened by the railroad right-of-way, and Mid-America. Crab Orchard and Egyptian Railroad (Crab Orchard) is not a party to this suit. The trial court entered judgment for Mid-America on the ejectment count but awarded $700 to Cree Development pursuant to the Wrongful Tree Cutting Act (740 ILCS 185/2 (West 1992)). Cree Development appeals the June 15, 1994, order that granted "judgment for Mid-America on the ejectment count," as well as the July 21, 1995, order that granted "judgment in favor of *** Mid-America *** and against *** Cree Development *** on all other issues raised by [Cree Development's] Second Amended Complaint per this Court's Order of June 15, 1994."
The relevant facts are as follows. Cree Development, by quitclaim deed dated June 18, 1992, acquired a fee simple interest subject to a railroad right-of-way and other easements, grants, rights-of-way, or covenants of record in the contested land. It is undisputed that prior to that date, Cree Development owned, in fee, the land south of the right-of-way. Henry Mitchell, Cree Development's owner and operator, and his wife deeded the property to Cree Development in 1978. Cree Development constructed and owns a Comfort Inn, Comfort Suites, and the 20's Hideout Restaurant on the land and adjoining parcels south of the right-of-way. It is undisputed that Cree Development's property is bounded on the east by Interstate 57, on the south by Old Illinois Route 13, and on the north by the quarter-quarter section line dividing the Northwest Quarter of the Southwest Quarter of Section Fourteen of West Marion Township from the Southwest Quarter of the Southwest Quarter of said section.
A review of the record shows that the property in question was transferred as follows:
Date Description of transaction
8/9/1871 Original right-of-way granted to Carbondale and
Shawneetown Railway (original conveyance stated
that it was conveyed for "right[-]of[-]way purposes
only, to revert when not used as such a
right[-]of[-]way, fifty feet wide where said road
may pass through the Southwest Fourth of the
Southwest Quarter of Section 14; *** Township 9
South, Range 2 East of 3d P.M., in Williamson
6/12/1919 Illinois Central Gulf Railroad (Illinois Central)
succeeded to the right-of-way by this date,
although the record is unclear as to the precise
10/14/1976 Illinois Central filed an application with the
Interstate Commerce Commission (Commission) seeking
a certificate of public convenience and necessity
permitting abandonment of its branch line extending
from railroad milepost 93.5 near Seely, Illinois,
to milepost 108.0 at Mande, Illinois.
4/4/1977 American Rail Heritage, Ltd., doing business as
Crab Orchard and Egyptian Railroad, sought
authority pursuant to section 1(18) of the
Interstate Commerce Act, since repealed, now
located at 49 U.S.C. § 10901 (49 ...