Railroads & Clearcuts

holding corporations and governments accountable
restoring the public domain

Millions of acres of public land intended for homesteaders was instead given to timber, mining, and real estate corporations. The failure of the railroad land grant policy is the cause of many of today's economic, political, and environmental problems, including deforestation, toxic waste, and taxpayer subsidies. The Railroads & Clearcuts Campaign intends to hold government and corporations accountable, and to reclaim this land to the public domain.

About Us

The Corporations

Shareholder Resolutions

Bibliography of Land Grant Literature

Site Index

In the News (updated)

Taking Back Our Land



Real Estate Liquidation

Maps of the Land Grants

Land Grant Fraud on Mt Rainier


Land Exchanges

History of the Land Grants

Log Exports

During the nineteenth century, three quarters of the continental United States was sold or granted to homesteaders, war veterans, local governments, and corporations. Between 1850 and 1870, ten percent of the lower 48 states was set aside to help finance and operate the transcontinental railroad and telegraph systems. Public corporations were entrusted with millions of acres of public land and instructed to build and operate the nation's transportation and communications systems. Instead, the public's land was transferred to timber, mining, and real estate corporations.

For example, the largest of the railroad land grants was to the Northern Pacific Railroad: 40 million acres in a 100-mile wide band running 2,000 miles from the Great Lakes to Puget Sound. A century later, much of this land is controlled by Weyerhaeuser, Plum Creek Timber, and other timber and mining corporations. Many community and environmental problems stem from the corporate abuse of the public land grants.

Since the original land grant laws were written, a third of the land grants have been reclaimed by the U.S. government because of grantees' failures to fulfill public policies. But millions of acres are still being held and abused by the corporate heirs of the unenforced public land grants. Checkerboard lands within our national forests are being clearcut, strip-mined, paved, and developed. Scenic lands and wildlife habitat are being lost. Taxpayers are losing millions of dollars in bad public / private land exchanges. Workers and communities are being poisoned with toxic waste. Corporations are squandering our taxes, writing our public laws, and controlling local and national governments.

But communities across the United States are working to repair the damage and reclaim their public lands heritage. Environmental groups are protecting wildlife habitat and wilderness areas. Watchdog groups are exposing and challenging taxpayer rip-offs and inappropriate public / private land exchanges. Labor unions are fighting to protect workers and communities from corporate greed. Activist shareholders are pressuring management to include the interests of all stakeholders. Local governments are demanding that the resources and profits from the land grants go to benefit the community.

The Railroads & Clearcuts Campaign continues the work to

Please join, endorse, and support the Railroads & Clearcuts Campaign.

How to Get Involved

Railroads and Clearcuts: The Book

by Derrick Jensen, George Draffan, and John Osborn

Published in 1995 by The Lands Council, Spokane WA, and Keokee Co., this 200-page, fully-illustrated book describes the history and impacts of the forty million acres of public lands granted to the Northern Pacific Railroad. More than a century later, natural resources empires are controlled by Weyerhaeuser, Plum Creek Timber, and other timber, coal mining, and oil and gas corporations.

Available for $17 which includes postage. Order at Endgame.org

This website is maintained by George Draffan