Once known as the Rum River Road, Trunk Hwy. 96 dates back to 1849. It served as a pathway for indigenous people traveling from the Rum River in Anoka to Stillwater, and wasn’t paved until 1924 on right of way established 75 years earlier.

According to a history of the right of way researched by Lake Links Co-Chair Steve Wolgamot, the Minnesota Territorial Legislature established that "four rods," or 66 feet, as right as way with 33 feet each way from centerline. 

"MnDOT, for reasons of its own, has chosen to pretend that the road is ‘prescriptive,’ that is, established without specific right of way and confined to basically its paved surface. That claim is false," Wolgamot said, "and has served only MnDOT’s purposes in denying its responsibilities to the public."

Wolgamot concluded that the right of way of the trunk highway continues to exist to a width of 33 feet south from the highway’s centerline. "Should MnDOT continue its baseless claim that right of way does not exist, it may be necessary to commence litigation to establish these very important facts," he said, adding Lake Links has received private funding for that purpose if it should prove necessary.

"We are aware that a few landowners in the area believe that there are no road rights south of the south line of the highway, and we understand that their mistaken belief is held in good faith.

“As a matter of good will," the co-chair added, "it may be appropriate to provide attractive fencing and notification that property beyond the 33 feet right of way is private." 

 

— Debra Neutkens

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