Make sure your animals cross over to the other side of railroad tracks in Virginia

Cheryl E Preston
Keep your animals off the railroad tracks in VirginiaPhoto byYoutube screenshot

Virginia has a weird law about animals and railroad crossings

Virginia has some interesting and at times confusing laws like § 18.2-159. Trespassing on railroad track which states as follows:

Any person who goes upon the track of a railroad other than to pass over such road at a public or private crossing, or who willfully rides, drives or leads any animal or contrives for any animal to go on such track except to cross as aforesaid, without the consent of the railroad company or person operating such road, shall be guilty of a Class 4 misdemeanor.

If you break this law more than once your penalty will be even stiffer.

A second violation of the provisions of this section occurring within two years of the first violation shall be punishable as a Class 3 misdemeanor. A third or subsequent violation of the provisions of this section occurring within two years of a second or a subsequent violation shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.

The law applies to private property and not abandoned tracks

This section shall not apply to any section of track which has been legally abandoned pursuant to an order of a federal or state agency having jurisdiction over the track and is not being used for railroad service.
Keep those tracks free of animalsPhoto byÖnder ÖrtelonUnsplash

What were the Virginia lawmakers thinking

My question is what were people doing at the time the law went into effect that deemed it necessary? Were Virginians leaving animals on the tracks perhaps typing them down like Penelope Pitstop in the hopes a train would hit them? What else other than simply crossing from one side to the other would anyone be walking an animal across the track?

I would love to know what "other than to crossover" meant at the time this ordinance was approved. Were farmers leading Old Bossy the cow to the tracks to meet certain death because she no longer produced milk or leaving Old Blue the dog to die a swift death because he was getting old?

Should your animal get tired and refuse to move like the Carabu in The Polar Express and a train is coming you will be in trouble with the state. In our modern times, people have left food and dead chickens on railroad tracks as offerings and it is said to happen all the time. I don't know about other states but if you get caught in Virginia you will be in a lot of trouble.


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I am a native Virginian who writes, about breaking news, nutrition, history, celebrities, and current events that are of interest to those living in the Commonwealth.

Roanoke, VA

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