The Neglected History Behind Preble v. Maine Central Railroad Company: Lessons from the “Maine Rule” for Adverse Possession

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Under the “Maine Rule” for adverse possession, only possessors who have the requisite intent can perfect an adverse possession claim. The Maine Rule has been consistently criticized. The history behind the adoption of the Maine Rule, however, and the purpose it was to serve, have been ignored. This Article fills that void. This inquiry leads to some surprising revelations about the Maine Rule. The Maine Rule was originally adopted so as to distinguish prior Maine cases rejecting adverse possession in mistaken boundary situations. The purpose behind the Maine Rule, then, was to enable—rather than prohibit—adverse possession. The history surrounding the adoption of the Maine Rule has contemporary value; this history powerfully demonstrates the pitfalls of using a claimant’s state of mind as part of an adverse possession analysis.

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