Joy v. St. Louis
138 U.S. 1 (1891)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Joy v. St. Louis, 138 U.S. 1 (1891)

Joy v. St. Louis

No. 106

Argued December 9-10, 1890

Decided January 19, 1891

138 U.S. 1

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED

STATES FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI

Syllabus

In this case, it was held that under two agreements made August 11, 1875, one between the St. Louis County Railroad Company and the St. Louis, Kansas City and Northern Railway Company, and the other called the "tripartite agreement," between the Commissioners of Forest Park in the City of St. Louis, the said County Company and the said Kansas City Company, and a deed of the same date from the former company to the latter company, the Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railway Company was bound to permit the St. Louis, Kansas City and Colorado Railroad Company to use its right of way from the north line of Forest Park, through the park, to the terminus of the Wabash company's road at Union Depot, on Eighteenth Street, in St. Louis, for a fair and equitable compensation.

The covenants in paragraph 9 of the tripartite agreement, as to the use of the right of way by other railroad companies, are binding upon subsequent purchasers, with notice, from the Kansas City Company.

That agreement being a link in the chain of title of the appellants, they must be held to have had notice of its covenants, and are bound by them whether they be or be not strictly such as run with the land.

Paragraph 9 of the tripartite agreement created an easement in the property of the County Company and the Kansas City Company for the benefit of the public, which might be availed of, with the consent of the public authorities, properly expressed, by other railroad companies which might

Page 138 U. S. 2

wish to use not only the right of way through the park, but also that between the park and the Union Depot.

The two agreements and the deed constituted a single transaction, and should be construed together, and liberally in favor of the public.

Such easement covered the tracks through the park and the tracks east of the park to the Union Depot.

The Circuit Court had power to enforce the specific performance of the agreement by enjoining the appellants from preventing the Colorado company from using the right of way, and to fix the amount of compensation by its use.

A remedy at law would be wholly inadequate.

The rights of the public in respect to railroads should be fostered by the courts.

The object of protecting the park and that of preserving and fostering the commerce of the city were set forth in the tripartite agreement, and the City of St. Louis, a plaintiff in the suit, as charged with those duties, was not merely a nominal party to this suit.

This is an appeal by James F. Joy, Thomas H. Hubbard, Edgar T. Welles, and O. D. Ashley, as purchasing committee, the Central Trust Company of New York and James Cheney, as trustees, and the Wabash, St. Louis and Pacific Railway Company, a Missouri corporation (hereinafter called the "Wabash Company") from a decree of the circuit court of the United States, for the Eastern District of Missouri, made December 31, 1886, on a bill of intervention filed July 12, 1886, in the same court, by the City of St. Louis, a municipal corporation of the State of Missouri, and the St. Louis, Kansas City and Colorado Railroad Company, a Kansas corporation (hereinafter called the "Colorado Company") against the Wabash Company and its receivers. This bill of intervention was filed in two causes pending in the same court consolidated into one. One of them was a bill in equity, filed by the Wabash Company against the Central Trust Company of New York and others on the 27th of May, 1884, for the appointment of receivers of the Wabash Company because of its insolvency, setting forth that it had executed two mortgages, one known as the "general mortgage" and the other as the "collateral trust mortgage," the first of them June 1, 1880, to the Central Trust Company of New York and James Cheney, as trustees, and the other of them May 1, 1883, to the Mercantile Trust

Page 138 U. S. 3

Company of New York. In the said suit, a cross-bill was filed in the same court on June 9, 1884, by the Central Trust Company of New York and James Cheney, as trustees, to foreclose the said general mortgage and certain sustaining mortgages executed in aid of it. An amended bill was filed June 15, 1884, and an amended cross-bill October 14, 1884. The second suit was one brought January 13, 1885, by the Central Trust Company of New York and James Cheney, as trustees, in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, in Missouri, against the Wabash Company and others, praying the same relief prayed for in such cross-bill filed June 9, 1884. This suit was removed into the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Missouri, and was consolidated, on March 19, 1885, with the suit the bill in which was filed May 27, 1884.

A decree of foreclosure and sale was made in the consolidated cause on January 6, 1886, under which, on April 26, 1886, the railroads and property were sold to Joy, Hubbard, Welles, and Ashley, as purchasers. The sale was confirmed June 15, 1886, and deeds were ordered to be executed to the purchasers. Meantime, and before the deeds were executed, the bill of intervention was filed. The railroad property in question was all the time in the hands of Solon Humphreys and Thomas E. Tutt, as receivers appointed by the court on May 27, 1884.

The facts involved in the present appeal depend almost entirely upon documentary evidence, and, as agreed upon by the parties in their respective briefs, may be stated as follows:

This action was brought to compel the specific performance of a contract through which the Colorado Company claimed to be entitled to a joint use with the Wabash Company of that portion of the tracks of the latter company which extends eastwardly from a point on the northern line of Forest Park, through the park, and from thence to the Union Depot in the City of St. Louis at Eighteenth Street. The facts out of which the controversy arose are substantially as follows:

(1) In August, 1871, a railway corporation known as the "St. Louis County Railroad Company" (hereinafter called the "County

Page 138 U. S. 4

Company") was organized under the general laws of Missouri to construct a narrow-gauge railroad from the City of St. Louis in a westerly direction to a point in the County of St. Louis, 16 miles from the city.

(2) On November 3, 1871, W. D. Griswold was the owner of a tract of land lying immediately west of the City of St. Louis, known as the "Cabanne Dairy Farm," and on that date he sold and conveyed to the County Company a right of way forty feet in width through the tract owned by him.

(3) On March 25, 1874, the Legislature of Missouri passed an act for the establishment of Forest Park, in the County of St. Louis, immediately west of the city. The act described the property which might be taken by condemnation for park purposes, and included the farm or tract owned by Griswold. The third section of the act contained the following proviso:

"Provided that nothing in this act contained shall prevent the St. Louis County Railroad Company from using and occupying a right of way of the width of not more than seventy feet through the northeastern portion of said Forest Park; the said railroad shall only enter the park through Duncan's Subdivision on the east side of said park, and running westwardly on the northern side of the River Des Peres, shall pass out of said park at a point on the northern line thereof, east of Union Avenue, and provided further that no switch or siding shall be constructed by said railroad company in said park, nor shall more than one depot be established in said park, and that shall be for passengers only, and provided further that the grade of said railroad, as far as the same runs through said Forest Park, shall be approved by said park commissioners."

Laws of Missouri, 1874, p. 371.

(4) On August 11, 1875, the County Company having located its line between the city and the park and having acquired some detached portions of a right of way through a number of lots and blocks between the Union Depot and the park, and the St. Louis, Kansas City and Northern Railway Company (hereinafter called the "Kansas City Company") already having a line of railroad from St. Louis to Kansas City which connected on the northern line of the park with the right of

Page 138 U. S. 5

way and line of the County Company, those two companies entered into a written contract in which the County Company agreed to convey to the Kansas City Company, for the sum of $125,000, a strip twenty-eight feet wide through each tract owned by it, between the eastern line of the park and the western limits of the city, and a strip thirty feet in width through each tract lying between the western limits of the city and the Union Depot at Eighteenth Street, and also an undivided one-half of all the right of way it then owned or might thereafter acquire, through the park. The contract also provided, among other things, that inasmuch as the Kansas City Company was to make a tunnel and cut just east of the park, it should let the trains of the County Company pass through said tunnel and cut under such regulations and restrictions as were agreed upon with respect to trains in the park and elsewhere. It was then provided that the use of the property in the park and through the tunnel and cut should be in common, but that the Kansas City Company should have absolute control of the running and starting of its own trains and the making of its own time-tables, and that no train of the County Company or its assigns should be started within eight minutes of the time fixed for starting the trains of the Kansas City Company; that there should be twenty minutes' time between the starting and coming in of the trains of the County Company; that only the County Company should have a depot in the park, and that the Kansas City Company should not have a depot or stop its trains in the park. The contract also provided that at two specified places within the city limits where the right of way of the County Company was narrowest, it (the County Company) might lay and use one rail on the right of way of the Kansas City Company; that where proceedings for condemnation or negotiations had been commenced by the County Company, the same should be prosecuted or discontinued, as requested by the president of the Kansas City Company; that in consideration of the covenants therein contained and of certain covenants and agreements on the part of the Commissioners of Forest Park contained in another agreement of even date therewith, the Kansas City Company

Page 138 U. S. 6

should construct and maintain its railroad through the park, tunnel, and cut for the joint use of both of said railroad companies, and that the County Company would, within two years, pay to the Kansas City Company one-half of the actual cost of constructing said road through said park, and said tunnel and cut, or forever relinquish to the Kansas City Company all claims to the road and property in said park, tunnel, and cut. This contract was signed by said parties and delivered, but it was never acknowledged or recorded in the office of the county recorder.

(5) On the same day the foregoing contract was made, the County Company, in pursuance of its agreement, conveyed to the Kansas City Company a strip twenty-eight feet in width through each lot or tract owned by it between the eastern line of the park and the western limits of the city; a strip thirty feet wide through each lot or tract owned by it between the western limits of the city and Tayon Avenue in the City of St. Louis, and an undivided one-half of all its right, title, and interest in or to the right of way, and other privileges and franchises then owned or held by it, or which might thereafter be owned or held by it, through said park. The portions of the foregoing deed which are material to this controversy are as follows:

"And also the said party of the first part [the County Company] hath conveyed, assigned, and transferred, and by these presents doth convey, assign, and transfer, unto the said party of the second part [the Kansas City Company] the right of way over and upon the following described piece of land, situated between King's Highway and Union Avenue, a strip of land twenty-eight (28) feet in width off the southern portion, and for the whole length thereof, of that part of the right of way granted to said party of the first part by W. D. Griswold by deed dated November 3, 1871, and recorded in the office of the Recorder of St. Louis County aforesaid in book 443, page 96, lying between the northern line of Forest Park and the eastern line of Union Avenue, all of which right of way conveyed by said deed is described as follows, to-wit: a strip of land forty (40) feet in width, the center line of which begins at King's

Page 138 U. S. 7

Highway, twenty (20) feet north of the southeast corner of the land of said Griswold, known as the 'Cabanne Dairy Farm,' and running thence westerly along parallel to the south line thereof eight hundred and twenty-five (825) feet; thence by a curve eleven hundred and seventy (1,170) feet long, bearing north-west with a radius of nineteen hundred and three (1,903) feet; thence by a line bearing north 55

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