Illinois Central R. Co. v. Chicago
176 U.S. 646 (1900)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Illinois Central R. Co. v. Chicago, 176 U.S. 646 (1900)

Illinois Central Railroad Company v. Chicago

No. 114

Argued January 24-25, 1900

Decided March 12, 1900

176 U.S. 646

Syllabus

The charter of the Illinois Central Railroad Company authorized it to

"enter upon and take possession of and use all and singular any lands, streams and materials of every kind for the location of depots and stopping stages for the . . . complete operation of said road,"

and granted to it "all such lands, waters, materials and privileges belonging to the state." A subsequent ordinance of the City of Chicago, passed in pursuance of authority granted by the legislature, forbade the driving or placing of any piles, stone, timbers or other obstruction in the harbor of the city without the permission of the commissioner of public works. Held,

that a federal question was presented whether this ordinance impaired or interfered with the charter of the railroad company.

Held further, that, under its charter, the railroad company had no right to take possession of lands submerged beneath the waters of Lake Michigan. Held also that the "waters" granted to the railroad company in the second part of the granting clause were restricted to the "streams" mentioned in the first part, and did not include the waters of Lake Michigan.

Under another section of the charter, providing that the corporation should not locate its track within any city without the consent of the common council, held that this proviso was not confined to the main track of the road, but included its depots, engine houses, and necessary track approaches to the same.

This restriction was not limited to the city as bounded at the date of the charter, but applied also to territory subsequently included within the city limits.

This was a bill in equity instituted by the Illinois Central Railroad Company in the Superior Court of Cook County to obtain an injunction restraining the City of Chicago from interfering with the exercise of the right of the railroad company to fill in, for railroad purposes, certain lands submerged by the shallow waters of Lake Michigan in front of property owned by the railroad company, in fee, and situated between Twenty-fifth and Twenty-seventh Streets in said city. The purpose of the railroad company in reclaiming the land was to erect thereon an engine house and locomotive stalls necessary to the operation of the road.

Page 176 U. S. 647

The case was heard upon bill, answer, cross-bill, and demurrer to cross-bill, in which were set forth substantially the following facts, as recited in the opinion of the supreme court (173 Ill. 471):

By an act of Congress approved September 20, 1850, 9 Stat. 466, c. 61,

"the right of way through the public lands be . . . granted to the State of Illinois for the construction of a railroad from the southern terminus of the Illinois & Michigan Canal to a point at or near the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, with a branch of the same to Chicago, on Lake Michigan, and another via the Town of Galena, in said state, to Dubuque, in the State of Iowa, with the right, also, to take the necessary materials, of earth, stones, timber, etc., for the construction"

of the railroad. The act also granted to the State of Illinois, for the purpose of aiding and making the railroad and branches above named, every alternate section of land designated by even numbers, for six sections in width, on each side of the railroad and branches. By the act it was further provided that the railroad and branches should be and forever remain a public highway for the use of the government of the United States, free from toll or other charge upon the transportation of any property or troops of the United States.

The company was created, organized under, and now exists by virtue of, an act of the Legislature of the State of Illinois approved February 10, 1851, entitled "An Act to Incorporate the Illinois Central Railroad Company," Private Laws of 1851, p. 61, and by its charter it was authorized to survey, locate, construct, complete, alter, maintain, and operate a railroad, with one or more tracks or lines of rail, from the southern terminus of the Illinois and Michigan Canal to a point at or near the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, with a branch of the same into Chicago, on Lake Michigan, and also a branch via the City of Galena to a point on the Mississippi River opposite the Town of Dubuque, in the State of Iowa. By section 3 of its charter, it was provided as follows:

"The said corporation shall have right

Page 176 U. S. 648

of way upon, and may appropriate to its sole use and control for the purposes contemplated herein, land not exceeding 200 feet in width through its entire length; may enter upon and take possession of and use all and singular any lands, streams, and materials of every kind, for the location of depots and stopping stages, for the purpose of constructing bridges, dams, embankments, excavations, station grounds, spoil banks, turnouts, engine houses, shops, and other buildings necessary for the construction, completing, altering, maintaining, preserving, and complete operation of said road. All such lands, waters, materials, and privileges belonging to the state are hereby granted to said corporation for said purposes; but when owned or belonging to any person, company, or corporation, and cannot be obtained by voluntary grant or release, the same may be taken and paid for, if any damages are awarded, in the manner provided in 'An Act to Provide for a General System of Railroad Incorporations,' approved November 5, 1849, and the final decision or award shall vest in the corporation hereby created all the rights, franchises, and immunities in said act contemplated and provided; . . . Provided, that nothing in this section contained shall be so construed as to authorize the said corporation to interrupt the navigation of said streams."

The bill also avers that the company constructed its line of railroad within the then limits of the City of Chicago in the year 1852, and completed its railroad between the termini named in its charter, in the State of Illinois, in the year 1857; that the total number of miles of its railroad in the state, upon completion, was 706; that at the time of the construction of its railroad in 1852, into the City of Chicago, the southern limits and boundary of the city extended only to Twenty-second Street; that in 1852 it constructed its line of railroad immediately along the shore and partly over the shallow waters of Lake Michigan from Fifty-first street to Twenty-second Street, then the southern boundary of the city, and that its railroad was constructed into the City of Chicago through the waters of Lake Michigan, pursuant to an

Page 176 U. S. 649

ordinance of the city; that its railroad within the limits of the city was constructed on piling set in the open waters of Lake Michigan east of the shore; that between Park Row and Randolph Street, the distances in a direct east and west line between the shore line and the inner or west line of the piling on which the railroad of the company was constructed through the open waters of Lake Michigan varied from 5 feet at Park Row to 310 feet at Madison Street, and that the depth of the water along the line of piling between the points above named varied from 2 1/2 to 9 1/2 feet; that the company now owns or controls by lease, and is now operating under one management, the whole of the trunk line as one continuous line from New Orleans, through the States of Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Illinois, into the City of Chicago; that it controls, by lease or otherwise, under the same management, many other lateral lines in the states above named, and also in the States of Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, and Dakota, which connect with and are tributary to the parent line of the company; that the number of miles now owned or controlled by the company under one management exceeds 4,600.

It is further alleged in the bill that the City of Chicago is the business center of the various lines which constitute the system owned by the company; that the business carried on over the terminal tracks and facilities of the company within the present limits of the City of Chicago is so great and so constantly increasing that the whole of its right of way and lands contiguous thereto, within said limits, are used to their utmost capacity as yards, shops, depot grounds, side tracks, switching tracks, storage tracks, delivery tracks, team tracks, and other structures, all of which are absolutely necessary as terminal facilities to enable the company to carry on and conduct its business as a common carrier of freight and passengers, and that all the tracks, structures, and appliances of its terminal facilities are necessary and essential to enable the company to carry on its business; that the business of the company as a common carrier greatly increases from year to year, and that it has so continued to increase that its terminal

Page 176 U. S. 650

facilities in the city are not wholly adequate for the purposes and uses prescribed and intended by its charter. The bill sets out in detail its business and its increase from year to year, and alleges that its terminal facilities in the City of Chicago have been found to be wholly inadequate to enable the company to carry on its business; that in order to meet the increased business necessities and requirements of the company, it is absolutely necessary that the company should construct, operate, and use an engine house 316 feet in diameter, and containing forty stalls, together with a machine shop, turn table, coal chute, and other structures; that it has no engine house whatever at which it is practicable for its engines to be overhauled and fitted for operation; that it has no land whatever unoccupied by other necessary tracks and structures, which is either sufficient in dimensions or suitably located, upon which to locate and construct an engine house of the necessary dimensions and capacity, with the necessary appurtenances thereto, required and necessary for the business of the company, and that in order to build such engine house and the appurtenances, it is necessary to construct the same upon land covered by the shallow waters of Lake Michigan at a point between Fifty-first Street and Eighteenth Street.

It is also set up in the bill that, in 1852 at the time of the construction of the road within the City of Chicago, it purchased certain lands lying between Twenty-fifth and Twenty-seventh Streets, bordering on the shore of Lake Michigan; that in the deeds, the shore of Lake Michigan was designated as the east boundary line thereof, and that the company, as owner, was vested with all the riparian rights and privileges incident to the ownership in fee of the shore land; that in the year 1882 it constructed a breakwater or bulkhead in the shallow waters of Lake Michigan, the same being located and constructed in front of the land which the company purchased in 1852, above referred to, the east and west line of the breakwater on the north extending from a point on the shore continuous with the northern boundary of the land conveyed to the company in 1852, and extending to a point 200 feet easterly from the shore line, running thence southerly

Page 176 U. S. 651

a distance of 781 feet, and thence westerly to the shore line, a distance of 325 feet; that the breakwater built by the company in 1882 was constructed on two rows of piling driven into the bed of Lake Michigan, and the space between the rows of piling was filled in with stone, in order to strengthen the breakwater and enable it to withstand the force of Lake Michigan during periods of storm; that all the shore land embraced within the lines of the breakwater now is, and ever since the year of 1852 has been, owned in fee simple by the company, and that it is entitled to all the riparian rights and privileges incident to the ownership in fee of the shore land; that the superficial area of the land covered by the shallow waters of Lake Michigan lying within the lines of the breakwater and the shore line of Lake Michigan is 195,200 square feet, or 4.48 acres; that the superficial area of the ground necessary for the construction of the engine house, machine shop, coal chute, and other necessary structures appurtenant thereto is 168,426.9 square feet, or 3.86 acres.

The bill further states that in the year 1894, a part of the breakwater referred to as having been constructed by it in the year 1882 was destroyed by a storm on Lake Michigan; that it being necessary, to enable the company to carry on and conduct its business, that an engine house, of sufficient capacity to meet its necessary requirements and demands in conducting its business and to accomplish the objects for which the company was chartered be constructed and erected at a reasonably suitable and proper location, and it being necessary that such engine house should be erected and constructed upon the lands submerged by the shallow waters of Lake Michigan lying in front of land on the shore of Lake Michigan owned in fee simple by the company, the company caused plans to be made, as before stated, for an engine house 316 feet in diameter, and containing forty stalls or compartments, and under the power, authority, and right given and vested in the company by its charter, and in the exercise of its rights as riparian owner, it elected and determined to locate and construct said engine house on land submerged by the shallow waters of Lake Michigan lying within the limits of

Page 176 U. S. 652

the breakwater, and to repair the breakwater, and fill in the submerged lands lying within the limits of the breakwater, for the purpose of constructing thereon said engine house and the necessary appurtenances thereto; that the breakwater does not in any way interfere with the navigation of Lake Michigan; that the Secretary of War gave his consent to the repair of the breakwater; that the Commissioner of Public Works of the City of Chicago also gave his consent to the repair; that the company placed upon the ground large quantities of material for repairing the breakwater, the filling in of the lands covered by the shallow waters of Lake Michigan embraced within the lines thereof, and for the construction of the engine house and appurtenances thereto on the lands to be filled in; that it repaired the breakwater by driving two rows of piling, and filled in a large part of the space between the exterior and interior line of piling with stone, for the purpose of enabling the breakwater to withstand the force of Lake Michigan; that the company was prevented by the police force of the City of Chicago, acting under the orders and direction of the mayor, from completing the work; that the City of Chicago, without right or authority, interferes with and prevents the company from filling in the lands within the lines of such breakwater.

The answer of the city set up its charter and authority under an act of the General Assembly of the State of Illinois, entitled "An Act to Provide for the Incorporation of Cities and Villages (Approved April 10, 1872, in Force July 1, 1872)," and the several acts amendatory thereof and supplementary thereto, and that, among other things, it was

"empowered to regulate and control the use of public landing places for docks and levees; to control and regulate the anchorage, moorage, and landing of all water crafts and their cargoes; to make regulations in regard to the use of harbors, and to appoint harbor masters and define their duties, and that in the exercise of such power this defendant has, through its police power, prevented the said complainant hitherto from filling up the said lake and intruding upon the navigable waters thereof, and that all the acts and doings complained of as done and performed

Page 176 U. S. 653

by this defendant, its officers, agents, and employees, have been done strictly in the line of its duty in that behalf for the purpose of protecting its own rights and the rights of the public generally in the premises, so as to prevent obstructions in the harbor and the seizure and appropriation by the complainant of the bed and navigable waters of the said lake,"

and also pleaded the decision of this Court in Illinois Central Railroad v. Illinois,146 U. S. 387, as res judicata of all the questions in controversy. The cross-bill prayed a counter-injunction against any interference by the railroad company.

Upon a hearing upon these pleadings, the superior court denied the injunction demanded by the railroad company and dismissed its bill. On appeal, the supreme court affirmed this decree. 173 Ill. 471. Whereupon the railroad company sued out a writ of error from this Court.

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