Stalker v. Oregon Short Line R. Co. - 225 U.S. 142 (1912)


U.S. Supreme Court

Stalker v. Oregon Short Line R. Co., 225 U.S. 142 (1912)

Stalker v. Oregon Short Line Railroad Company

No. 225

Argued April 24, 1912

Decided May 27, 1912

225 U.S. 142

Syllabus

The Act of March 3, 1875, 18 Stat. 482, c. 152, granting rights of way and station grounds for railroads through the public lands was a grant in praesenti of lands to be thereafter identified. Railroad Co. v. Jones, 177 U. S. 125.

The right of way becomes definitely located by actual construction, which is unmistakable evidence and notice of appropriation.

A selection and location of station grounds under the Act of March 3, 1875, filed with he Secretary of the Interior after construction of the

Page 225 U. S. 143

railroad, is subject to approval by the Secretary, but the approval relates back to the date of filing, and thereupon the selection becomes superior to the intervening claim of an entryman initiated while the selection was pending approval. Northern Pacific R. Co. v. Doughty, 208 U. S. 251, where the station grounds selection was made prior to actual construction of the railroad, distinguished. The construction now given to the Act of March 3, 1875, is in accordance with the settled practice of the Land Department; any other construction would defeat the purpose of Congress in regard to encouraging the building of railroads through the public lands.

The failure of a subordinate of the Land Department to comply with the regulations of the department and note selections properly made by a railroad company cannot affect the rights of the company and permit the entry of the land pending approval of the selections by the Secretary. Van Wyck v. Knevals, 106 U. S. 360.

A patent issued to an entryman whose claim was initiated while the selection of a railroad company was pending for approval is not an adjudication, but if, as in this case, the selection is approved, such a patent is issued in violation of law, and is inoperative to pass title.

16 Idaho 362 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the construction of the Act of March 3, 1875, granting station grounds on the public lands to railroad companies, and the conflicting rights of a company claiming thereunder and an entryman, are stated in the opinion.



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