Wisconsin v. Michigan
297 U.S. 547 (1936)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Wisconsin v. Michigan, 297 U.S. 547 (1936)

Wisconsin v. Michigan

No. 12, original

Argued March 2, 3, 1936

Decided March 16, 1936

297 U.S. 547

Final decree confirming report of special master and establishing boundary between Wisconsin and Michigan.

This suit was brought to correct an earlier decree, 272 U. S. 272 U.S. 398, entered after the decision reported 270 U. S. 270 U.S. 295. The opinion in the present case, explaining the corrections to be made and directing a second reference to the Special Master, Frederick F. Faville, Esq., of Des Moines, Iowa, is in 295 U. S. 295 U.S. 455. The decree printed below is the old decree as now amended.



Michigan brought suit in this Court against Wisconsin to have ascertained and established a part of the boundary between them. March 1, 1926, we announced our decision. 270 U. S. 270 U.S. 295. To carry it into effect, the States, acting through their counsel, agreed upon and submitted a form of decree. November 22, 1926, the Court, relying

Page 297 U. S. 548

upon the agreement and consent of the parties, entered the decree proposed. 272 U. S. 272 U.S. 398.

November 7, 1932, Wisconsin brought this suit against Michigan, alleging that, as a result of mistakes of the parties, the decree of November 22, 1926, did not carry our decision into effect as to the tracts called "Grassy Island" and "Sugar Island" on the north bank and a short distance from the mouth of the Menominee river and as to the Green Bay section of the boundary. Issue was joined, and a special master took evidence, heard counsel for the States, made findings of fact, stated his conclusions of law, and recommended a form of decree. The parties filed exceptions to his report, and, after hearing counsel, the Court, May 20, 1935, decided ( 295 U. S. 295 U.S. 455, 295 U. S. 462):

"The decree to be entered in this case will establish the boundary through and along, or near, the middle of the waters of Green bay that are here involved. That line commences at a point midway between the piers at the harbor entrance of the Menominee River; thence east by south seven and one-eighth miles; thence approximately north by east one-eighth east, about eight and seven-eighths miles; thence to and along a line in or near the middle of the bay to a point west of the Rock Island passage; thence easterly by courses and distances to be designated through that passage to the boundary in the middle of Lake Michigan. The decree will appropriately define the tracts called 'Grassy Island' and 'Sugar Island' and declare them to belong to Michigan."

And the Court ordered (p. 295 U. S. 455, 295 U. S. 463):

"The case is referred to the special master, and he is directed to prepare and submit to the court a form of decree which will give effect to this decision. Inasmuch as the preparation of the decree may involve the ascertainment of physical facts and the formulation of technical descriptions, the master is authorized to hear counsel, take evidence, and procure such assistance, if any, as may be

Page 297 U. S. 549

necessary to enable him conveniently and promptly to discharge the duties here imposed upon him. He may call upon counsel to propose forms of decree. He is directed to give them opportunity to submit objections to the form prepared by him and to include the objections, if any, in his report."

The master took evidence, viewed the locus, heard counsel, and, in accordance with the Court's directions, filed his report. It includes a form of decree. Wisconsin objects to the proposed decree in respect of the part of the boundary in Green Bay, Rock Island passage, and Lake Michigan not defined by our decision of May 20, 1935, and submits for consideration alternative forms of decree. Michigan urges adoption of that proposed by the master.

After hearing counsel for the respective States, the Court does hereby order, adjudge, and decree:

1. Wisconsin's objections are overruled. The definitions of the boundary recommended by the master are approved and adopted.

2. The decree of this Court, entered November 22, 1926, in the suit brought by Michigan against Wisconsin, is modified by striking therefrom the provisions that purport to define the parts of the boundary in the Menominee river downstream from the concrete bridge on United States Highways No. 41 between the cities of Menominee, Michigan, and Marinette, Wisconsin, and in the waters of Green Bay, the Rock Island passage, and Lake Michigan, and by inserting, in lieu of the parts of the decree so stricken out, definitions of the boundary recommended by the master.

3. The decree in Michigan v. Wisconsin, as modified by this decree, defines and establishes the boundary between these States. As modified, it is as follows:

"It is ordered, adjudged, and decreed:"

"That the boundary between the States of Michigan and Wisconsin along the following course be and it is hereby fixed and finally established as follows: "

Page 297 U. S. 550

From Lake Superior through the middle of the main channel of the Montreal river to the headwaters thereof, as established in the survey of Captain Cram at the junction of the Pine river and Balsam creek (also known as Lehman's Creek); thence along the line of the survey of William A. Burt of 1847 to the center of the channel between Middle and South Islands in the Lake of the Desert; thence continuing along the line of said survey to the shore of Lake Brule; thence along the southerly shore of Lake Brule to the center of the main channel of the River Brule; thence down the center of the main channel of the Rivers Brule and Menominee, to the intersection of the longitudinal center line of the concrete bridge on United States Highway No. 41 between the cities of Menominee, Michigan, and Marinette, Wisconsin, with the center line of the stream crossing of said bridge, which said point of intersection bears north forty-two degrees and thirty minutes (42

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