United States v. Denver & Rio Grande Ry. Co.,
150 U.S. 1 (1893)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Denver & Rio Grande Ry. Co., 150 U.S. 1 (1893)

United States v. Denver and Rio Grande Railway Company

No. 3.

Argued October 10, 1893

Decided October 23, 1893

150 U.S. 1


After the expiration of the time limited by the Act of June 8, 1872, 17 Stat. 339, c. 354, for the completion of its road to Santa Fe, if not before that time, the Denver and Rio Grande Railway Company was entitled to claim the benefit of the Act of March 3, 1875, 18 Stat. 482, c. 151, upon complying with its conditions.

The Act of March 3, 1875, 18 Stat. 482, c. 151, granting a right of way to railroads through the public lands, and authorizing them to take therefrom timber or other materials necessary for the construction of their roadways, station buildings, depots, machine shops, sidetracks, turnouts, water stations, etc., permits a railway company to use the timber or material so taken on portions of its line remote from the place from which it is taken.

In its ordinary acceptation and enlarged sense, the term "railroad" includes all structures which are necessary and essential to its operation.

While it is well settled that public grants are to be construed strictly as against the grantees, they are not to be so construed as to defeat the intent of the legislature or to withhold what is given.

General legislation offering advantages in the public lands to individuals or corporations as an inducement to the accomplishment of enterprises of a quasi-public character through undeveloped public domain should receive a more liberal construction than is given to an ordinary private grant.

Page 150 U. S. 2

It is not decided that the Act of March 3, 1875, gave a right to take timber from the public domain for making rolling stock, nor what structure, if any, not enumerated in that act would constitute necessary, essential, or constituent parts of a railroad.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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