United States v. Northern Pacific R. Co.,
177 U.S. 435 (1900)

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U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Northern Pacific R. Co., 177 U.S. 435 (1900)

United States v. Northern Pacific Railroad Company

No. 408

Argued January 26, 29, 1900

Decided April 16, 1900

177 U.S. 435


The important questions of fact and law are substantially the same in this case and in Doherty v. Northern Pacific Railway Company, ante, 177 U. S. 421, and that case is followed in this in regard to the questions common to the two cases.

The obvious purpose of this suit was, to have the question of the proper terminus of the company's road determined, and if that terminus was found to be at Ashland, then the complainant would not be entitled to any relief.

Under the Act of July 2, 1864, noncompletion of the railroad within the time limited did not operate as a forfeiture.

As the bill in this case does not allege that it is brought under authority of Congress for the purpose of enforcing a forfeiture and does not allege any other legislative act looking to such an intention, this suit must be regarded as only intended to have the point of the eastern terminus judicially ascertained.

As the evidence and conceded facts failed to show any mistake, fraud, or error in fact or in law in the action of the Land Department in accepting the location of the eastern terminus made by the company and in issuing the patent in question, the bill was properly dismissed.

Page 177 U. S. 436

In July, 1898, the United States, by the Attorney General, filed in the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Minnesota a bill of complaint against the Northern Pacific Railroad Company and others. The object of the suit was to procure the cancellation and annulment of a certain patent granted to the Northern Pacific Railroad Company by the United States on April 22, 1895, for a tract of land lying and being more than ten miles east of Duluth, in the State of Minnesota, and which patent was alleged by the bill to have been inadvertently and mistakenly issued. The case was disposed of on bill, answer, and a stipulation of facts. The circuit court dismissed the case for want of equity, and the cause was taken on appeal to the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth circuit, where the decree of the circuit court was, on July 10, 1899, affirmed. An appeal was thereupon allowed to this court.

This cause was heard in this Court in connection with that of Andrew Doherty v. Northern Pacific Railway Company, ante, 177 U. S. 421. That case came here on a writ of error to the Supreme Court of the State of Wisconsin. The present one is on appeal from the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

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