Northern Pacific Ry. Co. v. Concannon,
239 U.S. 382 (1915)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Northern Pacific Ry. Co. v. Concannon, 239 U.S. 382 (1915)

Northern Pacific Railway Company v. Concannon

No. 87

Argued December 3, 1915

Decided December 20, 1915

239 U.S. 382


The Act of April 28, 1904, c. 1782, 33 Stat. 538, validating conveyances of land within the lines of the right of way of the Northern Pacific Railway, related only to conveyances theretofore made, and did not confer on the Railway Company power in the future to dispose of the right of way nor on others the power to obtain possession of any part thereof by adverse possession. Northern Pacific Ry. v. Ely, 197 U. S. 1, distinguished.

While title by adverse possession might have been obtained to portions of the right of way of the Northern Pacific Railway under the Act of April 28, 1904, if the adverse possession had ripened into title prior to the passage of the act, title cannot be obtained thereunder if any part of the period of adverse possession is subsequent thereto.

While a remedial statute should be construed so as to embrace remedies which it was intended to afford, its words should not be so extended as to destroy express limitations and cause it to accomplish purposes which its text shows it was not intended to reach.

In this case, the judgment of the state court cannot be sustained as resting on a ground independent of the construction of the federal statute involved.

While an issue remaining open on the remanding of the case may be one arising under state law which should primarily be disposed of by the state court, this Court has the ultimate authority to review the decision on such question to the extent essential to the enforcement of federal rights involved.

75 Wash. 591 reversed.

Page 239 U. S. 383

The facts, which involve the construction of acts of Congress relating to the right of way of the Northern Pacific Railway, are stated in the opinion.

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