Cameron v. United States,
252 U.S. 450 (1920)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Cameron v. United States, 252 U.S. 450 (1920)

Cameron v. United States

No. 205

Argued January 29, 30, 1920

Decided April 19, 1920

252 U.S. 450


The inclusion of part of a national forest within a monument reserve under the Act of June 8, 1906, c. 3060, 34 Stat. 225, by a proclamation of the President providing that both reservations shall stand as to the common area but that the monument reserve shall be dominant, and saving valid claims theretofore acquired, withdraws such area, except as to such claims, from the operation of the mineral land law. P. 252 U. S. 454.

The Grand Canyon of the Colorado, in Arizona, is an " object of scientific

Page 252 U. S. 451

interest" within the meaning of the Act of June 8, 1906, supra, empowering the President to reserve such objects as "National Monuments." P. 252 U. S. 455.

Mineral character and an adequate discovery of mineral within the location are essential to the validity of a mining claim, and without these the locator has not the right of possession. P. 252 U. S. 456.

To bring a mining claim within an exception of "valid claims" in a proclamation establishing a monument reserve, the claim must be founded upon an adequate discovery of mineral made before the reservation; a discovery made later can confer no rights upon the claimant. Id.

To support a mining location, the discovery must be such as to justify a person of ordinary prudence in the further expenditure of his time and means in an effort to develop a paying mine. P. 252 U. S. 459.

A decision of the Secretary of the Interior, made upon an application to patent a mining claim within a monument reserve, finding the land claimed not mineral in character and the location not supported by any discovery antedating the reservation, and therefore rejecting the application and adjudging the location invalid, is conclusive as to the invalidity of the claim in a suit subsequently brought by the government to enjoin the claimant from occupying and using the land for his private purposes, and thus obstructing its use by the public as a part of the reserve. Pp. 252 U. S. 459, 252 U. S. 464.

A mining location which has not gone to patent is of no higher quality, and no more immune from attack and investigation, than unpatented claims under the homestead and kindred laws, and so long as the legal title remains in the United States, the Land Department, in virtue of its general statutory duty and function, is empowered, after proper notice and upon adequate hearing, to determine whether such a location is valid, and, if found invalid, to declare it null and void. P. 252 U. S. 460.

250 F. 943 affirmed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 252 U. S. 454

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