An order of a state commission requiring a railroad company to
stop a designated interstate train at a city of 2,500 inhabitants
for the purpose of taking on and discharging passengers, and to
stop another there on signal for like purposes, held,
under the circumstances, void as an undue interference with
interstate commerce. P. 261 U. S.
290 Mo. 389 reversed.
Error to a judgment of the Supreme Court of Missouri affirming a
judgment of the state circuit court which affirmed, upon a writ of
review obtained by the plaintiffs in error, an order of the
defendant commission requiring the stopping of certain trains. The
Director General of Railroads, who was in control of the railroad
under the Federal Control Act, was joined in the proceedings with
the Railway Company.
Page 261 U. S. 370
MR. JUSTICE McKENNA delivered the opinion of the Court.
The railway company conducts an interstate railroad between
Kansas City, Missouri, and Birmingham, Alabama, passing through the
City of Mountain Grove, Missouri.
Upon the petition of a volunteer organization of the city, the
Public Service Commission of Missouri ordered the railway company
to (1) provide for the stopping of its south-bound train No. 105 at
Mountain Grove for the purpose of taking on and discharging
passengers at that point, (2) provide for the stopping of
north-bound train No. 106 at the city, on flag or signal, for the
purpose of letting off passengers who board the train at points
south of the Arkansas state line, and for the purpose of taking on
passengers holding tickets for points beyond Springfield, Missouri,
(3) the order to be in full force and effect on and after the 16th
day of June, 1919.
The order was attacked by the railway company on the ground that
"in violation of § 8 of Article I of the Constitution of the
United States in that it constituted a regulation of, interference
with, and burden upon interstate commerce."
The order, however, was successively affirmed by the circuit
court having jurisdiction, and by the supreme court of the state.
To the judgment of the latter this writ of error is directed.
The Supreme Court expressed the question to be "whether or not
the order of the commission as affirmed by the circuit court
imposes an undue burden on interstate commerce." The court
considered the question a "vital one to be determined under the
facts in this case."
Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad Co. v. Railroad
Commission of Wisconsin, 237 U. S. 220
adduced for the conclusion that a state may require of a railroad
adequate local facilities, even to the stoppage of interstate
Page 261 U. S. 371
trains or the rearrangement of their schedules, whether done
directly by the legislature or through an administrative body.
It was decided, however, that it was for this Court to determine
"the fact of local facilities," that determination being necessary
to our power to consider whether the regulation of the state
affected interstate commerce to an illegal extent.
The primary principle is that, although interstate commerce is
outside of regulation by a state, there may be instances in which a
state, in the exercise of a necessary power, may affect that
commerce. There is, however, no inevitable test of the instances;
the facts in each must be considered. In Gladson v.
Minnesota, 166 U. S. 427
was decided that a state regulation requiring all regular passenger
trains running wholly within the state to stop at stations at all
county seats long enough to take on and discharge passengers
invaded no constitutional right of the railroad, nor was it an
infringement of interstate commerce because it was made applicable
to interstate connecting trains or trains transporting mails of the
In Cleveland, Cincinnati, Chicago & St. Louis Railway
Co. v. Illinois, 177 U. S. 514
statute requiring all regular passenger trains to stop a sufficient
length of time at county seats to receive and let off passengers
was held invalid as an interference with interstate commerce, there
being local trains sufficient for the local business. The case
reviewed prior cases, including Gladson v. Minnesota,
declared that, while there is no regulatory power in a state over
interstate commerce in a proper case, the state may exercise its
power to secure local facilities, although some interference with
interstate commerce may result.
To the like effect is Mississippi Railroad Commission v.
Illinois Central Railroad Co., 203 U.
, and Atlantic Coast Line Railroad Co. v.
Wharton, 207 U. S. 328
Page 261 U. S. 372
case, indeed in all of the cases, the admonitory caution is
"that any exercise of state authority, in whatever form
manifested, which directly regulates interstate commerce is
repugnant to the interstate commerce clause of the
There is concession, however, to the requisition of reasonable
facilities; necessarily, therefore, the fact of such facilities at,
or their absence from, Mountain Grove must be inquired into.
Mountain Grove has a population of 2,500 persons, contains a
number of banks, stores of the kind that a population of 2,500
persons would naturally demand and support, with a trade
proportionate in volume and value. It has besides a creamery, a
soda water plant, a wholesale grocery business which handles dairy
products, and there are shipments of livestock from the city. There
is also an overall factory which employs about 50 girls, a state
fruit experimental station, and a state poultry experimental
The finding of the commission is that "The trade territory is
estimated at from 30 to 50 miles north and northeast, and 25 to 40
miles south and southwest."
Trains Nos. 105 and 106 are through trains operated in long
distance travel. The order of the commission requires of one of
them the fixed duty of stopping, of the other, stopping on signal,
its accommodation presumably being only occasional. The trains are
night trains, and it is difficult to see how they are necessary to
the enterprise of the city, or an essentially contributing factor
or adjunct to its business. We say "essentially contributing," as
distinguished from some personal convenience or accommodation,
which no doubt they are. It is to be borne in mind that interstate
commerce and intrastate commerce have different purposes, and these
purposes are to be considered -- the power of the nation and the
power of the states are accommodated to them and delimited by
Page 261 U. S. 373
and kept from interference and confusion. Our cases illustrate
this, and, we think, determine against the power exercised in the
order under review. In other words, the order under review
transcends the power of the state, the order of the commission
being of detriment to interstate commerce.
Much is made of the experimental stations, and it is said that
700 persons visit them annually who will suffer inconvenience by
the discontinuance of the trains. The instance has attractive
appeal, but any instance of convenience has like appeal. But, as we
have said, the distinction between the commerces -- state and
interstate -- and their purposes are to be considered, and the
different powers necessary to direct those purposes. Interstate
commerce is concerned with the business of states, states distant
often from one another, involving, necessarily, a difference in
service. And such is the character of the trains in question. They
are operated in long distance traffic, are the instruments of such
traffic, and it is a part of their efficiency that they are run at
night. They may be a facility in some degree to Mountain Grove. It
is to be remembered, however, that the city has four other through
interstate passenger trains, and any deficiency in their schedules
or equipment can be corrected without burdening interstate commerce
by stopping the trains in question. This conclusion, we think, is
in accordance with our decisions.
We are compelled, therefore, to reverse the judgment and remand
the cause for further proceedings not inconsistent with this