Swendig v. Washington Water Power Co.,
265 U.S. 322 (1924)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Swendig v. Washington Water Power Co., 265 U.S. 322 (1924)

Swendig v. Washington Water Power Company

No. 142

Argued February 21, 1924

Decided May 26, 1924


1. The Act of March 3, 1901, providing for granting rights of way for telephone lines, does not apply to wires strung on the poles of an electric power line and used only in connection with its operation and maintenance. P. 265 U. S. 327.

2. The Act of February 15, 1901, authorizes the Secretary of the Interior, under general regulations to be fixed by him, to permit the use of rights of way through the public lands, reservations, and certain parks, for electric power lines, etc., and declares that such

Page 265 U. S. 323

permission may be revoked by the Secretary who gave it or his successor, in his discretion, and shall not be held to confer any right, or easement, or interest in, to, or over any public land, reservation, or park.


(a) The right of use continues until the permit has been revoked by the Secretary. P. 265 U. S. 329.

(b) The Secretary has power to adopt a regulation that final disposition by the United States of any tract traversed by a permitted "right of way" shall revoke the permission quoad that tract, and to change the regulation by providing that tracts, when so disposed of, shall remain subject to a right of use previously permitted until the permission has been specifically revoked under the act. Id.

(c) Where lands of an Indian reservation on which an electric transmission line was constructed and in operation under such a permit, were thrown open and entered under the homestead law at a time when a regulation provided that final disposition of the tracts should revoke the permit pro tanto, and were afterwards conveyed to the entrymen by patents making no reservation of the permit, but not until after the regulations had been amended to continue the permission in such cases until specifically revoked, the patentees took subject to the permit. P. 265 U. S. 330.

281 F. 900 affirmed.

Appeal from a decree of the circuit court of appeals which affirmed a decree of the district court enjoining the appellants from interfering with the operation and use of the appellee's (plaintiff's) electric power line, and quieting the appellee's right to use the land traversed by it under permits from the Secretary of the Interior.

Page 265 U. S. 325

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