93 U.S. 595 (1876), West Wisconsin R. Co. v. Board Of Sup'rs Trempealeau County

Citation:93 U.S. 595, 23 L.Ed. 814
Party Name:WEST WISCONSIN RAILWAY COMPANY v. BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF TREMPEALEAU COUNTY.
Case Date:October 30, 1876
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 595

93 U.S. 595 (1876)

23 L.Ed. 814

WEST WISCONSIN RAILWAY COMPANY

v.

BOARD OF SUPERVISORS OF TREMPEALEAU COUNTY.

United States Supreme Court.

October 30, 1876

OPINION

ERROR to the Supreme Court of the State of Wisconsin.

COUNSEL

Argued by Mr. P. L. Spooner and Mr. Matt. H. Carpenter for the plaintiff in error, and by Mr. S. U. Pinney for the defendants in error.

MR. JUSTICE SWAYNE delivered the opinion of the court.

The facts of this case are substantially the same with those of Tucker v.Ferguson, 22 Wall. 527, and the question presented for our determination does not vary materially from the one there decided.

Page 596

The United States granted certain lands to the State of Wisconsin to aid in the construction of railroads in that State. The State transferred a portion of the lands to the plaintiff in error for the purpose and upon the terms and conditions specified by Congress.

Patents for designated quantities of the land were to issue to the company as successive sections of the road of twenty miles each were completed. In the mean time, the title of the company was inchoate. On the 2d of April, 1864, the legislature of Wisconsin passed an act, whereby, in the first section, it was declared that all the lands in question the title whereto should become vested in the company should be exempt from taxation for ten years from the passage of the act. The second section declared that such lands should become subject to taxation as soon as they were sold, leased, or conveyed by the company. The last clause of this section is as follows: 'Provided that said lands may be mortgaged for the purpose of raising funds to build said railroad without being subject to taxation for the time aforesaid.'

In August, 1868, the company executed a mortgage of its roadway and rolling-stock, and of all the lands it might thereafter acquire, as security for its bonds, to the amount of $4,000,000, maturing at different times. By another act, of the 16th of March, 1870, the exemption from taxation was further extended for ten years. But it was declared: 'And it is further provided, and this act is upon the express condition that if said railroad company shall not have built their said road within two years from the passage of this act, then, and in that case, this act shall be null and void: provided, that this act shall not apply to Pierce...

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