Ann Hairston v. Danville Western Railway Company, No. 6

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtMoody
Citation28 S.Ct. 331,208 U.S. 598,52 L.Ed. 637,13 Ann. Cas. 1008
Decision Date24 February 1908
Docket NumberNo. 6
PartiesANN M. HAIRSTON, Plff. in Err., v. DANVILLE & WESTERN RAILWAY COMPANY

208 U.S. 598
28 S.Ct. 331
52 L.Ed. 637
ANN M. HAIRSTON, Plff. in Err.,

v.

DANVILLE & WESTERN RAILWAY COMPANY.

No. 6.
Argued January 10, 13, 1908.
Decided February 24, 1908.

Page 599

This is a writ of error to the highest court of the State of Virginia. The defendant in error is a corporation created by the state of Virginia and operating a railroad entirely within that state. Its main line runs near the town of Martinsville, and from it a branch line runs into Martinsville and there ends. The railway company began a proceeding in a circuit court of that state for the condemnation of land belonging to Miss Hairston, the plaintiff in error, for the construction of a spur track, which was alleged to be needed for the transaction of its business, for the accommodation of the public generally, and for the purpose of reaching the factory of a large shipper, the Rucker & Witten Tobacco Company. By pleadings duly filed the landowner set up the defense (inter alia) that the proposed condemnation was not for a public use, and was therefore contrary to the Constitution and laws of Virginia and the 14th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Testimony was taken on this issue before the judge of the circuit court, who found against the contention, and appointed commissioners to ascertain the damage caused by the taking. The commissioners ascertained the amount of the damages.

Page 600

The judge confirmed their report, and ordered that, upon payment of the damages, a fee simple in the land should be vested in the railway company. The landowner petitioned the supreme court of appeals to grant a writ of error to review the judgment of the circuit court. The petition was denied, and a writ of error transferring the record to this court was allowed.

The uses for which the land sought to be condemned was needed are described in the testimony of the superintendent of the railroad. The material parts of it follow:

'The Danville & Western comes into Martinsville on a branch spur from the main line, running between Danville and Stewart. This spur leaves the main line about very nearly half a mile east of Martinsville. It comes into Martinsville and ends at Franklin street. The Danville & Western has in the town of Martinsville this main line referred to. The main line proper runs parallel with and about 3 feet from the platform of the freight and passenger station. Parallel to this track there is another track, about 15 feet between the centers of the two tracks, running parallel with and about 4 or 5 feet from the Alliance warehouse. Both of those tracks are spur tracks, and end at Franklin street. The company also has a freight and passenger station and platform, with a portion of the platform shedded. There is also another track, designated Tabernacle track. This track is several hundred feet east of this freight and passenger station referred to, and is parallel with the main line. This track will hold seven box cars, but is quite a heavy grade,—about 2 feet to the hundred feet. There is also parallel with the main line and also parallel with this Tabernacle track a spur track, which is designated spur track. These are all the tracks that the company has in the town of Martinsville, except a track known as Lester's siding. This, however, is a private siding and is fenced in. The gate is, as a rule, locked, and the company can use for its business only about two box-car lengths on the outside of the fence. When I took charge of the road as superintendent, on the 10th day of September, 1903, I was very much impressed

Page 601

with the congested condition of things in Martinsville, the danger of operating the yard, and was especially impressed with the lack of team track room; I mean by that, suitable tracks on which solid cars loaded with freight can be placed, such freight to be unloaded by consignees and teams, or vice versa; tracks to place empty cars on, into which shippers could load freight from their teams. I found only space for three box cars,—I mean by that, proper and suitable space. That was the portion of the track described as parallel with the platform, and west of the station building, about three car lengths. Being impressed with the danger of operating this yard, soon after taking charge I gave positive instructions that the track designated as Tabernacle track must never be used for storing cars, and must be kept clear and used only to pass trains. The track was built and intended to pass trains,—that is, to sidetrack one train on it and let the other pass. On account of the increase of the business at Martinsville, it has been necessary to change these instructions, and we have been forced to use the Tabernacle track on which to place team track cars, solid cars to be unloaded by consignees. . . . In order to get out of Franklin street I selected a lower route, and employed a competent engineer to lay off and make plans for the most feasible track, to obtain as much team track room as possible, and at the same time to reach the plant of the Rucker & Witten Tobacco Company. I was informed that this plant would be very greatly enlarged, and in fact the entire business of this concern would eventually be consolidated at Martinsville. By adopting the route proposed we would not only reach the plant of the Rucker & Witten Tobacco Company and thereby secure for the Danville & Western a great increase in business, but we would also greatly enlarge our team track facilities. I mean by that, the portion of the track on which loaded cars would be placed to be unloaded by merchants and others in Martinsville doing business here. The map shows that about 500 feet of this proposed track is level; this would be used entirely for the public. This 500 feet would store about 16 or 18 team track cars, and will

Page 602

be used entirely to place cars on for the general public. In addition to that we would reach the Rucker & Witten Tobacco Company's plant, and we would thus be enabled to place cars for that concern immediately at the factory doors, thus relieving the short team track we have in the yard, and also doing away entirely with the danger of using this Tabernacle track as a team track. We can also place empty cars at the Rucker & Witten Tobacco Company's plant, in which they can load their tobacco shipments. This will also greatly relieve us at the station. This concern has within the last thirty days made in one shipment 14 solid cars of manufactured tobacco, going to one destination, and all shipped the same day. At present we have team track room for seven cars on this Tabernacle siding, which, I have explained, is on a grade of about 2 feet to the hundred feet, and, therefore, very dangerous to operate and to stand cars on. There is room for three cars west of the station building between the station building and Franklin street, and on this same track there is room for five cars to be placed at the platform. These last five cars are, as a rule, merchandise cars that come here loaded for various consignees, and are unloaded by the station force into the station building. Unloaded freight is placed by shippers on the platform and is loaded into empty cars standing in this same five-car space. In order to meet the demands of the business, therefore, it is absolutely necessary to obtain more and better terminal facilities here. We wish to get away from the danger of using this tabernacle track as a team track as early as possible. The track is on a heavy grade and cars are liable to get loose and roll down the grade. In case one of these cars should happen to get loose just as a train was approaching Martinsville a serious accident would result, the grade is so heavey. Consignees sometimes attempt to move cars a little themselves, and are not able to hold them, and they strike the others on the track,...

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113 practice notes
  • Pennsylvania Coal Co v. Mahon, No. 549
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • December 11, 1922
    ...compensation. A similar assumption is made in the decisions upon the Fourteenth Amendment. Hairston v. Danville & Western Ry. Co., 208 U. S. 598, 605, 28 Sup. Ct. 331, 52 L. Ed. 637, 13 Ann. Cas. 1008. When this seemingly absolute protection is found to be qualified by the police power, the......
  • Merced Dredging Co. v. Merced County, No. 378.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • June 29, 1946
    ...of just compensation secures the private interests of the owner. Cal.Const., Art. I, § 14; Hairston v. Danville & Western R. Co., 1908, 208 U.S. 598, 606, 607, 28 S.Ct. 331, 52 L.Ed. 637, 13 Ann.Cas. Section 8 further declares that "The failure to replace the materials displaced by dredging......
  • Sintra, Inc. v. City of Seattle, No. 62304-0
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • July 16, 1997
    ...without compensation. A similar assumption is made in the decisions upon the Fourteenth Amendment. Hairston v. Danville & Western Ry. Co., 208 U.S. 598, 605, 28 Sup.Ct. 331 , 52 L.Ed. 637, 13 Ann. Cas. 1008. When this seemingly absolute protection is found Page 688 to be qualified by the po......
  • Carmichael v. Southern Coal Coke Co Same v. Gulf States Paper Corporation, Nos. 724
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • May 24, 1937
    ...74 L.Ed. 913; cf. Clark v. Nash, 198 U.S. 361, 367, 25 S.Ct. 676, 49 L.Ed. 1085, 4 Ann.Cas. 1171; Hairston v. Danville & Western Ry. Co., 208 U.S. 598, 608, 28 S.Ct. 331, 52 L.Ed. 637, 13 Ann.Cas. 1008; Noble State Bank v. Haskell, 219 U.S. 104, 110, 31 S.Ct. 186, 55 L.Ed. 112, 32 L.R.A.(N.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
113 cases
  • Pennsylvania Coal Co v. Mahon, No. 549
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • December 11, 1922
    ...compensation. A similar assumption is made in the decisions upon the Fourteenth Amendment. Hairston v. Danville & Western Ry. Co., 208 U. S. 598, 605, 28 Sup. Ct. 331, 52 L. Ed. 637, 13 Ann. Cas. 1008. When this seemingly absolute protection is found to be qualified by the police power, the......
  • Merced Dredging Co. v. Merced County, No. 378.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • June 29, 1946
    ...of just compensation secures the private interests of the owner. Cal.Const., Art. I, § 14; Hairston v. Danville & Western R. Co., 1908, 208 U.S. 598, 606, 607, 28 S.Ct. 331, 52 L.Ed. 637, 13 Ann.Cas. Section 8 further declares that "The failure to replace the materials displaced by dredging......
  • Sintra, Inc. v. City of Seattle, No. 62304-0
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • July 16, 1997
    ...without compensation. A similar assumption is made in the decisions upon the Fourteenth Amendment. Hairston v. Danville & Western Ry. Co., 208 U.S. 598, 605, 28 Sup.Ct. 331 , 52 L.Ed. 637, 13 Ann. Cas. 1008. When this seemingly absolute protection is found Page 688 to be qualified by the po......
  • Carmichael v. Southern Coal Coke Co Same v. Gulf States Paper Corporation, Nos. 724
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • May 24, 1937
    ...74 L.Ed. 913; cf. Clark v. Nash, 198 U.S. 361, 367, 25 S.Ct. 676, 49 L.Ed. 1085, 4 Ann.Cas. 1171; Hairston v. Danville & Western Ry. Co., 208 U.S. 598, 608, 28 S.Ct. 331, 52 L.Ed. 637, 13 Ann.Cas. 1008; Noble State Bank v. Haskell, 219 U.S. 104, 110, 31 S.Ct. 186, 55 L.Ed. 112, 32 L.R.A.(N.......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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