Northern Pacific Railway Company v. John Soderberg, No. 61

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtBrown
Citation188 U.S. 526,23 S.Ct. 365,47 L.Ed. 575
PartiesNORTHERN PACIFIC RAILWAY COMPANY, Appt. , v. JOHN A. SODERBERG
Docket NumberNo. 61
Decision Date31 October 1902

188 U.S. 526
23 S.Ct. 365
47 L.Ed. 575
NORTHERN PACIFIC RAILWAY COMPANY, Appt.,

v.

JOHN A. SODERBERG.

No. 61.
Argued October 31, 1902.
Ordered for reargument November 17, 1902.

Leave to United States to intervene December 8, 1902.

Reargued December 12, 1902.
Decided February 23, 1903.

This was a bill filed by the railway company in the circuit court for the district of Washington to enjoin the defendant Soderberg from taking, removing, or disposing of granite from a quarter section of land of which he had taken possession under a mineral location, and for an account of the granite quarried or removed.

The bill alleged the incorporation of the Northern Pacific Railroad Company under an act of Congress of July 2, 1864 (13 Stat. at L. 365, chap. 217), with power to construct a railroad from Lake Superior to Puget sound, with a branch line via Columbia river to Portland; the grant of every alternate odd-numbered section of public

Page 527

land, note mineral, to the amount of twenty alternate sections per mile, on each side of the line when passing through the territories; acceptance of the act by the railroad company; a joint resolution of Congress approved May 31, 1870, authorizing the company to issue bonds for the construction of the road, with a privilege to the company of building its main road by the valley of the Columbia river, with a branch across the Cascade mountains to Puget sound; the definite location on March 26, 1884, of the Cascade branch of the road; the completion and acceptance of the road coterminus with its public lands; the conveyance on August 3, 1896, of all its property to the Northern Pacific Railway Company, which has since continuously operated such road.

The bill further alleged that the quarter section in dispute was rough, mountainous land, the principal value of which consisted in the existence of a ledge of granite of good merchantable quality, and valuable for building stone; that the defendant in 1898 entered upon this quarter section and began to quarry, remove, and dispose of such granite under a mineral location of the land in question, contending that such land is excepted from the general land grant, and that the question whether this land is mineral or nonmineral has not yet been determined by the department. Wherefore an injunction was prayed.

The answer raised no issue of fact, but averred that the lands were mineral in character and as such excepted from the grant, and that defendant having complied with the rules and regulations of the Land Department and made the proper proof, it was assumed and decided that the defendant was entitled to a patent. That he paid the proper fees to the receiver, who forwarded the proofs and records to the Land Department with a recommendation that a patent issue. The patent, however, does not seem to have been actually issued until after the beginning of this suit.

The court heard the case upon a stipulation of facts, and entered a decree dismissing the bill, and quieting the title to the defendant to the lands in question. 99 Fed. 506. On appeal to the circuit court of appeals this decree was affirmed. 43 C. C. A. 620, 104 Fed. 425.

Messrs. C. W. Bunn and James B. Kerr for appellant.

Page 528

Mr. J. T. Ronald for appellee on original argument.

Mr. R. A. Ballinger for appellee on reargument.

Assistant Attorney General Van Devanter and Mr. Arthur B. Pugh for United States.

Mr. Justice Brown delivered the opinion of the court:

Motion was made to dismiss this appeal for the reason that, as the jurisdiction of the circuit court was invoked upon the ground of diverse citizenship, the decree of the circuit court of appeals is final, under § 6 of the court of appeals act of 1891 (26 Stat. at L. 828, chap. 517, U. S. Comp. Stat. 1901, p. 549), as interpreted by the decisions of this court in Colorado Cent. Consol. Co. v. Turck, 150 U. S. 138, 37 L. ed. 1030, 14 Sup. Ct. Rep. 35; Borgmeyer v. Idler, 159 U. S. 408, 40 L. ed. 199, 16 Sup. Ct. Rep. 34; and Press Pub. Co. v. Monroe, 164 U. S. 105, 41 L. ed. 367, 17 Sup. Ct. Rep. 40. But, to impress the attribute of finality upon a judgment of the circuit court of appeals, it must appear that the original jurisdiction of the circuit court was dependent 'entirely' upon diverse citizenship. That is not the case here. Plaintiff's bill does, indeed, set up a diversity of citizenship as one ground of jurisdiction, but, as it appears that its title rests upon a proper interpretation of the land grant act of 1864 as to the exception of nonmineral lands, there is another ground wholly independent of citizenship under that clause of § 1 of the act of 1888 (25 Stat. at L. 433, chap. 866) clothing the circuit court with jurisdiction of all civil suits involving over $2,000, 'and arising under the Constitution or laws of the United States.' If the case made by the plaintiff be one which depends upon the proper construction of an act of Congress, with the contingency of being sustained by one construction and defeated by another, it is one arising under the laws of the United States. Doolan v. Carr, 125 U. S. 618, 31 L. ed. 844, 8 Sup. Ct. Rep. 1228; Cooke v. Avery, 147 U. S. 375, 37 L. ed. 209, 13 Sup. Ct. Rep. 340. Under the allegations of the bill, the fact that the Land Department had not determined whether the land in question was mineral or nonmineral does not involve a question of fact, as the facts are admitted, but solely a question of law whether land valuable for its granite is mineral or nonmineral under the terms of the grant. Morton v. Nebraska, 21 Wall. 660, 22 L. ed. 639. The fact that a patent issued pending suit is neither set up in the pleadings nor

Page 529

noticed in the opinion of either court. The motion to dismiss must therefore be denied.

2. We are thus brought to the main question in the case, viz.: Whether lands valuable solely or chiefly for granite quarries are mineral lands within the exception of the grant of 1864? The 3d section of the act containing the granting clause of land 'not mineral' also contains the following provisos: 'Provided further, That all mineral lands be, and the same are hereby, excluded from the operations of this act. . . . And provided, further, That the word 'mineral' when it occurs in this act shall not be held to include iron or coal.' [13 Stat. at L. 365, chap. 217.] The inference from this proviso is that in the absence of a special provision both iron and coal would be considered as minerals, and thus to repel the idea that only metals were included in the word 'mineral.' This inference is strengthened by the fact that the day before this act was passed, July 1, 1864 (13 Stat. at L. 343, chap. 205,) another act was approved authorizing the public sale to the highest bidder of 'any tracts embracing coal beds or coal fields,' and providing that any lands not thus disposed of shall thereafter be liable to private entry. Relying largely upon this act as a 'legislative declaration' this court held, in Mullan v. United States, 118 U. S. 271, 30 L. ed. 170, 6 Sup. Ct. Rep. 1041, that coal lands are mineral lands within the meaning of that term as used in the statutes regulating the disposition of the public domain. This effectually disposes of the argument that the word 'mineral' must be construed as synonymous with metalliferous.

Upon the other hand, § 2 declares that 'the right, power, and authority is hereby given to said corporation to take from the public lands adjacent to the line of said road material of earth, stone, timber, etc., for the construction thereof.' There is a possible inference from this that stone was not to be regarded as mineral, although it is more likely that a grant was intended of all material serviceable in the construction of the road, even though it might otherwise be excepted from the grant as a mineral. Taking these two sections together, it would seem that the reason for providing in the 3d section that iron and coal lands should not be deemed mineral was the same as the liberty given by the 2d section to take

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materials of earth, stone, and timber; namely, to facilitate the construction and operation of the railroad, in which large quantities of coal and iron would be required.

The word 'mineral' is used in so...

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85 practice notes
  • People of Puerto Rico v. Russell Co Sucesores En 10 8212 13, 1933, No. 492
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • March 13, 1933
    ...711, 60 L.Ed. 1161; Wilson Cypress Co. v. Del Pozo, 236 U.S. 635, 643, 35 S.Ct. 446, 59 L.Ed. 758; Northern Pacific Ry. Co. v. Soderberg, 188 U.S. 526, 23 S.Ct. 365, 47 L.Ed. 575. For similar reasons the case stands in no different aspect because the people of Puerto Rico is a political ent......
  • Driscoll v. Burlington-Bristol Bridge Co., Civ. No. 11907.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • February 25, 1949
    ...711, 60 L.Ed. 1161; Wilson Cypress Co. v. Del Pozo, 236 U.S. 635, 643, 35 S.Ct. 446, 59 L.Ed. 758; Northern Pacific Ry. Co., v. Soderberg, 188 U.S. 526, 23 S.Ct. 365, 47 L.Ed. 575. * * "A state brought into the federal Union by act of Congress is likewise a political entity, and although no......
  • New West Materials v. Interior Bd. of Land Appeals, No. 05CV403.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • October 28, 2005
    ...its signification in a given case.'" Western Nuclear, 462 U.S. at 42-43, 103 S.Ct. 2218 (quoting Northern Pacific R. Co. v. Soderberg, 188 U.S. 526, 530, 23 S.Ct. 365, 47 L.Ed. 575 (1903)). And, as the Tenth Circuit has observed, even within the context of reservation clauses, the term mine......
  • Security-First Nat. Bank v. Republic Pictures Corp., No. 12260.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • April 26, 1951
    ...its claim. If this is not a correct construction of the act, appellee has no cause of action. See Northern Pacific Ry. Co. v. Soderberg, 188 U.S. 526, 528, 23 S.Ct. 365, 47 L.Ed. 575; Shulthis v. McDougal, 225 U.S. 561, 569, 32 S.Ct. 704, 56 L.Ed. 1205. The District Court had jurisdiction."......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
86 cases
  • People of Puerto Rico v. Russell Co Sucesores En 10 8212 13, 1933, No. 492
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • March 13, 1933
    ...711, 60 L.Ed. 1161; Wilson Cypress Co. v. Del Pozo, 236 U.S. 635, 643, 35 S.Ct. 446, 59 L.Ed. 758; Northern Pacific Ry. Co. v. Soderberg, 188 U.S. 526, 23 S.Ct. 365, 47 L.Ed. 575. For similar reasons the case stands in no different aspect because the people of Puerto Rico is a political ent......
  • Driscoll v. Burlington-Bristol Bridge Co., Civ. No. 11907.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. District of New Jersey
    • February 25, 1949
    ...711, 60 L.Ed. 1161; Wilson Cypress Co. v. Del Pozo, 236 U.S. 635, 643, 35 S.Ct. 446, 59 L.Ed. 758; Northern Pacific Ry. Co., v. Soderberg, 188 U.S. 526, 23 S.Ct. 365, 47 L.Ed. 575. * * "A state brought into the federal Union by act of Congress is likewise a political entity, and although no......
  • New West Materials v. Interior Bd. of Land Appeals, No. 05CV403.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 4th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Virginia)
    • October 28, 2005
    ...its signification in a given case.'" Western Nuclear, 462 U.S. at 42-43, 103 S.Ct. 2218 (quoting Northern Pacific R. Co. v. Soderberg, 188 U.S. 526, 530, 23 S.Ct. 365, 47 L.Ed. 575 (1903)). And, as the Tenth Circuit has observed, even within the context of reservation clauses, the term mine......
  • Security-First Nat. Bank v. Republic Pictures Corp., No. 12260.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • April 26, 1951
    ...its claim. If this is not a correct construction of the act, appellee has no cause of action. See Northern Pacific Ry. Co. v. Soderberg, 188 U.S. 526, 528, 23 S.Ct. 365, 47 L.Ed. 575; Shulthis v. McDougal, 225 U.S. 561, 569, 32 S.Ct. 704, 56 L.Ed. 1205. The District Court had jurisdiction."......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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