United States v. Illinois Cent Co, No. 331

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtFIELD
Citation14 S.Ct. 1015,38 L.Ed. 971,154 U.S. 225
Decision Date26 May 1894
Docket NumberNo. 331
PartiesUNITED STATES v. ILLINOIS CENT. R. CO. et al

154 U.S. 225
14 S.Ct. 1015
38 L.Ed. 971
UNITED STATES

v.

ILLINOIS CENT. R. CO. et al.

No. 331.
May 26, 1894.

[Statement of Case from pages 225-227 intentionally omitted]

Page 227

Sol. Gen. Maxwell, for the United States.

[Argument of Counsel from pages 227-233 intentionally omitted]

Page 233

B. F. Ayers, for Railroad Cos.

John S. Miller, for city of Chicago.

Mr. Justice FIELD delivered the opinion of the court.

This is an appeal on the part of the United States from a decree of the circuit court sustaining a demurrer to an information or bill in equity, in which they were complainants, and the Illinois Central and other railroad companies were defendants. The information charges that encroachments are made or threatened upon property of the United States; and the object of the information, so far as contended on the present appeal, is to prevent their continuance in the future, as to one particular parcel of property, and to preserve it open to the uses for which it was dedicated by the United States. That property consists of land situated on the shore of Lake Michigan, being part of fractional section 10 in Chicago, lying between Lake Michigan, on the east, and block 12 of the plat of Ft. Dearborn addition to Chicago, on the west.

The several parties named as defendants appeared to the information, and the Illinois Central Railroad Company and the Michigan Central Railroad Company demurred to it on the ground that it does not state such a case as entitles the United States to the relief prayed, or show any right of interference on their part, either in law or in equity, respecting the matters referred to, or allege any violation, contemplated or threatened, of any right, legal or equitable, of the United States.

Upon the hearing of the several cases known and spoken of together as the Lake-Front Case before the circuit court of the United States at Chicago on the 23d of February, 1888, this demurrer was argued, and was sustained, 'except as to that part of the information which alleges, in substance, that the Illinois Central Railroad Company claims the absolute ownership of, and threatens to take possession of, use, and occupy, the outer harbor of Chicago;' the opinion of the court

Page 234

being 'that the general government, upon the showing made by it, has no title to any of the streets or grounds described in said information, and has no standing in court, except so far as it seeks to protect the said harbor against obstructions that would impair the public right of navigation, or interfere with any plan devised by the United States for the development or improvement of the outer harbor.' 33 Fed. 730. Afterwards, on the 23d of August, 1890, the attorney of the United States was granted leave to amend the information by striking out whatever related to the outer harbor, and the encroachments alleged to have been made or threatened in the navigable waters of the lake; and at the same time an order was entered by the district judge sustaining the demurrer to the information, as amended, and directing that it be dismissed, 'without prejudice to the United States, however, to hereafter institute any appropriate action or proceedings for the purpose of enforcing any rights they may have in the navigable waters of the lake or outer harbor of Chicago,' and thereupon an appeal was prayed and allowed to the supreme court.

From the decree of the circuit court in the Lake-Front Case, rendered in February, 1888, appeals were taken to the supreme court of the United States by the Illinois Central Railroad Company and the city of Chicago, and they were argued and decided at its October term, 1892. 146 U. S. 387, 13 Sup. Ct. 110. The United States did not appear and participate in the argument on the appeal. As they were never a party to those suits in the court below, and never appealed from the decree, they were dropped as a party in the designation of the title of the case. The questions involving the title and right of the parties embraced in the cases, considered under the general designation of the Illinois Cent. R. Co. v. Illinois, to the navigable waters of the harbor of Chicago, and in the lake front property, and the encroachments on the harbor by the railroad company, and the validity of the act of April 16, 1869, granting submerged lands in the harbor, were fully considered and settled, as between the state and the city of

Page 235

Chicago, on the one part, and the Illinois Central Railroad Company, on the other.

The appeal now before the court is the one taken by the United States from the decree of the circuit court rendered on the 23d of August, 1890, sustaining the demurrer to the information. The amendment allowed to the information consisted in striking out that part to which the demurrer was not sustained, and was made in order that the demurrer might go to the entire information. The only contention now urged by the solicitor general on behalf of the appellants is that the information is good to the extent that it seeks to restrain the appellees from diverting the public ground, designated as such, on the plat of the Ft. Dearborn addition to the city of Chicago, from the supposed public easement to which it was dedicated. The solicitor general states that, on this branch of the case, the information proceeds upon the theory that the United States, being the owners of the land in question, and having dedicated it to a public purpose, are entitled to enjoin its diversion from that public purpose to private uses. It will therefore be unnecessary, for the disposition of the appeal, to consider any other position originally taken by the United States in the information.

As early as 1804 a military post was established by the United States south of Chicago river, upon the southwest fractional quarter of section 10, and was subsequently occupied by troops until its sale, many years afterwards. In 1819, congress passed an act authorizing the sale by the secretary of war, under the direction of the president, of such military sites belonging to the United States as may have been found, or had become, useless for military purposes; and the secretary of war was authorized, on the payment of the consideration agreed upon into the treasury of the United States, to execute and deliver all needful instruments conveying the same in fee. And the act declared that the jurisdiction which had been specially ceded to the United States for military purposes, by a state, over such site or sites, should thereafter cease. 3 Stat. 520. Subsequently, in 1824, upon the request of the secretary of war, the south-

Page 236

west quarter of this fractional section 10, containing about 57 acres, and on which Ft. Dearborn was situated, was reserved from sale, for military purposes, by the commissioner of the general land office. The land thus reserved continued to be used for military purposes until 1837. In that year, under the direction of the secretary of war, it was laid off, by his authority, into blocks, lots, streets, alleys, and public ground, as an addition to the municipality of Chicago, and called the 'Fort Dearborn Addition to Chicago;' and in June, 1839, a plat thereof was made and acknowledged by his agent and attorney, and recorded in the recorder's office of the county of Cook. On that plat a part of the ground situated between Lake Michigan, on the east, and block 12, on the west, is designated as 'Public ground, forever to remain vacant of buildings.' It bears also a further declaration, in these words, viz. 'The public ground between Randolph and Madison streets, and fronting upon Lake Michigan, is not to be occupied with buildings of any description.' Subsequently, and for some years, several lots designated and shown on the plat were reserved from sale, and remained in the military occupation of the government; but eventually, in 1845, or soon afterwards, all of them were sold and conveyed by the United States to divers persons, 'by and according to said plat, and with reference to the same.'

The statute of Illinois of February 27, 1833, then in force, for the making and recording of town plats (Rev. St....

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24 practice notes
  • Weden v. San Juan County, No. 64776-3
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • July 9, 1998
    ...662, 669, 732 P.2d 989 (1987) (quoting Illinois Cent. R.R. v. Illinois, 146 U.S. 387, 453, 13 S.Ct. 110, 36 L.Ed. 1018 (1892), aff'd, 154 U.S. 225, 14 S.Ct. 1015, 38 L.Ed. 971 (1894)). Due to the "universally recognized need to protect public access to and use of such unique resources as na......
  • Thorndike v. City of Milwaukee
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • May 24, 1910
    ...Barclay v. Howell's Lessee, 6 Pet. 498, 8 L. Ed. 477;Williams v. Milwaukee Ind. Expo., 79 Wis. 524, 48 N. W. 665;U. S. v. Ill. Cent. Ry., 154 U. S. 225, 14 Sup. Ct. 1015, 38 L. Ed. 971;Zettel v. West Bend, 79 Wis. 316, 48 N. W. 379, 24 Am. St. Rep. 715. To the point that appellants not bein......
  • South Park Com'rs v. Montgomery Ward & Co.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • February 8, 1911
    ...dedicator, and lands of incalculable value might be lost to the public. The question in United States v. Illinois Central Railroad Co., 154 U. S. 225, 14 Sup. Ct. 1015, 38 L. Ed. 971, was whether the United States, as grantor of the public grounds in Ft. Dearborn addition,[248 Ill. 308]reta......
  • Biggers v. City of Bainbridge Island, No. 77150-2.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • October 11, 2007
    ...the navigable waters of the harbor and of the lands under them is a subject of public concern to the whole people of the State."), aff'd, 154 U.S. 225, 14 S.Ct. 1015, 38 L.Ed. 971 (1894). "The state can no more convey or give away this jus publicum interest than it can `abdicate its police ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
24 cases
  • Weden v. San Juan County, No. 64776-3
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • July 9, 1998
    ...662, 669, 732 P.2d 989 (1987) (quoting Illinois Cent. R.R. v. Illinois, 146 U.S. 387, 453, 13 S.Ct. 110, 36 L.Ed. 1018 (1892), aff'd, 154 U.S. 225, 14 S.Ct. 1015, 38 L.Ed. 971 (1894)). Due to the "universally recognized need to protect public access to and use of such unique resources as na......
  • Thorndike v. City of Milwaukee
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Wisconsin
    • May 24, 1910
    ...Barclay v. Howell's Lessee, 6 Pet. 498, 8 L. Ed. 477;Williams v. Milwaukee Ind. Expo., 79 Wis. 524, 48 N. W. 665;U. S. v. Ill. Cent. Ry., 154 U. S. 225, 14 Sup. Ct. 1015, 38 L. Ed. 971;Zettel v. West Bend, 79 Wis. 316, 48 N. W. 379, 24 Am. St. Rep. 715. To the point that appellants not bein......
  • South Park Com'rs v. Montgomery Ward & Co.
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Illinois
    • February 8, 1911
    ...dedicator, and lands of incalculable value might be lost to the public. The question in United States v. Illinois Central Railroad Co., 154 U. S. 225, 14 Sup. Ct. 1015, 38 L. Ed. 971, was whether the United States, as grantor of the public grounds in Ft. Dearborn addition,[248 Ill. 308]reta......
  • Biggers v. City of Bainbridge Island, No. 77150-2.
    • United States
    • United States State Supreme Court of Washington
    • October 11, 2007
    ...the navigable waters of the harbor and of the lands under them is a subject of public concern to the whole people of the State."), aff'd, 154 U.S. 225, 14 S.Ct. 1015, 38 L.Ed. 971 (1894). "The state can no more convey or give away this jus publicum interest than it can `abdicate its police ......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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