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U.S. Supreme Court

Southern Pacific R. Co. v. United States, 183 U.S. 519 (1902)

Southern Pacific Railroad Company v. United States

Nos. 18 and 24

Argued January 29-30, 1901

Decided January 6, 1902

183 U.S. 519


The title of the Southern Pacific Railroad Company to the lands in controversy in this suit was acquired by virtue of the Act of July 27, 1866, 14 Stat. 292, and the construction of the road was made under such circumstances as entitle the company to the benefit of the grant made by the eighteenth section of that act.

The settled rule of construction is that, where by the same act, or by acts of the same date, grants of land are made to two separate companies, insofar as the limits of their grants conflict by crossing or lapping, each company takes an equal undivided moiety of the lands within the conflict, and neither acquires all by priority of location or priority of construction.

It is well settled that Congress has power to grant to a corporation created by a state additional franchises at least of a similar nature.

The grant to the Southern Pacific and that to the Atlantic and Pacific both took effect, and both being in praesenti, when maps were filed and approved, they took effect by relation as of the date of the act.

The United States, having by the Forfeiture Act of July 6, 1886, become possessed of all the rights and interests of the Atlantic and Pacific Company chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 183 U. S. 520

in this grant within the limits of California, had an equal undivided moiety in all the odd-numbered sections which lie within the conflicting place limits of the grant to the Atlantic and Pacific Company and of that made to the Southern Pacific Company by the Act of July 27, 1868, and the Southern Pacific Company holds the other equal undivided moiety thereof.

The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.

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