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U.S. Supreme Court

Kennedy Mining Co. v. Argonaut Mining Co., 189 U.S. 1 (1903)

Kennedy Mining and Milling Company

v. Argonaut Mining Company

No. 49

Argued December 10-11, 1902

Decided March 9, 1903

189 U.S. 1


Where the contention is that the title to ore taken from a mine depends upon whether the mine was patented under the Act of July 26, 1866, or the Act of May 10, 1872, and involves the effect of the want of parallelism of the end lines of the location, a federal question is so presented that this Court has jurisdiction.

Where, as the result of an adverse proceeding in the land office and a compromise agreement entered into by applicants for patents for mining claims on the same lode, a common endline crossing the lode at right angles was established, and patents were issued according to the adjustment, this fixed the rights of the parties in length on the lode and the extralateral right as between them, and estopped each and its successors from asserting the right to ore body extracted from the vein within the endline of the other.

This was an action for damages for the value of ore alleged to have been taken by the Kennedy Mining & Milling Company from ground belonging to the Argonaut Mining Company, situated in Amador County, California. The Kennedy Mining & Milling Company denied taking any ore or gold-bearing rock which was the property of the Argonaut Mining Company, and averred that it was the owner of the vein or lode from which the rock was taken. The case was chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 189 U. S. 2

submitted to the trial court on an agreed statement of facts, and resulted in a judgment in plaintiff's favor, which judgment was affirmed by the Supreme Court of California. 131 Cal. 15, 63 P. 148. Writ of error was then allowed, and each party docketed the case in this Court, but the record was only printed in No. 49.

The parties are coterminous mining proprietors upon the same vein or lode, the top or apex of which passes through the Pioneer location, belonging to the Argonaut company, into the Kennedy location, belonging to the Kennedy Mining & Milling Company.

A certain map of the Pioneer and Kennedy mining claims was made part of the findings of fact, but the Supreme Court of California made use of a diagram simplified from that exhibit, which is as follows:


The common boundary is the line A-B, crossing the lode at the point marked 1 on this diagram. The line A-B-B' is chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 189 U. S. 3

the endline produced indefinitely in the direction of the dip or downward course of the vein.

The Kennedy mine was entered and payment made in November, 1871, and the patent was issued July 29, 1872.

The Pioneer was located under the law of 1866; on February 23, 1872, it was entered and paid for, and the patent was dated August 12, 1872.

During the pendency of the patent proceedings, a conflict arose as to a segment of ground lying at the north end of the Pioneer and at the south end of the Kennedy. This controversy was subsequently adjusted by an agreement between the then owners of the two properties. Both parties had sunk working shafts, the openings of which did not start at the apex, but each intersected the vein, and all the workings of both were on this vein. The vein, on its downward course, passed underneath the Silva mining claim belonging to the Kennedy Mining & Milling Company, located and patented on another vein, which had its apex within the Silva ground. This Silva ground was patented to the Kennedy Mining & Milling Company February 6, 1893, and the patent recited an entry made in October, 1892.

The patent contained this reservation:

"That the premises hereby granted, with the exception of the surface, may be entered by the proprietor of any other vein, lode, or ledge, the top or apex of which lies outside of the boundary of said granted premises, should the same in its dip be found to penetrate, intersect, or extend into said premises, for the purpose of extracting and removing the ore from such other vein, lode, or ledge."

The ore in dispute, although taken from the Pioneer-Kennedy vein, was south of the Kennedy south end boundary, as shown by its patent, and the Kennedy Mining & Milling Company did not assert any right to it by virtue of its ownership of the Kennedy mine. The ore, though taken from beneath the surface of the Silva location, was taken from the discovery lode of the Pioneer location, which was the only lode that had its apex within that location. It entered the location near the middle point of the southern endline, and ran northerly through the chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 189 U. S. 4

location in a direction practically parallel to the side lines, through the center of the northern endline.

Plaintiff in error admitted the ownership by the Argonaut Mining Company of the Pioneer mine, and that the lode had its apex within its surface location, but denied that the quartz taken by it from that lode was within that location on the ground that, because of nonparallelism of the endlines of the Pioneer, it carried no extralateral rights and that, if the court could, as matter of law, construct for it parallel endlines, the southerly endline being the base line from which the location was projected, the parallel would be made by extending the northern endline in a direction parallel to the direction of the southerly endline.

The Supreme Court of California held that the Argonaut company was entitled to all the rights which would attach under the act of 1866, and to any additional rights which inured under the act of 1872; that the act of 1866 did not require parallel endlines, and the failure to so parallel them in the Pioneer location did not deprive that claim of extralateral rights; that the extralateral rights on lodes located under the act of 1866, where endlines were not parallel, were to be defined by drawing lines at right angles to the general course of the lode at the extreme points of the lode within the location; that the contention of plaintiff in error that, because the description in the Pioneer patent commenced at the south end of the claim and the south endline was first run, the inequalities arising through diverging endlines should be adjusted by drawing a produced line from 1 to 6 in the diagram, parallel to the produced south endline from 3 to 5 in the diagram, could not be sustained.

The ore bodies in controversy were south of the northern endline plane of the Pioneer as made by agreement the boundary line between it and the Kennedy mining claim, and also within the extralateral right planes constructed at right angles to the general course of the lode through the extreme points of the lode within the location.

The Act of July 26, 1866, 14 Stat. 251, c. 262, provided that patentees thereunder should have

"the right to follow such vein

Page 189 U. S. 5

or lode with the right to follow such vein

Page 189 U. S. 5

or lode with the right to follow such vein

Page 189 U. S. 5

or lode with its dips, angles, and variations to any depth, although it may enter the land adjoining, which land adjoining shall be sold subject to this condition."

The Act of May 10, 1872, 17 Stat. 91, c. 152 §§ 2, 3, provided that the endlines of each claim should be parallel to each other and that locators should have

"the exclusive right of possession and enjoyment of all the surface included within the lines of their locations, and of all veins, lodes, and ledges throughout their entire depth, the top or apex of which lies inside of such surface lines extended downward vertically, although such veins, lodes, or ledges may so far depart from a perpendicular in their course downward as to extend outside the vertical side lines of said surface locations: Provided, That their right of possession to such outside parts of said veins or ledges shall be confined to such portions thereof as lie between vertical planes drawn downward as aforesaid, through the endlines of their locations, so continued in their own direction that such planes will intersect such exterior parts of said veins or ledges."

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