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U.S. Supreme Court

Butte & Superior Co. v. Clark-Montana Co., 249 U.S. 12 (1919)

Butte & Superior Copper Company v.

Clark-Montana Realty Company

No. 598

Argued January lo, 13, 1919

Decided March 3, 1910

249 U.S. 12


In a suit brought in the district court to determine extralateral rights between patented mining claims, the complaint averred that the construction and application of §§ 2322-2332 of the Revised Statutes were involved, set up the discovery, location, and patent of plaintiffs' claim, and, to meet a defect of the location notice under the state law, averred actual, open, exclusive, and uninterrupted possession and working of the plaintiffs' claim for more than five chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 249 U. S. 13

years from the date of discovery, the limitation period provided by § 2332. Held that the latter allegations were part of plaintiffs' case, and involved a construction and application of § 2332, and hence the judgment of the circuit court of appeals was reviewable in this Court by appeal. Pp. 249 U. S. 20-23.

In determining extralateral rights between adjoining patented mining claims, a failure of the earlier location notice to comply with the state law is immaterial if the junior locator, at the time of locating, knew that the earlier locator was in possession of and working his claim. The purpose of a location notice is but to give warning of the prior appropriation. P. 249 U. S. 26.

The unequivocal possession of a mining claim gives constructive notice of the possessor's rights thereunder. Id.

As between two patented mining claims, priority of right to the vein of the one where it dips beneath, and unites with the vein of the other is not determined by the dates of entries and patents but by priority of discovery and location. P. 249 U. S. 27.

In the absence from the record of an adverse suit, there is no presumption that anything was considered and determined by the Land Department in patenting a mining claim except the question of the right to the surface. Id.

An application to patent a lode mining claim invites only such contests as affect the surface, and where no surface conflict involves the apex, a prior locator of an adjacent unpatented claim is not obliged to adverse in order to protect his right to follow his vein extralaterally on the dip. P. 249 U. S. 28.

Findings of fact made by the district court concerning the apexes, courses, and dips of mineral veins in dispute, and affirmed by the circuit court of appeals, must be accepted by this Court unless clearly wrong. P. 249 U. S. 30.

A release and quitclaim of an undivided interest in a designated mining claim, though with expressed intent to convey all the grantor's right, title, and interest in the property, together with all earth, rock, ores, etc., found therein, held to pass only rights and interests appertaining to that claim under its location and patent, and not to affect the extralateral rights appertaining to an adjoining claim owned by the grantor. P. 249 U. S. 30. Montana Mining Co. v. St. Louis Mining Co., 204 U. S. 204, distinguished.

In a suit to establish extralateral rights and for an accounting for ores, where the plaintiffs were awarded relief as to their principal vein, the court also found that a branch or strand of it apexed in plaintiffs' claim and dipped beyond the side line into defendant's chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 249 U. S. 14

territory, uniting there with the main vein again, but the place where the apex crossed the line could not be fixed. Held proper, while decreeing plaintiffs the owner of the strand vein and entitled to its possession throughout its depth a far as it apex extended within their claim, to reserve the question of such extent and the measurement of plaintiffs' rights thereunder for determination in future supplemental proceedings in the light of further mining development. P. 249 U. S. 32.

248 F.6d 9 affirmed.

The case is stated in the opinion. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 249 U. S. 20

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