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Wisconsin, Minnesota & Pacific Railroad v. Jacobson, 179 U.S. 287 (1900)

Wisconsin, Minnesota and Pacific Railroad v. Jacobson

No. 28

Argued October 18-19, 1900

Decided December 10, 1900

179 U.S. 287


The briefs filed in this case are in plain violation of the amendment to Rule 31, adopted at the last term, and printed in a note to this case.

The providing at the place of intersection of the two railroads affected by this case, ample facilities for transferring cars used in the regular business of the respective lines, and to provide facilities for conducting the business, while it would afford facilities to interstate commerce, would not regulate such commerce, within the meaning of the Constitution.

The tracks of the two railroads being connected, the making of joint rates

Page 179 U. S. 288

is a matter primarily for the companies interested, and the objection that there is any violation of the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution is untenable.

Whether a judgment enforcing trade connections between two railroad corporations is a violation of the constitutional rights of either or both depends upon the facts surrounding the cases in regard to which the judgment was given.

In this case, the judgment given does not violate the constitutional rights of the plaintiff in error.

This case comes here by writ of error to the Supreme Court of Minnesota to review the judgment of that court affirming the judgment of the district court, directing the plaintiff in error and the Willmar & Sioux Falls Railway Company to make track connections with each other at Hanley Falls, in the State of Minnesota, where their respective tracks intersect.

The proceeding was duly commenced by the defendant in error, pursuant to the provisions of chapter 91 of the General Laws of Minnesota of 1895. The third section, a part of which is material to the question reviewed, is set forth in the margin. *

Page 179 U. S. 289

In accordance with the statute, the defendant in error filed his petition before the railroad commission of the state, setting

Page 179 U. S. 290

forth the grounds upon which he based the request for an order directing the two companies to make the track connection therein referred to.

Both companies defended. The grounds of defense were

Page 179 U. S. 291

substantially alike. The plaintiff in error alleged in its answer, among other matters, that to construct a connecting track, as asked for in the petition and as provided for in the statute mentioned, would require the company to go outside of its right of way and to condemn land for that purpose.

In addition, it was urged that to compel the companies to make such connection would violate the commerce clause and also the Fourteenth Amendment of the federal Constitution in particulars specially set forth, and it was claimed that the statute was therefore void.

Evidence was taken before the commission, which finally ordered the connection to be made. The two companies appealed to the district court, which heard the case anew, and then made substantially the same order as that made by the commission.

The judgment of the district court declared as follows:

"That it is the duty of the defendants, the Wisconsin, Minnesota & Pacific Railroad Company and the Willmar & Sioux Falls Railway Company, and they should be and are required to forthwith provide at the place of intersection of their said roads at said Hanley Falls, ample facilities by track connections for transferring any and all cars used in the regular business of their respective lines of road from the line or tracks of one of said companies to those of the other, and to forthwith provide at said place of intersection, equal and reasonable facilities for the interchange of cars and traffic between their respective lines, and for the receiving, forwarding, and delivering property and cars to and from their respective lines."

Payment of the cost of furnishing this track connection is provided for in section 3(a) of the statute.

No evidence was offered on the part of the companies either before the commission or the district court. Reliance was placed on the evidence offered upon the part of the defendant in error and upon the admissions made in the district court.

The following are some of the facts appearing in the record herein:

The road of the plaintiff in error runs from Watertown, in the State of South Dakota, near the western boundary of the

Page 179 U. S. 292

State of Minnesota, easterly to Morton, in the latter state, where it connects with the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad Company, running from Morton to Minneapolis, and thereby constitutes physically one straight line of road from Watertown to Minneapolis. There is a small station called Hanley Falls, in the State of Minnesota, on the line of the plaintiff in error's road, a short distance east of Watertown. The plaintiff in error has a trackage contract, by virtue of which it connects at Merriam Junction, Minnesota (a station within a few miles of Minneapolis), with the Northwestern system, and in that way reaches Sioux Falls.

The Willmar & Sioux Falls Railway runs from Willmar, Minnesota, some distance south to Hanley Falls, and thence south to Sioux Falls in South Dakota. This road is operated by the Great Northern Railway Company.

It is 181 miles from Hanley Falls to Sioux City via the Willmar & Sioux Falls Railway and its connections, while it is 380 miles between the two places by way of the Wisconsin, Minnesota & Pacific Railroad and its connections, and it requires forty-six to forty-eight hours to transport freight over the latter road from Hanley Falls to Sioux City, while but fourteen hours are required to transport it between those places by the Willmar & Sioux Falls Railway. The tariff rates on stock from Hanley Falls to Sioux City are the same on both roads.

Traffic originating on the railroad of the plaintiff in error west of Hanley Falls and destined to Sioux City could, if transferred at Hanley Falls to the Willmar & Sioux Falls Railway, be transported to its destination by that road, which is two hundred miles shorter than by the road of plaintiff in error, in from thirty to thirty-five hours' less time, provided the transfer from the road of the plaintiff in error to that of the Willmar & Sioux Falls road could be made at Hanley Falls in carloads without unloading from the cars in which the shipments were first made. No facilities have been provided by either of the companies for the transfer or interchange of business at Hanley Falls, and there is no track connection between them, although they have track connections and transfer facilities at Minneapolis.

Page 179 U. S. 293

There is an immense supply of wood along the line of the Great Northern system of which the Willmar & Sioux Falls Railway forms a part, much larger than upon the line of the railroad of plaintiff in error, the wood on the line of the latter company being scarce and becoming more so every day. Citizens of towns west of Hanley Falls upon the line of the railroad of the plaintiff in error are purchasers and consumers of wood and posts, and a connection and transfer facilities at Hanley Falls would cheapen these commodities at such towns. Taking the wood from the Willmar road by transferring the cars might result in somewhat lessening the benefit to the plaintiff in error of a much longer haul of dearer wood along its own line.

The farmers along the line of the road of the plaintiff in error, west of Hanley Falls, have heretofore raised many stock cattle which are ready to be fed and fattened for market, the best market for such cattle being Sioux City, in the State of Iowa,

"on account of the supply of feed being more plentiful and cheaper at or near Sioux City, and such stock can be sold to the best advantage in the market having the cheapest and best supply of feed."

Making the connection at Hanley Falls would result in the use of the Willmar road from that point to Sioux Falls for certain kinds of cattle which otherwise would probably not be carried there and might be sent to the poorer market of St. Paul or Minneapolis, and thus give the plaintiff in error the benefit of its long haul. The result of the continued lack of these facilities might also be that the trade in that kind of cattle would decline and be extinguished among the people west of Hanley Falls, in which event, while no one would be benefited by such want of facilities, many would be injured. At the station at Hanley Falls the tracks of these respective roads intersect at grade

"at a point from 40 to 60 rods distant from the respective depots of the two companies, and in such manner that it is practicable for them to provide ample, equal, and reasonable facilities by track connections for the transfer from one of said roads to that of the other of any and all cars of whatsoever name or nature used in the business or on the lines of the roads of the two companies mentioned, or either of them. "

Page 179 U. S. 294

There was evidence showing that, on account of the great loss in weight of the cattle known as "stockers and feeders" when arriving at Sioux City over the long haul of 380 miles on the road of the plaintiff in error and its connections, that market had become practically shut out from the owners of such cattle living on the road of the plaintiff in error west of Hanley Falls, while the St. Paul and Minneapolis markets, being poor markets for "stockers and feeders," the trade in that kind of cattle west of Hanley Falls had greatly diminished, and was still diminishing.

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