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Alaska Smokeless Coal Co. v. Lane, 250 U.S. 549 (1919)

Alaska Smokeless Coal Company v. Lane

No. 36

Argued October 14, 1919

Decided November 10, 1919

250 U.S. 549


The Act of April 28, 1904, § 1, c. 1772, 33 Stat. 525, provided that the locator of unsurveyed coal land in Alaska "shall have opened or improved a coal mine;" upon an application for patent, the Secretary of the Interior construed this as requiring that the work done evince a purpose to open or improve a producing mine, and, examining the undisputed facts as to the work relied on, which consisted of more or less superficial excavations exposing coal, found that it was done for prospecting purposes and that it did not satisfy the statute. Held not arbitrary even if erroneous, and not subject to revision by mandamus. P. 250 U. S. 552.

Held further that the Secretary's discretion in the matter was not foreclosed by rulings in earlier cases as to what constitutes the opening or improvement of a mine, said to have been relied on in the making of the locations, but the effect of which is found not to be inconsistent with the decision complained of. P. 250 U. S. 553.

46 App.D.C. 443 affirmed.

The case is stated in the opinion.

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