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GREAT NORTHERN RY. CO. V. STEINKE, 261 U. S. 119 (1923)

U.S. Supreme Court

Great Northern Ry. Co. v. Steinke, 261 U.S. 119 (1923)

Great Northern Railway Company v. Steinke

No. 152

Argued December 5, 1922

Decided February 19, 1923

261 U.S. 119


1. The Act of March 3, 1875, granting railroad rights of way and station grounds in the public lands, should receive a more liberal construction than acts making private grants or extensive grants of land to railroads. P. 261 U. S. 124.

2. Where a railroad, under this statute, with approval of the Land Department, secured station grounds in lieu of others nearby, previously selected, persons who were without interest in the premises at the time cannot object that the second selection was void because the first one exhausted the right. P. 261 U. S. 125.

3. In a suit by a railroad company to quiet its title to lands included in a station-grounds map which was filed, amended, and refiled and then approved by the Secretary of the Interior, held that this Court could not take judicial notice of the records of the General Land Office to ascertain the nature and extent of the amendment, nor assume that it was insubstantial, and that, in the absence of evidence on the subject, the rights of the railroad could relate back only to the date of refiling. P. 261 U. S. 125.

4. Where land embraced in a map duly filed and approved, "subject to all valid existing rights," under the above act is subject at the time of filing and approval to a preliminary homestead entry, the railroad gets a right for station purposes subject only to the qualification that the rights of the homesteader are not to be disturbed without due compensation, and this qualification disappears when the entry is relinquished and cancelled, leaving the railroad's rights as complete as if the entry had never existed. P. 261 U. S. 126.

5. The title of a railroad to station grounds under the above Act of 1875 cannot be affected by the neglect of the local land officers to note the disposal on the plat and tract book in their office. P. 261 U. S. 129.

6. Purchasers of lots laid out on land included in their grantors entry and patent but adjacent to the right of way of a railroad constructed over the patented subdivision, who know that the railroad claims rights older than those of their grantor, are bound to enquire and chargeable with notice of proceedings recorded in

Page 261 U. S. 120

the General Land Office whereby the railroad obtained a senior title to such adjacent land for station purpose under the Act of 1875, supra. P. 261 U. S. 131.

So held where the railroad right was not excepted in their grantor's patent and certificate.

7. A grant of land under the Act of 1875 is upon implied condition that it he used for the quasi-public purposes named in the act, and neither laches of the railroad grantee nor local statutes of limitation can invest individuals with any interest in the tract, or a right to use it for private purposes, without the sanction of the United States. P. 261 U. S. 132.

183 N.W. 1013 reversed

Certiorari to a decree of the Supreme Court of North Dakota affirming a decree of a trial court against the railway company in a suit to determine conflicting claims to a parcel of land.

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