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, ST. P. &c. RY. v. UNITED STATES
which, it is contended, is due appellant for carrying the mails between Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Sioux City, Iowa, over postal route No. 121,045. The appellant sought to recover the sum of forty thousand dollars ($40,000). The Court of Claims gave judgment for only thirty-three hundred and eighty-nine dollars and fifty-three cents ($3,389.53), rejecting the balance of the claim on the authority of Astoria & Columbia River Railway Company v. United States, 41 Ct. Cl. 284.
The controversy turns upon the application of certain acts of Congress, granting parts of the public domain to appellant and to companies with which it has agreements. The acts provide that the United States mails shall be transported on such roads at such rates as Congress may by law direct. Act of May 15, 1856, 11 Stat. 9, c. 28; Act of March 3, 1857, 11 Stat. 195, c. 99. Subsequently it was provided as follows:
"SEC. 13. That railroad companies, whose railroad was constructed in whole or in part by a grant of land made by Congress on the condition that the mails should be transported over their road at such price as Congress should by law direct, shall receive only eighty per centum of the compensation authorized by this act.” Act of July 12, 1876, 19 Stat. 78, 82, c. 179.
The postal route begins at Minneapolis and consists of land-aided and non-land-aided roads. The following diagram, taken from the Government's brief, though not drawn to any scale of measurement, exhibits with enough accuracy for iilustration the aided and non-aided parts of the route and the companies which received aid.
It will be observed that appellant is the direct beneficiary of the road from St. Paul south 237.81 miles to a point north from a place marked as Le-Mars. It used the other parts of the route under the contracts with the other companies, and it is found that from some time prior to October 1, 1900, appellant used the tracks of such other companies to “form a continuous route for the operation of its mail trains, made up of its own rolling stock and controlled and operated by its
own servants, between Minneapolis and Sioux City, except that within the last-named city it did not use the station of the Illinois Central Company, but had a station of its own.” It is also
found that appellant operated its trains over the tracks of the Great Northern Company under a contract in writing with the predecessor of the latter company, the St. Paul, Minneapolis and Manitoba Railway Company, and operated its trains over the Illinois Central Company under a contract with the predecessor of that company, the Iowa Falls and Sioux City Railroad Company. By the first contract appellant is given “the
right and privilege to run such of its locomotives, engines, car and trains, handled by its own employés, as shall be reasonably necessary for the efficient and full transaction of its business to and from the city of Minneapolis, and all points on the second party's road, east of St. Paul over the main track of the first party as now constructed.” It was provided that the amount of the monthly rental should be a sum of money equal to one-twelfth part of the annual interest at the rate of six and one-half per cent per annum on one-half the value of the property of the first party, which the second party is entitled to use under the contract. And in addition such proportion of cost of maintaining and repairing the properties, "as the number of wheels per mile” appellant should “run over the said property or any part thereof, bears to the whole number of wheels per mile run over the same.” It was provided that the earnings of all local business done by appellant over the railroad should belong to the party of the first part, but the appellant wes not obliged to do such business. The contract was to continue twenty-five years.
The contract of the appellant with the Iowa Falls and Sioux City Railway Company may be said, as far as the question in the case is concerned, to be substantially the same. Its provision as to the use of tracks is more comprehensive. It permits also appellant to do local business, sixty per cent of the gross receipts of which, however, are to be paid to the Iowa Falls Company. There is a provision for maintenance cud repairs, based on car mileage. The rental stipulated is $450 per mile for the use of each mile of main track.
It is found that appellant had no part in the construction of the tracks of the Great Northern Company or of the Illinois Central Company, and received no benefit on account of their construction by grants of land or otherwise; that ever since the construction of the tracks the respective companies owning them have operated trains and transported United States mails over them, and that the use of the tracks by those companies does not appear to have been limited by appellants
using them; that the tracks of the Great Northern Company between University Switch and St. Paul are a portion of postal route No. 141,004 between St. Paul and Fargo, North Dakota, and those belonging to the Illinois Central between Le Mars and Sioux City are a portion of postal route No. 143,021 between Dubuque and Sioux City, Iowa. That prior to October 1, 1900, the Postmaster General designated the line of railroad between Minneapolis and Sioux City as postal route No. 141,025, and has maintained it ever since, and that between that date and September 30, 1906, appellant has carried mails over such route, but the Postmaster General has allowed for the whole of the route only eighty per cent of the compensation allowed and fixed by law for similar service for non-land-granted roads. A table of reductions is given, showing the deductions for the periods mentioned, amounting in all to $33,301.17.
The contentions of the parties are foreshadowed by the facts which we have recited. It may be conceded, appellant says, that the grants of land to the companies to which they were made “completed contracts between them and the United States," and it may be further conceded, it is said, “that by these contracts privity was established between the United States and these various railroad companies.” But succession to the obligation of the contract is denied because appellant “has not succeeded to the title or any part of the title of these respective roads, nor has it in any way directly or indirectly received any benefit from the respective grants or done any other thing which creates privity of contract between it and the United States or which makes it, in the language of the thirteenth section of the act of 1876, a railroad company whose railroad was constructed in whole or in part by a grant of land,'” etc.
This distinction is earnestly insisted on and is made the foundation of the argument of the appellant. It makes irrelevant, it is urged, the consideration of the obligations of the other companies, and by overlooking it the Court of
Claims fell into error in Astoria & Columbia River Ry. Co. v. United States, supra, and continued the error in its judgment in the case at bar. But did the Court of Claims overlook it? It was urged in Astoria & Columbia River. Ry. Co. v. United States, as it is urged in this, to justify the distinction that the "owning and aided companies,” to adopt counsel's designation, are and always have been “ready to perform all the service due them under the terms of their contract with the United States," and it seems to us that the Court of Claims did not misunderstand or overlook the contention. A court does not overlook a contention because it rests its decision upon a proposition which, if true, the contention is not true. To bring forward a proposition upon which the question to be proved depends answers necessarily opposing propositions. And this is what the Court of Claims did. It decided that the power reserved to Congress was over the property, not alone over the companies who owned it and extended to every use of it, whether by the owning companies or any company who received a right from them. That proposition, if true, necessarily determined the judgment against the Astoria and Columbia River Railway Company in the cited case. It is opposed to the proposition decided in that case by the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of Oregon, and which is relied upon by appellant in this case. That case was brought by the United States to enjoin the Astoria and Columbia River Railway Company from charging for the transportation of army supplies from Portland, carried by that company over the tracks of the Northern Pacific Railroad Company, which it used under a contract with the latter company. The suit was based on the fact that the Northern Pacific was a land-aided road. The injunction was refused. The court sustained the contention which was made (and which was repeated in the Court of Claims and is repeated here), that the power reservea to Congress attached in effect to the company, not to the property. The Circuit Court said: "The defendant's use of the Northern Pacific Railroad track