WALRATH v. CHAMPION MIN CO(1898)
The figures marked 'New Years' and 'New Years Extension' represent the surface of the mining properties owned by defendant, while that marked 'Providence Mine' represents the surface of the patented ground of the plaintiff.
The action was brought May 24, 1892, to recover $300,000 damages for ore extracted from the ledge and carried away by the defendant, and for an injunction against further trespasses thereon.
Upon motion of appellee, the action was removed to the United States circuit court, as involving a federal question, where the complainant recast his pleadings so as to separate the action into a bill in equity, upon which the action is now proceeding, and an action at law for the damages alleged.
The suit in equity was tried in the circuit court, and decided mainly in favor of the appellee. 63 Fed. 552.
From this decree the appellant appealed to the court of [171 U.S. 293, 295] appeals for the Ninth circuit, where it was modified, and as modified affirmed. 19 C. C. A. 323, 72 Fed. 978.
The appellant now brings the case to this court upon writ of error from the court of appeals.
The appellant's title is deraigned as follows: In 1857, under the miners' rules and customs then in force, 31 locators located 3,100 feet of the Providence or Granite lode. By mesne conveyances the title to this location became vested in the Providence Gold & Silver Mining Company; and on April 28, 1871, that company obtained a patent to 3,100 feet of the lode, and for surface ground, as described in the patent.
The title thus granted to the Providence Gold & Silver Mining Company was, before the commencement of this suit, vested in the appellant.
The ledge, as granted by the patent, extends 30 feet north of the north surface line of the location, and some 680 feet south of the south surface line.
The patent conveyed only the Providence ledge and the surface ground. All other ledges contained within the surface lines were expressly reserved.
It is also contended by appellant that by the act of congress of May 10, 1872, exclusive possession of all the surface included within the lines of the location was granted to the owners of the Providence, together with all otherl odes or ledges having their tops or apexes within such surface lines. This grant, of course, included the Contact vein, subsequently discovered within said boundaries, and now constituting the bone of contention in this action.
The Contact vein is shown in the figure, and crosses the surface line f-g of the Providence location.
On September 29, 1877, the appellee and defendant, the Champion Mining Company, made a location upon the Contact vein, called the 'New Years Extension Mine.' This location overlapped, both as to surface ground and lode, upon the Providence location; that is, the lode line and surface lines of the said New Years Extension extended to the south of the boundary line, f-g, of the Providence location. [171 U.S. 293, 297] The New Years Extension mine is shown in the following, Fig. No. 2, together with the conflict caused by the overlap (the conflicting surface portion being shaded, and showing the Contact vein passing through it).
In the year 1884 the complainant and his co-owners objected to the overlap, and demanded of the Champion Mining Company that it abandon all claims to the surface and lode to the south of the Providence boundary line, above described. Thereupon, in the month of November, 1884, John Vincent, the superintendent of the defendant, the Champion Mining Company, under the authority and by the direction of the said company, relocated the New Years Extension mine by a notice of relocation, in which the fact of the overlap under the original location was particularly recited; and the lines were readjusted so as to avoid the overlap, and to conform to said line f-g of the Providence mine, as shown on Fig. 1.
In the notice of relocation the lode line was particularly described as follows: 'The lode line of this claim, as originally located, and which I hereby relocate, is described as follows: Commencing at a point on the northerly bank of Deer creek, which point is 60 feet S., 11 degrees 45 minutes east, of the mouth of the New Years tunnel, and running thence along the line of the lode towards the N. E. corner of the Providence mill, about S., 46 degrees 15 minutes east, 200 feet, more or less, to a point and stake on the northerly line of the Providence mine, patented, designated as 'Mineral Lot No. 40,' for the south end of said lode line.'
It also contained the following statement:
[171 U.S. 293, 299] Providence mine, which runs north, 43 degrees 10 minutes east, across the southeastern corner of this claim.'
The New Years Extension, as relocated, is coterminous with the Providence mine on the northerly boundary line, designated as the line f-g, running S., 43 deg. W. Fig. 1.
That line is the only boundary between the two properties, and the only boundary of the Providence location which is crossed by the Contact ledge.
The first workings of the appellee involved no conflict with appellant. The shaft ran parallel with the Providence line, and none of the levels crossed that line until about three months before this suit was begun, when the 1,000-foot level was driven across it into the ground in dispute. Subsequently the eighth and ninth levels were driven across.
The work done by the Providence was carried on through a shaft sunk on the Providence or Granite ledge, from which shaft a crosscut was run back to the Contract vein on the 600-foot level, and another on the 1,250- foot level; and much of the gru nd now in controversy was thereby prospected and opened up by complainant and his co-owners. See Fig. 1.
The claims of the respective parties will be readily understood by reference to Fig. 1, which shows the relative position of all the mining properties belonging to both, with the lines claimed by them.
The portion of the Contact vein in dispute is that upon the dip of the ledge lying between the line marked 'Line claimed by Providence' and the line marked 'Line claimed by Champion.'
The apex of the Contact vein is represented by the dotte line x-x1, and shows the vein as far as exposed in both the Champion and Providence ground. South of x, the course of the vein in the Providence ground is unknown.
The line f-g is the same line as that designated A-B by some of the witnesses.
Upon the trial the circuit court held that there could be but one end line for each end of the Providence location, and that the lines g-h and a- p constituted such end lines; that [171 U.S. 293, 300] such lines constituted the end lines of not only the originally discovered Providence lode, but also of every other vein that might be discovered within the surface lines of the location. But, notwithstanding this holding, in entering the decree the line f-g was also established as an end line of the Contact vein, but for its length only, and then that from g the line g-h, and that line extended indefinitely eastwardly, constituted another end line for the same end of the lode, and constituted the line through which the plane determinative of all extralateral rights in the vein must be drawn.
From this decree the appellant here was allowed an appeal to the circuit court of appeals.
The latter court established the line g-h-h1 as the sole end line of the Contact vein, and reversed the decree of the circuit court in so far as it fixed the line f-g as an end line.
As a result of this decree the complainant was not only shut out of all extralateral rights in the Contact vein north of the line g-h-h1, but also of that portion of the vein lying vertically beneath the surface lines of the Providence which extend north of that line, and which are marked upon the figures as constituting the parallelogram h-i-k-h1, which was awarded to the Champion. See Fig. 1, showing the end line fixed by the circuit court and that line as subsequently fixed by the court of appeals, with the latter line extended in its own direction both easterly and westerly.
From the judgment of the circuit court of appeals the appellant has appealed to this court.
There are nine assignments of error. The first eight attack so much of the decree as establishes the line g-h as an end line, for the purpose of determining the extralateral right, or fails to establish the line f-g, and that line produced indefinitely in the direction of g1, as such end line. The last two assail so much of the decree as awards to appellee the right to pursue the vein on its downward course underneath the parallelogram h-i-k-h1.
R. R. Bigelow, for appellant. [171 U.S. 293, 301] C. H. Lindley, for appellee.
mr. Justice McKENNA, after stating the facts in the foregoing language, delivered the opinion of the court.
There are two questions presented by the assignment of errors:
(1) What are the extralateral rights of the appellant on the Contact vein?
(2) Is appellant entitled to that portion of the Contact vein within the Providence boundaries which lies north of the north end line fixed by the court, and which is described upon Fig. 1 as the parallelogram bounded by the lines marked h-i-k-h1?
1. The appellant contends that the patent of the Providence ledge was conclusive evidence of his title to 3,100 feet in length of that vein. If true, this carried the northern end of the ledge 30 feet beyond the line fixed by either the circuit court or the circuit court of appeals. It was truly said at bar: 'If it is not the end line of the Providence location, then certainly there is no reason for holding it to be the end lie of the Contact vein.'
The language of the patent is: 'It being the intent and meaning of these presents to convey unto the Providence Gold and Silver Mining Company, and to their successors and assigns, the said vein or lode in its entire width for the distance of thirty-one hundred (3,100) feet along the course thereof.'
The patent was issued under the act of 1866, and it is necessary, therefore, to some extent, to consider that act. By it, the appellant urges, the principal thing patented was the lode, and that the northern limit of that, and hence of his rights on that, was 30 feet north of the line fixed by the circuit court of appeals; and hence it is further contended that, as the northern and southern surface lines (g-h and a-p) did not determine or limit his right to the lode under the act of 1866,-in other words, did not become end lines,-they do not become end lines upon the Contact ledge (x'-x") acquired under the act of 1872, but that the surface line which crosses [171 U.S. 293, 302] the strike of that ledge must be held to be the end line, and the line which fixes the rights of the parties. This line is f-g, Fig. 1, and, if appellant is correct, determines the controversy in his favor.
The extent of the right passing under the act of 1866 has been decided by this court.
In Mining Co. v. Tarbet, 98 U.S. 463 , known as the 'Flagstaff Case,' the superficial area of the Flagstaff mine was 100 feet wide by 2,600 feet long. It lay across the lode, not with it; and the company contended, notwithstanding that, it had a right to the lode for the length of the location. In other words, the contention was that it was the lode which was granted, and that the surface ground was a mere incident for the convenient working of the lode. The contention was presented and denied by the instructions which were given and refused by the lower court. That court instructed the jury that if they found Tarbet 'was in possession of the claim (describing it), holding the same in accordance with the mining laws and the customs of the miners of the mining district, and that the apex and course of the vein in dispute is within such surface, then, as against one subsequently entering, he is deemed to be possessed of the land within his boundaries to any depth, and also of the vein in the surface to any depth on its dip, though the vein in its dip downward passes the side line of the surface boundary, and extends beneath other and adjoining lands; and a trespass upon such part of the vein on its dip, though beyond the side surface line, is unlawful, to the same extent as a trespass on the vein inside of the surface boundary. This possession of the vein outside of the surface line, on its dip, is limited in two ways,- by the length of the course of the vein within the surface, and by an extension of the end lines of the surface claim vertically, and in their own direction, so as to interest the vein on its dip; and the right of a possessor to recover for trespass on the vein is subject to only these restrictions.'
Again: 'The defendant (plaintiff in error) has not shown any title or color of title to any part of the vein, except so much of its length on the course as lies within the Flagstaff [171 U.S. 293, 303] surface, and the dip of the vein for that length; and it has shown no title or color of title to any of the surface of the South Star and Titus mining claim, except to so much of No. 3 as lies within the patented surface of the Flagstaff mining claim.'
And the following instructions propounded by the owner of the Flagstaff:
Commenting on the instructions, Mr. Justice Bradley, speaking for the court, said:
And after stating that the act of 1872 was more explicit than that of 1866, but the intent of both undoubtedly the same, as it respects lines and side lines, and the right to follow the dip outside of the latter, he proceeded as follows:
This law was followed and applied in Argentine Min. Co. v. Terrible Min. Co., 122 U.S. 478 , 7 Sup. Ct. 1356, and in Iron-Silver Min. Co. v. Elgin Mining & Smelting Co., 118 U.S. 196 , 6 Sup. Ct. 1177; King v. Mining Co., 152 U.S. 222 , 14 Sup. Ct. 510. The locations passed upon in these cases were made under the act of 1872, [171 U.S. 293, 305] but we have seen that the intent of that act and the act of 1866, 'as it respects end lines and side lines,' was the same.
But appellant urges that 'those cases are not in point here.' We think that they are. The patent in the Flagstaff Case appears to have been the same as here, and, besides, whatever the patent here, it must be confined to the rights given by the statute which authorized it.
In the Flagstaff Case the lode was claimd , and hence the right to follow it beyond the surface boundaries of the location was claimed. Here the lode is claimed, and the right to follow it outside of the surface boundaries; that is, beyond the line f-g to the point x1. In that case the right contended for was denied on the principle applicable to end and side lines. In this case the right contended for must be denied by the application of the same principle.
But, appellant asks, admitting for the argument's sake that it (the line g-h) does constitute an end line of the location, within the meaning of the law of May 10, 1872, does it constitute the end line of the Contact vein? And in answering the question he says: 'The end line of a lode is the boundary line which crosses it, regardless of whether it was originally intended as an end line or side line. Four times has this principle been sustained by this court.' He then cites the cases we have cited, and claims that they 'are, of course, conclusive of this controversy, if they are in point.'
Under the law of 1866 a patent could be issued for only one vein. 14 Stat. 251. The act of 1872 gave to all locations theretofore made, as well as to those thereafter made, all veins, lodes, and ledges, the top or apex of which lie inside of the surface lines. Section 3 of the act, which is also section 2322 of the Revised Statutes, is as follows:
Appellant's right upon the Contact vein is given by this statute. What limits this right extralaterally? The statute says, vertical planes drawn downward through the end lines of the location. What end lines? Those of, and as determined by, the original location and lode, the circuit court of appeals decided. Those determined by the direction of the newly-discovered lodes, regardless of whether they were originally intended as end lines or side lines, the appellant, as we have seen, contends. The court of appeals was right. Against the contention of appellant the letter and spirit of the statute oppose, and against it the decisions of this court also oppose.
The language of the statute is that the 'outside parts' of the veins or ledges 'shall be confined to such portions thereof as lie between vertical planes drawn downwards ... through the end lines of their locations. ...' And Mr. Justice Field, speaking for the court, said in Iron-Silver Min. Co. v. Elgin Mining & Smelting Co., 118 U.S. 196 -198, 6 Sup. Ct. 1183:
The court, however, did not mean that the end lines, called such by the locator, were the true end lies, but those which 'are crosswise of the general course of the vein on the surface.'
This court, in Del Monte Mining & Milling Co. v. Last Chance Mining & Milling Co. (decided at the present term) 18 Sup. Ct. 895, reviewed the cases we have cited; and, speaking for the court, Mr. Justice Brewer said:
These propositions we affirm, with the addition that the end lines of the original veins shall be the end lines of all the veins found within the surface boundaries.
The appellant contends that by agreement, by acquiescence, and by estoppel, the line f-g has become the end line between the two claims.
This contention is attempted to be supported by (a) a relocation of the New Years Extension claim, by which, it is asserted, it recognized and designated the line f-g as the northerly end line of the Providence claim; ( b) the testimony of the superintendent as to what took place between him and the directors before sinking the Champion shaft, and afterwards between him and a co-tenant of complainant (appellant).
(a) The relocation does not in terms recognize the line f-g as the northern end line of the Providence. Its recitals are:
It will be observed, by reference to Fig. 1, that the northern [171 U.S. 293, 309] boundary of the Providence is not one line, but two lines, and it is the one which runs north, 43 10' east, across the southern corner, which is designated in the relocation of the New Years claim.
In the notice of relocation, however, the northerly line of the Providence is called the south end line of the relocated ground. The description is as follows:
It is hence contended that, if the line f-g is the southerly end line of the New Years Extension, it must necessarily be the northern end line of the Providence mine. This does not follow, nor is there any concession of it. Coincidence of lines between claims does not make them side lines or end lines. Whether they shall be so regarded depends upon the legal considerations, which we have already sufficiently entered into, and need not repeat. We do not say that there may not be an agreement setting end lines. One example of such an agreement was exhibited in Richmond Min. Co. v. Eureka Min. Co., 103 U.S. 839 .
(b) The testimony relied on was admitted against the objection of defendants (appellees). It was as follows:
... [171 U.S. 293, 310] 'A. Well, I was sent up by the board of directors to do whatever work I thought was for the best of the company. I started that shaft down, and had it down about 40 feet; and I reported to the board of directors, in session, about what work I had done, and they calculated to go to work and put up hoisting works, and run that shaft down further.
The witness further testified that he sank the shaft 540 feet, and was discharged on the 1st of August, 1889; and he was further questioned as follows:
This testimony does not establish an equitable estoppel, nor is the corporation bound by the declarations of the superintendent. They were without the scope of his agency or authority.
2. The right to that portion of the Contact ledge within the boundaries of the parallelogram h-i-k-h1 presents an interesting question. It does not appear to have been submitted to either of the lower courts, but the right by the decree of the circit court is given to appellee, by adjudging to it that portion of the vein on its dip which lies north- easterly of the line g-h and its continuation.
The question is a new one in this court, but we think it is determined by the principles hereinbefore laid down. It may be true that under the act of 1866 the patenting of the Providence mine in its irregular shape was in all respects legal and proper, and that the act did not require the location to be made in the form of a parallelogram, or in any particular form, and that there was no requirement that the end lines should be parallel. It is also true that under act only one vein could be included in a location, no matter how much surface ground was included in the patent, but that under the act of 1872 possession and enjoyment of all the surface included within the lines of their location, and of all veins, lodes, and ledges throughout the entire depth, the top or apex of which lies inside of such surface lines extended downward vertically, were given.
But rights on the strike and on the dip of the original vein, and rights on the strike and on the dip of the other veins, we have decided, are determined by the end lines of the location. In other words, it is the end lines alone, not they and some other lines, which define the extralateral right; and they must be straight lines, not broken or curved ones. The appellant, under his contention, would get the right such lines would give him, and something more, besides, outside of them. To specialize, he would get all within a plane drawn through the line g-h, and all within the planes drawn through the sides of the parallelogram h-i- k-h1, Fig. 1. [171 U.S. 293, 312] 'It may be that the end lines need not be parallel, under the act of 1866; may converge or diverge; and may even do so as to new veins,-of which, however, we express no opinion. But they must be straight. No other lines define planes which can be continuous in their own direction, within the meaning of the statute. It may be that there was liberty of surface form under that act, but the law strictly confined the right on the vein below the surface. There is liberty of surface form under the act of 1872. It was exercised in Iron-Silver Min. Co. v. Elgin Mining & Smelting Co., supra, in the form of a horseshoe; in Montana Co. v. Clark, 42 Fed. 626, in the form of an isosceles triangle.
The decree is affirmed.