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UNSURVEYED PUBLIC LANDS, UTAH.
AUGUST 26, 1919.-Committed to the Committee of the Whole House and ordered
to be printed.
Mr. Mays, from the Committee on the Public Lands, submitted the
[To accompany H. R. 5213.]
The lands involved in this bill total 622.09 acres. The people living upon these lands begun their cultivation and settlement in 1850. The lands were then unsurveyed. Settlers divided the public domain up into narrow tracts reaching from the town of Willard, where they live, at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains down to the shore line of the Great Salt Lake. Every man cultivated from 15 to 50 acres of this land according to the need of his family and his ability to properly care for the same. The lands were first surveyed by the Government in 1856.
As soon as the settlers began to describe their holdings under the terms of the Government survey it was readily discovered that the meander line of the lake as described by the survey was not in fact the true meander line of the lake. This fact was called to the attention of a Government surveyor in 1875 who had been sent there to survey certain adjacent lands on the mountains east of Willard. Complying with the request of these citizens, but without authority from the land office at Salt Lake City, this Government surveyor corrected the mistake of the original survey and located the true meander lino of the lake at this point.
On July 12, 1877, the Acting Commissioner of the General Land Office directed the surveyor general to erase the said area and survoy from the supplemental plat for the reason as stated that the lands adjoining the meander line in 1875 were lands which were considered to have been formed by accretion and belonged, therefore, to the riparian owners.
These settlers acted in good faith. As soon as the original survey was discovered to be wrong, they asked and obtianed a true survey of the land. This survey was rejected by the surveyor general, through no fault of the people who owned the land, and it was clearly entered into the records that the land belonged to the settlers as accretions through the receding of the lake.
The committee recommends that the bill do pass with the following amendments:
Page 2, line 5, strike out the word "shal” and insert "shall."
Page 2, line 11, strike out the word “posessed” and insert "possessed."
Page 3, line 2, strike out the word "section" and insert "selection."
There is attached hereto & report from the Secretary of the Interior recommending passage of this bill; also a supplemental report, addressed to the Hon. Milton H. Welling, dealing with the rights of the Union Pacific Railroad Co. to the railroad lands included within this area.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
Washington, July 1, 1919. Hon. N. J. SINNOTT, Chairman Committee on the Public Landis,
House of Representatives. My Dear MR. SINNOTT: Referring to your request of the 17th instant, for report on H. R. 5213, a bill introduced by Mr. Welling, for the relief of occupants and claimants of unsurveyed public land in township 8 north of range 2 west of Salt Lake meridian, Utah, I have the honor to advise you as follows:
It appears from certain testimony taken before the land department that, by the survey upon which was based the official plat of township 8 north of range 2 west of Salt Lake meridian, Utah, approved September 12, 1836, the meander line of Great Salt Lake was erroneously run so as to omit and to show as a part of the lake certain areas opposite sections 10, 15, 22, and 27 of said township lying between said meander line and the true shore line of the lake as it then existed, which areas were then lands in place and should have been surveyed.
It likewise appears that beginning even before said survey of 1856, a large portion of these lands was laid out in small tracts, many from 8 to 15 acres in area, some from 2 or 3 to 80 acres, which were occupied and cultivated severally by certain of the inhabitants of the adjacent town of Willard, and that such individual occupancy has ever since continued, and some 300 acres are under irrigation. Beginning about 1869 the surveyed lands fronting on the 1856 meander line were entered or filed upon, but the adjoining entrymen seem at no time to have shown any disposition to assert claim as riparian owners as against any of these occupants, though some of them have inclosed and are claiming as riparian owners some small areas not occupied adversely to them.
In 1875, a deputy surveyor, while executing, certain authorized subdivisional surveys in the township, surveyed without authority an area of 593.46 acres between the then shore line of the lake and the 1856 meander line, said area being shown on a plat approved by the surveyor general May 4, 1877, as part of said sections 10, 15, 22, and 27. On June 12, 1877, the Acting Commissioner of the General Land Office directed the surveyor general to erase the said areas from the supplemental plat (1877), for the reason, as stated, that the lands adjoining the meander line of 1856 had been disposed of by the Government, and that the areas surveyed in 1875 were lands which were considered to have been formed by accretion and belonged, therefore, to the riparian owners; this conclusion appears to have been based merely on the presumption, naturally arising, of the correctness of the 1856 survey, and not upon any adjudication of facts as to its correctness. However, relying upon such rejection of the 1877 survey as to these lands, the occupants were advised by attorneys to secure, and some of them did afterwards take, deeds from the adjoining supposed “riparian owners"; others apparently relied upon having acquired title by adverse possession against such “riparian owners."
The odd-numbered sections in the aforesaid township are within the limits of the grant to the Central Pacific Railroad (now Railway) Co., under the acts of June 1, 1862 and July 2, 1864 (12 Stat., 489, and 13 Stat., 356), and the rights of the company attached by virtue of the definite location of the road May 15, 1868. The road was actually built across the unsurveyed area in question in 1868 and 1869. A tract of 33.19 acres which, according to the official plat, is a portion of Great Salt Lake, but which was shown upon the 1877 plat as lot 5 of section 15 was selected by the Central Pacific Railroad Co. and was patented to it September 16, 1884, apparently through inadvertence in not noting that said area had been eliminated from the plat by above order of June 12, 1877.
It seems clear that none of the "occupants” have maintained valid homestead settlements; nor are their several holdings in form or extent conformable to what would be the smallest legal subdivisions under a regular public land survey. Furthermore, it seems that the Central Pacific Railway Co. would be disposed to assert claim under its grant, conflicting with the claims of the “occupants," to so much of the area as would be found to lie within the odd-numbered sections 15 and 27.
The occupants" whom the bill seeks to protect appear to have made extensive and valuable improvements in the way of fencing, cultivation, and irrigation; the lands were bought and sold at various times at the current prices of other similar lands in the vicinity; and they range in estimated value from a few dollars to $200 or more per acre. It is true that the original occupancy was not in conformity with any public land law; also that the mistake in the 1856 survey may have been so apparent that they were not justified in assuming the correctness of the meander line thereby established. However, said “occupants" relied upon the rejection of the 1877 survey, considering that if the Government asserted no claim they had obtained title to the lands either (1) as riparian owners, or (2) as their transferees, or (3), by adverse possession as against such riparian owners. In a broad view, it is believed that they are entitled to equitable consideration, such as the protection proposed by the bill to be given them. Moreover, even if the Government was not, strictly speaking, at fault in rejecting the 1877 survey, no one having then formally brought to its attention any issue of fact relative to the correctness of the original survey, yet the situation as disclosed, and above recited, appears to this department to be such as would warrant the proposed action of allowing the railroad company lieu lands elsewhere for those it would regularly have taken under its grant but to which the bill proposes to allow the occupants to acquire title.
The proviso to section 3 appears intended and calculated simply to confirm title to the Central Pacific Railroad Co. under the inadvertently issued patent above referred to describing "lot 5, section 15," which was land in place such as, upon survey, would inure to it, under its grant.
I have the honor, therefore, to recommend the passage of the bill.
FRANKLIN K. LANE, Secretary.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
GENERAL LAND OFFICE,
Washington, August 19, 1919. Hon. Milton H. WELLING,
House of Representatives. MY DEAR MR. WELLING: Referring to your personal call of the 15th instant, and your request for information concerning the grant to the Central Pacific Railroad Co. and the proviso therein with reference to the sale of lands to settlers, you are advised:
The grant to aid in the construction of the Central Pacific Railroad was made by the acts of July 1, 1862 (12 Stat., 489) and July 2, 1864 (12 Stat., 356).
Section 3 of said act of July 1, 1862, contained, among other things, the following
"All such lands so granted by this section which shall not be sold or disposed of by said company within three years after the entire road shall have been completed shall be subject to settlement and preemption like other lands and a price not exceeding $1.25 per acre to be paid to the said company."
The proviso quoted was considered by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Platt v. Union Pacific Railway Co. (99 U. S., 48), and it was held that a mortgage executed by said company was a disposal of said lands within the meaning of the proviso quoted.
In the case of Doering v. Union Pacific Railway Co. (20 L. D., 466), it was held ca the authority of the
case of The United States v. Union Pacific Railway Co. (148 U.S., 563), that the act of March 3, 1869 (15 Stat., 324), authorizing the Union Pacific Railway Co., Eastern Division, to contract with the Denver Pacific Co. for the construction and operation of that portion of its railroad between Denver and the point of connection with the Union Pacific at Chevenne, is recognized in the departments and the courts as authority for the consolidation of said lines of road and under author. ity of the case of Platt v. Union Pacific Railway Co., supra, that the proviso in section 3 of said act of July 1, 1862, above quoted, can not be enforced as against a mortgage placed on said lands wherein the fee thereto is hypothecated by the company to secure the payment of a debt not yet due.
In the case of the Union Pacific Railroad Co. (29 L. D., 38), citing the case of Platt v. Union Pacific Railway Co., supra, it was held that until the completion, in 1872, of the Union Pacific bridge across the Missouri River from Omaha to Council Bluffs, the entire road constructed by the Union Pacific Railroad Co. under the acts of July 1, 1862, and July 2, 1864, was not completed, and until such time the period of “three years after the entire road shall have been completed,” during which the company was authorized to sell or dispose of the grant of lands, would not begin to run; that the execution of the sinking-fund mortgage on the granted lands by the railroad company in 1873 constituted an authorized disposition of said lands within the meaning of the last clause of section 3 of said act of July 1, 1862.
Ry instruction contained in departmental letter dated July 10, 1899 (39 L. D., 36), directions were given that thereafter patent should be issued to the Union Pacific Railroad Co., as a successor in interest of the Union Pacific Railway Co., for any lands which the latter company was entitled to under the grants of July 1, 1862, and July 2, 1861, on account of the construction of the main line of the Union Pacific Railroad, it being therein stated that, under said foreclosure proceedings, the right, title, and interest of the Union Pacific Railway Co. in and to the lands granted by said acts of Congress were duly sold and conveyed to said Union Pacific Railroad Co.
The grant to the Central Pacific Railroad Co. by said acts of July 1, 1862, and July 2, 1864, is subject to the same construction, with reference to the effect of the proviso above quoted, as was placed upon it by the Supreme Court in the case of Platt v. the Union Pacific Railway Co., supra. By departmental decision dated March 8, 1900 (29 L. D., 589), directions were given to recognize the Central Pacific Railway Co. as the successor in interest to the Central Pacific Railroad Co., as to all the lands granted by said acts of July 1, 1862, and July 2, 1864, excepting such as were sold prior to the execution of the mortgage from the Central Pacific Railroad Co. to Charles Crocker and Silas W. Sanderson, dated October 1, 1870, securing an issue of land-grant bonds and such parts and parcels of said lands as were released from said mortgage subsequent to that date in accordance with the provisions thereof. Very respectfully,
D. K. PARROTT, Acting Assistant Commissioner.
LANDS FOR SCHOOLHOUSE SITE AND GROUND.
AUGUST 26, 1919.-Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the state of the
Union and ordered to be printed.
Mr. RAKER, from the Committee on the Public Lands, submitted the
[To accompany H. R. 1124.)
The Committee on the Public Lands, to whom was referred the bill (H. R. 1124) to authorize entering of the public lands by school districts for schoolhouse site and ground, having considered the same, report it to the House with the following specified amendments, with the recommendation that the amendments be agreed to and as amended that the bill do pass.
The committee recommends the following amendments to the bill, namely:
First. On page 1, line 3, after the word "that,” insert the word "any”; and in the same line change the word “districts” to “dis
Second. On page 1, lines 6 and 7, strike out the following: “Land not reserved for public use, other than a forest reserve, and in lieu thereof insert the following: “Lands, or lands within a forest reserve, not otherwise reserved for public use."
Third. On page 2, line 4, after the word “district," insert the following words: “Within three years from the issuance of patent therefor.'
Fourth. On page 3, line 22, strike out the words "'is reserved," and insert in lieu thereof the words shall revert."
Fifth. On page 4, line 3, after the word "agriculture," add the following as a new paragraph:
That all entries made and patents issued under the provisions of this act shall be subject to and contain reservation to the United States of all coal and other valuable minerals in the land so entered or patented, together with the right to prospect for, mine, and remove the same. Coal and other valuable mineral deposits in such lands shall be subject to disposal by the United States in accordance with the provisions