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Statement of the Case.

way companies and the officers, agents, attorneys and employés of each are hereby commanded and enjoined to wholly refrain from directly or indirectly interposing any obstacle, interference, hindrance or delay to the performance of the several promises, covenants and agreements in said contract set out, or to the enjoyment of any of the rights or privi leges by said contract granted, concerning the railway and railway property above described, by any and all of the parties to said contract, or by any of the officers, agents, attorneys or employés of said parties, or any of them; and especially from in any manner obstructing or interfering with said complainant in restoring and maintaining the connections which have heretofore been constructed, or in constructing and maintaining at such point or points, as may be determined under the contract, additional necessary connections between the railways of the Chicago, Kansas and Nebraska Railway Company and the Omaha and Republican Valley Railway Company at Beatrice, and between the railway of complainant and that of the Omaha and Republican Valley Railway Company at Lincoln, in the State of Nebraska, and between the railway of complainant and the railway of said Union Pacific Railway Company, at South Omaha and Omaha, in the State of Nebraska, and the city of Council Bluffs, in the State of Iowa; and from doing any act or thing, or permitting the doing of any act or thing, if it shall have power to prevent the same, whereby said complainant may be prevented from enjoying any and all of the benefits and advantages secured to it by said contract, or doing any act or thing which the complainant by the terms of said contract is authorized to do; from interfering with the use of, and from removing, injuring or destroying buildings or other structures erected by the complainant upon the grounds of the defendant, the Omaha and Republican Valley Railway Company, in the city of Lincoln, in the State of Nebraska, without the consent of said complainant.

"IV. That each and every party hereto is commanded to refrain from interposing any obstacle or hindrance to the establishment, or alteration, or amendment in the manner provided

Opinion of the Court.

by said contract, of time cards, rules and regulations governing the operations of engines, cars and trains over said railways and every part thereof; or to the execution and enforcement of such time cards, rules and regulations when so established, altered or amended, otherwise than by apt proceedings in a court having competent jurisdiction.

"V. That nothing in this decree contained shall operate to estop any party hereto from recovering against another party or parties, by appropriate proceedings in law or equity,. the compensation to which it is now or may be hereafter entitled, for the use of any of the railway and appurtenant property between and at Council Bluffs and South Omaha, between and at South Omaha and Lincoln, between and at Lincoln and Beatrice, and between McPherson and South Hutchinson, or from recovering in such proceedings damages which it has sustained, or may sustain, because of any breach or violation of said contract.

"VI. That while this decree is final in determining the rights of the parties under said contract, the court reserves the power to make additional orders from time to time, as may be necessary to enforce such rights."

The decree in favor of the St. Paul Company was to the same effect, mutatis mutandis.

Mr. John F. Dillon and Mr. John M. Thurston for appellants. Mr. Harry Hubbard was on their brief.

Mr. J. M. Woolworth for Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railway Company. Mr. M. A. Low and Mr. R. Mather were on his brief.

Mr. George R. Peck for Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railway Company. Mr. Burton Hanson was on his brief.

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE FULLER, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.

The questions to be considered are whether these contracts are within the corporate powers of the parties; were duly

Opinion of the Court.

authorized as respects the Union Pacific Railway Company; were such contracts as a court of equity can specifically enforce; and were properly enforced on the merits.

It will be most convenient to consider the appeal in the case of the Rock Island Company. If the decree in favor of that company is affirmed, a like result must follow on the appeal in the case of the St. Paul Company. And we may remark in the outset that the main contention of the Pacific Company concerns the tracks between Council Bluffs and South Omaha, including the bridge.

1. Railroad corporations possess the powers which are expressly conferred by their charters, together with such powers as are fairly incidental thereto; and they cannot, except with the consent of the State, disable themselves from the discharge of the functions, duties and obligations which they have assumed. Can it be held that the contract with the Rock Island Company, judged by its terms, construed in the light of matters of common knowledge, of the evidence and of applicable legislation, was made in the assumption of powers not granted, or amounted to the surrender of powers that were?

The general rule is that a contract by which a railroad company renders itself incapable of performing its duties to the public or attempts to absolve itself from those obligations without the consent of the State, or a contract made by a corporation beyond the scope of its powers, express or implied, on a proper construction of its charter, cannot be enforced, or rendered enforceable by the application of the doctrine of estoppel. Thomas v. Railroad Co., 101 U. S. 71; Central Transportation Co. v. Pullman Car Co., 139 U. S. 24.

But where the subject-matter of the contract is not foreign to the purposes for which the corporation is created, a contract embracing "whatever may fairly be regarded as incidental to, or consequential upon, those things which the legislature has authorized, ought not, unless expressly prohibited, to be held by judicial construction to be ultra vires." Jacksonville Railway Co. v. Hooper, 160 U. S. 514, 525; Attorney

Opinion of the Court.

General v. Great Eastern Railway, 5 App. Cas. 473, 478; Brown v. Winnisimmet Company, 11 Allen, 326, 334.

Taking up the contract with the Rock Island Company, what is the nature of the undertaking of the Pacific Company? In several places in this instrument it is called a "lease" and the parties are called "lessor" and "lessee;" while, on the other hand, in the record of the proceedings of the executive committee of the Pacific Company and of its stockholders, it is called an agreement "granting trackage rights" between Council Bluffs and South Omaha. But what it was styled by the parties does not determine its character or their legal relations, and in its interpretation the rule applies that "the court is not only at liberty, but required, to examine the entire contract, and may also consider the relations of the parties, their connection with the subject-matter of the contract, and the circumstances under which it was signed." Rock Island Railway Co. v. Rio Grande Railway Co., 143 U. S. 596, 609.

In Thomas v. Railroad Company, 101 U. S. 71, 79, Mr. Justice Miller stated the real question to be "whether the railroad company exceeded its powers in making the contract, by whatever name it may be called, so that it is void."

And Mr. Justice Brewer, in his opinion on circuit, observed: "Neither the form of expression on the one hand, nor the name on the other, is conclusive. We must see what rights and privileges were in fact granted, what burdens and obligations assumed."

The contract provided that the Pacific Company hereby "lets the Rock Island Company into the full, equal and joint possession and use of its main and passing tracks." The possession here spoken of was such possession as the Rock Island Company would have when its engines, cars and trains were running over the tracks. The company had no possession before its trains came on the tracks or after they had run off of them, and while its trains were on the tracks its possession was only of the particular part occupied temporarily while running over them. Moreover, all trains were to be moved under the direction of an officer of the Pacific Company.

Opinion of the Court.

The Rock Island trains coming upon a Pacific track immediately passed from the control of the Rock Island Company into that of the Pacific, and its officials were subjected to the orders of the Pacific's officers. And throughout the whole contract there does not appear to be a single provision which looks to any actual possession by the Rock Island of any of the Pacific property beyond that which was involved in its trains being run over the tracks under the direction of the other company. The contract in this regard was really an agreement for trackage rights, for running arrangements, a "terminal contract" with compensation on a "mileage" or "wheelage basis," rather than a lease.

The Pacific Company in its answer said that it had offered and now offered "to accept and transport all the cars and trains of the complainant, freight and passenger, to and from all points on the line of the said defendant described in said supposed contract, and thereby enable the complainant to maintain its business at Omaha and South Omaha, and to carry on exactly the same business that it could have carried on by the operation of its own trains, by its own engines and by its own employés, as provided for in said supposed contract; and it says that it has offered, in the utmost good faith, to perform this service immediately and at all times, for the said complainant, at a reasonable compensation, to be fixed in any fair, usual and ordinary manner." It thus appears that the Pacific Company could do what it had contracted to do, and that the contention resolves itself into the proposition that there is a fundamental legal difference between authorizing the Rock Island to haul its trains with its own engines, and agreeing to haul them with the Pacific Company's engines, though in either event they were to be moved under the train dispatchers of the Pacific Company -a difference we find ourselves unable to admit.

In Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Co. v. Denver & Rio Grande Co., 143 U. S. 596, 618, the Rio Grande Company had granted to the Rock Island Company the use of its terminal facilities at Denver, and it insisted that it could more conveniently handle the Rock Island trains with its own

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