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DES MOINES, November 30, 1878.

HON. JOHN H. GEAR, Governor of Iowa:

SIR: In accordance with the requirements of the Statute we have the honor to submit herewith the First Annual Report of the Board of Railroad Commissioners, showing the general traffic, earnings, operating expenses and condition of the railroad companies doing business in this State, for the year ending June 30, 1878, together with the returns of the several companies to this office, and tabulated statements therefrom.

On the 4th day of April, 1878, the members of the Board of Commissioners convened at the Capitol in Des Moines; present, James W. McDill, Peter A. Dey and C. C. Carpenter, who, after being duly quali fied, elected J. S. Cameron Secretary, in accordance with section 6 of the act above mentioned. On the 31st of August, 1878, C. C. Carpenter resigned his membership of the Board of Commissioners, and M. C. Woodruff was appointed to fill the vacancy by the Governor, his commission dating from September 1, 1878.

Entering upon the discharge of their duties as set forth in chapter 77, of the acts of the Seventeenth General Assembly, the Commissioners felt a natural embarrassment and hesitation arising from several causes which may be briefly mentioned here.

They fully understood that by the enactment of chapter 77 a new policy of railroad treatment had been adopted; one which had many earnest and sanguine friends, as well as many determined opponents, while a third and larger class were waiting and watching for practical results before approval or condemnation. The Commissioners felt that the very large number of citizens of Iowa who had favored and still favor what is popularly known as the "Granger Law," comprised many pure and able men who were not, from the very nature of their

convictions, prepared to accord to the Board that forbearance and charity which they so much desired and needed in putting into practical operation the new policy mapped out by the Legislature.

At the same time they recognized the act of the Legislature as the only expression of the will of the people to which they could listen, and the commands of the act as the ones which they must heed and obey. They understood that the rigid schedule of rates imposed by the Tariff Law had been condemned as too narrow, incomplete and unjust, and that restraints were removed, not to give the railroad companies absolute liberty of action, but rather to remove the chafing bands and fetters of which the companies had so much complained. They understood that the provisions of the act were not fully known and completely comprehended by a very large body of the citizens of Iowa, and that very many supposed that the Board had been made the grand reservoir of the powers of the State, so recently declared and established by the highest court in the land. And yet they found their powers, except those of a general and supervisory nature, very much limited and prescribed by the terms of the act, and that in fact, in most instances their duties were to advise and express opinions without any power to compel performance or respect decisions made. They well knew also that many regarded this want of power in the Commissioners as a fatal defect in the scheme proposed by the Legislature; while on the other hand the idea of the act, namely, a supervisory power in a board with actual and ultimate power in the Legislature, chosen periodically by and from the people, was the very vital idea of the policy or scheme proposed. The body of the people, the railroad companies and the Commissioners themselves were unfamiliar with the practical workings of the plan or policy adopted. Recognizing fully all these, and many other difficulties and embarrassments which have not been enumerated, the Commissioners claim for themselves an earnest desire and purpose to endeavor the faithful discharge of the duties imposed, to observe carefully all the details and workings of the new policy, to conceal nothing, to extenuate nothing and to fully report all their acts, their observations and conclusions to the Governor as required by law to do.


Finding ourselves without data in the shape of reports from the several companies operating lines of railway within the State, and without · practical experience as to the routine work necessary to a discharge of our duties, we sent our Secretary to Wisconsin and Minnesota, that he might observe the details of work in the Commissioners' offices in those States, which duty he discharged faithfully aud with benefit, in giving us the use of the experience had, and observations made in those offices. We also by our correspondence procured copies of the reports of Commissioners of other States, and made careful examination thereof. Our attention was also given to a very careful and critical reading and consideration of the act creating the Board, and to dili. gent inquiry as to the probable scope and meaning of the several provisions contained therein. As might have been anticipated many doubts and difficulties suggested themselves to our minds.


Very early in our investigations our attention was called to the broad and sweeping language of Section 3 of the Act. The nature and extent of the "General Supervision" required of us in the first and the methods of inquiry intended and provided for in the second clause of said section, were the subject of much careful thought and inquiry. Soon after our organization the result of our deliberations and conclusions was set forth in a decision made by us in the case of the Keokuk & Des Moines Railway vs. the Des Moines & Fort Dodge Railroad upon a question of jurisdiction raised by the counsel for the latter Company. We here insert, for your consideration, our decision in full upon that subject:


The defendants in the above-mentioned case moved to dismiss the case of the Keokuk & Des Moines Railway Company for the following reasons, viz :

First-That the complaint has not been preferred by any proper or competent authority.

Second-That such complaint must have been preferred by the Mayor and Council of an incorporated town or city, or the Trustees of a township through which some portion of the road complained against is operated, or by and at the solicitation of twenty-five tax-payers after the refusal of such Council or Trustees to prefer complaint.

Third-That the Board of Railroad Commissioners has no authority to inquire into or pass upon private grievances affecting only an individual person or corporation where the public good is not violated. The complaint alleges that the Des Moines & Fort Dodge Railroad track connects with the Keokuk & Des Moines Railway track at Des Moines; that the Des Moines & Fort Dodge Railroad has entered into running arrangements with the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad Company; that the empty cars of the latter company are regularly delivered to the former at Des Moines, hauled to points on the line of the Des Moines & Fort Dodge Railroad, returned loaded to Des Moines and delivered to the said Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad Company at Des Moines, and hauled to Chicago and elsewhere; that applications have been made by shippers on the line of the Fort Dodge Railroad, to have cars of the complainant's or of the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad, or other roads connecting with complainant's road, sent to points on said Fort Dodge line, to be loaded and returned; that the Des Moines & Fort Dodge Railroad Company for a long time refused to receive the cars of complainant or roads connecting with it, and still refuses to receive such empty cars unless prepayment is made for the hauling thereof before the cars leave Des Moines; that no such charge is demanded from, or made to, the said Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway Company; that when such cars are taken by said Des Moines & Fort Dodge Railroad, excuses are made for delaying same in transit, and for leaving same at stations other than those to which they were sent for shipment; that when such shipments are made, the Fort Dodge Railroad charges full local rates to Des Moines, and at the same time large abatements and drawbacks are allowed the Rock Island Railroad, thus discriminating against the complainant, and demanding and receiving from the Keokuk Railroad a greater sum than is accepted from the Rock Island, another connecting road.

This petition is presented signed by John Fyffe, attorney of the Keokuk & Des Moines Railway Company.

A scrutiny of the motion to dismiss, above set forth, will show that the mover relies upon the following propositions:

1st. That the matters complained of, if true, do not constitute a public grievance.

2nd. That the jurisdiction of the Board of Railroad Commissioners extends only to public and not to private grievances.

3rd. That the jurisdiction of the Board of Railroad Commissioners can only be invoked in the manner prescribed in section 15 of the act constituting said Board, namely, upon the application of the mayor and council of an incorporated town or city, or the trustees of a township, or upon their refusal to act upon the petition of twenty-five or more legal voters of any given city, town or township.

The importance of the inquiry suggested by the last or foregoing proposition cannot be overestimated. Called upon to aid in the administration and execution of a new law, the Board feels that no more important inquiry could have been suggested. Impressed with such feelings they have endeavored to give the subject their most careful

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