ERROR TO THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS.
MR. JUSTICE GRAY, after stating the case, delivered the opinion of the court.
The line of railroad communication, crossing the Ohio River at Cairo, and of which the Illinois Central Railroad forms part, has been established by Congress as a national highway for the accommodation of interstate commerce and of the mails of the United States, and as such has been recognized and promoted by the State of Illinois. This will clearly
appear by a brief recapitulation of the acts of Congress and the statutes of Illinois upon the subject.
Congress, in the act of September 20, 1850, c. 61, granted a right of way, and sections of the public lands, to the State of Illinois, to aid in the construction of a railroad in that State from the southern termination of the Illinois and Michigan Canal "to a point at or near the junction of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers," with branches to Chicago and Dubuque, "to be and remain a public highway, for the use of the government of the United States, free from toll or other charge upon the transportation of any property or troops of the United States," and on which the United States mail should "at all times be transported, under the direction of the Post Office Department, at such price as the Congress may by law direct;" and, in order "to aid in the construction of said Central Railroad," made like grants to the States of Alabama And Mississippi, respectively, for the purpose of aiding in the construction of a railroad from the city of Mobile "to a point near the mouth of the Ohio River." 9 Stat. 466.
The manifest purpose of Congress was to establish a railroad in the centre of the Continent, connecting the waters of the Great Lakes with those of the Gulf of Mexico, for the benefit of interstate commerce, as well as of the military and postal departments of the government of the United States.
The State of Illinois, by a statute of February 10, 1851, chartered the Illinois Central Railroad Company, and ceded to it the rights and lands granted to the State by the act of Congress, for the purpose of constructing and maintaining within the State such a trunk line and branches, describing its southern terminus as "a point at the city of Cairo," and declaring "said road and branches to be free for the use of the United States, and to be employed by the Post-Office Department, as provided in said act of Congress;" and (as if that were not sufficient) by another statute, a week later, the State expressly accepted the act of Congress, and agreed to be bound by the conditions expressed therein.
By the statute of Illinois of February 2, 1855, all railroad corporations of the State were empowered to make contracts
with each other, and with railroad corporations of other States, for leasing, or running, or connecting their railroads; and by the statute of Illinois of February 25, 1867, railroads terminating at a point at which there was a railroad bridge on a line of continuous railroad thoroughfare were required to be connected by rail, as to make "an uninterrupted communication over such railroads and bridge as public thoroughfares."
By the act of June 15, 1866, c. 124, Congress, for the declared purpose of facilitating commerce among the several States, and the postal and military communications of the United States, authorized every railroad company in the United States, whose road was operated by steam, to carry over its road, bridges and ferries, as well passengers and freight, as government mails, troops and supplies, from one State to another; and to connect, in any State authorizing it to do so, with roads of other States, so as to form continuous lines of transportation. 14 Stat. 66.
By the acts of Congress of December 17, 1872, c. 4, and February 14, 1883, c. 44, bridges were authorized to be built across the Ohio River by any person or corporation, having lawful authority therefor, and with the approval of the Secretary of War; and were declared to be lawful structures and post routes for the transmission of the ...