Barclay v. Howell's Lessee (1832)

In Barclay v. Howell's Lessee (1832) 31 U.S. 498, the common law rule that dedication of streets and alleys to a public use resulted in retention of the fee by the grantor was recognized. The United States Supreme Court said: "By the common law the fee in the soil remains in the original owner where a public road is established over it; but the use of the road is in the public. The owner parts with this use only, for if the road should be vacated by the public, he resumes the exclusive possession of the ground; and while it is used as a highway, he is entitled to the timber and grass which may grow upon the surface, and to all minerals which may be found below it. . . ." It is declared that, if a street as laid out is bounded by a navigable river, it is limited on that side only by the public right: "`To contend that between its boundary and the public right a private and hostile right could exist would not only be unreasonable, but against law.'