Timber and Stone Act

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The Timber and Stone Act of 1878 in the United States sold timberland in surveyed public lands of the United States within the states of California, Oregon, and Nevada, and in the Washington Territory. The legislation specifically noted that military, Indian, or other reservations of the United States within these territories were exempt. The price of sale was $2.50 per acre ($618/km2), and land was sold in 160 acre (0.6 km2) blocks. [1]

Oregon Timber (75492).jpg

Land that was deemed "unfit for farming" was sold to any citizen of the United States, or any person intending to become a citizen who might want to "timber and stone" (logging and mining) upon the land. The act was used by speculators who were able to get great expanses declared "unfit for farming" allowing them to increase their land holdings at minimal expense. [2]

In theory the purchaser was to make an affidavit that he was entering the land exclusively for his own use and that no association was to hold more than 160 acres (65 ha). In practice however, many wealthy companies and individuals seeking to access natural resources fraudulently circumvented the law by hiring individuals to purchase 160-acre (65 ha) lots that were then deeded to the company in direct violation of the law. In this way, more than 90 percent of the several million acres of timberland privatized under the Act in Washington, Oregon, Nevada and California were fraudulently compiled. Ultimately, said companies were able to obtain title on up to 100,000 acres (400 km2). [2] By the year 1923, twelve million lion acres of land had been transferred from the public domain to the private via this act. [3]

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  1. U.S. Statutes at Large, Volume 20 (1877-1879), 45th Congress. United States: United States Federal Government. 1877–1879. pp. Chapter 89. Retrieved June 4, 2023.
  2. 1 2 Dunham, Harold (1941). Government Handout (PDF). New York: Da Capo Press. LCCN   79087564.
  3. Curry-Roper, Janel M. (1989). "The Impact of the Timber and Stone Act on Public Land Ownership in Northern Minnesota". Journal of Forest History. 33 (2): 1. doi:10.2307/4005103. ISSN   0094-5080.