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Eminent Domain, Baltimore, Baltimore & Susquehanna Railroad Company, the Bellona Gunpowder Company of Maryland


The Bellona Gunpowder Company of Maryland was one of Maryland’s most prominent gunpowder manufactories during the early nineteenth century. Founded in 1801, the gunpowder company become the second leading gunpowder producer for the American government, and supplied almost one-fifth of American domestic gunpowder. In 1828, the Baltimore and Susquehanna Railroad Company was incorporated by the State of Maryland to construct a railroad that would connect the City of Baltimore to the Susquehanna River. The legislature authorized the railroad company to initiate condemnation proceedings against private property owners, if it was unable to negotiate for the sale of such land. In 1831, the Baltimore and Susquehanna Railroad attempted to obtain a right of way across the Bellona Gunpowder Company of Maryland’s property. When negotiations failed, the railroad company initiated a condemnation proceeding in the Baltimore County Court in order to acquire the right of way. The Bellona Gunpowder Company of Maryland fought this condemnation proceeding, and the parties litigated the issue in the Chancery Court of Maryland. This Article analyzes the gunpowder industry in revolutionary and post-revolutionary America. It also discusses the City of Baltimore’s efforts to secure the trade of the Susquehanna River Valley. Finally, this Article analyzes the opinion of Chancellor Bland, and applies a Coase analysis of the two incompatible land uses of the parties.


Constitutional Law | Law | Legal History