Nebraska v. Iowa
SCOTUS - 1892
- The border between Iowa and Nebraska was defined as the middle channel of the Missouri River.
- Between 1851 and 1877, the Missouri River changed course so that it occupied a very different bed and flowed through a different area.
- SCOTUS held that the old line was valid.
- What property rules apply when a border of property is along a river or other body of water.
- When the border of a property is along a river or other body of water, there are two possible property rules…
- Rule of Accretion - When the banks are changed gradually, the boundary remains on the river (land can be gained or lost based upon accretion).
- Rule of Avulsion - When the river suddenly abandons its old bed and seeks a new bed, the boundary remains where it was before the change.
- These two rules come from authority; accretion means the boundary varies; avulsion means the boundary is fixed.
- The law of accretion holds for the Missouri River, in general. Thus, the boundary between the two states can vary.
- However, in regard to the change in the river in 1877, that movement was an avulsion; thus, the boundary there remains where it was set before the change.