Timber and Stone Act

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The Timber and Stone Act of 1878 (45th Congress, Sess. 2, ch. 151, 20 Stat. 89) in the United States sold Western timberland for $2.50 per acre ($618/km²) in 160 acre (0.6 km²) blocks.

Land that was deemed "unfit for farming" was sold to those 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.

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 (0.6 km²). In practice however, wealthy companies seeking to access natural resources semi-fraudulently circumvented the law by hiring individuals to purchase 160 acre (0.6 km²) lots which were then deeded to the company after a nominal compliance with the law. This was legal only in that companies complied with the letter of the law while brashly ignoring the spirit of it. Ultimately, said companies were able to obtain title up to twenty thousand acres (80 km²).

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