SECTION 1. Any railroad corporation or association, organized under the law for the purpose, shall have the right to construct and operate a railroad between any points within this State, and to connect at the State line with railroads of other States. Every railroad company shall have the right, with its road, to intersect, connect with or cross any other railroad; and shall receive and transport each the others passengers, tonnage and cars, loaded or empty, without delay or discrimination, under such regulations as shall be prescribed by law.
SEC. 2. Railroads heretofore constructed, or that may hereafter be constructed in this State, are hereby declared public highways, and railroad companies common carriers. The Legislature shall pass laws to correct abuses and prevent unjust discrimination and extortion in the rates of freight and passenger tariffs on the different railroads in this State; and shall from time to time pass laws establishing reasonable maximum rates of charges for the transportation of passengers and freight on said railroads, and enforce all such laws by adequate penalties.
SEC. 3. Every railroad or other corporation, organized or doing business in this State under the laws or authority thereof, shall have and maintain a public office or place in this State for the transaction of business, where transfers of stock shall be made, and where shall be kept, for inspection by the stockholders of such corporations, books, in which shall be recorded the amount of capital stock subscribed, the names of the owners of the stock, the amounts owned by them respectively, the amount of stock paid, and by whom, the transfer of said stock, with the date of the transfer, the amount of its assets and liabilities, and the names and places of residence of its officers. The directors of every railroad company shall hold one meeting annually in this State, public notice of which shall be given thirty days previously, and the president or superintendent shall report annually, under oath, to the comptroller or governor, their acts and doings, which report shall include such matters relating to railroads as may be prescribed by law. The Legislature shall pass laws enforcing by suitable penalties the provisions of this section.
SEC. 4. The rolling stock and all other movable property belonging to any railroad company or corporation in this State shall be considered personal property, and its real and personal property, or any part thereof, shall be liable to execution and sale in the same manner as the property of individuals; and the Legislature shall pass no laws exempting any such property from execution and sale.
SEC. 5. No railroad or other corporation, or the lessees, purchasers or managers of any railroad corporation, shall consolidate the stock, property or franchises of such corporation, with, or lease or purchase the works or franchises of, or in any way control any railroad corporation owning or having under its control a parallel or competing line; nor shall any officer of such railroad corporation act as an officer of any other railroad corporation owning or having the control of a parallel or competing line.
SEC. 6. No railroad company organized under the laws of this State shall consolidate by private or judicial sale or otherwise with any railroad company organized under the laws of any other State or of the United States.
SEC. 7. No law shall be passed by the Legislature granting the right to construct and operate a street railroad within any city, town, or village, or upon any public highway, without first acquiring the consent of the local authorities having control of the street or highway proposed to be occupied by such street railroad.
SEC. 8. No railroad corporation in existence at the time of the adoption of this Constitution, shall have the benefit of any future legislation, except on condition of complete acceptance of all the provisions of this Constitution applicable to railroads.
SEC. 9. No railroad hereafter constructed in this State shall pass within a distance of three miles of any county seat without passing through the same, and establishing and maintaining a depot therein, unless prevented by natural obstacles, such as streams, hills or mountains; provided, such town or its citizens shall grant the right of way through its limits and sufficient ground for ordinary depot purposes.