At common law, franchises are heritable; but now they are usually held by corporations, and corporations can have no heirs. So, too, franchises are now usually granted for a term of years, and not in fee.220 The law of franchises now pertains more properly to the law of corporations, and we will give only a brief account of some of the common-law rules. A franchise need not necessarily be a monopoly, but may be nonexclusive. Franchises are alienable, and are liable for the debts of their owners.221 A franchise is in the nature of a contract, being, on the one hand, a grant by the state or a municipality of certain rights and privileges which could not be otherwise exercised, in consideration for certain benefits to the public, to be supplied by the grantee. A failure of the grantees to carry out the purposes for which the franchise was granted gives cause for forfeiture of the franchise. But forfeiture is had only at the suit of the government222 Where an exclusive franchise has been granted, it assumes the character of a contract which is protected by the constitutional provisions against impairing the obligation of the contract, and therefore no conflicting franchises can be granted.223 An exclusive franchise, however, like other property, may be taken under the right of eminent domain.224 One of the most usual franchises at common law was the right to maintain and operate a ferry.225 A right of this kind is personal property in Iowa.226 A riparian owner has no right to set up a ferry on a nav220 stark v. M'gowen, 1 Nott & Mcc. (S. C.) 887; Clark v. White, 5 Bush. (Ky.) 353; Conway v. Taylor, 1 Black, G03.
221 2 Washb. Real Prop. (5th Ed.) 310; Greer v. Haugabook, 47 Ga. 282. But see Foster v. Fowler, 60 Pa. St. 27; Yellow River Imp. Co. v. Wood Co., 81 Wis. 554, 51 N. W. 1004.
222 Chicago City Ry. Co. v. People, 73 111. 541; Jeffersonvilje v. The John Shallcross, 35 Ind. 19; Greer v. Haugabook, 47 Ga, 282.
223 Milhan v. Sharp, 27 N. Y. 611; Newburgh & C. Turnpike Road Co. v. Miller, 5 Johns. Ch. (N. Y.) 101; Boston & L. R. Corp. v. Salem & L. R. Co., 2 Gray (Mass.) 1; Mcroberts v. Washburne, 10 Minn. 23 (Gil. 8). But see Hopkins v. Railroad Co., 2 Q. B. Div. 224; Ft Plain Bridge Co. v. Smith, 30 N. Y. 44.
224 West River Bridge Co. v. Dix, 6 How. 507; In re Towanda Bridge Co., 91 Pa. St. 216.
225 Ipswich v. Browne, Sav. 11; Peter v. Kendal, 6 Barn. & C. 703, 711; Alabury v. Ferry Co., 9 C. C. A. 174, 60 Fed. 645. 226 Lippencott v. Allander, 27 Iowa, 460.
Igable river without authority from the state.227 When a franchise for a ferry has been accepted by the grantees, they are bound to provide accommodation for the public, and are liable for injuries caused by defect in their boats and other appliances. On the other hand, they become entitled to take toll.228 If an exclusive franchise has been granted for maintaining a ferry, it includes the right to enjoy it, free from interference by contiguous and injurious competition.229 If another ferry was established so near as to produce such effect, it would constitute a nuisance.230 Franchises for bridges and turnpike roads are subject to the same rules as those for ferries.231
227 Mills v. Learn, 2 Or. 215; Prosser v. Wapello Co., 18 Iowa, 327. But see Chenango Bridge Co. v. Paige, 83 N. Y. 178; Cooper v. Smith, 9 Serg. & R, (Pa.) 26.
228 Ferrel v. Woodward, 20 Wis. 458; Willoughby v. Horrldge, 12 C. B. 742.
229 Huzzey v. Field, 2 Cronip., M. & R. 432; Long v. Beard, 3 Murphy (N. C.) 57; Aikin v. Railway Corp., 20 N. Y. 370. So building a bridge may interfere with a ferry. Gates v. M'daniel, 2 Stew. (Ala.) 211; Smith v. Haskins, 3 Ired. Eq. (N. C.) 613. Cf. Newton v. Cubitt, 12 C. B. (N. S.) 32, affirmed 13 C. B. (N. S.) 864.
230 Midland Terminal & Ferry Co. v. Wilson, 28 N. J. Eq. 537; Collins v. Ew-lng, 51 Ala. 101; Walker v. Armstrong, 2 Kan. 19S.
231 Ft. Plain Bridge Co. v. Smith, 30 N. Y. 44; President, etc., of Newburgh & Cochecton Turnpike Road v. Miller, 5 Johns. Ch. (N. Y.) 101; Norris v. Teamsters' Co., 6 Cal 590; Proprietors of Charles River Bridge v. Proprietors of Warren Bridge, 11 Pet 420.