The first part of this series we looked at what a Surveyor is, and does. This article will look at what a Land Survey is, and will briefly look at the history what is called the Public Land Survey System or PLSS which is the basis of most non-colonial surveying. This article will by no means be exhaustive--but will be longer than my normal posts. The story you are about to read is true, only the names have been changed to protect the innocent...
The Public Land Survey System or Rectangular Survey System was originally proposed by Thomas Jefferson. This system is a method of subdividing (making smaller parcels from larger ones) and describing land in the United States. In general, the PLSS typically divided land into 6-mile-square townships. Townships are further subdivided into 36 one-mile-square sections.
Sections are then further subdivided into quarter-sections, quarter-quarter-sections, or irregular lots called Government Lots. Permanent monuments, or markers, were placed at each section corner. Monuments are also placed at quarter-section corners and at other important points, such as the corners of government lots. Today permanent monuments are usually inscribed tablets set on iron rods or in concrete. The original PLSS surveys were often marked by wooden stakes or posts, marked trees, pits, or piles of rock, or other less-permanent markers. [1. http://nationalatlas.gov/articles/boundaries/a_plss.html]
The perpetuation of these monuments is one of the most important jobs that Land Surveyors have to individual property owners, and the public in general. Here in Wisconsin just about every property owned is in some way tied to these original section surveys. Wisconsin was surveyed between from 1832 to 1866. The Wisconsin Board of Commissioners of Public Lands has some excellent in-depth information on both the system, and the process.
Now we've laid the ground work to understanding simple legal descriptions. We're going to do a survey of the West 1/2 of the Northeast 1/4 and the Northeast 1/4 of the Northeast 1/4...Looking at the map of the section above, everyone should now be able to figure out where this parcel is. Here is a refresher...
Next time we will start our "Survey" of this parcel of land.
If you have any questions, feel free to comment here and I'll reply.
This Content Originally Published by a land surveyor to Land Surveyors United Network