Land Surveying Facts You Probably Do not Know

This resource page is primarily geared towards educating the public about the history of land surveying.


Land Surveying Fact # 1 

Did you know…..George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson were all Land Surveyors before taking office as the President of the United States?
Land Surveying Facts-George Washington

Land Surveying Fact #2 
Did you know…..The Mason Dixon Line is actually a survey line? Charles Mason, an assistant astronomer at Greenwich Observatory, and Jeremiah Dixon, an astronomer, mathematician and surveyor, were hired to survey an agreed-upon line to settle a dispute between Pennsylvania and Maryland. It took 4 years and cost $75,000 to run the 233 mile line. Modern surveys have shown it to be an accurate survey, within a couple of seconds of latitude. (Info gathered from LandSurveyor.US)
Mason Dixon Line Land Surveying Facts
 Land Surveying Fact # 3
Did you know…..Surveying is one of the oldest known Professions? Egyptian Land Surveying 3,000 B.C.The duties of the surveyor in Ancient Egypt covered a number of aspects, including boundary definition and building construction. The need for surveying was a consequence of the civilized society in Ancient Egypt. The annual flooding of the Nile, something that significantly impacted the life of the Egyptians, often resulted in a change of the shape of the land on the banks of the river, or the disappearance of the stones marking the boundaries. A surveyor was required to re-measure the land and to replace the marks as required, so that any disputes between neighbors could be resolved. Surveyors also provided information for construction work. Of particular interest are the cardinally orientated buildings, namely the temples and the pyramids that required a great deal of careful measuring to obtain the orientation required. The role of the surveyor was an important one, as shown by the evidence of the work of the surveyors in the form of pictures on the walls of tombs. The position of the surveyor in the Egyptian society shows they were one of upper class and were very well educated individuals.
In the bible Land Surveying Facts
Did you know….. Land Surveying is spoken of in the Bible in several places?

Here are just a few examples:You shall not move your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in the inheritance that you will hold in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess.
Deuteronomy 19:14 (ESV)Cursed be anyone who moves his neighbor’s landmark. And all the people shall say, Amen.
Deuteronomy 27:17 (ESV)Do not move the ancient landmark that your fathers have set.
Proverbs 22:28 (ESV)And the one who spoke with me had a measuring rod of gold to measure the city and its gates and walls. The city lies foursquare, its length the same as its width. And he measured the city with his rod, 12,000 stadia. Its length and width and height are equal. He also measured its wall, 144 cubits by human measurement, which is also an angel’s measurement.
Revelation 21:15-17 (ESV) Did you know that in the past, every surveyor used a specific surveying tool that would differ him/her from other surveyors? Or that the first president of the United States, George Washington was a known surveyor and map-maker? If you want to find out more interesting facts about surveying continue reading.
More Interesting Facts about Surveying History
  • In Greece and Rome, surveyors were people held with exceptional esteem, as they were responsible for the straight angles and perfect lines that shaped the remarkable buildings and coliseums that are still present today. They used a simple surveying tool called Groma.
Groma Land Surveying Facts
  • Also, Greeks and Romans invented an early surveying tool called Groma, which was a long staff with a cross bar that served to measure right angles and straight lines. Groma is believed to originate from about 400 BC in Mesopotamia, which is today’s Iraq.


  • The biggest breakthrough in surveying technology occurred in 1773 when Jesse Ramsden, an English mathematician and scientific instrument maker, invented a circular dividing engine. The first quality circular dividing engine allowed the manufacture of very accurate mathematical and scientific instruments and tools. Also, Jesse Ramsden published a Description of an Engine for Dividing Mathematical Instruments in 1777.

Ramsden invention Land Surveying Facts

  • Captain James Cook is one of the most famous surveyors in the world, because he is one of the first who sailed into every ocean and surveyed all the areas he discovered. He used a set of surveying equipments – a brass telescopic, a theodolite and small station flags. Captain Cook is also one of the first English to step on every major continent in the world and the first to cross both the Antarctic and Arctic Circles.

James Cook Land Surveying Facts

  • The first president of United States, George Washington, began his remarkable career as a surveyor, map-maker and soldier. He began to work as a surveyor’s assistant in 1748 at the age of 16, but after only a year, he became a surveyor for the newly created frontier country of Culpeper. There he gained a reputation as an honest, fair and dependable person.


  • The 40 th anniversary of Sydney Opera House was celebrated with a 3D model of its interior and exterior. It is one of the few famous building with a developed 3D model. The Scottish team of surveyors used quality digital surveying equipments and the result of the surveying provided the most comprehensive information of the Sydney Opera House, which serve for better maintenance and preservation.

More Land Surveying Facts


1 mile = 5,280 feet
1 kilometer = 0.62137 miles
1 acre = 43,560 square feet
1 acre = 160 square perches
1 perch = 16.5 feet
1 rod = 16.5 feet
1 chain = 66 feet
1 hectare = 2.47104 acres

The Earth’s magnetic pole moves an average of 6.2 miles per year.

A land surveyor locates land title lines and shows the relationship of possession and title lines; he does not declare who has ownership of land or who has the right of possession. Such matters are referred to attorneys.
Boundary control and Legal Principles
By Curtis M. Brown

“The problems of boundary lie at the foundation of all surveying, for one must know where a line is—before he can measure it…..”
Boundaries and Landmarks,
A Practical Manual
By A.C. Mulford

Blazing or painting the trees on a boundary is a common form of marking lines. These must be repainted approximately every 5 years, or when needed.

Common Boundary Survey Monuments
(Left to Right)
Axle, Aluminum Monument, Iron Pipe, Iron Pin.

Share Land Surveying Facts

You need to be a member of Land Surveyors United - Global Surveying Community to add thoughts!

Join Land Surveyors United - Global Surveying Community

E-mail me when people leave their comments –