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Secretary of the Treasury,* Hon. Albert Galatin, and the work was executed under the immediate supervision of Rufus Putnam, the first Surveyor-General. The townships in these seven ranges commence respectively with number one on the river and number north. The present mode of reckoning townships and ranges was not adopted until a recent date.

The convergency of the meridians was soon found to be a source of serious difficulty where long range lines were projected. Several plans were tried to overcome this difficulty, resulting finally in adopting the "correction parallels." Parallels are now required to be run every five townships or thirty miles north or south of the base line.

Improvement has been gradual and slow; modifications have gone on step by step, until the present symmetrical and perfect system has been attained. We may now, therefore, safely venture to put forth a Hand-Book on this subject, feeling confident that the facilities thereby for the first time afforded the general public for becoming acquainted with the system of government surveying, will promote the public interest, and be appreciated by all who are interested in the subjects treated of.

* The General Land Office was organized as a distinct bureau of the Treasury Department by act of Congress, approved April 25th, 1812.




1. TOWNSHIPS.-The public lands of the United States are primarily surveyed into uniform rectangular tracts, six miles square,* called Townships, bounded by lines conforming to the cardinal points, and containing, as nearly as may be, 23,040 acres.

2. SECTIONS.-The townships are subdivided into thirty-six tracts, one mile square, called Sections, containing (except in cases hereinafter explained) 640 acres each.

The sections are numbered consecutively from one to thirty-six, beginning at the northeast corner of the township and numbering west with the north tier of sections, thence east with the second tier, west with the third tier, and so on to section thirty-six in the southeast angle of the township. (Fig. 1.)

FIG. 1.

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3. SUBDIVISIONS OF SECTIONS.-Sections are divisible into four equal parts of 160 acres each, called Quarter Sections,

*See Standard Parallels.

FIG. 2.

and each quarter section is again divisible into two half-quarter sections of 80 acres, or four quarter-quarters containing 40 acres each. (Fig. 2.) These are called Legal Subdivisions, and are the only divisions recognized 40 by the government in disposing of the public lands, except where tracts. are made fractional by water-courses or other causes, or in the case of town lots.*

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[The subdivisions of sections are not actually surveyed and marked in the field. Quarter section or half mile posts are established on the boundaries of the sections, and the quarter-quarter corners are by law the equidistant points between the section and quarter section corners; but the interior subdivisional lines of sections are made only on the plats of townships, at the SurveyorGeneral's office; and when the boundaries of these subdivisions are required to be established on the ground, a county surveyor or other competent person is employed.]

4. PRINCIPAL MERIDIANS AND BASE LINES.-Two principal lines are established prior to the survey of the townships-a north and south line denominated a Principal Meridian, and an east and west line styled a Base Line. These lines constitute the basis of the public surveys, and are prerequisite to the laying out of townships.

5. RANGES. Any number or series of townships situated in a tier north and south are denominated a Range, and the ranges are designated by numbers east or west,

* In some of the old land states public surveys have been made which did not conform to the rectangular system. Lots were surveyed with given frontages on rivers, bayous, etc., and running back to such depth as would embrace the required areas, regardless of the cardinal points. Such surveys were made by authority of special enactments, and were exceptions to the established system of rectangular surveying.

as the case may be, from the governing meridians. The townships in each range are also numbered north or south from established base lines.

6. STANDARD PARALLELS.-Townships are said to be six miles square, but the law requiring that the north and south lines shall conform to the true meridian, it is evident that in consequence of the convergency of the meridians, these lines will continue to approach each other as they are extended northward, thereby throwing the townships out of square. To correct this convergency, and preserve as nearly as practicable the square form of the township, Standard Parallels-called also and more appropriately Correction Lines—are run every five townships or 30 miles north and south of the base line.*

These parallels or correction lines are run due east or west, and constitute new bases for the townships north of them, up to the next parallel or base line.


1. BURT'S SOLAR COMPASS.-Deputy surveyors are required to use Burt's improved solar compass or other instrument of equal utility, in surveying standard and township lines; but when the needle can be relied on, the ordinary magnetic compass may be used in subdividing or meandering.

2. STANDARD CHAIN.-The chain used in the field must be carefully compared from day to day with a Standard Chain furnished by the Surveyor-General, to be carried along by the deputy; and any variation in the length of the chain in use, from the opening of the links or other cause, must be promptly corrected.

3. TALLY PINS.-The deputy surveyor will use eleven

* Standard parallels were formerly run every 24 miles north of the base line, and every 30 miles south of it. The present system was adopted in 1866.

tally pins, made of steel, not exceeding fourteen inches in length, weighty enough toward the point to make them drop perpendicularly, and having a ring at the top, in which is fastened a piece of red cloth, or something else of conspicuous color.

4. MARKING TOOLS.-The best marking tools adapted to the purpose should be procured, and all letters and figures should be distinctly and neatly cut. A rat-tail file and a small whetstone will be found indispensable articles to keep the marking tools in order.

5. HORIZONTAL MEASUREMENT.-The length of all lines must be ascertained by horizontal measurement, taking care always to keep the chain stretched to its utmost tension. In ascending or descending steep hills or mountains, the chain may have to be shortened to half its length or even shorter in order to obtain the true horizontal measure. Care must also be taken to have the

tally pins properly plumbed.

6. PROCESS OF CHAINING.-In measuring lines with a two-pole chain, every five chains are called "a tally," because the last of the ten tally pins with which the forward chainman set out will have been stuck. He then cries "tally," which cry is repeated by the other chainman, and each registers the tally by slipping a button, ring of leather, or something of the kind, on a belt worn for the purpose. The hind chainman then comes forward, and having counted in the presence of his fellow the tally pins which he has taken up, so that both may be assured that none have been lost, he takes the forward end of the chain and proceeds to set the pins. The chainmen continue to change places alternately, so that one is forward in all the odd and the other in all the even tallies. It is believed this plan will most surely prevent a mis-tally.

7. Line Trees.-Trees immediately in line are marked by two chops or notches on each side, and are called "line trees," "station trees," or "sight trees."

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