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UNITED STATES SURVEYING SYSTEM AS APPLIED TO THE PUBLIC
The system was inaugurated in the United States as early as 1785 for surveying and disposing of the public lands; and, having been amended from time to time by acts of Congress, has reached its present complete organization. The framework of the system consists of the following surveyed lines: The principal surveying meridians running due north and south, which are intersected by the principal base lines, are the true parallels of latitude, their intersections constituting the initial points of surveys. Next to these lines standard or correction parallels are established north and south of the bases, at distances of 24 and 30 miles, respectively; and, lastly, guide meridians, at distances of 42 to 48 iniles from the principal meridians, divide the country of surveys into parallelograms of suitable extent, any one of which, however distant from * the principal bases and meridians, or the initial point of survey, can be divided into townships, the latter being the largest division into which lands are surveyed, each being six miles square, and containing 23,040 acres. Townships are subdivided into 36 sections, of a mile square each, as near as possible, and containing 640 acres. The sections are subdivided into quarters, containing 160 acres; and, finally, the quarters are still further subdivided into quarter-quarters, embracing 40 acres. The sectional divisions into quarter sections and quarter-quarter sections are not actually run and marked in the field; the division of the section of 640 acres into quarter sections is designated by appropriate marks on the half-mile posts established in the field on section lines; while the quarter-quarter sections, or 40-acre tracts, are not so designated in the field, but are indicated by the surveyor general ou township plats of the survey by there marking in red ink the surveyed section lines, in order to obtain the quantity of legal subdivisions exhibited on the plats of survey, which are protracted on the scale of two inches to the mile. The public lands are sold by the foregoing subdivisions, and the boundaries of the smallest subdivisions, to wit, into quarter and into quarter-quarter sections, or 160 and 40 acre tracts, not actually surveyed in the field, can be run and marked on the face of the earth for the purchasers or owners thereof by any surveyor, in accordance with the principles laid down by the act of Congress approved February 11, 1805. The rectangular system depends upon the survey of the public lands in accordance with the true meridian, noting, however, the variation of the magnetic needle. In the extensive sphere over which the surveys have progressed from Florida, on the Atlantic, and westward to the Pacific, including all the public-land States and Territories of the Union, with the exception of Alaska, formerly Russian America, the system has worked satisfactorily, furnishing facilities for the acquisition of public lands in any region of the country, and unerring methods for the restoration of landmarks which may be lost or destroyed by time or accident. Adequate means exist in the surrounding landmarks of the adjacent public surveys, whereby missing metes and bounds can be restored in accordance with the original field-notes thereof, and the designations placed on township plats.
Since the introduction of the rectangular system of public surveys in the United States, there have been instituted twenty-five different initial points, or the points of intersection of the principal bases with principal surveying meridians governing the public surveys. The instruments employed in the field-work by United States surveyors consist of solar compasses, transits, and common compasses of approved
construction; four-pole chains and two-pole chains, of 100 and 50 links, respectively, each link of the chain being equal to 7.92 inches. The survey. ors' chains are compared with standard chains and standard yard measures furnished surveyors general by the Government. The measurement of the lines of public surveys is horizontal, requiring shortening of the chain over abrupt and undulating surface; the navigable lakes, ponds, and water-courses are segregated from the land, the same being declared by law public highways, and not subject to sale.
The public surveys have been completed in all the public-land Stateseast of the valley of the Mississippi River, with the exception of avery inconsiderable area in the southern peninsula of Florida, Louisiana, and a portion of Minnesota. The sphere of the unsurveyed region in the latter State is estimated at one-half of its area, consisting of the northern and, partly, western portions of the State, as will more fully appear in the tabular statement No. 1, accompanying this report, showing the number of acres surveyed and unsurveyed in each of the land States and Terri. tories up to June 30, 1870.
The unsurveyed portions of the valley of the Missouri and its tributaries are the following:
In Dakota nine-tenths of the area thereof have not been surveyed, the surveys having progressed only in the extreme northeast and southeast corners of the Territory to the extent of one-tenth thereof.
In Nebraska five-eighths remain to be surveyed, consisting of the north-western and southwestern portions.
In Kansas one-half of its area is unsurveyed, situated in the southern and western portions.
In New Mexico twenty-five twenty-sixths remain to be surveyed, only one twenty-sixths portion, lying on the Canadian, Pecos, Hondo, and Bonito Rivers, and along the Rio Grande Del Norte, having been surveyed.
In Arizona subdivisional surveys amount to 732,145 acres, situated on Rio Gila, near its confluence with the Rio Salado and Santa Cruz. Arizona formed part of the California surveying jurisdiction until July 11, 1870, when Congress made it a separate district and authorized the appointment of surveyor general. The surveys in Arizona, under the superintendence of the surveyor general of California, during the last year, have been made to the extent of only 46,117.32 acres, owing to the distant sphere of the field operations from Sau Francisco, and the hostility of Indians in the Territory.
In Colorado one-twelfth of the Territory has been surveyed, principally along the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains, stretching from the northern to the southern boundary of the Territory, and a few townships in the Middle, South, and San Luis Parks. No surveyed lines have as yet been extended over the eastern and western portions of Colorado.
In Utah one-fifteenth of the Territory was sub-divided in the region extending north and south of the Great Salt Lake to the northern and southern boundaries, with small interruptions, leaving fourteen-fifteenths ansurveyed, lying east and west of Wahsatch Mountains. The surveys during the last year progressed in the direction east of Salt Lake City, and in the southwestern angle of the Territory, in the valley of the Santa Clara; Virgin, Cedar, and Parawan Valleys west of Wahsatch Mountains. There were surveyed in Utah during the last year 659,946 acres.
In Idaho and Montana but limited progress has been made in public surveys. In Idaho there had been less than a million of acres surveyed of the fifty-five millions comprised in that Territory; in Montana about
the same area out of the ninety-two millions of acres within its limits. The Idaho surveyed lands are situated on the Salmon, Payette, and Snake Rivers, and in Montana, on the Missouri River and its three forks, Gallatin, Jefferson, and Madison, forming the head. waters of the Missouri River; also in the vicinity of Helena, and the valley of Hell Gate River.
In Nevada the lines have been extended over only one-twenty-fourth of its area, chiefly in the northern and western portions of the State, in the valleys of Walker, Humboldt, and Truckee Rivers; also along the Central Pacific Railroad route, and near the Pahranagat Lake, in the southeastern part of Nevada, leaving twenty-three twenty-fourths as yet unsurveyed, equal to about sixty-eight inillions of acres.
In California one-third has been surveyed, principally in the valley of San Joaquin and Sacramento Rivers, and their tributaries, and in the south eastern region of the State surrounding San Bernardino Mountains. The unsurveyed portions of the State consist of the ranges of Sierra Nevada Coast, Mount Diablo, and San Bernardino Mountains, and the numerous valleys all over the State, bounded by abrupt mountains to which no lines of public surveys have been extended. The western slope of the Coast Range of mountains stretches from the Bay of Monterey to the southwestern angle of California. The survey of this region of the coun. try adjacent to the Pacific Ocean has been deferred in consequence of the existence of numerous unadjudicated private claims growing out of the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, of 1848. For the precise quantity of the surveyed and unsurveyed lands in California, reference is made to a tabular statement accompanying this report.
In Oregon the surveys have been extended over one-seventh of the area, chietly in the Willamette, Columbia, John Day, Des Chutes, Umatilla, Umpqua, Coquille, and Rogue River valleys. The unsurveyed portions of the State consists of the Coast Range, Cascade, and Blue Mountains, together with the central, eastern, aud southeastern portions of Oregon.
In Washington Territory one-eighth of the surface has been subdivided, including 300,000 acres which were surveyed during the fiscal .year ending June 30, 1870, leaving aboựt thirty-nine million acres of unsurveyed public land in the Territory. The principal portions over which the lines of public survey have been extended are situated due north and south of the Puget Sound, along the Columbia River, from its mouth up its right bank to its confluence with the Snake River, in the valleys of Walla-Walla and Yakama, tributaries of Columbia River, and in the valley of Chihalis River, emptying into Gray's Harbor of the Pacific Ocean. The surveys embrace about five million acres, leaving an unsurveyed area of the Territory nearly equal to thirty-nine million acres, covered by the extensive range of the Cascade and the Olympic Mountains, together with the Great Plateau of Spokane, situated north of the Snake, and east of the Columbia River, as well as the extensive valley of the Okinakane River, the northeastern tributary of the Columbia River.
In Wyoming Territory, the latest organized surveying district, com prising 62,645,120 acres, no surveying operations were carried on during the last fiscal year, ending June 30, 1870, for the reason that the Wyoming land district was not organized until late in the fiscal year, viz., the 5th day of February last. Since the opening, however, of the sur veyor general's office at Cheyenne, contracts have been closed with different surveyors for the extension of the public lines, resting upon the principal base line, on the fortieth parallel of north latitude and the sixth principal meridian. The sphere of field operations is to begin in the
vicinity of Cheyenne City, on the Union Pacific Railroad, and to progress along the road westward.
Alaska has not been organized into a surveying district, and consequently the surveying machinery has not yet been there extended.
BOUNDARY LINES ASTRONOMICALLY ESTABLISHED-THE SURVEY OF
THE NORTHERN BOUNDARY OF CALIFORNIA.
Pursuant to the act of Congress of March 2, 1867, for the establishment, survey, and marking of that portion of the forty-second parallel of north latitude included between the one hunded and twentieth merin!. ian of west longitude and the Pacific coast, and forming the boundary line between California and Oregon, field duties were commenced early in the season of 1868, and concluded in August 1869.
During the past year the final report, containing a full record of the astronomical, magnetic, barometric, and geodetic observations, deduced results, together with detailed field-notes and maps, has been received from Daniel G. Major, United States astronomer and surveyor, in charge of the work, under his contract, dated 1st October, 1867, with this office.
In the establishinent of this boundary five astronomical stations were determined, and a series of over four thousand observations made for the correct demarcation on the earth's surface of this portion of the fortysecond parallel.
The first and most important station was located near the head of Surprise Valley, at Camp Bidwell, where a temporary observatory was erected, and a protracted series of observations taken, extending through the greater part of three lunations; the longitude being found by the method of moon culminations, corroborated by several occultations. The latitude was deduced from a discussion of a large number of differential measurements of meridional zenith distances of stars on opposite sides of the zenith, and likewise includes the results obtained from many observations of meridian altitudes measured with Gambey's sextant. The reduction of these observations being for the purpose of ascertaining the intersection of the forty-second parallel with the one hundred and twentieth meridian, a geographical position of much significance, it being the initial point of the California-Nevada line on the Oregon boundary. Deduced longitude of Camp Bidwell.
1200 05' 4711.5 Deduced latitude ...
41° 51' 34.4 Magnetic declination
190 10' east. Altitude above mean sea level
4,685 feet. The initial point is therefore 5' 47".5=4 miles and 78 chains east, and 8' 25'.6=9 miles and 56 chains north.
Surprise Valley, situated between ranges of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, seventy miles long, and from three to ten miles wide, is a fertile, well-settled district, partly in California and partly in Nevada. The greater part of this basin is reported by the astronomer and surveyor to be covered by a lake of recent formation; old pioneer voyageurs and emigrants asserting that in 1848–49 an area some forty miles long, which is now submerged, was in those days a dry valley, with but here and there a marsh; numerous hot springs issue from the mountain sides, and the whole country is of volcanic origin. During the season of 1868, while Mr. Major was observing, he reports several earthquakes; that of August 27, at 8.45 a. m., being so violent as to stop the box chronometer and disturb the instrumental adjustments.
Measuring a few miles from Camp Bidwell, north and east, the astronomer and his party passed out of Surprise Valley over a series of irregular mountain ridges, the most prominent being Mount Bidwell, to the initial point, which is situated, on a hillside, overlooking the new military road from the valley to Fort Warner, and near a stream known as Twelve Mile Creek. The initial point is perpetuated by a large stone monument surmounted by a cap-stone, appropriately inscribed.
Proceeding west, in tracing the parallel, the astronomer and party crossed a succession of mountain ridges with marked ascent, cut by deep ravines, until, passing the 8th mile monument, the culminating ridge, and most elevated on the line, was attained; that ridge affording a view of wild and sublime scenery of unsurpassed grandeur, besides being of great practical value to the topographical engineer in locating correctly a vast extent of country, diversified by high mountains and a chain of beautiful lakes, including the broad aud magnificent expanse of Goose Lake, thousands of feet below; and Wright Lake, miles beyond the timber ridges, may here be accurately outlined. Turning to the eastern horizon, that notable landmark, Beatty's Butte, and the more prominent Steen's Mountain, are visible a hundred and more miles distant, while to the west-southwest, resting in stately grandeur on its vast pedestal, is seen the majestic form of Shasta Butte, with its heavily laden bi-capped summits extending far into the region of eternal snows, the most sublime topograpical feature of far-famed California.
Descending abruptly over sparsely timbered ridges, cut by deep lateral cañons containing small streams, on the 13th mile the line enters the fertile valley of Goose Lake, an excellent agricultural district, rapidly filling up with an enterprising and thrifty population. The surrounding mountain slopes offer an extensive grazing country, having an abundance of water, grass, and timber.
Goose Lake, thirty-five miles long, and from three to eleven wide, al. most equally divided by the forty-second parallel, is the largest body of water in the lake district, abounding in fish and water fowl. Upon leaving the western shore on the 23d mile, the line enters a densely timbered tract of low mountains or succession of trap ranges, broken by deep ravines and covered with extensive masses of pumice stone and broken trap rock; at the 49th mile was fixed the second astronomical station, on a small tributary of Wright Lake, a few miles south; thence, over like character of country, the line passed through pine, juniper, and mountain mahogany timber, and a rocky waste of no agricultural value; at the 65th mile the line leaves timber ridges and descends to Rhett Valley, an extensive flat forming a portion of the area of the great basin, which includes the Upper and Lower Klamath, Rhett, and Wright Lakes, with the surrounding valleys; at the 67th mile from the initial point the boundary enters Rhett Lake, coursing its northern margin and throwing into Oregon a portion of its waters, together with the most of Lost River, a natural canal affording an outlet for the high waters of Wright and Upper Klamath.
Passing from the west edge of the lake at the 77th mile, near the third astronomical station, on the Old Emigrant road to Yreka and Southern Oregon, and crossing sage-brush flats, the parallel was traced to the east border of Lower Klamath Lake, on the 81st mile. Here, as in the other lakes, transverse trap ranges extend far into the water, and several isolated peaks rise hundreds of feet from its surface.
The whole region seems in past ages to have been a great inland sea. The adjacent plains are adapted to cultivation, and support large herds of cattle, tended, at trifling expense, by the Modock Indians,