Since there are only 37 major meridians and the West was a vast country without borders at that time, states are not equally divided by these lines. Wisconsin, for example, has only Northern Township designations. Ponds and markers were used as the primary method of surveying before 1785 and were quite inaccurate, especially before GPS technology. The system uses metes, which are straight lines connecting two points, and bounds, which are identifiable aspects of a property. For example, a link could be a road, a tree, a river, or a large rock. Moreover, this system only worked when people were already on site to keep records. In the 1783 Treaty of Paris, which recognized the United States, Britain also recognized American rights to lands south of the Great Lakes and west of the Mississippi. Especially in New England, this system was supplemented by the design of city plates. The Metes and Bounds system was used to describe a city that was usually rectangular in shape, 4 to 6 miles (6.4 to 9.7 km) on one side. Within this boundary, a map or platform was maintained showing all individual lots or properties. Some Western states have only one baseline. (Note that these states have straight lines to the north or south.) This means that all townships in the state are to the north or south.
(The baseline for surveying the Kansas and Nebraska territories was the 40th parallel that divided them.) They usually have only one prime meridian. (For example, the Kansas Range Line is 97° west of Greenwich.) In the Maine variant of the system, the Range Line is referred to as the East Line of State; All areas are west of this line and are usually spelled TxRx WELS or “West from East Line of State”. In the 1783 Treaty of Paris, which recognized the United States, Britain also recognized American rights to lands south of the Great Lakes and west of the Mississippi. The Continental Congress passed the Land Ordinance of 1785 and the North-West Ordinance of 1787 to control the surveying, sale, and settlement of new lands. The original 13 colonies donated their western lands to the new Union to give land to new states. These include the countries that made up the Northwest Territory, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. The state that abandoned the most was Virginia, whose original claim included most of the Northwest Territory and Kentucky. Some of the western land was claimed by more than one state, particularly in the northwest, where parts of Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut were claimed, all three having claimed land as far away as the Pacific Ocean. Indiana The description of a particular 40,000 square foot property under this system could be given as NW1/4 SW1/4 SE1/4 SEC 22 T2S R3E. The elements of these descriptions are interpreted from right to left, so that we describe a property in the community that is the third east of the range line (R3E) and the second south of the baseline (T2S).
We are also looking at section 22 in this municipality (see grid above). Then this section is divided into neighborhoods (160 acres each), and we should be in the southeast quarter section. This section is again divided into quarters (40 acres) and the description calls the SW quarter. Last in this description, it is again confined to 10-acre (40,000 m2) parcels, as we want the NW quarter. Prior to the introduction of the rectangular surveying system, meter-based and bounded surveying was the only way to determine who owned what land. Metes and Bounds surveys are still used in many states; However, they differ from the public land survey system because they are not grid-based, but identify objects on land, measurements, and cardinal points. These adjustments are made on two different scales. On a small scale (within a municipality), this is done by the “subdivisions” of the township) starting in the southeast corner and gradually moving to the northwest corner. The algorithm used is to move north to determine the six easternmost sections (and quarters of sections), and then move west parallel to the eastern boundary of the municipality at one-mile intervals, repeating this process until the west side of the municipality is reached. The result is that the northernmost and westernmost sections – 11 in total – are allowed to deviate by one square mile, but the other 25 sections (the southeasternmost ones) are not.
This method takes into account the problem of curvature within a community and also allows for the mistakes made during surveying – which were almost inevitable due to the physical difficulty of the work and the rudimentary equipment used – without unduly affecting the basic rectangular nature of the system as a whole. On the larger scale of multiple townships, standard parallels have evolved to determine the baseline, so that the width of the cantons does not continually decrease as the grid heads north (and is, in fact, the main reason for their establishment). Therefore, corrections exist for the curvature of the Earth at two distinct spatial scales – a smaller scale within the cantons and a larger scale between several cantons and within standard parallels. The rectangular survey system, also known as the government survey system or public land survey system, is a method of representing land boundaries in the United States with a large grid of rectangles. The grid is divided into smaller sections called squares, townships, sections, half-sections, and quarter sections, which are used to describe property boundaries in most of the United States. “. Measurements of every property in the United States were made in acres, feet and inches and are publicly recorded with the country`s titles according to that country`s own system of registers. – Franklin Institute, Philadelphia (1876).