Talk:Public Land Survey System

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Naming[edit]

I had thought of naming this article the United States Public... , but a web search for LPSS and survey only turns up things in the U.S. Besides the title was long enouh already.

For details of the prime range line by state, just do a web search on LPSS and the state name. - Lou I 03:53 30 May 2003 (UTC)


The title of this article is misleading, as it deals exclusively with a United States land survey system, a definition not expressed in the article's title. (Alexander Ganse)

Etymology issues[edit]

"Meet" in the context of "meets and bounds," is not what "meets the eye;" it is a modern variant on "mete" which has to do with measurement. Meets and bounds (or metes and bounds) is indeed a survey system, but it is a rigorous recording of measurements betweem natuaral markers (the bounds).

Shame on you for perpetrating fraudulent (albaeit inventive) misapprehensions.

List of Meridians and Baselines[edit]

I thought there would be an article Third Principal Meridian, but there wasn't. Since there are a finite number of meridians and baselines, it would be possible to make a list of them and have each one have an article.--Bhuck 15:34, 14 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I suppose there could. There's an article for the Michigan Meridian and a couple of others are in Category:Lines of longitude. olderwiser 20:57, 14 December 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree, simply because I had to search long and hard to find that list recently. So I've added it to this article, fully linked, to encourage building the articles. (In the process of adding links to the non-existant articles, wikipedia showed me an article for the San Bernardino Meridian that wasn't previously linked.) However, there are a couple of issues: I made the link for Montana's 'Principal Meridian' point to Montana Principal Meridian instead of Principal Meridian, to distinguish it from the article about the general term. And Mississippi's Washington Meridian currently points to an article about meridians in Washington, DC, which are not part of the PLSS. I'm not sure how best to resolve that conflict. As a result of this list addition, the section Meridians in the United States is probably now obsolete. Lastly, the BLM surveying manual also has a table of the early surveys in Ohio, which are described as having no initial point of origin (and thus, no baseline or meridian). Though these surveys are displayed on the BLM map in this article, it's not clear to me how relevant they are to this article, so I elected not to add that table at this time. --Diggernet 07:24, 2 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
UPDATE: Based on the BLM manual's 1973 publication date, and the reference to Clarke's Spheroid of 1866 in section 2-82, I believe the coordinates listed are NAD27. I will continue searching for official WGS84 coordinates. If nothing else, BLM is currently working on a new edition of the manual which one would expect to have updated coordinates. --Diggernet 22:58, 2 June 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
UPDATE 2: The current listed coordinates are certainly NAD27. I have obtained a copy of the draft of that section of the new edition, and it uses NAD83, not WGS84. It also emphasizes that some of the listed coordinates are only approximate. I'm not sure how to handle this, as Wikipedia expects coordinates to be in WGS84, and these coordinates don't appear to be available in that datum. --Diggernet 21:23, 25 July 2007 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Why don't we just datum-shift the initial points from NAD27 to NAD83 using one of the many tools available (I use GeoTrans from the Army COE) and add a note about it, since the points would then not be the originally defined points, but the equivalents? AlanM1 (talk) 02:54, 14 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
On 2010-04-06, IP 216.102.9.150 changed the longitude for the Humboldt IP to 124-07-14 from 124-07-10. It turns out that this change was simply a datum shift from NAD27 to NAD83, which is why I find almost no reference to that value anywhere else, despite it being exactly correct when compared against verified accurate imagery and an NGS benchmark there. For now, I'm changing it back and adding a note to the table that it appears to be in the NAD27 datum. AlanM1 (talk) 02:54, 14 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Update: A slight problem is that the meridians are no longer actual meridians after the datum shift. In the case of the Mt. Diablo Meridian, when you convert to NAD83, the longitude at the top extreme of its usage (42°) is about 0.0001° (0.36") west of the longitude at the bottom extreme (35.1°) - a shift of about 9 meters. This is probably one of the "tallest" meridian usage areas, though, and I guess it's "close enough" for our purposes. It would be nice if someone had the revised BLM manual to see what they've done. AlanM1 (talk) 04:45, 14 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Update 2: I have a list of datum-shifted (NAD27 to NAD83) co-ordinates, and they are generally closer to the expected position relative to benchmarks and other data sources. I want to run it by the BLM for confirmation, but any objection to my adding columns with the NAD83 co-ordinates and removing the GeoHack links from the original NAD27 co-ordinates (but leaving them in the table)? AlanM1 (talk) 23:48, 16 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Sounds great to me. YBG (talk) 00:40, 22 March 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

On the articles for each meridian, I think it would be helpful to list the adjacent meridians. --Una Smith (talk) 04:58, 15 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

French system[edit]

Regarding the listing of Non-PLSS Regions: Southeastern Michigan (near Lake Erie) still retains the old French long-lot system, in lieu of sections -- add this area to the list?156.98.210.245 (talk) 18:56, 26 March 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Under non-PLSS areas it says: "Louisiana recognizes early French and Spanish descriptions called arpents, particularly in the southern part of the state, as well as PLSS descriptions." I believe that this really applies to all of the Louisiana Territory, although I can't find that written down anywhere. I know it applies in Missouri. Here is one example (possibly the oldest) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Mines,_Missouri#Land_concessions_and_titles , but if you look at any of the old style 7.5 minute topographical maps in the areas around St. Louis you can see them as the irregularly shaped numbered Surveys surrounded by the PLSS square sections. --2600:6C40:4300:4C8:21C:C0FF:FE29:32A0 (talk) 04:52, 2 February 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Surveying and grid system blamed for auto accidents[edit]

People of all ages have desired short roads. They are costly. The first cut at a road is a straight line on a map between two places, until contours and geographic features normally force changes. Blaming them on the grid system is, a best, inaccurate. It would have to be a very good WP:RELY reference indeed, to be believable on that point. Having said that, it's okay to blame straight roads on accidents. But not here. Road design maybe. Student7 (talk) 21:49, 18 February 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Back Forty[edit]

Why does the expression "Back forty" direct here? If there's a reason, can it made a little more explicit? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 139.78.10.26 (talk) 17:57, 27 August 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The redirect now points to Public Land Survey System#Popular Culture, which should make it more obvious. YBG (talk) 06:38, 1 September 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

40 days per acre or acres per day?[edit]

The idea of 40 work days in an acre came from a Gunter's chain calculation. At the time of the Homestead Act, four square perch (33 ft × 33 ft) = one work day.

was edited, with no edit summary :( to:

The idea of 40 acres in a work day ...

According to Perch (unit)#Area, a square perch = 16.5 ft × 16.5 ft = 272.25 sq ft. So, 4 square perch = 1089 sq ft = 140 acre. If that is "one work day", an acre is 40 work days, making the original statement correct. Never having farmed anything, I really have no idea which is right, or even whether it is supposed to be talking about total time to plant, tend, harvest, etc. However, the cited calculation supports the original statement, which is why I'm reverting the edit. A source would be helpful :) —[AlanM1(talk)]— 02:26, 11 September 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Section numbers for donation land claims[edit]

The article says:

Parts of Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Wyoming were settled as Donation Land Claims. Some were established before the Willamette Meridian, and those established after were often poorly surveyed and didn't correspond to the PLSS. However, the vast majority of these states use the PLSS.

In Oregon at least, donation land claims are incorporated into the PLSS using section numbers 37 and above, so that for example section 45 of T1S R1W WM designates a donation land claim within T1S R1W that was surveyed before the WM was established. I don't have any RS for this. YBG (talk) 08:03, 15 January 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Back forty[edit]

I was looking for back forty-- and got redirected here, but this is not at all what I was looking for (I'm looking for the Canadian expression). Shouldn't there be a disambig page? — Preceding unsigned comment added by 134.190.183.214 (talk) 13:14, 25 August 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A disambiguation page can't exist until someone aware of the ambiguity (as I wasn't until this moment) creates one! —Tamfang (talk) 18:41, 25 August 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@134.190.183.214: you are right, the terms back forty and the like as used in Canada are not specifically dependent on the US PLSSS. I presume the Canadian terms are synonymous with the US terms, but derived from the Dominion Land Survey which also uses 640 acre sections, 160 acre quarter sections and 40 acre quarter-quarter sections. So where should this information be included?
  1. In both the PLSS and the DLS pages
  2. In PLSS only but add a comment saying that the expressions is also used in DLS areas and add a link to DLS's See Also section
  3. In Forty acres -- but that already exists as a dab page
  4. In Quarter quarter section -- but will there really be enough information for an article?
  5. In Forty in a new section
There are no doubt other possibilities. YBG (talk) 19:10, 25 August 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

State Plane Coordinate System[edit]

The closing phrase in the opening paragraph "and manages the State Plane Coordinate System" is incorrect. The SPCS is not really managed in any way, but it is a system of measurement defined in many state laws, and the National Geodetic Survey maintains many, many, records of geodetic survey measurements and mathematical conversions to State Plane Coordinates. The Public Land Survey System is/was a method for dividing the land surface into equivalently-sized parcels for subsequent title transfer into individual ownership. The SPCS is a way of representing the convex surface of the earth as individual areas of plane surfaces, configured in relation to U.S. State boundaries, more or less, with a Cartesian coordinate system applied to the plane. IzzyFuzzy (talk) 04:16, 4 August 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

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