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THE ELUSIVE
CENTER OF
THE SECTION
©
THE PUBLIC LAND SYSTEM
A 200 YEAR, 1.5 BILLION ACRE PROJECT
Initial PLSS
Framework
1784: Theory 1785:Practical “Rules” 1787: Political
PLSS LEGISLATION
The public land system, as we ...
LAND ORDINANCE OF 1784
The New States Shall Remain Forever A Part Of The United
States Of America
They Shall Bear The Sa...
THE SEVEN RANGES
 The first area to be surveyed in the PLSS
 Measured 42 miles by 91 miles, along the Ohio river
 U.S. ...
LAND ORDINANCE OF 1805:
THE SANCTITY OF AN ORIGINAL SURVEY
Surveyors Were Paid Little And Mistakes Today
Could Be Disastro...
1851 Instructions to the Surveyor General of Oregon
1855 Instructions to the Surveyors General of Public Lands of the Un...
Issues
What constitutes the south bank of the Red River?
Where along that bank is the boundary located?
What is the pro...
REGULAR QUARTER SECTIONS
According to 3-89, the quarter-quarter or sixteenth-quarter sections will be established at point...
CRAGIN V. POWELL
(128 U.S. 691, 1888)
THEISSUE
Duringa resurvey, should the bearing and distance controlover the
evidence ...
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The Elusive Center of Section

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This seminar will teach students how to perform resurveys of the Public Land Survey System (PLSS). A variety of topics will be discussed, including common types of evidence left by the original surveyors and their correlation with the written record. This lecture will include practical on-the-ground advice to the retracing surveyor as well as the case law that underlies the retracement procedure. Emphasis will be given to corner evidence such as bearing trees, round mounds, topographic calls, and other evidence.

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The Elusive Center of Section

  1. 1. THE ELUSIVE CENTER OF THE SECTION ©
  2. 2. THE PUBLIC LAND SYSTEM A 200 YEAR, 1.5 BILLION ACRE PROJECT
  3. 3. Initial PLSS Framework 1784: Theory 1785:Practical “Rules” 1787: Political PLSS LEGISLATION The public land system, as we know it today, was created like any other piece of legislation, one piece at a time. The first three land acts laid-out the initial idea in three stages: • Concept • Practice • Revision
  4. 4. LAND ORDINANCE OF 1784 The New States Shall Remain Forever A Part Of The United States Of America They Shall Bear The Same Relation To The Confederation As The Original States They Shall Pay Their Apportionment Of The Federal Debts They Shall, In Their Governments, Uphold Republican Forms After The Year 1800 There Shall Be Neither Slavery Nor Involuntary Servitude In Any Of Them [deleted from final bill]
  5. 5. THE SEVEN RANGES  The first area to be surveyed in the PLSS  Measured 42 miles by 91 miles, along the Ohio river  U.S. government prohibited settlement by Europeans under the Proclamation Act of 1783 but widely settled by squatters  The first North/South line, known as the Eastern Ohio Meridian, was established along the western boundary of Pennsylvania  The first East/West baseline, known as Ellicott’s line, began where the Pennsylvania boundary touched the north bank of the Ohio River
  6. 6. LAND ORDINANCE OF 1805: THE SANCTITY OF AN ORIGINAL SURVEY Surveyors Were Paid Little And Mistakes Today Could Be Disastrous Tomorrow
  7. 7. 1851 Instructions to the Surveyor General of Oregon 1855 Instructions to the Surveyors General of Public Lands of the United States 1864 Instructions to the Surveyors General, Amendments to the 1855 Manual 1881 Instructions to the Commissioner of the General Land Office to the Surveyors General of the United States 1890 Manual of Surveying Instructions for the Survey of the Public Lands of the United States and Private Claims BLM MANUALS
  8. 8. Issues What constitutes the south bank of the Red River? Where along that bank is the boundary located? What is the proper mode of locating the boundary on the ground? OKLAHOMA V. TEXAS 258 U.S. 574 (1922)
  9. 9. REGULAR QUARTER SECTIONS According to 3-89, the quarter-quarter or sixteenth-quarter sections will be established at points midway between the section and quarter-section corners…except the last half mile of the lines closing on townships boundaries To find the center of a regular section, use the same methods  Use the east and west ¼’s to establish the E/W line  The north and south ¼’s to establish the N/S line  The center of section is located where both lines intersect
  10. 10. CRAGIN V. POWELL (128 U.S. 691, 1888) THEISSUE Duringa resurvey, should the bearing and distance controlover the evidence left on-the-ground by the original surveyor

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