Rectangular Surveys

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Portal:United States Land and Property > Public Domain

Principle Meridians

A geographical term which refers to a reference line used in surveying and dividing land in certain parts of the U.S. The meridian numbers progress from low to high as they were surveyed from east to west. The meridian lines on either side of the principal meridian are twenty-four miles apart. [The New A to Zax, US/Can 973 D26e]

Use the following website to locate principle meridians in the United States. Click on an area of the map to enlarge it:

Township and Range

The basic unit of the Township and Range System is a section. A section contains 640 acres. Thirty-six sections in a square pattern, (6 miles by 6 miles), makes up a township. The following diagram shows the numbering of a township:

6           5           4            3           2           1
7           8           9           10         11          12
18         17         16          15         14          13
19         20         21          22         23          24
30         29         28          27         26          25
31         32         33          34         35          36

Each township has a range line and a township line.  Together they create an address for that township within the boundaries of the Principle Meridian and  Baseline.  Begin counting where the principle meridian and baseline intersect.  If the township address is T2N R3E, it means that the township is two sections north of the baseline, and three sections east of the principle meridian.  Similarlly, a township address of T3S R1W would be three sections south of the baseline, and one section west of the principle meridian.

  • To find the Principle Meridian for the state you are researching check the following website:

  • For further discussion on Township and Range: or

  • See Land & Property Research in the United States, by E. Wade Hone, FHL US/CAN 973 R27h, chapter 8.