Township (United States) - Survey Townships

Survey Townships

Survey townships are generally referred to by a number based on the Public Land Survey System (PLSS). A reference to the township will look something like "Township 2 North Range 3 East", and the use is fully explained in the PLSS article. Townships were originally surveyed and platted by the US General Land Office using contracted private survey crews and are marked on the U.S. Geological Survey maps of the United States of America.

Townships are normally a square approximately 6 miles (9.7 km) on a side with cardinal boundaries conforming to meridians and parallels, containing thirty-six sections of one square mile each. The northern and western most tier of sections in each township are designed to take up the convergence of the east and west township boundary lines or range lines, as well as any error in the survey measurements, and therefore these sections vary slightly from being one square mile or 640 acres. Survey Townships exist in some form in all states other than the original 13 colonies, Kentucky, Tennessee, Vermont, and Maine. Irregular or fractual townships with fewer than a full 36 sections are created where full townships cannot be laid out due to existing senior boundaries, such as Spanish/Mexican ranchos, Indian reservations, state boundary lines, etc.

This kind of township is similar to geographic townships in the province of Ontario, Canada.

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