Commonly referred to as the “Rectangular Survey System”. This system uses Meridian (North and South lines) and Base (East and West lines) lines to create a grid. The grid is broken down into 6 mile by 6 mile blocks called “Townships”. These townships are further divided into 1 by 1 mile blocks called sections. A parcel of land is described by using township names and section numbers, then specific portions of each section. For example “the North West ¼ of the 14th section of Newtown Township”.
The rectangular land survey system was adopted by the federal government in 1785. It is used in all states except for the original 13 colonies, the states created from these colonies and Kentucky, West Virginia and Texas.
There are geographical locations all over the US that serve as a base reference in land surveys. The principal meridians running North-South and East-West intersect at these locations.
In Florida for instance, they cross at a point in Tallahassee. Beginning at these points, the surveyors established lines every 6 miles North, South, East and West of the crossing point. Each of these squares are called townships. They are 6 miles by 6 miles, thus have an area of 36 square miles. lines running East-West are called township lines. The lines running North-South are called range lines. They are further divided up into areas of 1 square mile called sections. Thus there are 36 sections in a township. Each section contains 640 acres. (See illustration).
The sections are further divided up into quarter sections of 160 acres.