Legal Description to Long/Lat

Tinhorn

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My wife is heavily into Family Tree Research and sometimes finds Legal Descriptions of ancestor's land holdings (you know, NW corner of section 18, type stuff)

I like to locate Topo's off TopoZone and find the land plots, etc but have a hard time locating the correct Topo.

Is there a Website that can calculate the Long/Lat from a legal Description for the East and Central US?

I know there is for the West Coast but most of the lands my ancestors had were in the Central to Eastern part of the US.....

Thanx a million

Tinhorn
 



ToddP

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Tinhorn,

My experience working with legal descriptions, atleast here in PA, is that they are based on a "local" coordinate system.  What I mean by that is the surveyor that initially recorded the deed went out and looked for a local landmark,  (the big oak tree, the rock pile etc), and calls that point 0,0.  From there he determines the distances and angles of the deed.  For me to map this out I would have to know what the Lat/Long, UTM, Stateplane coordinates of the rockpile are before plotting the angles and distances.  

Things might be different for the west and central US where everything is gridded off, unlike the east coast.

You might also want to check with the County in which the land is in.  Many Counties are into GIS Mapping now and usually the first thing they map is tax parcels.  They might be able to help you out obtaining coordinates for the parcel.

Todd
 

Tinhorn

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Todd,

Thanx for your reply.  

Most Legal Descriptions I see for around here (Mo, Ark) use Townships, Ranges, and Sections.  These are all shown on Topo's but the TS's and Ranges are hard to locate on Topo's because they are such a large Grid, especially hard to locate on Topozone's maps.....

Sections are easy to see on the maps but it's hard to tell which TS/Rng it's in

So

was hoping to find a site that would give at least the Lont/Lat of a Section.  Out West, these legal descriptions are laid out uniformaly but here in the Central part of the US there are Spanish Land Grants messing up the "Grid", making it not-so-easy to easily find Grid Coordinates of any kind...

I will keep looking on the internet, surely there is something.  I've talked to several Surveyors who said there is a Gov Site that has the info but so far, I've had no luck finding it (if it really exists)

Thanx again

Tinhorn
 

Speckmisser

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Tinhorn,

I took a BLM volunteer course out in Nevada, and one of the classes included conversion of the townships, ranges, etc. for use with GPS.  Wish I'd paid better attention, but that was a couple of years ago and it's all slipped past me now.  You might contact the BLM, though, and find out if they can direct your questions.
 

Tinhorn

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Speckmisser

Thanx for your reply,  while searching for a program to do the job, I seen that the entire West is surveyed with uniform grids that make it easy to make the conversion but unfortunatly, the midwest's Grid is not uniform  enough,  in part because of all the Spanish Land Grants.  The program would probably be pretty sophisticated to know about this type thing but surely it exists somewhere.

I aim to keep looking tho

Thanx again

Tinhorn
 

Richard Webb

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Tinhorn - Here is the URL for WinCMM (free software) that I have had good luck with, because it will divide the townships the way a surveyor would:

http://www.spatial.maine.edu/~kwurm/cgi-bi...passCookie=true


Below is a message that I received from the author:


There are a couple of loaded questions in your post Richard, I'll do my best to give you a straightforward answer.
... and I can only get the quarter sections from USGS STDS files for townships where the GCDB isn't finished yet. Some of these remote sections are odd shaped.

First, USGS tries hard to accurately depict the US Public Land Survey System, however, from region to region, and also through time - the amount of effort given to properly identifying the US PLSS section & 1/4 corners has varied widely. Secondly, the locations in a USGS digital file are only as accurate as the source map (1:24,000), in general terms this usually equates out to +/- 40 feet for the location of a point. There is symbology shown on the map to give you an idea of the certainty that USGS has used... section & 1/4 corner locations shown with a heavy red "+" symbol is inteded to mean a known corner location. In other cases, they are simply making a guess to the actual location, or plotting a fenceline seen in the aerial photography.

The local resource area office of the BLM may be able to help you to further locate these lands and assist in planning your trip.

Does WinCMM or WinGMM add the 16th section points? Is there a standard size the 16th section, or are they larger when a 1/4 section is twice a big as a normal 1/4 section?

It appears Richard that you are unfamiliar with the surveying rules for subdivisions of sections. Complexities, such as what you describe "when a 1/4 section is 2x normal size" usually follow a complex set of rules for subdivision, the only way to determine which methods should be used is to consult the official plat and notes for the township, which will identify special lotting and subdivision of the sections, 1/4 sections, 1/16th's and government lots.

To answer your question though: WinGMM, through its APROP subsystem, is capable of computing all of the USPLSS corners according to the rules set forth in the Manual of Surveying Instructions, Including those special methods I described above. That said, all computed points are dependent upon the points used to determine them, and the official record of the courses. This information is not included in the USGS products and is indeed the reason for GCDB collection. In this case, you may be venturing into territory beyond the capability of any software.

I hope this helps to explain the difficulty you are experiencing with the USGS products. Like I said above, they've diligently tried to locate these features, but not to the level of detail that the BLM and GCDB have.

It's obvious that you're making a good faith attempt to locate the blm lands in your area. Good luck with your boar hunt! Please come back and share your story!

~kurt


[This message has been edited by Kurt (edited 04-24-2000).]
 

Richard Webb

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Tinhorn - Forgot to give you the Website for downloading the Software. I use CMM, but from what the guy says, I should be using GMM. I still don't understand all that I know about Surveying? However, I did find some good hog hunting areas located on hidden blm land, but I used CMM with California State Plane Coordinates rather than Geographic GMM (like Kurt suggests).

Here is the URL:

http://www.spatial.maine.edu/~kwurm/

(Edited by Richard Webb at 3:37 pm on Aug. 21, 2001)
 

spectr17

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I posed Tinhorn's question on the suveying newsgroup. Here is a reply from Jerry,
================================================

The following site has a web  based interface to a commonly available program called TRS2LL.  This works fairly well to get you close for those states it
covers, and is a nice site to show the wonders of geo-coded data.  Nothing available in the east.  As of a few weeks ago there was an error for North Dakota, being put in the 6th PM instead of the 5th.  The original programmer of TRS2LL corrected this, but not sure if this web based version has been corrected
or not.

http://www.esg.montana.edu/gl/trs-data.html

- jlw
 

Richard Webb

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Spectra - I posted a message to ask Kurt about TRS2LL software, and this is his response: What amazes me is how far those guys advanced in only one year.

Relay message follows:
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
You sure have made some sporty maps Richard!
You asked about the website at montana.edu, let me tell you a little bit about that data - then it's up to you.

-- BLM's GCDB is based upon ACTUAL SURVEY measurements, and within its limits, does a great job of accounting for the irregularities in the PLSS, as well as the most probable locations of section subdivision lines.

A great website to use in conjunction with WinGMM is :
http://www-a.blm.gov/gcdb/

From this site, you'll be able to find GCDB data in the western states, in two forms: 1 form "flat files" are GMM-compatible datasets. The second format provided is usable by several commercial GIS software products such as ArcInfo & ArcView.

-- the data provided on the montana.edu website is entirely different. That data is based on a program named TRS2LL which attempts to "convert" Twp, Range, & Section to lat/lon (and the other way around). This program was initially developed to assist with wildland fire management, thus exact boundaries were not an issue (nor the method to compute the center of the section). This method can only approximate the section, Twp, & Range, at best.

The author of TRS2LL says:

quote:
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The conversion data was obtained from USGS and BLM 1:100,000 scale maps. The area is broken up into regular rectangular areas. Then a linear regression is done for several sections in the area and coefficients are calculated which can then be used to calculate the lat long for any section in that rectangle. The states done so far has required about 1700 sets of coefficients.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

These are two entirely diffent sets of data -- this set is very limited in accuracy. Have you ever viewed one of the BLM 1:100K maps? A section is depicted as approx. the size of your thumbnail, thus even though professional cartographic techniques were used to develop that map series - it has severe limitations for boundary locations.


[This message has been edited by Kurt (edited 08-24-2001).]
 

spectr17

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Thanks for the correction on that program Richard. I haven't seen it yet. One of these days I going to have some spare time to plug in some maps from that link you posted.
 

Richard Webb

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Spectra - Next spring when we are rained-in will be a good time for  mapping. I found the starter map for the Laguna Mountain area, but it would be a lot of work. Click the peak directly below the Lake.


  http://www.esg.montana.edu/gl/100/121_360.html


(Edited by Richard Webb at 4:06 pm on Aug. 24, 2001)
 

MNTNMAN

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Also the NGS is a great place to find prgrams that deal with geodetic and geocentric coordinates, as well as many other things.
 

rlwright

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Tinhorn,

Texas, GA, SC, NC, TN, KT, VA, W VA, MD, DEL, NJ, PA, NY, RI, MASS, CONN, NH, VT, Maine, and parts of Ohio were not surveyed acoording to the public land system. You will have a hard time finding coordinates for propertys in these states. Everytime a land grant was made by the king it was surveyed on it's own merrits with no respect for adjacent lands, and each surveyer used different methods. You will have to go to the state the property is in and see if you can find the original survey, if it exists.
 

Tinhorn

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rlwright,

Somehow I missed your post, thanx for the info, I sort of figured that but was hoping for the best.  I see Mo. is not in your list but bet it should be,  there are a lot of spanish land grants here messing up the nice horiz/vert lines, ha ha.

Thanx and sorry for not seing the post ealier

Tinhorn
 

rlwright

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Actually MO is in the public land system, but like you said theres a lot of rancho lands amoung the public lands. We have the same problem over here in Ca. Incedently have you made any progress locating the lots?
 

Tinhorn

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I can find them but it's a lot of cross "Mapping" between Topozone and county or other maps, etc.  I've got close to a hundred (paper) topo's for Missouri and that helps too.

I've found most of the lands our ancestors used to own that we know about and we even visited some.  A lot are now Nat'l Forest, wish the land was still in the family.

Tinhorn
 

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