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# LAND MEASUREMENTS

Old surveys were often measured using a Surveyors Chain. These were literally chains
made up of 100 links. Each Chain was 66 feet long. Each link was 0.666 of a foot...or 7.92" To
convert the distances on a plat measured in chains (abbreviate Ch) simply multiply the distance
in chains by 66.
Another common unit of measurement was the Pole. The Pole is exactly what it sounds
like; a wood pole which was 16.5' feet long. To convert the distances on a plat measured in
poles (abbreviated P) you must multiply the distance by 16.5 A Pole is sometimes called a
"perch" on old surveys.
AREA MEASUREMENTS
The standard unit of measuring land in the United States is the ACRE.
An Acre is equal to 43,560 square feet (Sq. Ft.) of area. An acre is also equal to 10
square chains ( 66 x 66 x 10 = 43560 Sq. Ft.) or 160 square rods (16.5 x 16.5 x 160 = 43,560
Sq. Ft.)
There are exactly 640 Acres in one square mile.
Seeing how older units of measurement like the chain and the pole can be converted into
acres it is easy to see that seemingly odd distances (66' and 16.5') really did make sense.
WHAT DOES AN ACRE LOOK LIKE?
If you had a parcel of land that was exactly 1 acre in size and was perfectly square it
would be 208.71' on each of the 4 sides. If the same lot were a rectangle 100' wide it would be
435.60' feet deep (long).

Manual of Instructions for the Survey of the Public Lands of the United
States; 1973
Prepared by the Bureau of Land Management, Technical Bulletin 6; pub. U.S. Dept
of Interior

The methods described in this chapter comprise the specifications for determining the
length and direction of lines.

DISTANCE MEASUREMENT
Units
2-1. The law prescribes the chain as the unit of linear measure for the survey of the public
lands. All returns of measurements in the rectangular system are made in the true horizontal
distance in miles, chains, and links. (Exceptions are special requirements for measurement in
feet in townsite surveys, chapter VII, and mineral surveys, chapter X.)

1 chain

1 chain

66 feet

1 mile

80 chains

1 mile

5,280 feet

Units of Area
1 acre

1 square mile

10 square chains

## 43,560 square feet

640 acres

The chain unit, devised in the seventeenth century by Edmund Gunter, an English
astronomer, is so designed that 10 square chains are equivalent to one acre. In the English
colonial area of the United States the boundaries of land were usually measured in the chain unit,
but lengths of lines were frequently expressed in poles. One pole is equal to 25 links, and four
poles equal one chain. The field notes of some early rectangular surveys in the southern States
show the distance in "perches," equivalent to poles. The term now commonly used for the same
distance is the rod.
Land grants by the French crown were made in arpents. The arpent is a unit of area, but
the side of a square arpent came to be used for linear description. The Spanish crown and the
Mexican Government granted lands which were usually described in linear varas. Both the arpent
and the vara have slightly different values in different States. The conversions most often needed
are shown in the Standard Field Tables.

## Surveying measurements compiled by Margie over the years

Surveying Measurements

1 yard

4 rods

= 1 chain

1 chain

10 chains

= 1 furlong

## = 1/100 of surveyor's chain = 7.92 inches

= 1 rod = 16.5 ft

= 1 chain = 66 ft

1 furlong

8 furlongs

= 1 mile

= 3 ft

= 0.9144 meter

1 mile

league

## = 80 chains = 320 rods = 1,760 yards = 5,280 ft = 1,609.344 meters

= 3 statute miles = 4,828.032 meters

## Land Longitude Square and Surveyors Measure

10 Sq. Chains----------------------------------------------------Acre
12 Ins.--------------------------------------------------------------Ft.
160 Sq. Rods----------------------------------------------------Acre
144 Sq. Ins.---------------------------------------------------Sq. Ft.
4840 Sq. Rods-------------------------------------------------- Acre
3 Ft.---------------------------------------------------------------Yard
43560 Sq. Ft. ---------------------------------------------------Acre
9 Sq Ft. ---------------------------------------------------- Sq. Yard
40 Rods ------------------------------------------------------ Furlong
6 Ft. (A mans reach)--------------------------------------- Fathom
8 Furlongs --------------------------------------------Standard mile
640 Acres (1 sq. mile) ----------------------------------1 Sq. Mile
5 1/2 Yds.---------------------------------------------------------Rod
1760 Yds.------------------------------------------------------ 1 mile
16 1/2 Ft.----------------------------------------------------------Rod
5280 Ft. -------------------------------------------- 1 Common mile
30 1/4 Sq. Ft. --------------------------------------------1 sq. Rod
6080.20 Ft.------------------------------------------ 1 nautical mile
16 1/2 Ft. ---------------------------------------------------- Perch
6076.097 Ft. ----------------------------------------------1 Air mile
40 Sq. rods ---------------------------------------------------- Rood
640 Acres (1 Sq. mile)----------------------------------- 1 section
600 Ft.(100 Fathoms) ----------------------------------------cables length

## 320 Acres ----------------------------------------------- 1/2 section

100 Ft.------------------------------------------------------ 1 section
160 acres ---------------------------------------------- 1/4 section
66 Ft. ------------------------------------------------------------ chain
80 acres ------------------------------------------------- 1/8 section
4 rods------------------------------------------------------------ chain
40 acres ----------------------------------------------- 1/16 section
4 perches ------------------------------------------------------- chain
20 Acres ----------------------------------------------- 1/32 section
4 poles --------------------------------------------------------- chain
10 acres ----------------------------------------------- 1/64 section
23040 Acres ------------------------------------- 1 USA Township
4 Roods --------------------------------------------------------- acre
3 standard miles--------------------------------------------- League

Long Measure
12 ins = 1 ft.

Sq. Measure
Surveyors Measure
144 Sq. Ins = 1 Sq. Ft.
9 Sq. Ft. = 1 Sq. Yd.

Cubic Measure
1728 Cubic Ins. = 1 cubic Ft.
27 Cubic Ft. = 1 Cubic yard
128 Cubic Ft. = 1 cord wood

3 Ft = 1 Yd.

4 Roods = 1 Acre

standard bushel

## 5 1/2 Yds. = 1 Rod

8 Furlongs = 1 Mile

3 Miles = 1 League

## 640 Acres = 1 Sq. Mi.

640 Acres = 1 Sq. Mi.
36 miles Sq. = Township
6 Mi.Sq = Township
10 Chains = 1 Acre

standard gallon