# What constitutes an acre...survey techniques

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by DrippingSprings, Sep 14, 2006.

1. ### DrippingSpringsIn Remembrance

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Didnt want to hijack the other thread.

Ok here is the question. I know what I believe but am curious to how others perceive this.

When surveying do you believe that they level the transit and shoot via line of sight or do you think they follow the countour of the land.

Example

Ok you have a distance to survey. The target distance is in clear view from where you are shooting the line. Between point a and point b there is a small depression or holler as we southerners call it.

If you draw a line from point a to point b like this

-------------------------------------------- you get say 500 ft

do you think they shoot from point a to point c and then to b or straight across to b?

if you go to a-c-b the measurement is say 560 ft instead of 500

which is the recorded distance?

I have encountered that in certain parts of the country they go str8 across and in some they follw the contour

I know it would be futile to try and record every lil bump and depression etc. But if you have land that slopes at about 30 degrees and there is a visible "bottom" before it inclines bakc to the other side would you shoot to the bottom or str8 across the top?

2. ### uncle Will in In.Well-Known MemberSupporter

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You have a very good question. When the old boys measured with chains, they would have had to measure the surface of the ground. With equipment that can measure from one spot straight to another remote spot, I wonder how much effort they make to take into account for the contour of the land. You will notice surveyors throw in "More or Less" in many surveys.

3. ### texicanWell-Known Member

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an acre is 43,560 square feet....

it is measured straight up... so they dont follow contours...

If you had a hundred acre plot, with a Yosemite style half-dome mountain in the middle of it, you'd still own 100 acres... If you measured the contours, you might have thousands...

a lot of old surveys "adjusted" their tapes for the contours, and the survey's will say 100 acres, more or less. Current surveys don't care about contours, and will give you exact acreage... 97.362 acres...

so if you have table top flat land, you got what you got.... if you have some valleys, gulleys, hills, or mountains, you actually have more acreage, if you're walking it....

4. ### mandidawnWell-Known Member

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I work for a civil engineering company and when we survery land/distances, we go straight across. Don't know how it would work in the private sector though.

5. ### CountryMamaof5Well-Known Member

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They shoot the line (speaks of first hand experience (married to a land surveyor)

6. ### uncle Will in In.Well-Known MemberSupporter

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I always wondered how they measured the side of a mountain that is close to vertical. Is the acerage the actual amount of surface, or is it the space the area would take on a flat map of the area.
These are things not dealt with here in the flat lands.

7. ### Pink_CarnationWell-Known Member

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Acreage is what you would have on a flat map ....even if the mountain is near vertical. Our lot looks bigger than it is because of its slope. In mountainous areas they will sometimes use helicopters with dye bags to get close then someone gets to go mountain climbing. With gps I imagine things may have changed a bit though.

8. ### ramblerWell-Known MemberSupporter

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The old way was measure with a chain, then allow for the bumps - in other words guess.

The new way, there can be quite a difference.

Those living on the edge of the section grid patterns generally lose (sometimes gain) some acres on a new survey.

--->Paul

9. ### DrippingSpringsIn Remembrance

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Ok great replies. i figured it may be different in mtns etc.

I just sold 17 acres the other day to a boy and I had it surveyed by a licensed surveyor. He came to me the other day saying he felt there was a mistake. On one end the survey says it is 685.78 feet to the next side and post. He went to fence it and he measured and it is 792 feet a difference of almost a 108 feet. I told him it was because a small holler(southern speak) came through that corner. He is still confused about how he bought 685 and ended up with 792 lol

10. ### BearfootfarmHello, hello....is there anybody in there.....?Supporter

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LOL Tell him if hes unhappy he can refund you that portion of the money

11. ### wilderness1989Well-Known Member

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When they survey do they refrence from true north or magnetic north???

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since magnetic north moves I would think it would have to be true north... but am not sure if that would have worked "way back when".

13. ### enotaWell-Known Member

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Our place is mostly up and down. If it were flat, we'd have a lot more than 25 acres. They do a straight line of sight.

enota

14. ### city_grownActive Member

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How long is a chain from the old days?

15. ### doohapAnother American Patriot

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Can't answer your question ... sorry. But I did visit the URL posted as your signature. What a beautiful place! Is the old house on the property? Do I assume -- because one of your photos was labled "future home site" -- that you are not going to live in that house?

Anyway, just wanted to tell you how nice your place looks. I see you take a LOT of photos of the land. My husband and I took sooooo many photos the first few years we had the land! I can't tell you how many photos we have of the sunset or of the cattle in the pasture behind our place. That's why we ended up getting a digital camera. Then it was nothing for us to take 50 to 100 pics in a weekend. Though I must confess that I DO long for the quality of good prints, it really is nice to have access to so many views of the farm so easily. Technology has it's place.

Can I ask, did it take you a while to locate the exact spot you've decided to build on. I know that it took us ages. We've got 16 acres, but there are several decent building sites. We camped out in many areas around the land to get a feel for what it would be like to "live" in that spot. I think the final destination of our place turned out to be juuusssttt right!

Good luck with all your endeavors.

16. ### DrippingSpringsIn Remembrance

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On the thread I didnt hijack I put a few things there about the ways of measuring an acre it has chain etc etc

go to wikipedia and they have a good page on it

17. ### TerminusActive Member

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To parapharse from the book Boundary Control and Legal Principals by Brown:

"In modern conveyance the distance is assumed to be horizontal unless the contrary can be proved."

When MN was surveyed in the 1850's it was certainly the practice to measure the horizontal distance so that gives and idea of what modern might be.

When measuring over steep hills the surveyors would "break chain", using a shorter section of the chain so they could keep it level.

1 chain= 66 feet
10 acres=10 square chains

18. ### big rockpileIf I need a Shelter

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Ok does GPS measure flat?The reason I'm asking I went from a Survey Marker on one corner of my property measured the front of my property with GPS,it came up longer than with a tape.The property goes down one hill up another.

big rockpile

19. ### enotaWell-Known Member

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According to our friend Mr. Google, it seemed to vary tremendously. Somewhere between 66 and 100 feet depending on the "conventions" of the area.

enota

20. ### Dave S.Well-Known Member

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A chain is 66 feet, or 4 rods(16.5feet). There are 80 chains, 320 rods, 1760 yards in a mile. If you look at a lot of old road right of ways, property descriptions, and most any other measurement you will find the same numbers popping up. Fence rails are 11feet, or 1/6 of a chain. Colonists would count the fence rails to determine property size.

As mentioned, an acre is 43,560 sq. ft., or 4840 sq. yards, or 208.710^2. Surveyors shoot from benchmark to benchmark, so a "holler" will get you more acreage. Most surveyors in my area use GPS now.