Stories From the Field: Cadastral Survey

Many people do not realize the General Land Office and the BLM have roots going back to the Land Ordinance of 1785, which established our nation’s public domain.  Two years later, the Continental Congress created the nation’s Public Land Survey System (PLSS) to survey and legally document it. 


Thumbnail photo of a man giving a thumbs-up near a tree.In Search of Original Evidence
By Dominica Van Koten, with Marshall Bolte

Finding original evidence from surveys completed more than 200 years ago is a testament to the incredible undertaking of the General Land Office and the foresight of the founding fathers of our country.

Photo of a BLM surveyor working high on a mountain in Alaska.From Chains to Lasers
By Robert Casias

From the earliest days of our nation’s history, the job of a federal land surveyor has been to identify the boundaries of the federal estate.  How these measurements are done has evolved over the past 200 years.


Cast of a fossil. (BLM)Stones and “Bones” Set by William (Billy) Octavius Owen in Wyoming
By J.D. “Sam” Drucker

The label of “Mastodon Bones” began an intruiging process of relocating and collecting some unique section corners in southern Wyoming.