In America, there are two methods to measure land: metes and bounds and the rectangular survey system.

Metes and Bounds

This system is used in the original thirteen colonies and most Eastern states. The following twenty states use this system to measure land:
Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Maryland, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia.

This method refers to markers and measurements. For example, “Beginning at a large oak tree and extending north thirty yards to a large rock, then extending west….” Each element of the description of the property boundary typically contains three parts: an object or location, a compass direction, and a distance.

Rectangular Survey System

This system of land measurement was first authorized by the Congressional Land Act of 1785 and supplemented by the Federal Land Act of 1796.

Sections in a Township Divisions of a Section

Some Common Land Measurements

1 chain = 100 links
4 rods/poles/perches
0.10 furlong
1/80th mile
22 yards
66 feet
1 link = 7.92 inches
1 furlong = 10 chains
1006 links
40 rods/poles/perches
1/8th mile
664 feet
1 rod/pole/perch = 0.25 chains
0.025 furlongs
0.003125 miles
16.5 feet
1 mile = 80 chains
1,760 yards
5,280 feet
320 rods/poles/perches
8 furlongs
1 league = 13,889 feet square
4,428.4 acres
1 acre = 160 rods square
10 square chains
43,560 square feet
4,840 square yards
1 arpent = 0.84 acre
36,590 square feet
4,066 square yards
(All measurements are approximate.)

Last modified: 04-Jul-2016 12:13