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Baseline (surveying)

This article is about the use of baseline in surveys. For other uses, see Baseline (disambiguation).
This BLM map depicts the principal meridians and baselines used in the survey of the United States.

In the United States Public Land Survey System, a baseline is the principal east-west line (i.e., a parallel) upon which all rectangular surveys in a defined area are based. The baseline meets its corresponding principal meridian at the point of origin, or initial point, for the land survey. For example, the baseline for Nebraska and Kansas is shared as the border for both states, at the 40th parallel north.

More specifically a baseline may be the line that divides a survey township between north and south.

Often, a baseline is marked by other features such as a road or boundary between counties.

"Baseline Road" in the United States

Many communities in the United States have roads that run along survey baselines, many of which are named to reflect that fact. Some examples:


In Canadian land surveying, a base line is one of the many principal east-west lines that correspond to 4 tiers of townships (2 tiers north and 2 south). The base lines are about 24 miles apart, with the first base line at the 49th parallel, the Western US-Canadian border. It is therefore equivalent to the standard parallel in the US system. In Ontario, a baseline forms a straight line parallel a geographical feature (mostly a lake, especially Lake Ontario or Lake Erie) that serves as a reference line for surveying a grid of property lots. The result of this surveying is the concession road and sideline system in use today.

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