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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 Little Rock, Arkansas, Baseline Road follows the baseline used by surveyors of the Louisiana Purchase.
- In Colorado, Baseline Road in Boulder marks the 40th parallel, or the western extension of the Kansas-Nebraska boundary, which is also the boundary between Adams and Weld counties.
- In Arizona, the baseline near the Phoenix metro area is marked by Baseline Road.
- In Southern California, from Highland to San Dimas, the baseline is marked by Baseline Road.
- In Michigan, the baseline for the Michigan Survey forms the boundary between the second and third tiers of counties and in many portions, discontinuous segments of road along the baseline are known as "Baseline Road." 8 Mile Road in the Detroit area runs along the Michigan Baseline and was formerly known as "Baseline Road."
- Baseline Road in Hillsboro, Oregon, generally follows the Willamette Baseline which intersects the Willamette Meridian at the Willamette Stone State Park.
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.
- Public Land Survey System (United States)
- Dominion Land Survey (Canada)
- Survey township
- Decumanus Maximus
- Principal meridian
- The Principal Meridian Project (US)
- Resources page of the U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management
- History of the Rectangular Survey System Note: This is a large file, approximately 46MB. Searchable PDF prepared by the author, C. A. White.