Minnesota Original Public Land Survey Plat Maps, Digital Images, Geo-referenced

This page last updated: 11/15/2011
Metadata created using Minnesota Geographic Metadata Guidelines


Metadata Summary

Originator Minnesota Geospatial Information Office (MnGeo)
Abstract Minnesota's original public land survey plat maps were created between 1848 and 1907 during the first government land survey of the state by the U.S. Surveyor General's Office. This collection of more than 3,600 maps includes later General Land Office (GLO) and Bureau of Land Management maps up through 2001. Scanned images of the maps are available in several digital formats and most have been georeferenced.

The survey plat maps, and the accompanying survey field notes, serve as the fundamental legal records for real estate in Minnesota; all property titles and descriptions stem from them. They also are an essential resource for surveyors and provide a record of the state's physical geography prior to European settlement. Finally, they testify to many years of hard work by the surveying community, often under very challenging conditions.

The deteriorating physical condition of the older maps (drawn on paper, linen, and other similar materials) and the need to provide wider public access to the maps, made handling the original records increasingly impractical. To meet this challenge, the Office of the Secretary of State, the State Archives of the Minnesota Historical Society, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the Land Management Information Center (LMIC, now MnGeo) and the Minnesota Association of County Surveyors collaborated in a digitization project which produced high quality (800 dpi), 24-bit color images of the maps in standard TIFF, JPEG and PDF formats - nearly 1.5 terabytes of data. Funding was provided by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

In 2010-11, most of the JPEG plat map images were georeferenced. The intent was to locate the plat images to coincide with statewide geographic data without appreciably altering (warping) the image. This increases the value of the images in mapping software where they can be used as a background layer.
Browse Graphic View a sample of the data.
Time Period of Content Date 1848
Currentness Reference Most of the original land survey maps are dated between 1848 and 1907. Some maps date as recently as 2001.
Access Constraints None
Use Constraints In obtaining this data from MnGeo, it is understood that you and/or your organization have the right to use it for any purpose. If you provide data to another user, it is your responsibility to provide appropriate content, limitation, warranty and liability information as you see fit.
Distributor Organization Minnesota Geospatial Information Office
Ordering Instructions 1. Use an interactive map of Minnesota to view or download the GLO maps and scanned field note files : http://www.mngeo.state.mn.us/glo

- Click on 'Find a Plat' and select your area of interest on the map or type in a Township and Range to obtain a list of available maps.

1. Once you have selected your area of interest, download options include:
- View a low-resolution PDF map
- Download a high-resolution PDF map
- Download a georeferenced JPG map
- Link to the BLM website to either view or download the scanned field notes that accompany the map

Note that the BLM website has both plats and field notes:
- Plats are available as PDF, JP2 and MrSID (not georeferenced).
- Field notes are available as PDF and JP2. The PDF can be one page or all pages (all years/all surveyors) for a township.


2. For bulk downloads using FTP tools, browse: ftp://ftp.lmic.state.mn.us/pub/data/basemaps/glo/

Files are organized by county. Each directory contains:

- High-resolution PDF maps -- one township PDF map per zipfile.
- Low-resolution PDF version, in a directory folder labelled 'LowResolution'.
- Georeferenced JPG version, in a directory folder labelled 'Georeferenced'.

Note that there may be multiple versions per township in each of the above folders.

3. For printed copies or to order DVD collections, see details at: http://www.mngeo.state.mn.us/glo/Order.htm
Online Linkage Click here to download data. (See Ordering Instructions above for details.) By clicking here, you agree to the notice in "Distribution Liability" in Section 6 of this metadata.

Full Metadata

Minnesota Original Public Land Survey Plat Maps, Digital Images, Geo-referenced

Go to Section:
1. Identification Information
2. Data Quality Information
3. Spatial Data Organization Information
4. Spatial Reference Information
5. Entity and Attribute Information
6. Distribution Information
7. Metadata Reference Information

 
Section 1 Identification Information   Top of page
Originator Minnesota Geospatial Information Office (MnGeo)
Title Minnesota Original Public Land Survey Plat Maps, Digital Images, Geo-referenced
Abstract Minnesota's original public land survey plat maps were created between 1848 and 1907 during the first government land survey of the state by the U.S. Surveyor General's Office. This collection of more than 3,600 maps includes later General Land Office (GLO) and Bureau of Land Management maps up through 2001. Scanned images of the maps are available in several digital formats and most have been georeferenced.

The survey plat maps, and the accompanying survey field notes, serve as the fundamental legal records for real estate in Minnesota; all property titles and descriptions stem from them. They also are an essential resource for surveyors and provide a record of the state's physical geography prior to European settlement. Finally, they testify to many years of hard work by the surveying community, often under very challenging conditions.

The deteriorating physical condition of the older maps (drawn on paper, linen, and other similar materials) and the need to provide wider public access to the maps, made handling the original records increasingly impractical. To meet this challenge, the Office of the Secretary of State, the State Archives of the Minnesota Historical Society, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the Land Management Information Center (LMIC, now MnGeo) and the Minnesota Association of County Surveyors collaborated in a digitization project which produced high quality (800 dpi), 24-bit color images of the maps in standard TIFF, JPEG and PDF formats - nearly 1.5 terabytes of data. Funding was provided by the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

In 2010-11, most of the JPEG plat map images were georeferenced. The intent was to locate the plat images to coincide with statewide geographic data without appreciably altering (warping) the image. This increases the value of the images in mapping software where they can be used as a background layer.
Purpose Minnesota's Public Land Survey maps were converted to digital imagery in order to protect the original maps from further deterioration and to provide greater public access to the maps.
Time Period of Content Date 1848
Currentness Reference Most of the original land survey maps are dated between 1848 and 1907. Some maps date as recently as 2001.
Progress Complete
Maintenance and Update Frequency Unknown
Spatial Extent of Data Minnesota
Bounding Coordinates -97.5
-89.0
49.5
43.0
Place Keywords Minnesota
Theme Keywords planningCadastre, original survey maps, General Land Office, GLO, GLO maps, plat maps, Public Land Survey, PLS, PLSS, cultural features
Theme Keyword Thesaurus ISO 19115 Topic Category
Access Constraints None
Use Constraints In obtaining this data from MnGeo, it is understood that you and/or your organization have the right to use it for any purpose. If you provide data to another user, it is your responsibility to provide appropriate content, limitation, warranty and liability information as you see fit.
Contact Person Information John Hoshal, Supervisor of GIS Project Services
Minnesota Geospatial Information Office
658 Cedar Street, Room 300
St. Paul, MN 55155
Phone: 651-201-2482
FAX: 651-296-3698
E-mail: john.hoshal@state.mn.us
Browse Graphic View a sample of the data.
Browse Graphic File Description A portion of Township 48 N, Range 16 W (in Jay Cooke State Park) at 800 dpi, dated 1858 (MHS ID: 390)
Associated Data Sets 1. The original survey plat maps are currently housed at the Minnesota Historical Society: http://www.mnhs.org

2. The original surveyors field notes are currently housed at the Minnesota Historical Society. Scanned images of the notes are available online: http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/ For more information on the field notes scanning project, see: http://www.mngeo.state.mn.us/chouse/GLO/fieldnotes/index.html

3. GIS files derived from original survey information are available from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources:

a. Bearing trees used as references of landmarks during the original Minnesota Public Land Survey - http://deli.dnr.state.mn.us/metadata/pveg_btreept3.html

b. Public Land Survey Corners with Presettlement Vegetation information - http://deli.dnr.state.mn.us/metadata/pveg_btvegpt3.html

c. Marschner's Original Presettlement Vegetation Map of Minnesota - http://deli.dnr.state.mn.us/metadata/pveg_mrschpy1.html

 
Section 2 Data Quality Information Top of full metadata Top of page
Attribute Accuracy N/A
Logical Consistency N/A
Completeness Every effort was made to ensure that all available GLO plat maps for Minnesota were scanned and that every township in the state was accounted for.

The JPEG version of the plat maps were georeferenced to support a related project to scan the GLO field notes. There was not sufficient time to georeference plats that had more than one map per page, or to finish rectifying several maps for which the links were created but the rectify step was inadvertantly missed.
Horizontal Positional Accuracy The GLO plats were drawn as a square grid which does not closely align with current surveyed boundaries. During the georeferencing process, the images were not warped (rubbersheeted). The intent was to locate the plat images to coincide with statewide geographic data without appreciably altering the image.
Vertical Positional Accuracy N/A
Lineage Step 1. MAP INVENTORY AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Minnesota Historical Society's State Archives staff inventoried the map collection (which at the time was stored at the Minnesota Office of the Secretary of State (SOS)) during Summer 2002. Staff examined each map, assigned it a unique MHS ID, and marked the ID on the back.

Note: There are four copies of the resulting DVDs created in steps 1 through step 4: Office of the Secretary of State, Minnesota Historical Society, Minnesota Department of Transportation and Minnesota Geospatial Information Office. A total of 292 DVDs are in each set: T001 - T291 and TS01.


Step 2. SCANNING

In late 2002, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) contracted with the Land Management Information Center (LMIC, now MnGeo) to prepare the scanning bid specifications, oversee the scanning process and provide final QA/QC support and create PDF versions of the scanned maps. A contract to scan the maps was awarded to:

Access Imagery Inc.
1180 South 800 East
Orem, UT 84097
1-800-687-1265

Access Imagery performed all scanning onsite at SOS. Project manager: Scott Wheelhouse; principal scanning operator: Lee Ann Lavender.

From May - July 2003, Access Imagery scanned 3,605 (of 3,609) maps using the following equipment and specifications:

Scanner: Vidar TruScan Atlas Color Scanner, 40 wide-format scanner
4WD document transport (top and bottom traction)
Geometric accuracy of the document transport mechanism = +/-0.10%
3 CCD Cameras - 4 rows of sensors per CCD (R/G/B/Grayscale)
5333 pixels per CCD row
Direct optical path from scan aperture to cameras, no mirrors
SCSI-2 interface

Scanner Software: Vidar TruScan2 ver. 1.2.4.5 with Vidar SCSI Toolkit ver. 2.2
Resolution: 800 dpi horizontal (interpolated) x 800 dpi vertical (optical)
Color Output: scanned at 36-bit RGB, color output = 24-bit RGB

[Are the DVD media details important to include?] Note: for all file storage steps below:
- DVD media used were Mitsui 4x speed, 4.7GB, white, inkjet printable, Ver. 2.0 spec, general purpose, silver DVD-R (Mitsui Part# 00041752)
- Access Imagery used Primera Bravo Disc Publisher and Veritas' Prassi PrimoDVD ver. 2.0.837 software to write DVDs.
- LMIC used Primera Composer Pro DVD writer, Prassi version 2 software.

Product #1: TIFF images

File Processing: Each TIFF image was de-skewed using the Image / Rotate Canvas / Arbitrary option within Adobe PhotoShop 7. The measure tool allows the user to mark a vertical or horizontal line and automatically populates the rotate option with the appropriate correction value.

File Storage: TIFF images were saved on local hard drives and later written to DVD (two copies).


Product #2: JPEG images

File Processing: Using the TIFF file as the source, Access Imagery prepared a JPEG version of each image using the following procedures:

Using Adobe PhotoShop 7.0, an Unsharp Mask (USM) was applied to each TIFF image. USM settings could vary from map to map, as the appropriate level of USM is subjective. Baseline settings are given, with probable ranges in parentheses.

Amount: 300% (200% - 500%)
Radius: .3 pixels (.3 - .5 pixels)
Threshold: 0 levels

The enhanced image was then saved in JPEG format using a Medium (5) compression.

File Storage: JPEG images were saved on a Maxtor 250 gigabyte portable hard drive and later written to DVD (four copies).


Step 3. QA/QC

Access Imagery: All TIFF and JPEG images were reviewed for quality prior to being burned to a DVD. Each of the 291 DVD-Rs containing TIFF images were verified by the Disc Publisher software with the exception of the last 35 which were manually loaded on a separate PC and visually reviewed for readability. This change was done to allow the burner to spend 100% of its time burning discs. A similar process was used for the 5 DVDs containing JPEG images.

LMIC: A random sample (approx. 2%) of TIFF and JPEG images produced by Access Imagery was inspected by staff. This process included opening the file with Adobe Photoshop 6, enlarging the image to actual pixel size and panning around the image to ensure it met the quality specifications. During this review process, 15 corrupt DVDs containing TIFF images were discovered. Access Imagery staff returned to Minnesota in July 2003 to rescan the affected maps. Corrected TIFF and JPEG DVDs were delivered to LMIC in early August and re-checked.


Step 4. MISCELLANEOUS SCANNING:

Four maps were scanned by two other organizations:

During the quality control process conducted by LMIC in early August 2003, staff discovered that one map had not been scanned by Access Imagery. To save time, the map was sent to Historical Information Gatherers located in the Twin Cities and scanned using the following equipment and specification:

Historical Information Gatherers, Inc. (HIG)
1589 Highway 7, Suite B-2
Hopkins, MN 55305
952-253-2004

File: t101r45w5fi0.tif (Township 101 N, Range 45 W, 5th Principal Meridian)

Scanner: Titan Atlas 12mm Color Scanner consisting of Tri-linear CCD arrays
Scanning software: Vidar TruScan version 1.4.2
Resolution: Optical 400 dpi (horizontal / vertical). The image was interpolated to be 500 dpi (horizontal / vertical)
Color output : 24 bit


Product #1: TIFF (unaltered)

File Processing: LMIC staff cropped the raw TIFF file from HIG using Adobe Photoshop 6. No de-skewing was performed.

File Storage: Images were saved on a local hard drive and later written to a DVD (two copies).


Product #2: JPEG

File Processing: LMIC staff used Adobe PhotoShop 6.0 to create the JPEG version. First a Sharpen filter (regular) was applied to the cropped TIFF file and saved as a JPEG (medium; Level 5).

File Storage: JPEG images were saved on a Maxtor 250 gigabyte portable hard drive and later written to a DVD (four copies).


Minnesota Historical Society (MHS)

During the inventory conducted by MHS staff and subsequent work performed by Access Imagery, it became apparent that the original survey maps for three townships in Minnesota were missing from the Office of the Secretary of State's map drawers. To complete the scanning project, hand-drawn duplicates housed at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources were scanned by MHS staff using the following specifications.

Files:
t041r23w4fi01 (Township 41 N, Range 23 W, 4th Principal Meridian)
t156r51w5fi01 (Township 156 N, Range 51 W, 5th Principal Meridian)
t160r35w5fi01 (Township 160 N, Range 35 W, 5th Principal Meridian)

Scanner: Zeutschel Omniscan 5000, CCD-line with 5150 pixels
Scanning software: Omniscan 5.0
Resolution: Optical 300 dpi (horizontal / vertical). No interpolation was performed.
Color output : 8 bit (256 levels) Grayscale


Product #1: TIFF (unaltered)

File Processing: LMIC staff cropped the raw TIFF file from HIG using Adobe Photoshop 6. No de-skewing was performed.

File Storage: TIFF images were saved on local hard drives and later written to a DVD (four copies).


Product #2: JPEG

File Processing: To create the JPEG and PDF versions, LMIC staff applied a Sharpen filter (regular) to the cropped TIFF file which was then saved in a JPEG (medium; Level 5) format.

File Storage: JPEG images were saved on a Maxtor 250 gigabyte portable hard drive and later written to a DVD (four copies).

QA/QC: LMIC staff reviewed each image type during processing and publishing on DVD.


Step 5. PDF IMAGE CREATION

Files: All 3,609 JPEG images were converted by LMIC staff from JPEG to PDF format.

File Processing: Two programs were used to convert the JPEG images to PDF format. JPG2PDF (a shareware product developed by SANFACE Software Version 2.4, 25th April 2002) was used to convert 3,369 JPEG images. Adobe PhotoShop 6.0 was used to convert 240 JPEG images using a medium (Level 5) compression.

File Storage: Images were saved on a Maxtor 250 gigabyte portable hard drive and later written to a DVD (four copies).

QA/QC: LMIC staff visually reviewed a 2% random sample of 3,609 PDF images. All 3,609 PDF images were opened with Adobe PhotoShop 6.0 in a batch operation.


Step 6. GEOREFERENCED IMAGE CREATION (October 2010 - July 2011)

Files: 3,767 of 3,873 JPEG images were georeferenced by MnGeo staff using two base layers.

Base layers used:
- Public land survey quarter-quarter sections: the Control-Point Generated PLS40 from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources: http://deli.dnr.state.mn.us/metadata/pls_fortypy3.html
- 2010 NAIP air photos from the Farm Service Agency: http://www.mngeo.state.mn.us/chouse/airphoto/naip10.html viewed via MnGeo's WMS image service: http://www.mngeo.state.mn.us/chouse/wms/geo_image_server.html

Types of plats that were georeferenced:
- Plat images with a map
- Maps with at least four 'good' identifiable locations shared between plat and the two base map layers. The township corners were typically used when available on the plat.
- Plat images with only one map (plats with multiple maps were not georeferenced -- each map will need to be georeferenced separately and there was insufficient staff time available to complete these)

File processing:
1. Staff used ESRI ArcMap 9.3 software and its georeferencing tool bar
2. Linked plat map to the base map layers
3. Visually reviewed how well the image fit to the base map layers. The boundaries in the PLS40 data should closely match the plat and the physical information (such as rivers and lakes) should be similar to the plat.
4. Used Affine transformation (1st Order Polynomial) which is a linear combination of translation, rotation, scaling and/or shearing operations
5. Applied the links (Rectify)
6. Output image file in JPEG format with an accompanying world file in JPW format

JPEG details:
- Projection: UTM NAD83 extended zone 15
- Color: 24 bit
- Three bands: red, green and blue
- Cell size: 1 1/3 meters approximately

Notes:
- All images were viewed as part of this process
- Plats were drawn onto a square grid which does not always align closely with the results of the surveying
- Images were not warped (rubbersheeted)
- 'Good' identifiable locations improved the visual fit to background layers
- Some images may only have links and were inadvertantly not rectified; there was insufficient staff time in the project to finish the rectifying step
Source Scale Denominator
 
Section 3 Spatial Data Organization Information Top of full metadata Top of page
Native Data Set Environment
Geographic Reference for Tabular Data
Spatial Object Type Raster
Vendor Specific Object Types
Tiling Scheme Public Land Survey Township
 
Section 4 Spatial Reference Information Top of full metadata Top of page
Horizontal Coordinate Scheme UTM
Ellipsoid GRS80
Horizontal Datum NAD83
Horizontal Units
Distance Resolution
UTM Zone Number 15E
 
Section 5 Entity and Attribute Information Top of full metadata Top of page
Entity and Attribute Overview The file is an image made up of a combination of features arranged cartographically. The individual elements such as roads and section lines cannot be extracted from the image.

The plat image filename contains a code for the type of plat:
c = completion:
d = dependent:
f = diagram:
e = extension:
i = independent:
l = island:
m = meanders occur on the backside of map:
o = omitted lands:
r = see comments
s = supplemental
Entity and Attribute Detailed Citation
 
Section 6 Distribution Information Top of full metadata Top of page
Publisher Minnesota Geospatial Information Office
Publication Date 2011
Contact Person Information Nancy Rader
GIS Data Coordinator
Minnesota Geospatial Information Office
300 Centennial Building; 658 Cedar Street
St. Paul, MN 55155
Phone: 651-201-2489
FAX: 651-296-3698
E-mail: nancy.rader@state.mn.us
Distributor's Data Set Identifier GLO maps
Distribution Liability DISTRIBUTION LIABILITY STATEMENT
For data or maps delivered online or by physical media by
the Minnesota Geospatial Information Office

Limitations: Although extensive effort has been made to produce error-free and complete data, all geographic information has limitations due to the scale, resolution, date and interpretation of the original source materials. Users should consult available data documentation (metadata) for this particular data to determine limitations and the precision to which the data depict distance, direction, location or other geographic characteristics. Data may be subject to change without prior notification.

No warranty: Data is provided as is, without any warranty whatsoever, including but not limited to any warranty as to performance, merchantability or fitness for any particular purpose.

Liability: The entire risk as to the results of the use of this data is assumed by the user. MnGeo is not responsible for any interpretation or conclusions made by those who acquire or use it. MnGeo shall not be liable for any direct, indirect, special, incidental, compensatory or consequential damages or third-party claims resulting from the use of this data, even if MnGeo has been advised of the possibility of such potential loss or damage. In states that do not allow the exclusion or limitation of incidental or consequential damages, this data may not be used.

Redistribution conditions: In obtaining this data from MnGeo, it is understood that you and/or your organization have the right to use it for any purpose. If you provide data to another user, it is your responsibility to provide appropriate content, limitation, warranty and liability information as you see fit.

Data delivered on electronic media: If data has been requested from MnGeo on magnetic media, CD or any other physical media, MnGeo will deliver it in the computer-readable format agreed upon with the requestor. MnGeo will reissue data if it is unreadable by correctly adjusted computer input devices or when the media is delivered in a damaged condition. Requests for reissue of this digital data product must be made within 30 days of the date shipped from MnGeo.
Transfer Format Name JPEG, PDF
Transfer Format Version Number
Transfer Size
Ordering Instructions 1. Use an interactive map of Minnesota to view or download the GLO maps and scanned field note files : http://www.mngeo.state.mn.us/glo

- Click on 'Find a Plat' and select your area of interest on the map or type in a Township and Range to obtain a list of available maps.

1. Once you have selected your area of interest, download options include:
- View a low-resolution PDF map
- Download a high-resolution PDF map
- Download a georeferenced JPG map
- Link to the BLM website to either view or download the scanned field notes that accompany the map

Note that the BLM website has both plats and field notes:
- Plats are available as PDF, JP2 and MrSID (not georeferenced).
- Field notes are available as PDF and JP2. The PDF can be one page or all pages (all years/all surveyors) for a township.


2. For bulk downloads using FTP tools, browse: ftp://ftp.lmic.state.mn.us/pub/data/basemaps/glo/

Files are organized by county. Each directory contains:

- High-resolution PDF maps -- one township PDF map per zipfile.
- Low-resolution PDF version, in a directory folder labelled 'LowResolution'.
- Georeferenced JPG version, in a directory folder labelled 'Georeferenced'.

Note that there may be multiple versions per township in each of the above folders.

3. For printed copies or to order DVD collections, see details at: http://www.mngeo.state.mn.us/glo/Order.htm
Online Linkage Click here to download data. (See Ordering Instructions above for details.) By clicking here, you agree to the notice in "Distribution Liability" above.
 
Section 7 Metadata Reference Information Top of full metadata Top of page
Metadata Date 11/15/2011
Contact Person Information John Hoshal, GIS Project Services Supervisor
Minnesota Geospatial Information Office
300 Centennial Building; 658 Cedar Street
St. Paul, MNa 55155
Phone: 651-201-2482
FAX: 651-296-3698
E-mail: john.hoshal@state.mn.us
Metadata Standard Name Minnesota Geographic Metadata Guidelines
Metadata Standard Version 1.2
Metadata Standard Online Linkage http://www.gis.state.mn.us/stds/metadata.htm


This page last updated: 11/15/2011