The Public Land Survey System (PLSS) in Oklahoma

Oklahoma Mineral Owners,

One of the very first questions that a mineral owner will be asked if he wants to sell his Oklahoma mineral rights or oil and gas royalties is the legal description of where the mineral rights are located.

Throughout the history of the United States there have been various ways of surveying public land. Oklahoma, just like most lands west of the Mississippi, was surveyed using the Public Land Survey System or PLSS for short. It is a way of subdividing and describing land.

The PLSS typically divides land into six mile squares called Townships. Townships are further subdivided into one mile squares called Sections. Sections can be further subdivided in various divisions such as into quarter sections or quarter-quarter sections.

The PLSS actually consists of a series of separate surveys. Surveys begin at an initial point and then the townships are surveyed from that point. The North-South line that runs through that point is called the Principal Meridian and the East-West line that runs through the point is called the base line.

Each township is identified with a township and range designation. Township designations indicated the location North or South of the Baseline and Range designations indicated the location East or West of the Principal Meridian. For example, Township 11 North, Range 8 West means that it is the 11th township North of the baseline and the 8th township West of the Principal Meridian. To identify a specific section in the township, one will call the section number before the township. For example, Section 1-Township 11 North-Range 8 West.


As one can see in the photo above, the sections begin With Section 1 in the North East corner for each township and run across and then down through Section 36. One will also notice, that Oklahoma has two Principal Meridians. The Indian Meridian currently lies 6 six miles west of Davis, Oklahoma. The Cimarron Meridian lies in Cimarron County, Oklahoma, just west of Felt. Only lands in the Oklahoma Panhandle were surveyed by the Cimarron Meridian.

More to follow.