Public Land Survey System ... Page 2
Principle Meridian Baselines
Each Principle Meridian in the United States has two meridian baselines. One running north to south (Range Baseline), the other running east to west (Township Baseline). These surveyed baselines are the "starting point" for all land locations and legal descriptions within each Principle Meridian.
Townships are the primary land description within a Principle Meridian. Generally, Townships measure six miles by six miles and are named by their relation to the meridian baselines located within each Principle Meridian. Very simply, an individual township is named by how far, north or south (Township), "AND" how far, east or west (Range), it is located from the meridian baselines. While this may be a little confusing, see the map below to see how it works.
"Each" small square on map below represents an individual township. The green township on the map is named Township 3 South, Range 4 West, because it is 3 townships south, and 4 townships west of the meridian baselines.
The township in red on the map is Township 2 North, Range 4 East because of its relation to each meridian baseline. The shortened description is T2N, R4E.
The term "Range" merely refers to how far east or west of the Range baseline a particular individual township is located.
All Principle Meridians in the United States are set up in this same manner.