newbie question

  • newbie question

    Posted by rabco on May 23, 2022 at 7:06 pm
    (18.5500 ac) CU F&A #81 AF#856665 1978 W1/2 OF NW1/4 OF NW1/4, SECTION 33, TOWNSHIP 33 NORTH, RANGE 4 EAST, W.M.

    This is the property description of a new property I am going to lease.  Could someone please walk me through the above terms?  Thanks.

    geoff-ashworth replied 1 year, 9 months ago 5 Members · 7 Replies
  • 7 Replies
  • bill93


    May 24, 2022 at 12:08 am

    Someone in your area will be along with details, but until then here’s the best I can do.

    This is a much abbreviated description the tax office uses, not a description that belongs on a deed, or to be fussy even on a lease.

    I read it as 18.55 acres, then some things that must be regional terms I don’t see around here, and then that it lies in the West half of the Northwest quarter of the Northwest quarter of the nominally square mile Section 33.

    The 1/2 1/4 1/4 would nominally be 20 acres, but it may be irregular or have roadway or a small parcel taken out.

    That section is one square mile of the 36 square miles that make up the specified Township, Townships being numbered north and east from the starting point of the Willamette Meridian.

    Look up the Public Land Survey System for more of the big picture of townships and sections.

  • Norman_Oklahoma


    May 24, 2022 at 12:36 am

    W.M. refers to the Willamette Meridian. The property is 33 Townships North and 4 east of the Willamette Stone. , which is in Portland.  You are looking at a portion of Section 33 of that Township. “AF#” refers to “Auditor’s File Number” which is reference to the current vesting deed. The tax assessor has it as 18.55 acres, which looks reasonable by the map.

    A snip of the Tax Assessors map below. A piece of property just east of I-5 on the north side of Starbird Road near Mt. Vernon, WA.  


  • holy-cow


    May 24, 2022 at 1:28 am

    Is there access allowed for whatever traffic you might have going in and out of the leased area?

  • rabco


    May 24, 2022 at 6:32 pm

    Thanks all for your help!

    So I looked up a square mile is 640 acres.  So this property is in section 33 (ie 1 square mile) at the W1/2 = 320 acres.  And the NW1/4 of that = 80 acres.  And the NW1/4 of that = 20 acres.  Did I state this correctly?

    So how would a surveyor begin to find the property lines?  Is there a pin he/she would look for to begin and work off that?  Do perimeter lines of square mile divisions of Townships run exactly north/south, east/west?  Eventually, I will hire a surveyor but for now I would like a general idea of the property lines when I walk out in the field.

    Yes, there is an existing driveway to the house I want to remodel.  Would this be considered “access”?

    Thanks again! Cool stuff 🙂


  • bill93


    May 25, 2022 at 12:09 am

    You have the idea but backwards – note “of the,” so it’s 640 ->160 ->40 ->20.

    Section lines run near north-south and east-west. How close to geodetic “true” directions depends on the original surveyor (probably in the 1800’s) exercising skill and care and difficulty of the terrain, and there was some variability in those factors around the country.

    In the first survey of that land under the PLSS, the government surveyor would set section corners and the quarter corners at half-mile along the section line (8 points around the section).  The center and further breakdowns were done by later surveyors as needed. 

    A surveyor who works in your area will research to find what corners are likely to have monuments, go out and search for them on the ground to see what has survived, look for any other evidence, and continue from there.

    A driveway would provide access, but if it crosses someone else’s land, you need to consider whether it has a proper easement. For road access, does it have an authorized curb cut?


  • Norman_Oklahoma


    May 25, 2022 at 4:30 pm
    Posted by: @rabco

    “…. W1/2 OF NW1/4 OF NW1/4, SECTION 33, TOWNSHIP 33 NORTH, RANGE 4 EAST, W.M.”

     more fully fleshed out would read the west 1/2 of the northwest 1/4 of the northwest 1/4 of Section 33. This should be taken in reverse order.

    1. …. Section 33 is 640 acres

    2. … the northwest 1/4 of Section 33 is 160 acres

    3. …. the northwest 1/4 of the northwest 1/4 is 40 acres

    4. … the west 1/2 of the northwest 1/4 of the northwest 1/4 is 20 acres.

    5.  then you have a bite taken out of the southwest corner for roadway purposes, leaving 18.55 acres.

    Note that these acreages are nominal. A perfect square mile is indeed a perfect 640 acres. But a section of land is the mile that was laid out through the wilderness by a surveyor in the late 1800’s who was being paid around $8/mile. They typically did several miles a day. The “miles” may be as much as several dozens of feet plus or minus an exact 5280 in this area.    

  • geoff-ashworth


    May 25, 2022 at 8:49 pm

    Here is a graphical depiction.


Log in to reply.