Public Land Survey System: Quarter-quarter sections (TRSQ), Minnesota

Identification Information:
Citation Information:
Originator: Minnesota Geospatial Information Office (MnGeo)
Title: Public Land Survey System: Quarter-quarter sections (TRSQ), Minnesota
Publication Information:
Publisher: Minnesota Geospatial Information Office (MnGeo)
Publication Date: unknown
Abstract: The TRSQ digital data set represents the Township, Range, Section, Quarter section, and Quarter-quarter section divisions of the state. Beginning in the late 1840s, the federal government began surveying Minnesota as part of the Public Land Survey System (PLSS). The resulting network of land survey lines divided the state into townships, ranges, sections, quarter sections, quarter-quarter sections and government lots, and laid the groundwork for contemporary land ownership patterns. The quarter-quarter section remains an important subdivision for rural Minnesota since these lines are used to define local boundaries, roads, and service areas. All survey lines were extended across water bodies despite the fact that U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) base maps depict them only on land. This addition allows all sections and townships to be represented as closed areas ensuring that township and range location can be determined for any point in the state. It also means that the data is not affected if lake levels change over time. The township, range and section boundaries were digitized at MnGeo (formerly the Land Management Information Center - LMIC) from the USGS 30' x 60' map series (1:100,000-scale). Quarter section and quarter-quarter section subdivisions were calculated using the section lines. They were not digitized from original plat book survey lines or from the meandered lines that surveyors laid out around water bodies. The existence of government lots within a quarter-quarter section is recorded in the data set; however, the government lot boundaries were not digitized. If a quarter-quarter section contains more than one government lot, the number of lots is recorded -- see Lineage, Section 2, for more detail. Note: For most uses, TRSQ has been superseded by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) 1:24,000-scale 'Control Point Generated PLS' data set which is free online. See for more information. Also, many county surveyors offices have more accurate PLS (Public Land Survey) data sets. For county webpages and contact information, see .
Purpose: The quarter-quarter section mapping base is a historical foundation for recording land ownership and management information. Since the early 1970s a variety of projects have been initiated to enhance the state's quarter-quarter section mapping base (40-acre units). Minnesota's earliest attempts led to the creation of quarter-quarter sections in a raster format with each cell representing a 40-acre area. In reality, quarter-quarter sections vary in area and shape and require more precise mapping. In the early 1990s, MnGeo coordinated several client projects and organized financial cooperators to jointly develop the most accurate statewide, vector format, quarter-quarter section mapping base for general purpose use that existed at that date. This TRSQ information is intended to be used for regional studies conducted at the county or multi-county level. The lines in this data set are not meant to be used as legal records.
Supplemental Information: State of Minnesota (does not extend beyond state boundaries)
Time Period of Content:
Currentness Reference: This statewide data set is divided into 71 sections corresponding with USGS 30-minute latitude by 60-minute longitude map series (1:100,000-scale). The following list identifies each section by its published map name, the date of map publication, and the process under which it was produced (see 'Lineage' for explanation of PLSS and PRIM-Public Recreation Inventory Maps- codes). Published map dates range from 1976 - 1994: Ada 1984 PLSS; Aitkin 1994 PLSS; Albert Lea 1985 PLSS; Angle Inlet 1985 PLSS; Anoka 1985 PLSS; Austin 1985 PLSS; Basswood Lake 1977 PRIM; Battle Lake 1986 PLSS; Baudette 1976 PRIM; Bigfork 1976 PLSS; Blackduck 1978 PRIM; Brainerd 1986 PLSS; Brookings 1985 PLSS; Brule Narrows 1978 PRIM; Cass Lake 1977 PLSS; Cavalier 1985 PLSS; Clear Lake 1985 PLSS; Crane Lake 1978 PRIM; Crookston 1984 PLSS; Detroit Lakes 1986 PLSS; Duluth 1980 PRIM; Ely 1994 PRIM; Fairmont 1985; PLSS; Fargo 1985 PLSS; Faribault 1985 PLSS; Fosston 1985 PLSS; Glencoe 1986 PLSS; Grafton 1985 PLSS; Grand Forks 1985 PLSS; Grand Marais 1977 PLSS; Grand Portage 1985 PLSS; Grantsburg 1985 PLSS; Grygla 1977 PLSS; Hallock 1985 PLSS; Hastings 1985 PLSS; Hibbing 1978 PLSS; International Falls 1978 PRIM; La Crosse 1990 PLSS; Lake Itasca 1985 PLSS; Lake Minnewaska 1986 PLSS; Litchfield 1986 PLSS; Littlefork 1978 PRIM; Milbank 1985 PLSS; Mille Lacs Lake 1985 PRIM; Montevideo 1986 PLSS; Mora 1991 PRIM; New Ulm 1986 PLSS; Oak Island 1985 PLSS; Outer Island 1990 PRIM; Pigeon Point 1985 PLSS; Pine River 1976 PRIM; Pokegama Lake 1992 PLSS; Port Wing 1980 PRIM; Rochester 1985 PLSS; Roseau 1976 PRIM; Saganaga Lake 1976 PLSS; Saint Paul 1985 PLSS; Sandstone 1980 PLSS; Sioux Falls 1985 PLSS; St. Cloud 1986 PLSS; Stillwater 1985 PLSS; Thief River Falls 1985 PLSS; Tracy 1986 PLSS; Two Harbors 1976 PRIM; Upper Red Lake 1978 PLSS; Vermillion Lake 1994 PLSS; Wahpeton 1985 PLSS; Wheaton 1985 PLSS; Willmar 1986 PLSS; Winona 1985 PLSS; Worthington 1985 PLSS.
Progress: Complete
Maintenance and Update Frequency: As needed
Spatial Domain:
Bounding Coordinates:
West Bounding Coordinate: -97.5
East Bounding Coordinate: -89.0
North Bounding Coordinate: 49.5
South Bounding Coordinate: 43.0
Theme Keyword Thesaurus: ISO 19115 Topic Category
Theme Keyword: planningCadastre, Boundaries, Public Land Survey System, PLSS, PLS, State Boundary, County Boundaries, Township Boundaries, Section Boundaries, Quarter Section Boundaries, Quarter-quarter Section Boundaries, 40-acre Parcels, Government Lots, TRSQ
Place Keyword: Minnesota, MN
Access Constraints: None
Use Constraints: 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 modify it, you are encouraged to apply responsible best practices by documenting those changes in a metadata record. If you transmit or provide the data to another user, it is your responsibility to provide appropriate content, limitation, warranty and liability information as you see fit.
Browse Graphic:
Browse Graphic File Name:
Browse Graphic File Description: Portion of TRSQ showing quarter-quarter, section, township and county boundaries, including labels.
Native Data Set Environment: ARC/INFO 7.2.1
Cross Reference:
Citation Information:
Title: Note: The following Minnesota PLS data sets are all free online: Quarter-quarter section level data set: Control Point Generated PLS This 1:24,000-scale data set was constructed using section corner coordinates from the Control Point Inventory as well as information from the original General Land Office surveyors' notes and plat maps. Note: the PLS quarter and quarter-quarter section lines do not cross meandered water bodies (the section and township lines do). See Section level data sets: 1. Public Land Survey System: Sections (TRS), Minnesota This 1:100,000-scale data set contains all PLS section and township boundaries as well as county boundaries for Minnesota. See: 2. SECTIC-24K: Section Corner Database SECTIC-24K is a digital file of the PLS section corners of Minnesota from the U.S. Geological Survey's 1:24,000-scale quadrangle maps. Also included are software utilities that: 1. provide user-specified section corner extraction from the SECTIC-24K database by county, quadrangle or township, 2. convert among PLSS, UTM and latitude/longitude coordinates, and between NAD27 and NAD83 datum values, and 3. create user-defined output files in dBASE format. See: Also see the associated API service:
Point of Contact:
Contact Information:
Contact Person Primary:
Contact Organization: Minnesota Geospatial Information Office (MnGeo)
Contact Person: Norman Anderson
Contact Position: Senior Research Analyst
Contact Address:
Address Type: Mailing and Physical
Address: 658 Cedar Street
City: St. Paul
State or Province: MN
Postal Code: 55155
Contact Voice Telephone: 651-201-2483
Contact Electronic Mail Address:
Data Quality Information:
Attribute Value Accuracy Information:
Attribute Accuracy Report: No statistical attribute assessment has been performed. All township and range numbers, and sample section and quarter-quarter section identifiers were plotted at a 1:100,000-scale to test for proper label assignments. Government lot information was visually checked by plotting at a 1:48,000-scale and comparing the plot with the 1936 Mn/DOT Map. Information that didn't match was flagged (see Section 5, Entity and Attribute Information).
Logical Consistency Report: Data have been topologically structured and verified.
Completeness Report: Township, range and section areas are complete statewide. Quarter and quarter-quarter section lines have been calculated and are complete as computed within each township.
Positional Accuracy:
Horizontal Positional Accuracy:
Horizontal Positional Accuracy Report: The following comment covers data developed under the PLSS process (see Section 1 - Currentness Reference; process = PLSS and Section 2 - Lineage; process = PLSS). Township and range lines were tested on two files, Anoka and Battle Lake, by the USGS National Mapping Division's Mid-Continent Mapping Center. The Center submitted the following evaluation to MnGeo on September 1, 1993 in a letter from Mapping Center Chief Merle E. Southern: 'The positional accuracy of the Minnesota LMIC [now MnGeo] PLSS data evaluated met most of our recently adopted acceptance/rejection criteria. Tests of three thirty-minute segments all showed standard errors for x and y to be 5-mils [0.005 inch] or less. Tracking test on two segments were generally acceptable -- one line was encountered that was 12-mils off. No deviations of more than 11-mils are allowed. Shaping of line work was acceptable.'
Vertical Positional Accuracy:
Vertical Positional Accuracy Report: Not applicable
Source Information:
Source Scale Denominator: 100000
Process Step:
Process Description: The TRSQ data set was developed from a series of client projects conducted at MnGeo. The initial effort began in 1990 when the Department of Natural Resources Engineering Division contracted with MnGeo to help map federal, state and county lands in Minnesota. This effort, funded by a grant recommended by the Legislative Commission on Minnesota Resources, resulted in the publication of maps identifying public recreational lands. These Public Recreation Inventory Maps (PRIM) used U.S. Geological Survey 1:100,000-scale separations containing information about roads, railroads, rivers and lakes, as well as the basic network of land survey lines. The survey lines consisted of state, county, township, range and section boundaries but not quarter-quarter sections. To prepare a public ownership layer that took advantage of digital information available from DNR and MnGeo, MnGeo constructed a quarter-quarter section map base that complemented the USGS separations. This was done between 1990 and 1992 for 16 of the 71 quadrangles that cover Minnesota (see Section 1 - Currentness Reference; process = PRIM). MnGeo used the following procedure: 1. Digitized section lines from USGS 1:100,000 paper maps for the 16 requested 30-by-60-minute quadrangles. 2. Added section corner tics at the intersections of the digitized section lines. 3. Created quarter sections and quarter-quarter sections using the MnGeo-developed program GEN40 (undocumented). GEN40 used two sources of information: 1. the section corner coordinates, and 2. a list of the number of government lots within a quarter-quarter section (GLOT List). This undocumented list had been compiled at MnGeo in the late 1980s from a 1936 series of annotated maps produced by the Minnesota Department of Transportation and various other sources. If the coordinates indicated that a section was regularly shaped (its section lines were 1,308 feet long) and if the GLOT List did not indicate the presence of government lots, GEN40 evenly bisected the lines connecting the corner coordinates to create quarter-quarter sections. Otherwise, GEN40 used a default distance of 1308 feet to create as many quarter-quarter sections as possible. Check plots were made and any areas in which the program had extended lines too far or not far enough were noted (this could occur at lake boundaries or at the state boundary). In these cases, lines were manually digitized or clipped to ensure that the survey line network was complete. 4. Labeled each quarter-quarter section with its county, township, range, section and quarter-quarter section identification. When government lots were present, GEN40 assigned codes indicating the number of government lots and the lowest lot number if a quarter-quarter section contained more than one lot. Government lot boundaries and meander lines around lakes were not digitized. 5. Produced a color check plot at a scale of 1:48,000 in order to compare it visually with the Minnesota Department of Transportation's 1936 county highway map series (Mn/DOT Map), which contained information on government lots. Any discrepancy between the GLOT List and the Mn/DOT Map for a particular quarter-quarter section was noted in the attribute table. The attributes were not changed since there was no basis for determining which information was correct. In 1993 and 1994, an additional 38 quadrangles were completed with funding provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, DNR and MnGeo. Seven quadrangles were created at the request of the Metropolitan Council. Work began in August 1995 to complete the remaining 10, with funding provided by the Board of Water and Soil Resources, and was completed in 1996. The process for these 56 quadrangles (see Section 1 - Currentness Reference; process = PLSS) was the same as the PRIM process outlined above except that the section lines were digitized from stable base mylar separations instead of paper maps. 6. The original data set was converted from NAD27 to NAD83. County tiles were created from the 30' x 60' tiles. Statewide files (section, township, county and state boundaries) were created by dissolving on each of the CTRSQ (County, Township, Range, Direction, Section and Quarter section) items in succession. (Note: since two methods were used to create TRSQ (PLSS and PRIM), these dissolved layers are not identical, although very close, to those created for MnGeo's TRS data set.) ARC/INFO coverage format was converted to export and shapefile formats.
Spatial Data Organization Information:
Indirect Spatial Reference: None
Direct Spatial Reference Method: Vector
(mgmg3obj):Arc, polygon, node, label point
(mgmg3til):County or 30' x 60' geographic areas corresponding to the USGS 1:100,000-scale base map series coverage.
Spatial Reference Information:
Vertical Coordinate System Definition:
Altitude System Definition:
Altitude Datum Name: not applicable
Altitude Units: Not applicable
Depth System Definition:
Depth Datum Name: not applicable
Depth Distance Units: Not applicable
Horizontal Coordinate System Definition:
Grid Coordinate System:
Grid Coordinate System Name: Universal Transverse Mercator
Universal Transverse Mercator:
UTM Zone Number: 15E
Planar Coordinate Information:
Planar Distance Units: meters
Geodetic Model:
Horizontal Datum Name: NAD83
Ellipsoid Name: GRS80
Entity and Attribute Information:
Overview Description:
Entity and Attribute Overview: The Public Land Survey System features described in this data set are represented as attributed polygons and label points. The following information is included for each quarter-quarter section polygon: 1. FIPS_COUN: the Federal Information Processing Standard three-digit county code: Values are: 1-173. 2. COUN: a two digit county code. Values are: 1-87. 3. TOWN: a three digit PLSS township number. Values are: 26-168. Direction is assumed to be north. Township 58 1/2 in Range 17 (St. Louis County) is numbered 58. See FRACTION_TWP code to distinguish from Township 58. 4. RANG: a two digit PLSS range number. Values are: 1-51. Range 42 1/2 in Townships 159 and 160 (Roseau County) is numbered 42. See FRACTION_TWP code to distinguish from Range 42. 5. DIR: a one digit direction indicator: East = 1, West = 2. 6. SECT: a two digit PLSS section number. Values are: 1-36. 7. QQ_OR_GL: a two digit field that can contain either the quarter-quarter section or government lot. The field is meant to ease linking (relating) of external data. 8. FRACTION_TWP (FRACTION_T in shapefile format): a flag to indicate whether the township is a fractional (half) one: Y = Yes, N = No. 9. QQ_LABEL: a character field that can be used to label the quarter-quarter section, e.g., NENE. 10. QQ_SECT: two digit quarter-quarter section number. Values are: 01-99 (typically, each digit ranges between 1 and 4). The first digit indicates the quarter section quadrant, and the second digit indicates the quarter-quarter section quadrant. Both begin in the NE corner and increase moving counter-clockwise (e.g., 23 = NW SW, or 'the southwest quarter of the northwest quarter'). The 0 and 5-9 digits are used when government lots exist outside the boundaries of the standard section. 11. ACRES: area in acres calculated from the data set for each PLSS subdivision. This value represents a calculated value from the digital data set. It DOES NOT represent the results of a land survey. 12. CTRSQQ: combination of attributes 1 & 3 - 7, showing County, Township, Range, Direction, Section and Quarter-quarter section. 13. TRSQQ: combination of attributes 3 - 7, showing Township, Range, Direction, Section and Quarter-quarter section. 14. CTRSQ: combination of attributes 1 & 3 - 7a (the first digit of 7), showing County, Township, Range, Direction, Section and Quarter section. 15. TRSQ: combination of attributes 3 - 7a (the first digit of 7), showing Township, Range, Direction, Section and Quarter section. 16. NUM_OF_GL: when they are present, the total number of government lots assigned to a quarter-quarter section. Values are: 1-10. 17. GL_A through GL_J: the two digit lot number for each government lot indicated in NUM_OF_GLOTS. This number was assigned during the original land survey and subsequent resurveys. Values are: 1-99. 18. PROB_FLAG: a field indicating conflicting government lot information. Two sources were used to determine the presence of government lots and their identifying numbers. The first was a 1936 series of annotated county maps produced by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT). The second was a list that originated with the 1936 information and was subsequently updated and modified, without adequate documentation (GLOT List). This item indicates whether these two sources match or do not match (only the lowest government lot number was shown on the checkplot, so higher lot numbers could not be compared). Match = 1; Discrepancy exists = 2. 19. COMMENT: a description of government lot discrepancies. For each parcel flagged as not matching in PROB_FLAG, this item describes the action that would need to be taken to modify the GLOT List in order to have it match the 1936 MnDOT Map. These changes were not done since there was no means of determining which information was correct. a. Government lot number would need to be deleted b. Government lot number would need to be added c. Government lot number would need to be changed d. Lowest government lot number matches (however, other lot numbers may not match) e. Lowest government lot number does not match (and other lot numbers may not match) f. Multiple government lot numbers would need to be created g. Multiple government lot numbers would need to be deleted 20. X-COORD and Y-COORD: the x, y coordinates of an internal label point for each quarter-quarter section recorded in UTM units: meters, extended zone 15, NAD27. 21. MATCH: open field that can be used in linking (relating) this file with other data containing PLS information. The TR file includes the following additional field: 1. TWP_LABEL: a character field used to label townships, e.g., T168 R35W. Statewide files include the following fields: 1. FIPS_STATE: Federal Information Processing Code for Minnesota, value is 27. 2. COUN_UC: county name, upper case 3. COUN_LC: county name, mixed case 4. COUN_AB: county name abbreviation (first four letters in upper case) The MN_100K file includes the following fields: 1. NAME_UPPER_Q100: 100K quad name, upper case 2. MINN_Q100_CODE: MnGeo's 100K quad code 3. USGS_Q100_CODE: U.S. Geological Survey's 100K quad code 4. NAME_ABBREV_Q100: 100K quad name abbreviation (first 5 characters in upper case) The MN_LAKE file includes the following field: 1. FLAG: values are: Lake; Island Note: the MATCH field value equals N for lakes and is left blank for islands.
Distribution Information:
Resource Description: TRSQ
Distribution Liability: MnGeo's data disclaimer is online:
Standard Order Process:
Digital Form:
Digital Transfer Information:
Format Name: ARC/INFO coverage, export or shapefile
Ordering Instructions: For most uses, TRSQ has been superseded by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) 1:24,000-scale 'Control Point Generated PLS' data set which is free online. See for more information. If you need the TRSQ data, contact Distributor.
Contact Information:
Contact Person Primary:
Contact Organization: Minnesota Geospatial Information Office (MnGeo)
Contact Person: Nancy Rader
Contact Position: GIS Data Coordinator
Contact Address:
Address Type: mailing and physical
Address: 658 Cedar Street
City: St. Paul
State or Province: MN
Postal Code: 55155
Contact Voice Telephone: 651-201-2489
Contact Electronic Mail Address:
Metadata Reference Information:
Metadata Date: 20150505
Metadata Standard Name: Minnesota Geographic Metadata Guidelines
Metadata Standard Version: 1.2
Metadata Extensions:
Online Linkage:
Metadata Contact:
Contact Information:
Contact Person Primary:
Contact Organization: Minnesota Geospatial Information Office (MnGeo)
Contact Person: Nancy Rader
Contact Position: GIS Data Coordinator
Contact Address:
Address Type: mailing and physical
Address: 658 Cedar Street
City: St. Paul
State or Province: MN
Postal Code: 55155
Contact Voice Telephone: 651-201-2489
Contact Electronic Mail Address: