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Lands West of the Mississippi River conveyed from the U.S. government to private parties after about 1856 were conveyed as sections or fractional parts there of, townships and ranges. Townships designated a North-South location, while ranges designate and East-West location.
In Kansas the 6th Principal Meridian [ PM ] runs North-South and intersects the Nebraska State line at the Northeast corner of Republic County. It runs South passing thru Wichita on “ Meridian Ave” and continuing to the Southern border of Oklahoma. Lands lying west of the 6th PM are in Ranges “West “; those east are in Ranges “ East”. Townships in Kansas are all “ South “ and begin at the Nebraska boarder.
In Nebraska, the 6th PM intersects the Kansas State line in the Southwest corner of Jefferson County continuing north to the Northern border of Nebraska. As in Kansas all Lands lying west of the 6th PM are in Ranges “West ‘ and those east are in Ranges “ East”. Townships in Nebraska are all “ North “ and begin at the Kansas border. So when you see 4-6S-3W you can figure out that you would be in Concordia, Cloud Co, Kansas & 28-5N-11E would put you in Tecumseh, Johnson Co., Nebraska.
Each “ Range “ or “ Township “ is usually, but not always, 6 miles in dimension. For example Township 8 South, Range 10 West is a 6 mile X 6 mile square that lies 8 X 6 = 48 miles south of the Nebraska border and 10 X 6 = 60 miles west of the 6th pm. This is in the area of Tipton, Mitchell Co., Kansas. The 6th PM runs on the county line between Cloud and Clay counties in Kansas. Hence Concordia, Cloud Co. Kansas is in the R3W while Clay Center, Clay Co., Kansas is in the R3E.
In the flat land of Western Kansas, legal township boundaries generally match government township line. These “ townships “ have legal names. Voting, taxes, etc. are determined by these lines. In Eastern Kansas, governmental lines may follow ridges, creeks, rivers, etc. However, the legal descriptions do not change. All unincorporated land in Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa & Minnesota, and most if not all states west of the Mississippi River, are described by section, township & range. Sections can be broken down into quarter and even smaller fractional parts. If a boundary follows an irregular line, like a fence, the description has “ calls “ eg. distances, bearings, but is still a part of the section.