About Amerisurv| Contact    
Magazine | Newsletter    
Flickr Photos | Advertise    
HomeNewsNewsletterAmerisurv DirectoryJobsStoreAuthorsHistoryArchivesBlogVideosEvents

Sponsored By

Software Reviews
Continuing Series
An RTN expert provides everything you need to know about network-corrected real-time GNSS observations.
Click Here to begin the series,
or view the Article PDF's Here
76-PageFlip Compilation
of the entire series
Test Yourself

Got Answers?
Test your knowledge with NCEES-level questions.
  Start HERE
Meet the Authors
Check out our fine lineup of writers. Each an expert in his or her field.
Wow Factor
Sponsored By

Product Reviews
Partner Sites







Spatial Media LLC properties




Home arrow Archives   The American Surveyor     

The Curt Brown Chronicles: About Meander Lines and Boundaries Print E-mail
Written by Compiled by Michael Pallamary   
Thursday, 04 June 2015

A 81Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

June 1971
Hugh Binyon of Florida called my attention to an interesting court case, Bliss v. Kensey, (233 So. 2nd 191). When surveying sectionalized lands, the original government surveyors also meandered oceans, bays, lakes, rivers and sometimes marshes. Very rarely does the present limit of private ownership match the government meander line.

Along a shoreline most surveyors do not get up the original shore meander line; they merely extend the property lines to the limits of private ownership. Normally, no problems ensue. Most people think that is how their property lines should be.

In a few cases the area between the meander line and the shoreline has been prorated the same as for accretions. Most surveyors of experience know that the original meander line of the government was inaccurately determined, and it cannot be assumed that the area between the present shoreline and the original meander line was built up by accretions.

Two situations can happen: (1) The government surveyors did in fact correctly locate the limits of private ownership and all land added in front of a property since the original survey was the result of accretions. In this situation the rules of land apportionment for accretions are clearly applicable; (2) The government surveyors did not correctly locate the limits of private ownership and a strip of land was not included between the meander line and the limits of private ownership. In this second case, opinions vary as to how the land should be apportioned.

Suppose that this situation occurred: The government surveyors failed to include a strip of upland in the area of Lot 9 (see attached figure), that is, part of the upland was mapped as being in water. In Bliss v. Kinsey (Florida), this was the case. Should the judge declare that the lot lines should be prolonged to the mean high water mark and thus deprive Lot 9 of frontage on the Gulf of Mexico? Or, should the judge apportion the land similar to the rules for accretions? Bliss claimed his land was determined by the prolongation of lot lines (A to B) and the dispute was over area ABC.

The Bliss side cited Menasha WoodenWare Co. v. Lawson, 70 Wis. 600, wherein the line was extended to the true shoreline. Also cited was Boundary Control and Legal Principles by Curtis M. Brown for the proposition that "normally the ownership of land lying between the meander and high-water mark is determined by prolonging the property line to the high-water mark."

But where the equities are wrong by following a rule, the rule is tossed out. The other side cited Hanson v. Rice, 88 Minn. 273 (also cited in Brown's book) wherein the opposite was held true. The judges felt that land purchasers should be able to rely at least generally upon meander lines, which indicate that certain lots consist of waterfront property. "This is not to say that meander lines be treated as boundaries, but that courts should attempt whenever possible to at least approximate the amount of shore line as indicated on a meander line when they are called upon to establish actual boundaries." In effect, Lot 9 was entitled to Gulf of Mexico frontage. I cannot quarrel with the judge's opinion.

It seems strange that land, not formed by accretions, is apportioned by the rules of accretion. The surveyor's life is anything, except dull. In three states, decisions have been made; in other states, the surveyors must await a trial.
Author Michael Pallamary has compiled the writings and lectures of the late Curtis M. Brown. These works are published in The Curt Brown Chronicles.

A 81Kb PDF of this article as it appeared in the magazine—complete with images—is available by clicking HERE

< Prev   Next >

 American Surveyor Recent Articles
Marc Cheves, PS 
Editorial: A Great Year to be a Surveyor
Some magazines have what are called "theme" issues. That is, most of the content is focused on one particular subject. In my 22+ years of survey magazine publishing, my philosophy has always been to have a little bit of everything in each issue, thereby eliminating the possibility that ....
Read the Article
Jason E. Foose, PS 
Decided Guidance: Case Examinations: Halverson v. Deerwood Village
Whew! We really beat the snot out of Bryant v. Blevins and practical locations. Well this month we're back on new case that hit the Minnesota Supreme Court's docket in 1982. We've got the familiar gymnastics of jurisprudence featuring an extraordinary array of flying rope stretchers ...
Read the Article
Michel Philips 
Extreme Environment Surveying
A Franco-Chilean team of cave divers used the Nautiz X8 rugged handheld for marine cave surveying, gathering data to classify the inaccessible northern half of Madre de Dios for UNESCO World Heritage. The team of cave divers used the Nautiz X8 ....
Read the Article
Erik Dahlberg 
The Original Green Engineers
Sometimes, it's best just to leave things as you found them. That's the lesson shared by Dr. Richard Miksad and his students at the University of Virginia. As a result of studies covering nearly a decade, Miksad's teams have developed detailed ....
Read the Article
Dave Lindell, PS 
Test Yourself 49: No Dimensions
In square A-C-D-B with side S, C-E is tangent to the semicircle Q1 with diameter B-D. Q2 is the inscribed circle of A-C-E. The tangent to Q1 and Q2 meets the sides of the square at F and H and intersects C-E at t G. Q3 is the inscribed circle of C-G-H. What is the ratio of the radii of circles ....
Read the Article
Jerry Penry, PS 
Discovery on Grizzly Peak
When First Lieutenant Montgomery M. Macomb arrived in Carson City, Nevada, from Washington D.C., on July 28, 1878, his assigned survey crew from the 4th Artillery was waiting and ready for the new field season. At age 25, Macomb was the leader ....
Read the Article
Wendy Lathrop, PS, CFM 
Vantage Point: Fighting City Hall Over Land
Once upon a time (1989 to be exact) in a place not so far away from where I live, a man (Francis Galdo) bought a home across the street from a vacant parcel owned by the City of Philadelphia. That parcel, along with others, had been acquired by condemnation back in 1974 subsequent to a 1956 ....
Read the Article
Patrick C. Garner, PS 
Book Review: Boundary Retracement: Processes and Procedures
When I was in my mid-twenties and learning the honorable profession of land surveying, I was lucky to be guided by a mentor who would grab a book off his office shelf and say, "Every surveyor should have a copy of this!" The first example he waved at me was Davis, Foote and Kelly's Surveying ....
Read the Article


Amerisurv Exclusive Online-only Article ticker
Featured Amerisurv Events
List Your Event Here
contact Amerisurv


Javad Intros
Total Solution

press [at] amerisurv.com
Online Internet Content


News Feeds

Subscribe to Amerisurv news & updates via RSS or get our Feedburn
xml feed

Need Help? See this RSS Tutorial

Historic Maps

post a job
Reach our audience of Professional land surveyors and Geo-Technology professionals with your GeoJobs career ad. Feel free to contact us if you need additional information.


Social Bookmarks

Amerisurv on Facebook 

Amerisurv LinkedIn Group 

Amerisurv Flickr Photos 

Amerisurv videos on YouTube 



The American Surveyor © All rights reserved / Privacy Statement
Spatial Media LLC
7820B Wormans Mill Road, #236
Frederick MD 21701
301-695-1538 - fax