Original Public Land Survey Plats of Minnesota
Housed at the Minnesota Historical Society are Minnesota’s original Public Land Survey plats. They were created during the first government land survey of the state conducted by the U.S. Surveyor General’s Office between 1848-1907. The survey was conducted in anticipation of subdividing the land and selling it to settlers moving into the area. By surveying the land, it was easier to locate and legally describe the parcels being purchased. This collection of more than 3,600 maps also includes later General Land Office (GLO) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) maps – up to the year 2006.
Minnesota’s survey plat maps serve as the fundamental legal records for real estate in the state; all property titles and descriptions stem from them. They also serve as an essential resource for surveyors and as a rich source of information about the state’s physical geography prior to European settlement. Finally, they serve as a testimony to years and years of hard work by the surveying community, often under challenging conditions.
In an effort to make the information contained on these maps more widely available and decrease the amount of handling these maps receive – as they are showing signs of many years of service – they were digitally scanned. Copies are now available for viewing and download through this website. This site also includes a discussion of the Public Land Survey itself.
This project would not have been possible without the unwavering commitment of the Minnesota Secretary of State, Mary Kiffmeyer, and financial support provided by the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Other important partners included the Minnesota Historical Society, the Minnesota Department of Administration's Land Management Information Center (now MnGeo) and the Minnesota Association of County Surveyors.
View or Download the Plats
- GLO Historic Plat Map Retrieval System
- View the collection
- Download by county
- Learn about the history and origin of the maps and see a glossary of terms
- Find instructions to download, view and print the plats
- Contact information
- Use a WMS Service to view the plats as a seamless layer
- GLO Field Notes: A project to scan, index, and publish Minnesota’s General Land Office (GLO)
Field Notes online.
- GLO Special Instructions: A 2008 project to locate and categorize letters sent to the surveyors who ran public land survey lines and established corner monuments in Minnesota during the 1800s, describing how they should carry out their contracted work.