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Locating Property Line Markers?

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I occasionally get asked to find property line markers that for whatever reason have been lost/buried.  I've had mixed success accomplishing this.  Around where I live they are posts (usually steel but I don't think that is always the case) driven vertically into the ground.  I've also found some by accident while detecting for coins.

I'm headed out Saturday for another assignment.  Any advice is welcome.

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I used to do land boundary survey work and had to go to the county surveyor to look up the most recent plat maps. These maps usually got us in the right places to start looking.

Note: On ground markers our what are legally binding unless tampered with.
Don’t count on ONX maps or county google map locations as they can be off a little bit or in some cases I have found them off by a 1/4 mile.

Caltopo map is a good source for looking the area over for mining areas and then seeing the nad 27 topo overlays.

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    Get a decent hand compass and learn how to pace chains. With practice you can get surprisingly accurate, even in very rough country, if you have a good corner to start from.

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Finding an object purported to mark a property corner or a point along a boundary line is one thing. Telling someone it is their property corner or a point along their property line is entirely different.

I strongly suggest you, and anyone else not do that. You might say, “I found this object and it might be your property corner or on your property line, it appears to be the monument described on this, (your) map / deed, basic measurements indicate the similar bearings and distances as your documents. Also you might say, “ it is up to you to decide if you are comfortable calling this your “corner”, I don’t know if there have been any changes before or after this map was made, some boundary changes can be done by deed alone. Do you have a current title report?

It’s very dangerous to assume when it comes to land ownership. Many things which affect land boundaries can come into play. Even a survey by a licensed land surveyor is his opinion of all the pertinent information available. If adjacent land owners, the county, city or federal government disagree, ultimately it decided by the courts. 

After 30 some years of land surveying, I’ve seen many scenarios where boundary issues have turned out very bad.


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To be clear, I'm not charging for a service.  I'm helping out a friend/acquaintance or even stranger.  (In the last case I certainly limit my effort, but even for the other cases there is only so much time I'm willing to expend.)  To me it's like getting asked to find a lost valuable such as a jewelry ring.

As such I'm not going to the courthouse, etc.  The property owner can do that.  But here are some things I've 'learned' from my limited experience:

1) Get as much info from the land owner as possible.  This includes asking about where s/he thinks it is -- hopefully based upon a past viewing.  Ask for the locations of other known corner markers.  This helps in two ways:  a) if adjacent corner markers it can get you in the ballpark, and b) if you can see one and test it with the detector, assuming the same material or type of object was used for other corners you'll get a good dTID value to watch for.

2) Unless the marker has been driven deeper by unscrupulous persons (e.g. when putting in a sidewalk), it shouldn't require a high sensitivity setting so turn it down and go after the strong signals.

3) Other common good detecting practice such as choosing the right coil (e.g. if near fences, light poles, etc. where a small coil is best) go along with the technique.

I've certainly found property markers by accident when detecting, as I assume many of you have done as well.  Sometimes they sound off with a high dTID -- possibly bronze or brass or maybe a steel rod but with a brass cap.  Yesterday's markers showed a red underlined 64 with iron grunt (only) on the ML Manticore so clearly a purely ferrous target.

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