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#1
Old 12-22-2008, 11:02 AM
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What do "PK." and "N" and "E" mean on a land plan or survey?

What do "PK." and "N" and "E" mean on a land plan or survey?

The N and the E are followed by large numbers - perhaps they are Northing and Easting, which are Cartesian coordinates limited to some local area relative to some arbitrary point, local enough that distorting a sphere to a plane is neglibly inaccurate.

But, no idea what "PK." near them means.

Thanks!
#2
Old 12-22-2008, 11:22 AM
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I opened this thread right as my dad, who was a surveyor in both underground and open pit mines, as well as for the state highway department, was calling me to set up Christmas plans.

He said the N and E are most likely Cartesian, as you hypothesized. He described the way it works for the New Mexico State Plane Coordinate System. It was revamped sometime between 1989 and 1992 so that an arbitrary point was picked to be zero, such that every point in the state would be north and east of that point (therefore, it's somewhere in Mexico). I didn't ask about distorting a sphere to a plane, but my guess is that it's similar to the way they find elevation to points that are not within line of site to the ocean. Since sections are defined quite clearly, a surveyor can use those benchmarks to create others, making the area distorted from a point that was derived (and then published as the standard) much less sensitive to the phenomenon.

He doesn't recall what "PK." means, but said he was interested and would fool around looking for it, and would get back to me if you didn't find the answer before he did. His guess was that it meant parcel, but it was just a guess.

ETA: He also said that it's possible the numbers were listed were degrees, minutes, seconds, and just weren't labeled as such. He offered to take a look at it if you wanted to scan it in.

Last edited by Santo Rugger; 12-22-2008 at 11:23 AM.
#3
Old 12-22-2008, 11:33 AM
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PK is the symbol for a P-K. Nail (also called a surveyor's nail). The P-K Nail is a an actual nail, usually with a washer stamped with the survey date, which is staked into the ground at some location to be used as a reference point for shooting elevations, flagging high-watermarks, establishing local benchmarks, or locating a reference point for stream gauges. "P-K" is supposedly from the intials of one of the first manufacturers of "P-K" nails - Parker-Kalon.
#4
Old 12-22-2008, 11:42 AM
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Expanding a bit . . .

And yes, the N & E are northing and easting. They are probably in a format similar to this: 586.86' N 1215'22.6" E. This indicate segment of a property (or some other) line 586.86 feet in length extending generally North-north-east from some other known point. If this document is a property survey, the combination of all the line segment descriptions like should should form a closed polygon. These numbers are then used in the legal description of your piece of property and (along with some other blather about the county, township and section) will fully define it for both tax and ownership purposes.
#5
Old 12-22-2008, 02:11 PM
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So I asked someone who actually does this sort of thing for a living, and they said three things:

1 - N and E are either distances NORTH and EAST from a known point (possibly the PK Nail) OR latitude and longitude

2 - the PK is indeed the PK Nail, and if it is on there then then N and E are probably the former, not the latter

3 - (and I quote) "If the surveyor had done their fucking job correctly, there should be a legend"

So apparently this is a shabby job to begin with ...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Napier View Post
What do "PK." and "N" and "E" mean on a land plan or survey?

The N and the E are followed by large numbers - perhaps they are Northing and Easting, which are Cartesian coordinates limited to some local area relative to some arbitrary point, local enough that distorting a sphere to a plane is neglibly inaccurate.

But, no idea what "PK." near them means.

Thanks!
#6
Old 12-22-2008, 02:14 PM
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If they were written mN and mE then they were Universal Transverse Mercator coordinates. If so, there should also be a zone and datum reference as well.
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#7
Old 12-22-2008, 04:35 PM
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Thanks, all.

The bit about PK nails is most enlightening and satisfying. I think it would fit the context well.

I'm pretty convinced now that N was northing and E was easting, and they would be in distance units, not angle units. The numbers were not punctuated as angles. They looked like ####.####. This is based on my quick visual impression, as this plan isn't mine, it's somebody asking me about their plan (I'm known for amateur surveying as a hobby, but of historic ruins, not people's property). I would have noticed if they were punctuated as angles. I did not notice if the first and third digits after the decimal point ever exceeded a "5", as they would not if they were ddd.mmss (not a very clear way to express angles!), but I do think there were four digits before the decimal, which would rule out angles anyway.

If I get another look I'll pay more attention to these details! Thanks!
#8
Old 12-22-2008, 04:38 PM
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>N & E are northing and easting. They are probably in a format similar to this: 586.86' N 1215'22.6" E.

I think there's a surveying nomenclature that looks like this (it's one of the dimensioning options in a CAD package I use, though I've never used this option). But I don't think they refer to this nomenclature as "northing" and "easting", do they? I thought "northing" and "easting" was always used with distances relative to a reference point and aligned with local north and east..
#9
Old 12-22-2008, 06:09 PM
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As has been stated, the N and E are northing and easting. Could be either in State Plane or UTM, or an arbitrary local system. So, in essence, I am not really adding much to this discussion.

The N 8937' E format would be quadratic bearings (referred to in AutoCAD as "Surveyor's Units"). It describes a line in the northeast quadrant of a compass, angled away from due north by 89 degrees, 37 minutes- almost due east.

Quote:
3 - (and I quote) "If the surveyor had done their fucking job correctly, there should be a legend"
Not all plats require a legend, though it very seldom hurts to have one.
#10
Old 12-23-2008, 07:27 AM
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"Surveyor bearings are used by architects, cartographers etc., to express direction. Direction is referenced from the north-south compass axis (positive y-axis is "north"). They are expressed in dms format using a N/S prefix and an E/W suffix.

Examples of surveyor bearings:

N10d4m3sE
S10d4m3sW"

This is from EasyCAD, by Evolution Computing (which by the way is a very nice product).
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