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Get GPS coordinates from property legal description

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Joseph Elfelt:
Hello all,

This is my first post at MNO.  Like many here, I have a keen interest in maps and GPS usage for recreation.  In addition, to support my business (which is land-related) I have acquired the technology and training that enables me to produce GPS coordinates from property legal descriptions.  Think about that.  Now isn’t that interesting....

For a limited time I am offering to use this technology to help people on this forum at no cost whatsoever.

No, the coordinates I produce are not surveyor-grade.  However, I used these same tools and methodology to produce GPS coordinates for 30 acres my brother Steve owns in Michigan.  That property had been surveyed years ago but the survey pins had become covered by forest litter and were 'lost'.  Steve used his good-quality consumer grade GPS to go to each set of coordinates I provided and very quickly found his survey stakes with a metal detector.

The tools I use include:
   *   Professional grade mapping software with robust features for working with legal descriptions
   *   Public Land Survey System (PLSS) dataset for Minnesota
   *   Geo-referenced topographic maps and aerial photos

Why am I making this offer?  The answer is:  I want some feedback.  Are the coordinates and maps I provide useful?  Are they better than whatever you are using now?  If you had to pay to purchase the coordinates and maps I will provide, would $25 per tract of land (big or small) strike you as a fair price?  This feedback will help me ponder whether I should consider starting a side business offering to do this work for pay.

In broad strokes I can think of at least three different uses for the coords and maps I can provide:
   1.   You want GPS coordinates for the property corners where you hunt.
   2.   You have listed your land for sale and would like to provide GPS coordinates and maps to your realtor so they can pass that info along to anyone that inquires.
   3.   You own property that has been surveyed and you would like to try and locate one or more of the survey stakes with a GPS and metal detector.

So here’s the deal.  I’m inviting a dozen or so people to send me a legal description for any contiguous tract of land in Minnesota.  If you have an actual survey, then I recommend you either scan it to a pdf file or take a high-resolution photo.  Either post your full legal description in this thread or email it to me.  My email address is in my profile.

In return I will send you:
   *   PDF file with (1) aerial photo with numbered property corners and colored property outline, (2) topographic map with numbered property corners, (3) GPS coordinates for each corner.  The coordinates will be the same style as used in geocaching: Datum WGS84  DD MM.MMMM
   *   GPX file containing the coordinates on the maps

You can use the info I am sending you however you please. 

In case you are not familiar with GPX files, that is a format used to exchange GPS info between different devices.  You can use the freeware GPSBabel to convert this GPX file into the format used by your GPS unit.  This eliminates the need to key the coordinates into your GPS unit by hand.

One thing I like to do when I look at property is to set up a route all the way around the perimeter of the piece of land from one corner to the next.  Then as I wander around all it takes is a glance at the GPS screen (I use a ‘mapping’ type of GPS) to see where I am on the property or if I have accidentally wandered outside the perimeter of the parcel. 

Would you like to see an example of what I’m talking about?  My brother Steve and I own 290 acres in northern Michigan and I prepared a pdf file for that property as an example of the service I am describing. 
Link to example.

Reminder #1:  After you have had a chance to check out the coords and maps I send you, please provide some feedback.  Are the coordinates and maps I provide useful?  Are they better than whatever you are using now?  If you had to pay to purchase the coordinates and maps I will provide, would $25 per contiguous tract strike you as a fair cost?

Reminder #2:  The coordinates and maps I produce are not survey-grade and instead are only approximations for where the corners and property lines are located.  If you want exact coordinates and property lines, then please contact a licensed surveyor that uses the latest in surveyor-grade GPS equipment.

Finally, I should ’fess up that I no longer live in Minnesota, although my parents are still in the house in Anoka where they raised their 7 boys.  I live in Washington State and enjoy mapping abandoned trails in the Cascade mountains with my GPS.  For the idly curious, here is a trip report with pics from my last hike.

Sounds interesting.  The link to your example is broken.

Joseph Elfelt:
Oops - I hate it when I do that.  :banghead:
New and improved link to example.

We just listed this land for sale so I added the realtor's logo and contact info to the top of each page.  I'm not trying to sell the land in this forum (it's in Michigan after all), this is just an example of what I can produce.


Thanks for posting, looks very interesting. I will be getting in contact with you next week regarding some property.

Randy Kaar:
thanks for joining here! i have a small piece like 10 acres and it
is overgrown with trees and a river to jump...  have no idea where
to find the stakes...  i will email you.



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