Plat Maps

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1855 Survey Detail
A plat (often called a Plat Map) in the United States is a map, drawn to scale, showing the divisions of a piece of land.

United States General Land Office surveyors drafted township plats of Public Lands Surveys to show the distance and bearing between section corners, sometimes including topographic or vegetation information.

City, town or village plats show subdivisions into blocks with streets and alleys. Further refinement often splits blocks into individual lots, usually for the purpose of selling the described lots; this has become known as subdivision. After the filing of a plat, legal descriptions can refer to block and lot-numbers rather than portions of sections. In order for plats to become legally valid, a local governing body, such as a public works department, urban planning commission, or zoning board must normally review and approve them.

Up-to-date land ownership and other information may always be researched in public documents. However, from time to time, a county plat map is published, making a kind of "snapshot" of ownership at a particular moment in time. In early days a single sheet might map out the ownership. In later times, the plat might appear in booklet form due to the increasing amount of information. Today, many counties provide free online access to property and tax information via interactive maps.


1946 Burnsville Plat
Several published plats are historically useful for Burnsville, beginning with the original U.S. Government Survey of 1855. (Note that Burnsville had settlers before this survey - they moved in early, believing that one day their land claims might be legalized.) Other useful plats were published in 1879, 1896, 1916, 1946 and 1974. Burnsville Historical Society often uses the 1946 Plat as a useful benchmark, effectively linking us to residents 2 and 3 generations ago. The map as published by BVHS is colorized by family name to facilitate viewing.


What's the difference between a Plat and a Survey?

“Plat” and “Survey” are two terms that are often used interchangeablably in real estate. However there are differences between the two. Listed below are the differences and similarities between plats and surveys.

What they have in common:

They are both a depiction of a tract of land They can show a very small tract or a very large tract They both show the dimensions of the property They both show the location of the property (county, land lot, district, abutting streets etc.)


How they differ:

A survey will show any dwellings, buildings or improvements (driveways, fences, pools) located on the property; A plat usually shows the dimensions of the property before the improvements are made. A plat will often cover more than one lot or parcel of land. For example: a developer will have a plat of an entire subdivision drawn; A survey usually only shows one lot or a limited number of lots.

Plats are often drawn in order to be recorded at the courthouse for public use; surveys are usually only for the personal use of the owner of the property.
Burnsville 1916 Plat.jpg
BV Plat Map 1879.jpg