Surveyor’s Chain

Surveyor’s Chain

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In the colonial period and throughout the nineteenth century, most American surveyors measured distances with chains. The favored form was the Gunter, introduced by the English mathematician, Edmund Gunter, in 1620. The standard Gunter chain has 100 links and measures 66 feet (or 4 poles) overall. Thus 80 chains equal a mile, and 10 square chains equal an acre. This example is a half-Gunter, with 50 links measuring 33 feet overall. It is one of several instruments that James Griswold used to lay out the New York and Erie Canal.
Currently not on view
Object Name
surveyor's chain (half-Gunter)
surveyor's chain
associated place
United States: Connecticut, Ridgefield
Physical Description
iron (overall material)
brass (overall material)
overall: 10.06 m; 33 ft
overall; folded: 2 in x 10 in x 5 3/4 in; 5.08 cm x 25.4 cm x 14.605 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Preston R. Bassett
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Natural Resources
Measuring & Mapping
Artifact Walls exhibit
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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I have one of these half Gunter chains. I inherited it from my father. Jim

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