Reports of the Surveyors General

Eddy Map

On September 9, 1850, the date of California's admission to the Union, the new state became trustee of the navigable waters of the state as an incident of its sovereignty. Later by means of grants of lands from the federal government for reclamation, support of public schools and other public improvements California acquired additional lands that would eventually total more than 8,000,000 acres. The Surveyor General was a Constitutional officer elected by the voters of the state until the office was eliminated by Chapter 516, Statutes of 1929. The duties of the Surveyor General where transferred to the Division of State Lands in the new Department of Finance. In 1938, all responsibilities of the former office of the Surveyor General, and which from 1929 to 1938 were held by the Department of Finance, were transferred to a new independent agency - the California State Lands Commission.

As outlined in the California Constitution of 1849, the duties of the office of Surveyor General included:

  • He shall make an accurate and complete survey by astronomical observations and linear surveys, of the boundaries of the State
  • He shall make an accurate map of the State
  • He shall survey and, when necessary, designate by plainly visible marks, or monuments, and shall describe on the map of the State, the boundary lines of the several Counties
  • The Surveyor General shall be chief engineer and commissioner of internal improvements
  • He shall deliver to the Governor annually his report

Currently on display at the Commission's Sacramento office.

Surveyors General

The following include a short biography, photo of, and the annual reports from each Surveyor General, documenting some of the activities and observations of the Surveyors General, and record the early geographical development of the new state.