From ‘RODDAGE’ to lineal feet

Don Gadd Landman Published:

Roddage is a term that is beginning to fade in oil and gas. (A rod is 16½ feet in length). I couldn’t count how many times I have explained what it meant, but it is a quaint term that reminds me of our heritage and the common law system that was incorporated by us in forming this county.

It has companion verbiage such as links, chains, perches, and poles as lengths of measure that are mainly used in surveying and property descriptions unless you live in Kentucky where everything meanders, ie: from a rock with an x on it around the ridge to a man sitting on a gray horse witnessed by two “ellem” trees. Been there, seen that.

All those terms revert back to the ‘Virginia system’ which was used to lay out lands in the wilderness areas like Ohio to better set up governments, including counties, townships, etc. The smallest unit for a township was a section. Each section was one square mile (5280 feet by 5280 feet). Acreage contained therein equals 640 square acres. Each township was to be six sections wide by six sections high or 36 sections to a township. The rudimentary form of government could now be established.

True, if you look at the county maps of today, the idea of six miles by six miles then forming a square county from that didn’t exactly work out. But, what would you expect from a bunch of rabble rousers, ex-soldiers, and others who just wanted to be left alone. At least in most places one mile by one mile was established and formed into sections. This, coincidently, means that if you own a section each side of your property is 5280 feet. Divide that by a rod of 16½ feet you come up with 320 rods per mile. This means that if owned only a quarter of the section (160 acres) your roddage would be 160 rods by 160 rods, and a quarter of that would be 40 square acres 80 rods by 80 rods.

Sounds like a lot, and it was in earlier times as most of the lines were small transport or collection lines to the main system. Generally, the payment was five to fifteen dollars “per rod” along with some damages to be paid when completed. Depending on whether you went straight across, around the field, or zigzagged through the back forty made the difference in how much you made on the roddage fee. True, most of the time it was a pain in the backside for a property owner to grant another line and it was my job to get it. Most companies wanted their own line to the main transport line and after a while you could have three or four of these small lines running all over the property. But they were generally granted with conditions as it was the neighborly thing to do to get the gas out for your friends and neighbors.

Now, today’s words are “lineal feet” and it important to read just what that encompasses. Your payment for the right of way depends on just how this is set forth in your right of way. Payments are being made by the foot, by the inch in diameter, width of the right of way and whether it is for a single line or many. Each can impact you and your land. And, as I always say, it is important both for the company and the landowner to have a clear understanding as this is the contract that you will live with for many years to come. Next month I will explore the language.

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