Built Environment : Transportation Geography :

Transportation Structures:
Other Route Type-Families

Descriptive List




  1. Land Survey Route Type-Family
  2. Result of federal (and sometimes state) land surveys - whether a regular grid, or irregular patchwork.


    1. Rectangular Survey Route Types
    2. Result of federal (and sometimes state) land survey grid - usually one-mile sections, often quartered. Aligned to cardinal directions, specifically magnetic or astronomical north.

      Roads based on land survey usually disregard terrain, though the rougher the terrain, the more the roads must confom to terrain regardless of the land survey.

      Where section lines don't quite match up, different road intersections are often formed; see Route Elements.


      1. Ault Road and Jones Road, Liberty Township, Ross County, Ohio, USA Section-Line Route Subtype
      2. Road aligned to section-line grid.

        Exemplia Gratia:




      3. Part of Dry Run Road in Section 15, Green Township, Ross County, Ohio, USA Quarter Section-Line Route Subtype
      4. Road aligned to grid of quarter-section, those bisecting each section two ways (resulting in quadrants).

        Exemplia Gratia:




      5. Part of Dry Run Road in Section 22, Green Township, Ross County, Ohio, USA Tangent Align/Realign Route Subtype / Rectangularized Road
      6. Road realigned not on land survey section or quarter section lines, but still straightened out to form tangents aligned to the cardinal directions, instead of curves. Similar to tangential result of early 19th century pikes and turnpikes - series of straight lines.

        Exemplia Gratia:




    3. Metes & Bounds Survey Route Type
    4. Result of land survey system that relies on relatively random alignments - properties are bounded by series of tangents with little respect to the cardinal directions.

      Exemplia Gratia:



    Baker Road (County Road 10), Sections 12 and 6, Lee Township, Athens County, Ohio, USA
  3. Tangential~ Route Type-Family~
  4. Roads are fairly straight, running across rolling land, not necessaily following anything but their own course.

    • Straight route across level or gently rolling terrain - terrain not significantly rough enough to warrant adjusting the route to compensate for terrain

    • More in effect as higher technology is used to conform terrain to the route - e.g. Settlement or Pioneer route --> Turnpike route.

    • Often found on Valley Terraces and rolling Uplands.

    • Sideling Level Routes are often a result of the Tangential urge.

    • Though essentially, all efficient routes are tangential...

    Exemplia Gratia:



    1. Tangential Across Route Type
    2. Straight route across level terrain - thus "across" the level land.

      Often found on Valley Terraces.

      Exemplia Gratia:

      • - --


    3. Tangential Over Route / Overland Route / Cross-Country Route Type
    4. Straight route across gently rolling terrain - thus "over" the hilly land.

      Often found on rolling Uplands.

      Exemplia Gratia:

      • - --


  5. Plains & Beach Type Family
  6. Roads are atop subtle but important ridges located on very level land.



  7. Headwater / Subheadwater or Portage Route Type-Family
  8. Route connecting navigable or nearby navigable ends of two waterways. Embraces any path connecting headwaters and/or subheadwaters. ("Subheadwaters" is location on a waterway where navigation ends - possibly a falls, shoal, or just shallow stretch.)

    This may be perpendicular to any dividing ridge, but it depends on the alignment of the waterways. They may be in line, which would have the route leave and enter each watershed in line with the waterways and perpendicular to a dividing ridge. But is the waterways are any other alignment (perpendicular or some other angle) the route enters and leaves the watersheds at various angles.

    (Is this an Upland Route Type or Valley Route Type? In some cases the portage route is level or rolling (e.g. Miami-Maumee, Cuyahoga-Tuscarawas) but sometimes it is hilly (e.g. Ottowa River-Lake Huron (Canada), Pennsylvania routes). Is it both and neither, transitional, and thus deserves its own Type-Family?)

    Exemplia Gratia:

    • the famous Akron "Portage Way"
    • many early trails

    1. Headwater-Headwater Route Subtype
    2. Connects the headwaters of one stream to the headwaters of another.

      Exemplia Gratia:


    3. Headwater-Subheadwater Route Subtype
    4. Connects the headwaters of one stream to the subheadwaters of another.

      Exemplia Gratia:


    5. Subheadwater-Subheadwater Route Subtype
    6. Connects the subheadwaters of one stream to the subheadwaters of another.

      Exemplia Gratia: