Originally Posted by MrInsanePolack
That is our history's fault. We didn't just show up and acquire all this land. The east coast states are all weird looking because the US only went as far west as the Appalachian mountains at first. As we spread west the boundaries were along rivers and mountain ranges and stuff. Once the country was past the Mississippi river, they started to become subdivided as squares.
California isn't square because it was a disconnected state. It precedes the square state era. There was gold there so we had to have it. We acquired it from Mexico.
Texas isn't square because it was part of Mexico and broke off. It was its own independent territory for a while. I don't remember exactly Texas's whole story.
I have no idea why Idaho looks like it does.
This map might make it easier to understand:
Back in the day, they surveyed land using the metes and bounds method. Most real estate in the original 13 US colonies and in several of the other early states was surveyed with the Metes and Bounds surveying system.
Sometime in the 1800's, as the land grew flatter, somewhere in Ohio, they started using Townships and Ranges that extended outward in 1 mile increments from the main Baselines and Meridians. This was referred to as the Recorded Plat Survey System. In the urban areas this system further extended itself down to the Lot and Block Survey System, which further extends down to individual tracts and parcels. California is interesting because the individual Spanish Rancho lines were left in tact and not described by using townships and ranges and a baseline/meridian.
Idaho has an interesting history as far as its name goes. It was actually made up by a politician. My uncle told me this, but here is a webpage that will tell you the same.
Idaho is an invented word! Mining lobbyist George M. Willing presented the name "Idaho" to congress for a new territory around Pike's Peak, claiming it was a Shoshone Indian word meaning "Gem of the Mountains." By the time the deception was discovered, the name "Idaho" was already in common use.