How big is a "rod"?

I’ve seen a few mentions of rods when referring to the length of a portage. How long is a rod?

I think it is 16 feet
If I remember correctly from my old surveying days.



How big is a "rod"
According to Machinery’s Handbook a rod is 16.5 feet.

Thread degeneration…
…nah, not going there…lmao

Measurement in rods.
Technically, there are a couple versions of the measurment “rod,” several “miles,” at least a half dozen “feet,” but you’re just looking for a practical answer.

For use re planning portages, 320 rods = 1 statute mile. This makes it easy to estimate the length of a portage (80 rods = 1/4 mile, etc.). Keep in mind that this only gives perspective on the length of the portage, not the elevation changes, diameter of downed trees, or the friction coefficients of wet rocks along the way.

For those who want to sponsor a pop quiz on the next paddle outing:

1 rod = 16.5 ft.

320 rods = 1 statute mile

960 rods = 1 statute league (didn’t know it existed)

For those more nautical people on the coasts:

1 rod = 2.75 fathom

368 rods = 1 nautical mile

1,105 rods = 1 nautical league

If that’s still not enough, be my guest and convert into French, Egyptian, or Celtic measurements:

Google will do it too.

In the search box type:

1 mile in rods

and hit enter. Or you can try:

1 rod in feet

or 1 mile^2 in acres

(the ^2 is ‘square’.)

All the stuff other people seem to know is at your fingertips:

1 mile^2 in hectares

See? You’ll be able to make yourself insufferable, if you’re not already.



But, but…
20,000 leagues in miles is 69,046.7669 miles!

That’s a whole long way Under the Sea!


In Edward I’s reign (1272-1307) the yard (or Ulna) and its sub- and aggregated divisions were defined.

“It is remembered that the Iron Ulna of our Lord the King contains three feet and no more; and the foot must contain twelve inches, measured by the correct measure of this kind of ulna; that is to say, one thirty-sixth part [of] the said ulna makes one inch, neither more nor less… It is ordained that three grains of barley, dry and round make an inch, twelve inches make a foot; three feet make an ulna; five and a half ulna makes a perch (rod); and forty perches in length and four perches in breadth make an acre.”

The perch or rod, as it was also known, was a traditional Saxon land measure and survives in twentieth century. It had originally been defined as the total length of the left feet of the first sixteen men to leave church on Sunday morning.

What did I just say about


First off, thanks gstark.
28 years of surveying and I’d never come across a reference for converting measurements that is as expansive and streamline as your posted link. I’ve enjoyed immensely quickly browsing its portals of knowledge, and I have it now bookmarked in my work research links.

My previously best resourced reference for such a task proved somewhat faulty, in that its bound weight of 74 pounds (hmm, how many stone is that?)fell from my grasp one day to firmly assert itself upon my left foot. Well, that is my starboard, or other, left foot, as my dancing critics would describe it. Wouldn’t ya know, it threw off all the measurements I attempted to perch upon on that day, for my swollen pedestal to the right seemed to come up short, in count, when attempting to match others at their finish line named rod. Folks said I was lame. I told them perhaps they just needed to start off on the right foot. Preferably mine.

Then Jed goes and posts his fascinating look into some Saxy history, and suddenly we’ve got those sixteen men on a deadman’s chest (alright, it was 15. What’s one more or less to a drunken pirate?) pickin’ up that coffin and bearing it away in a parade under pall through the church’s front door (another reason to make those wide front doors - ever try to squeeze a large pine box with people on both sides through a 32" doorframe. Talk about death defying acrobatics!) They all get there sixteen left feet out the front door and thy rod of the staff doesn’t mean the dead guy is in any more or less comforted, he’s just 16-1/2 feet closer to the grave.

Then I go back to gstark’s conversionary lark, and low and behold, it has taken Irishmen 4-1/2 more feet to arrive at the same perch, if not ground, as those English brogues. So that’s why they’re always so hop-steppin’ madly dancing around rivers. They must have smaller feet. At least 4-1/2 to the rod. No wonder they’re always so kickin’ mad at those heavy-footed English.

Well, I’ll just have to take myself a trip to Ireland and set my now retired resourced reference to crashin’ down on the left feet of 16.5 million Irishmen. That should level the playing field, don’t you think? All those floppin’ Michael Flatley left feet pounding down upon the peds that pay per pound across the pond.

Not sure that it will help their dancing, though.


don’t forget the chains…
…is a “chain” a fraction of a rod?

I’ve done a lot of deed searches, & “rods & chains” were the preferred units of land measure up to the 18th century.

How about perches (not the fish)?

That was amazing.

– Last Updated: Jun-14-05 8:34 PM EST –

Did all that just spill out of your head as you typed?

Seriously. That is some darn fine punnery and silliness.

I was going to say that I usually carry a 6'6" and 6' rods, with a 6' spare in the cockpit, but really, that's just too weak now.

- Big D

Why thanks Big_D.
“Spill” is the same term the fine folks down at the local EPA (Exultations Post Alimentary) office use whenever my cross-wired consciousness forces-open backgates, thus allowing backed-up mindless mistreatment matter to flow out into its local stream, from there to deposit strange types of accretion (hopefully never acrimoniously) in pockets upon the P-net banks.

The pocket you took note of from above was one of the rare ocassions where the flow coursed out through the gates in under an half hour, before the P-net gate-post feature could kick-in its 30-minute safety closure.

On some more extended periods of backflow escape, a Soft and Micro deployment of Word-fullness was occuring prior to the post-haste big flush.

As to just how and when these polluted escapes will come from my facility, the health inspectors remain baffled. But I assure them that while it may push a stink downriver it is a healthy and effective way to cleanse the plant, and therefore it should help keep the plant remaining on-line for a few more years.

Just don’t swim too long in the stream during periods of peak discharge.

Bureau of TW Township Sanitation

(Now that’s diarrhetic discourse, Krousman!)

A Rod
As others have said, a rod is 16.5 feet; 320 rods to a mile. The practical estimate for canoers is a rod = one canoe length. Of course it is not exact but close.

A Rod
is currently playing third base for the Yankees. BTW, I think Giambi should go back on steroids. And Kevin Brown should just go back, period.

Tim (with just a little too much free time today)

Apologies to Monty Python…
“That’s a rather personal question, sir!”