Survey stakes are read in a straight line by a surveyor or landowner locating two stakes. Surveyors use a scope with cross hairs that is mounted on a tripod, while a landowner might visually line up the survey markers. The lines formed by lining up the stakes and markers create legal boundaries between properties.
The Land Surveyors website describes the two main types of survey markers as vertical elevation markers and horizontal position markers. Most markers are made of durable material, such as metal, and are intended to stand as permanent land marking records. However, surveyors can use wooden stakes or nails in trees.
Moving or destroying a survey marker or stake is a misdemeanor crime in the United States and in many other countries.