Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Barbed Wire On Western Wednesday...!

In case you didn't know, barbed wire was a very cheap and useful tool on the prairie.

Although there were many versions of the stuff, one of the most popular and strongest was patented by Joseph Glidden. This article from can tell you a little more about it, if you are interested!

Oct 27, 1873:
Joseph Glidden applies for a patent on his barbed wire design

On this day in 1873, a De Kalb, Illinois, farmer named Joseph Glidden submits an application to the U.S. Patent Office for his clever new design for a fencing wire with sharp barbs, an invention that will forever change the face of the American West.

Glidden's was by no means the first barbed wire; he only came up with his design after seeing an exhibit of Henry Rose's single-stranded barbed wire at the De Kalb county fair. But Glidden's design significantly improved on Rose's by using two strands of wire twisted together to hold the barbed spur wires firmly in place. Glidden's wire also soon proved to be well suited to mass production techniques, and by 1880 more than 80 million pounds of inexpensive Glidden-style barbed wire was sold, making it the most popular wire in the nation. Prairie and plains farmers quickly discovered that Glidden's wire was the cheapest, strongest, and most durable way to fence their property. As one fan wrote, "it takes no room, exhausts no soil, shades no vegetation, is proof against high winds, makes no snowdrifts, and is both durable and cheap."

The effect of this simple invention on the life in the Great Plains was huge. Since the plains were largely treeless, a farmer who wanted to construct a fence had little choice but to buy expensive and bulky wooden rails shipped by train and wagon from distant forests. Without the alternative offered by cheap and portable barbed wire, few farmers would have attempted to homestead on the Great Plains, since they could not have afforded to protect their farms from grazing herds of cattle and sheep. Barbed wire also brought a speedy end to the era of the open-range cattle industry. Within the course of just a few years, many ranchers discovered that thousands of small homesteaders were fencing over the open range where their cattle had once freely roamed, and that the old technique of driving cattle over miles of unfenced land to railheads in Dodge City or Abilene was no longer possible.

Riding the fence line was a full time job on the bigger spreads, checking to make sure that the wire and post were still in good order. No telling how many miles of the wire were strung back in the olden days, but I reckon it was a lot!

Well, looks like we can have our coffee out on the patio this morning. How about some fresh fruit today?


Gorges Smythe said...

Yeah, I've heard there were quite a few folks shot over wire in the beginning.

HermitJim said...

Hey Gorges...
That's my understanding as well!

Thanks for coming over today!

Chickenmom said...

When we moved here and started repairing a rock wall, we found plenty of barbed wire. Most of it had flat, thin razor sharp little blades on it. Nasty stuff. Chilly here at 28 - the patio and fresh fruit sounds great!

Sixbears said...

It's been said that it's really barbed wire that conquered the west.

linda m said...

I've been caught a few times on barbed wire - nasty stuff but very useful. Very chilly here 28, but sunny and windy. Coffee and fruit on your patio sounds good.

JO said...

Another lesson learned here at Hermits place. Lots of stories about cutting wires and stealing cattle. Those were the days.

It warmed up here again it only was 61 last night, had to turn on a/c yesterday and today will be 90! To Hot! Pass the fruit please sounds like a good idea.

Rob said...

28, sounds like winter is coming! Where was that?
It was 62 in the rv this morning but supposed to get into the 80s today. I'm down by the gulf, Rockport Texas today.

butterbean said...

Howdy HJ,
Well, it ain't cheap ANYMORE... I NEED new fencing around my ranch.. The fence around it was put-up in the 1930s and has just about 'rotted/rusted' away; the cedar posts are still SOLID/HARD... I priced, JUST THE MATERIAL, the other day and ONLY 3/4 mile was $24k !!!
YIKES !!! That's almost what I paid for the 'ranch' in 2000...

In Coleman county, TEXAS, Mabel Lea was trying to sell some of her land to farmers, in the 1880s and fenced-off several hundred acres..
'Fence-cutters' RUINED MILES of her fence, time after time, until the TEXAS Legislators finally passed a law against EVEN having a pair of pliers on you WAS AGAINST THE LAW.. There are still some large ranches left from the LEADAY Ranch...

Hope all is well in Cut 'n Shoot, this mawnin' and y'all have a HAPPY DAY !!!

Are there any of Roy Harris', the heavy-weight boxer's, folks still around down there???

Dizzy-Dick said...

Hey Butterbean, I am the one that lives in Cut & Shoot, not H.J. But I bet he wished he did. . . BTW, barbed wire may be more expensive that single wire for an electric fence, but it doesn't need external power and does a better job of keeping the animals in. If you would hold up a piece of wire to one of my Uncle's cows, it would run, and he used very low voltage.