Barb Wire

Above: Splice in Old Barb Wire Fence

Glidden's patent for barb wire drawing“Joseph Glidden has not only founded a mammoth industry, but he has revolutionized an economic system of the world. By his ingenuity and perseverance the fencing system of a pastoral continent has been reduced to a minimum of expense and simplicity. Not that he individually has accomplished all this, but as the patentee of the first really successful barb-wire fence, he laid the solid foundation for it all.”

Joseph Glidden of Dekalb, Illinois filed the patent for his version of barb wire in 1873. Glidden recounted in an 1884 interview with a journalist from The Prairie Farmer how he first tested his fencing:

“Mr. Glidden told the writer that his first trial of his fence with stock was not undertaken without some misgivings. But he thought to himself, “It will stop them, at any rate, whether it kills them or not.” So he took down an old board fence from one side of his barn-yard, and towards night when his stock came up, turned them into the yard as usual. The first animal to investigate the almost invisible barrier to freedom was a strong, heavy grade Durham cow. She walked along beside the wires for a little put her nose out and touched a barb, withdrew it and took a walk around the yard, approached the wires again and gave the barbs a lap with her tongue. This settled the matter, and she retired, convinced that the new-fangled fence was a success.”

I read the Prairie Farmer article for the 63rd volume of the LibriVox Short Nonfiction Collection.  You can listen to my recording here.

The Prairie Farmer article is available in print here.

Glidden’s home in DeKalb is now a museum, with displays of early barbed wire.

Photo of old electric fenceAn old barb wire fence runs through the woods in our local forest preserve.  At one time it was electrified!  Now the fence is toppled.Photo of tree fallen on fence










A siloYou might enjoy: The Cylindrical Silo