Barbed Wire

In 1874 Joseph F. Glidden, a sixty year old farmer from Illinois, invented and patented barbed wire. Glidden fashioned barbs on an improvised coffee bean grinder, placed them at intervals along a smooth wire, and twisted another wire around the first to hold the barbs in a fixed position.

He established the Barb Fence Company at De Kalb in Illinois. Several other people claimed they had invented similar products and Glidden became involved in a three year legal battle. Glidden was eventually declared the rightful inventor of barbed wire and he went on to become one of the most richest men in the United States.

By 1890 most of the private range land had been fenced with barbed wire. This created protests from animal lovers who described barbed-wire as the devil's rope. Others complained that the large landowners were fencing in large tracts of public land and watering places.

The introduction of barbed wire fences was a major factor in improving cattle breeding. Cowboys, patrolling the barbed wire fence, were able to reduced the crime of rustling.

Barbed Wire patented by Joseph F. Glidden in 1874.
Barbed Wire patented by Joseph F. Glidden in 1874.