Improvement in Wire-Fences
Patent No. 157,124
Joseph Glidden’s innovative barbed wire was essential to the settlement of
the American plains in the late nineteenth
century. It proved to be an effective method of securely enclosing one’s
property, thereby keeping cattle in and trespassers
out. Barbed wire has since also proved effective in providing barriers for a
variety of places and uses.
Prior to Glidden’s wire, there was no practical or effective way to
enclose property in the West. Glidden’s barbed wire was
easy to install and much cheaper to produce than other types of fencing.
The advent of barbed wire, while allowing livestock to be contained,
also brought about the end of the great cattle drives.
The economic advantages of using barbed wire were apparent in the
ability to raise cattle in more controlled conditions.
Glidden made innovations to existing barbed wire designs by creating a
double strand of wire that held barbs securely in
place. He established the Barb Fence Company to manufacture his wire; it
was an immediate success. Glidden eventually sold
his interest to the Washburn and Moen Manufacturing Company for $60,000.
Glidden was born in Charlestown, New Hampshire. His wire has outlasted
other innovative wires used for enclosure throughout
the twentieth century, and it is still used today.