Why Was Barbed Wire Made?

Barbed Wire Fence On Chain Link Fence

While barbed wire today is a helpful tool for military and defense purposes, it first was a feature of the American West landscape. Nine select patents from the U.S. Patent Office were used to create the wire fencing that is known today, starting with Michael Kelly in 1868 and finalizing with Joseph Glidden in 1874. With lots of space to manage in those times, farmers needed a way to claim their lands and ensure their cattle stayed in one place, leading to a new use of barbed wire fences instead of using scarce lumber.

The Usage Of Barbed Wire

While barbed wire may have negative connotations, these are not without some reasons. After all, when ranchers used barbed wire, they were closing off valuable resources to Indigenous Americans in the region. Barbed wire received the nickname of “Devil’s rope.” Barbed wire signified the end of an era for the free-roaming cowboy and changed the landscape of the American West. But barbed wire was not only used for ranchers; it also grew popular in war. The first mention of using barbed wire in warfare was in 1888 when British military manuals first suggested it as a defense method, and later, Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders protected their camps with barbed wire. As barbed wire was more widely used in warfare, it became a military weapon during World War I. Even today, barbed wire is still an essential aspect of warfare to secure military installations.

What Other Uses Does Barbed Wire Have?

While ranchers and the military use barbed wire, it can also deter theft when used in railway tracks and multinational corporations. Chain link fences with barbed wire are standard in manufacturing plants and other facilities that need to safeguard their materials. Barbed wire is a cost-effective and practical solution offering much-needed security.

Barbed Wire Today

While barbed wire is still being used today, its history is deeply embedded in the United States as an invention with pros and cons, but it is still widely regarded as what helped transform the American West. As the years go by, new improvements are being made, such as creating different classes offered in galvanized steel or coated in zinc and aluminum. While the United States invented barbed wire, modern improvements occurred in Australia and New Zealand.

Interested in learning more about barbed wire? View the differences between razor and barbed wire below:

Barbed Wire Versus Razor Wire