The Invention That Ended The Wild West

The End Of The Wild West


“cowboy” by La Shola y EL Gringo? is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

By: Isaiah Efrem, Reporter

In America during the mid-1800s, the west was not yet domesticated. It was called the wild west for a reason. During this time, you could do whatever you wanted and, most of the time, get away with it. It was uncontrollable. Then came the invention that changed it all—barbed wire, also known as the thorny fence or the devil’s rope. The first barbed wire came from Michael Kelly in 1868, but Joseph Glidden made the best and most popular design on November 24, 1874. In the same year Joseph Glidden patented it, he made 32 miles of his barbed wire. Barbed wire changed the west because before barbed wire, cowboys and cattlemen could go and do whatever they wanted, and so when cowboys were transporting cattle, they would cross through farmers’ land, and the cows would eat all their crops. Now you might be thinking, why didn’t they make fences out of normal materials before barbed wire came around. Well, wooden fences were expensive and hard to build because lumber was scarce, stone fences were also expensive because that was also rare, and some farmers even tried using thorn bushes, but those took way too long to grow. All of these things also broke way too easily due to extreme weather too. Not only that but wooden and stone fences were not harmful, so the cattle could push through and break it. As barbed wire grew and grew and became more popular, it posed many challenges for the cowboys. Many cows who got too close to the barbed wire were wounded and sometimes died, cowboys no longer had access to the crops or water from farmers, and some public places even had barbed wire. After all the cowboys’ challenges, they eventually lost their jobs since barbed wire could keep animals from coming in and out of places, cowboys were no longer needed to help control cattle.