Joseph F. Glidden
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.