The Rise of Barbed Wire and Its Transformation of the American Frontier

Most people are of the opinion that barbed wire has no more significance than its present day existence throughout the West. This opinion is common to many other objects of technology that exist throughout our nation today. For the same may be said of the automobile, the train, the lightbulb, or air-conditioning--that their importance is merely specific to their present day use. Yet, this mode of thinking neglects their history and the role that they have played in transforming American culture. For all of these technological breakthroughs have impacted the cultural history of our nation significantly. Barbed wire fencing was such a technology, and its invention and rise played a major role in the transformation of the frontier and West. Its effects were momentous, and they may still be felt and seen today. With this significance in mind, this project attempts to explore the colorful story of the invention of barbed wire and to shed light on the specific impressions it has made in American cultural history.

  • The Transformation of the American Frontier
  • Bibliography and Acknowledgements


  • Maintained by Scott Cook
    American Studies at the University of Virginia
    Comments or questions may be sent to asgrp@virginia.edu

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