Kansas Barbed Wire Museum


Barbed wire as we know it today was patented in 1874 by 60-year-old Joseph Glidden. He fashioned barbs on an improvised coffee bean grinder, placed them at intervals along a smooth wire, and twisted another wire around the first to hold the barbs in place. His success set off a creative frenzy that led to more than 530 barbed wire patents (and a three-year legal battle over the rights), more than 2,000 barbed wire tool patents, and a host of liniments claiming to cure injuries caused by barbed wire. The Kansas Barbed Wire Museum has more than 2,100 barbed wire samples on display, including many of the unsuccessful attempts made prior to 1873.

Activity Details

Activity Type:Trips and Destinations
Discipline:Material Science
Topic(s):Technology/Materials
Grade:K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12
Time:Full day

Fun Fact:Originally invented for use by ranchers and homesteaders, barbed wire soon was adopted by the military. During the Spanish American War, Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders defended their camps with the help of barbed wire. During WW I, rolls of twisted barbed wire, known as concertina wire, were stretched from Switzerland to the English Channel.