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Antique Barbed Wire History and ID

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Mountain Cowgirl

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Due to an unusual gully washer running down an old pasture road yesterday, I saw this barbed wire sticking up this morning on my walk. I noticed the flat short barbs and the heavy gauge wire. That road has been there for 60 years or more and this wire was buried about 6 inches down and exposed in two places that had the most washout. I compared it to two old dilapidated rusty wire fences, the oldest in this immediate area, and neither had the flat barbs. One was round long two barbs and the other was round long four barbs.

Any guess on the age? Also, I would enjoy any photos of old barbed wire from any old fences around your area.
BW old hayfield rd.jpg
 

Nicky

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We some of that around here. Our neighbor had a plaque with a bunch of different wire on it and the names and years ? (maybe). They have both passed away but the house is still empty. I'll try to remember to take a pic of it if it is still on the porch.
 

webfoot

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I think I have some of that still up on fences. That is the stuff that Noah put up on the juniper posts that are rotting off.
 

Mountain Cowgirl

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My research shows that the flat barb barbed wire was patented in 1887. The earliest wire was the short barb. Also, there are at least 315 different antique barbed wires. The gauge of the wire appears to be about 12. Today's barbed wire is 15 1/2 gauge.

The earliest this fence was built would be in the early 1900s. The fact it has been buried for at least 60 years speaks to the dryness of the climate and the drainage of the coarse sandy soil.

I find the history of the old west changing from open rangeland to fenced pastures an interesting and important part of ranch history. Sometimes I think barbed wire brought more change than the six-gun. I remember back in the early 70s when I was in Western Montana and later in Eastern Oregon and had places bordered by National Forest, that if I wanted to keep range cattle out and have my own livestock, I had to fence my place. In those days especially in south Baker County, there were only a few allotments and while fences separated those allotments. the other boundaries of the allotment were not fenced so cattle could mosey 15 miles on down to Baker if not checked on and pushed back up daily. If it hadn't been a traffic hazard, it was an asset as they kept the bar pits mowed at no cost to the taxpayer.
 

webfoot

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I remember back in the early 70s when I was in Western Montana and later in Eastern Oregon and had places bordered by National Forest, that if I wanted to keep range cattle out and have my own livestock, I had to fence my place. In those days especially in south Baker County, there were only a few allotments and while fences separated those allotments. the other boundaries of the allotment were not fenced so cattle could mosey 15 miles on down to Baker if not checked on and pushed back up daily. If it hadn't been a traffic hazard, it was an asset as they kept the bar pits mowed at no cost to the taxpayer.
Not just in the old days. It happens today. These old fences are more of a suggestion than a barrier. Just now I drove home from Baker. The stretch of old Hwy 30 between Burnt River Canyon lane and Oxman (where 30 goes over the freeway) there is a fence on the west side of 30 and over at the freeway. There is 25-30 pairs in between 30 and the freeway and 5 or 6 of those pairs were walking down Hwy 30. Between rocks rolling on to the road, deer, and cows. I don't drive Hwy 30 after dark.
 

Mountain Cowgirl

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Not just in the old days. It happens today. These old fences are more of a suggestion than a barrier. Just now I drove home from Baker. The stretch of old Hwy 30 between Burnt River Canyon lane and Oxman (where 30 goes over the freeway) there is a fence on the west side of 30 and over at the freeway. There is 25-30 pairs in between 30 and the freeway and 5 or 6 of those pairs were walking down Hwy 30. Between rocks rolling on to the road, deer, and cows. I don't drive Hwy 30 after dark.
It doesn't sound like anything has changed on Hwy 30. I had forgotten that it is an overpass there and the other 3 places it crosses the freeway are underpasses. I was nearing that overpass taking it easy watching the cows along the side of the road when an old horse started running alongside so I started braking and suddenly it jumped right out in front and smashed in the grill and radiator of my pickup. It was unhurt. It was a long trip to Pauls's radiator being towed with a chain. I think many of those old fences are left as-is for historical purposes. :ROFLMAO: The most compelling evidence is when you find where the cows broke out as being an open gate or filled-in cattleguard. ;)
 

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