History of Fences

By Joe Pozeg | 

As the Smithsonian states, “Fencing are icons of the American landscape”.  In today’s (and yesterday’s) culture, they have been used to create a wall of privacy or security or as part of the owner’s outdoor living décor.  It’s amazing when you think of it because for generations, Americans and Canadians have grown up between fences. 

A fence has also been known to convey messages about its owners. From popular types like the barbed wire fence, white picket fence, or a tall chain link fence, a great deal can be assumed about their lives and their relationship with the surrounding neighbours. 

America’s first fences were made of wood or stone.  But as forests diminished going westward, farmers, who protected their crops from free-ranging cattle, relied on the steel-wire industry.  Using fences to establish boundaries led to the fence wars of the late 19th century.  This resulted in neighbor conflicts and sometimes with deadly consequences.  

A few fun historical facts about fences

The Barbed Wire Fence
In 1873, the barbed wire fencing was invented at the De Kalb County Fair in Illinois.  A local farmer presented the idea and it took off from there.  The barbed wire fenced was the initial inspiration for the chain linked fence. 


The Great Wall of China
Construction of the Great Wall of China started as early as seventh century B.C..  Walls created earlier were later connected and became a longer, more formidable barrier. Thousands of workers died while building the wall.  The wall is not visible from space.  Even though the Great Wall of China extends for miles and miles, the width of the wall is no more than several times wider than your average vinyl fence.
 

Stone Walls to Nowhere
In Ireland, there are many a stone wall that goes straight up a mountain that leads to no where or serves no purpose.  These walls are referred to ‘Famine walls’ because, due to a food ration, a requirement was established that one had to “work for their meal” during the Great Famine.  For this reason, they ordered them to build walls and roads.  This also helped clear the ground for farming. Many of the Famine walls are still standing to this day, and some are used as modern fences for livestock.

Do you have any fun fencing historical facts?  Please share them in the comment section below.  We’d love to hear about them.