Monday, February 2, 2009

McLean, Texas's Devil's Rope Museum: Belly up to the barb

The tiny burg of McLean, Texas offers one of the best quirky museums we've ever been to: The Devil's Rope Museum. In it, they tell the history of barbed wire. That's right, barbed wire. How could something so mundane be so significant you ask? Well, barbed wire revolutionized the keeping of livestock and the settlement of the west itself. Joseph Glidden's invention in the 1860s created a frenzy that produced 570 barbed wire design patents. That's a lot of patents, you know. Somehow this was deemed nonreligious, so religious groups (God bless 'em) protested, giving the pointy stuff the name "the devil's rope." Then, the Fence Cutter Wars (I'm not making this up) ensued between land owners and trail drivers. The land owners won, and barbed wire was here to stay. There are many different patterns of barbed wire and once you look at them, they're like snowflakes. Hard, painful, razor-sharp snowflakes. There is a devoted following of barbed wire collectors who are part of the larger fence-enthusiasts group. You can't get much more Americana than this place, and it's on Route 66, to boot. Also housed in the same building, a former brassier factory, is the Texas Old Route 66 Museum and a swell gift shop. Here's their website:


The Viewliner Limited said...

It don't get anymore "Americana" than the barbed wire museum. Awesome.

Gunnar and Sherry said...

Thanks Richard! I've got that lovely state of Texas barbed wire souvenir hanging over my desk at work and it gets a lot of attention!