In the News: Fences Were Critical in Developing Minnesota

Today, most of us think of modern fences as housing homes, construction sites, or other modern safety needs. But fences have been used in Minnesota for generations. In the news, rural historian Marilyn Salzl Brinkman recently wrote in the St. Cloud times about how fences were a critical part of settling Minnesota, especially in rural areas.

Before fences existed, Brinkman writes, it was harder for Minnesota farmers to take care of their livestock and cattle. With the invention of wood fences, ranchers suddenly had the ability to control their livestock, keeping them from wandering far away. They could also separate their livestock from other farmers more easily.

Later in the 1800s, more farmers started to use barbed wire fencing, which was quicker and simpler for them to use than wood fencing. In 1878, Minnesota made using barbed wire fences legal, helping farmers further. In St. Cloud, it’s possible to see examples of these old barbed wire fences at the Stearns History Museum. Created by Adam Smith, one of the museum’s curators, Smith picked up the fencing in the exhibit from farms all over the country for the display.

Although wire fencing helped these farmers, it was not problem free. It was difficult and often dangerous to make, requiring special gloves for safety, and digging in fence posts around rocks often proved difficult. Challenges intensified when the fences were old or rusty. Occasionally, these fences would also break. Nowadays, farmers have a wider variety of fencing options and more opportunities for professional help making their livestock fences.

In the modern era, fences continue being an important tool for safety in Minnesota’s rural and more urban communities. Unlike in past times, it’s no longer necessary to create your own fence, a process that takes time, effort, and is more likely to result in a fence that breaks. Instead, leave the fence-building to the professionals. Contact us for a consultation about how we can meet your needs.