Rex Allen portrait
Rex Allen with guitar
title title
Coffee Stain
barbed wire


Rex Allen Logo
Rex Allen Museum


Hours may change under
current circumstances.
Closed Sunday
Open Mon 10 to 1 with live music
Tues – Sat 11 to 3
closed all major holidays

$5 per person
Kids under 10 are free.
Veteran’s free

Physical Address:
150 N. Railroad Ave.
Willcox, AZ 85643

Mailing Address:
PO Box 142
Willcox, AZ 85644

"Hooked on Barbed Wire"

Barbed wire, also known as barb wire (and sometimes bob-wire or bobbed wire) is a type of fencing wire constructed with sharp edges or points arranged at intervals along the strand(s). It was called the Devil's Rope by the Indians.

Before barbed wire, the lack of effective fencing limited farming and ranching practices, and the number of people who could settle in an area. The new fencing changed the West from vast and undefined prairies/ plains to a land of farming, and widespread settlement.

Wooden fences were costly and difficult to acquire on the prairie and plains, where few trees grew. Lumber was in such short supply in the region that farmers were forced to build houses of sod. Likewise, rocks for stone walls were scarce on the plains. Barbed wire proved to be cheaper, easier, and quicker to use than any of these other alternatives. The first wire fences (before the invention of the barb) consisted of only one strand of wire, which was constantly broken by the weight of cattle pressing against it.

Michael Kelly made a significant improvement to wire fencing in 1868; he twisted two wires together to form a cable for barbs - the first of its kind. Known as the "thorny fence," Michael Kelly's double-strand design made fences stronger, and the painful barbs made cattle keep their distance. His design allowed factory manufacture.

Barbed wire as we know it today, came from the mind of Joseph F. Glidden of DeKalb, Illinois in 1874. He improvised with various modifications until he came up with a design that would withstand years of court litigation earning him the title of "The Father of Barbed Wire". The Glidden wire was unique, consisting of one wire holding evenly- spaced barbs along its length. A second barb-less wire was twisted around the first wire thus doubling its strength, durability and also holding the many barbs in place.

Today, more than 450 patents exist for barbed wire and more than 2,000 types and variations of barbed wire have been found by collectors.