The Western War Against Barbed Wire

In the small town of Minturn, Colorado, one landowner's attempt to string the "devil's rope" on his property led to an outright ban

Ray Ng for TIME

Cars and bicycles head towards the Minturn Market in downtown Minturn, Colorado on August 25, 2007.

When Frank Lorenti of Minturn, a rustic little burg down the road from the villageopolis of Vail in the Colorado mountains, put barbed wire up to keep snowmobilers off his property last winter, the town council responded by outlawing the spiked fencing altogether. Police chief Lorenzo Martinez agreed. "Considering the damage it could do, people don't think barbed wire is appropriate," he reported. "There are a lot of other types of fences to use."

No type of fence, however, tells a better story about the changing American West than barbed wire, a tool as key to the region's settlement as the...

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