Electric Fence

Type: General Entry

Published: 1952

Updated: January 1, 1995

An electric fence was first used in Texas on the XIT Ranch in 1888. D. H. Wilson of the United States Electric Fence Company contracted to fence a pasture and construct a thirty-mile telephone line. Electricity from a generator using an overshot wheel was to charge the top two wires of a four-wire fence. The device was supposed to eliminate the need for many fenceposts, to be less injurious to cattle than barbed wire, and to enable the cowboys riding the fence line to communicate with the ranch headquarters by telephone. The LX Ranch also experimented with the electric fence, but cowboys were skeptical about the invention, and the venture proved impractical. Ranchers revived the use of the electric fence in the modern era. Often solar-powered (see SOLAR ENERGY), such fences are used extensively in the Panhandle to prevent cattle from wandering onto farmlands.

J. Evetts Haley, The XIT Ranch of Texas and the Early Days of the Llano Estacado (Chicago: Lakeside, 1929; rpts., Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1953, 1967). W. S. Mabry, Some Memories (Bandera, Texas: Frontier Times Print, 1927).
  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Science
  • Innovations and Inventions

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Anonymous, “Electric Fence,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 27, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/electric-fence.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

January 1, 1995