Trew once mentioned that the stone supports for the twin barbed-wire
globes in front of the Barb
Wire Museum in McLean
were actually limestone fence posts. I asked for their story and,
once again, Mr. Trew came through.
He said that they came from the farm of his brother-in-law's parents
near Bazine, Kansas. (That might explain the loose livestock around
Bazine). I would've left the subject there, had it not been for
his mention that his brother-in-law's parents had quarried the fence
posts themselves! That got my attention.
While limestone is widely available here in Texas, the state isn't
(yet) known for limestone fence posts. I say "yet" because someone
is going to read this and hit his forehead with his palm. Don't
worry, "Famous Fence Posts" isn't about to be imprinted on Texas
license plates. But Kansas might consider it, since we're all getting
a little tired of hearing about their sunflowers.
Rock fence posts might be taken for granted in Kansas, but here
in Texas they're certainly a novelty. One has to wonder if Kansans
visiting Texas return to tell their friends - "Would you believe
they use wooden fence posts in Texas?" "Wood, I'm tellin' ya! I've
seen them with my own eyes. Miles and miles of them."
The Internet revealed an astounding amount of information on Kansas'
rock fence posts - including an obituary for one Arthur Sayler,
who was Kansas' premier limestone fence post craftsman when he passed
away recently at age 90. Mr. Sayler appeared at fairs and gave demonstrations
on splitting rock for fence posts. Even appearing in documentaries.
He sounds like someone we would've liked to have known.
Ten Things You Need to Know About Limestone Fence
(Besides their reluctance to take staples and that they can dull
a chainsaw real quick)
1. Kansas, having emerged as the Limestone Fence Post capital of
the world, claims to have over 40,000 miles of fence supported by
2. In the 1880s, a worker could "cut" 20 fence posts in a 16-hour
3. In summer months, the posts sold for .10 each and only .03 during
4. Posts were frequently cut in 18 foot lengths and then divided
into three six-foot posts.
5. A good deal of Kansas has a thin shelf of limestone (sometimes
only eight inches thick) three to four feet below the surface.
6. Initial quarrying of fence posts was a crude affair - until the
arrival of blacksmiths (after the Civil War) who could make the
wedges required for precision cutting.
7. Limestone hardens after being removed from the earth - so fence
posts needing to be reworked were soaked in water for a day or two
before being finished.
8. Having once been the ocean floor, the limestone frequently contains
fossilized sea life.(This has the addition benefit of giving the
cows something to ponder).
9. Kansas counties with LFPs include: Barton, Cloud, Ellis, Ellsworth,
Hodgeman, Jewell, Lincoln, Mitchell, Ness, Osbourne, Ottawa, Pawnee,
Rusk and Russell.
10. Major quarry sites for limestone include Cottonwood Falls, Topeka,
Dorrance and Florence.
Texas' largest limestone structure is, of course, the capitol
building in Austin.
The tallest is the San
Jacinto Monument in La
Porte, which is faced with fossilized limestone and capped by
a 35-ton three dimensional limestone star.
When first cut - the whitish-gray limestone used for the San Jacinto
Monument was a buttery-looking yellow.
Hudspeth - and would you mind turnin' that light out - it's