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Red Top Wire

Why The Red Top Wire?

by Judy Knowler

Being American made for over 125 years has weaved both experience and heritage into every roll of fence we make. From our humble beginnings in a shed to today’s industry-leading factory, our iconic red top fence has served generations of farmers. Through World Wars, the Great Depression, and even recent agricultural and economic challenges, Red Brand products have been standing guard on American farms and ranches since 1889.

Throughout our history, the strength and durability of our fences have rarely been questioned. However, one of our most common queries is, “Why the red top?” To answer this question, we have to look back almost a hundred years, to the early 1900’s.

Keystone Steel and Wire: The Early Days

In 1889, Peter Sommer and his sons invented the first wire-weaving fence machine on their farm in Central Illinois. The pattern that the machine weaved the wires into looked like a keystone, leading to the company’s namesake, Keystone Woven Wire Fence Company.

It didn’t take long for demand to skyrocket for the heavy-duty, easy to install, low maintenance fence. As a result, Sommer hired 10 employees and moved his operation to what would be Red Brand’s permanent home 25 miles north, to Peoria, Illinois.

Sommer built his first steel mill in 1902. He expanded operations to a new steel works in the village of Bartonville, Illinois. Employing 750 people, the new plant pulled its first ladle of steel tapped from an open-hearth furnace in 1917.

The First Red Top Appears

In 1925, the first rolls of red-topped Red Brand fence began to leave the factory. Regrettably, the employee who originally dipped the top wire in red paint is unknown. It is assumed that a man or woman working the factory floor decided to color the top wire red. Consequently, the roll of fence was instantly recognizable. The idea stuck, and before long, every roll of Red Brand fence featured a dash of red.

Red Brand Today

Today, we still coat the top wire of our fence with red paint. Even the barbs on our barbed wire are red. Of course, this doesn’t enhance the quality of our products. However, it does uniquely and distinctly make Red Brand fence instantly recognizable to any passerby. For over 125 years, Red Brand devotees have found Keystone products to be better than they had to be. Discerning farmers, ranchers and property owners know that Red Brand’s red-topped fence products are a symbol of enduring quality and reliability.

Red-Topped Wire
We are passionate about making quality products and proud to maintain the highest standards. But most of all, we are proud of the legacy we have nurtured for a dozen decades. Trust and loyalty have been on display on every red-topped fence across the American landscape for generations.

To learn more about Red Brand’s rich history, read our recent blogs ‘Red Brand Fence: A 125 Year American-Made Legacy‘ and Ben Sommer’s visit to Keystone Steel & Wire.

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