By the fall of 1883, damage to barbed wire fences destroyed by vigilante “open range advocates” was estimated at $20 million across Texas. The Texas Rangers were dispatched to quell the furor of the Fence Cutting Wars and restore order. Ranger Ira Aten was assigned to find and arrest fence-cutters in Navarro County. But in 1888, Aten would take an unorthodox step to address the problem: he planted bombs below the fence, so that when they were tampered with – the bomb exploded. Even after Aten was forced to remove all the bombs he planted, the fear of remaining bombs effectively stopped fence-cutting in the county. Aten is remembered in the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame and Museum, which contains many artifacts from the Rangers’ last two centuries of service.
Texas Rangers Hall of Fame and Museum