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Split-Rail Fence in Portland, Oregon — and Abraham Lincoln in Illinois

  • Post category:Fun Stuff

A split-rail fence is an absolutely stunning addition to any property. If you’re seeking advice on a split-rail fence in Portland, Oregon, then contact Pacific Fence & Wire.

We’ve been in business for almost a century, and we can help you make the best fencing decision for you, your family, and your property.

Our expert and friendly staff can assist you with most types of fencing in addition to fence fittings, gates, pipes, and other resources.

What is a split-rail fence?

Split rail is a type of fence that utilizes rails constructed from timber logs that have been split lengthwise. This style of fencing is also known as a zigzag fence, worm fence, snake fence (because of the way it winds across landscapes), or a log fence or post and rails fence. Most split-rail fences are cedar fences.

Anyone who’s played with Lincoln logs can grasp the underlying concept of split rail construction. In fact, a split-rail fence demonstrates a nifty bit of pioneer engineering since it can be constructed without the use of nails or fasteners.

These items were expensive and often unavailable for many homesteaders in the early American and Canadian centuries. What these pioneers did have, however, was wood. Lots of it, and they made great use of it to build miles of split-rail fence.

In the 1860s, soldiers on both sides of the U.S. Civil War often destroyed split-rail fencing in order to make use of it as firewood.

Abraham Lincoln and Split-Rail History

Back to Lincoln for a second. When strong and studious Abraham Lincoln was considering a run for the presidency, his advisers suggested a prop that would help remind voters of his rustic background.

According to, Lincoln modeled his campaign after William Henry Harrison’s “log cabin campaign.” Harrison won the 1840 election by “emphasizing what he claimed were long-standing ties to the common man (although he came from a family of Virginia aristocrats),” the Smithsonian writes.

Unlike Harrison, however, Lincoln actually came from humble origins. To emphasize this fact, the Smithsonian writes, “Richard J. Oglesby, a canny Illinois politician and Lincoln supporter, came up with the idea of sending Lincoln’s cousin, John Hanks, back to the family farm in Decatur, Illinois, to collect a couple of the wooden fence rails that he and Abe had split years before.”

They used the pieces of that wooden fence to mount a banner that read “Abe Lincoln the Rail Splitter.” The idea worked and forms a major thread of Lincoln’s historical legacy to this day. You can see “The Genuine Rail” — split by Lincoln himself in 1829 or 1830 — at the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

Pacific Fence & Wire

PF&W can handle all your Portland fencing needs. Whether it’s a custom order or a prefabricated product, we have the tools, the know-how, and the solutions-oriented approach to get the job done.

As we like to say, we’re happy to take on so-called “difficult projects” — everything from custom enclosures, sloped yards, and security fences to … well, you let us know!

We work on both big and small jobs, and we bring the same expert customer service and attention to detail regardless of the size and scale of your project.

You can’t go wrong with Pacific Fence & Wire, so please do call us today!