The first settler of Glidden and Carroll County was Enos Buttrick in the late 1840’s. By 1867, the development and early importance of Glidden was due to the railroad stop of the Chicago and Northwestern's line from Clinton to Council Bluffs. This 354 mile line was opened in 1867, the same year the original town plat of Glidden was completed. Glidden was named in honor of one of the Northwestern Railroad directors, Joseph Farwell Glidden (1813-1906.) Director Glidden was also credited with inventing barbed wire in 1873. The railroad was interested in the expansion of this area; and, in 1868, a depot was built and a station fixed at Glidden. The first building to be erected after the railroad station was complete was a general store built by A. B. Wattles. That same year a post office, fire station and a two-story frame school were constructed.
By 1870 Glidden had eight brick businesses housed on its main street and the population had reached 177. Over the next 20 years it would grow to 532. Among Glidden's first businesses were John Waldron’s jewelry & gunsmith, George Ferguson’s hardware & implement business, an elevator, W.F. Waldron's blacksmith & wagon shop, George Eaton furniture & undertaking business, and a creamery. Liquid lightening inspired some folks and could be purchased from Frank Chandler's "blind pig," which was just up the alley in the vicinity of where the library stands today.
On October 2, 1873, the village of Glidden was incorporated and J.O. Havens served as the first mayor. The first newspaper was the “Express” and was established by Ed Tabor in 1877. The first bank was also opened in 1877 by George Stafford and later became the First National Bank of Glidden.