In 1981, Herman Ostry and his wife, Donna, bought a farm a half mile outside of Bruno, Nebraska, a small community sixty miles west of Omaha. The property had a creek and came with a barn built in the 1920′s. The barn floor was always wet and muddy. When the creek flooded in 1988, the barn ended up with 29 inches of water covering the floor. That was the last straw. Ostry needed to move it to higher ground.
He contacted a building moving company and was discouraged by the bid. One night around the table, Ostry commented that if they had enough people they could pick the barn up and move it to higher ground. Everyone laughed.
A few days latter, Ostry’s son Mike showed his father some calculations. He had counted the individual boards and timbers in the barn and estimated that the barn weighed approximately 16,640 pounds. He also estimated that a steel grid needed to move the barn would add another 3,150 pounds, bringing the total weight to just under 10 tons. He figured it would take around 350 people with each person lifting 56 lbs. to move the barn.
The town of Bruno, Nebraska was planning its centennial celebration in late July of 1988. Herman and Mike presented their barn moving idea to the committee. The committee decided to make it part of their celebration.
So, on July 30, 1988, shortly before 11 a.m., a quick test lift was successfully made. Then, as local television cameras and 4,000 people from eleven states watched, 350 people moved the barn 115 feet south and 6 feet higher up a gentle slope and set it on its new foundation.
The reason most people think that something cannot be done is because they know that they can’t do it by themselves. But impossible things can be done if we join together in the task. Working together, we can not only move barns, but change the world.