In 1981, Herman Ostry and his wife Donna bought a farm a half mile outside of Bruno, Nebraska, a small community 60 miles west of Omaha. The property had a creek and included a barn that had been built in the 1920s. The barn floor was always wet and muddy. When the creek flooded in 1988, the barn floor was covered by 29 inches of water. That was the last straw. Ostry knew the barn had to be moved to higher ground.
He contacted a moving company that specialized in relocating old buildings, but was discouraged by the bid they gave him. One night around the dinner 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 later, 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 almost 10 tons. He figured it would take around 350 people to move the barn, estimating that each person would be lifting 56 pounds.
Mike devised a lattice of steel tubing. He nailed, bolted, and welded the lattice on the inside and the outside of the barn, with hundreds of handles attached.
After one practice lift, the volunteers from the community slowly walked the barn up a slight incline, each supporting less than fifty pounds. In just three minutes, the barn was on its new foundation and Herman Ostry had his miracle.
This story is included in “The American Barn,” by Randy Leffingwell.