Century Old Barn Takes Final Bow | TheFencePost.com

Century Old Barn Takes Final Bow

Barbara Ann Dush
Fullerton, Neb.

Some might call it just a big old barn.

But for owner Dan Oppliger, his weathered barn has been the heart of the farm it rested on for over a century; and for the community of Silver Creek, Neb., it was a landmark for giving directions to visitors unfamiliar with the area.

But on June 19, 2011, the barn took its final bow.

“Kathy hollered at me to come outside,” Dan said of his wife’s request. “She thought it was going over. The barn just settled straight down. I watched it. You could see the door and the hay loft just settle down. It was still creaking and cracking after it settled. Then about 9:30 the roof fell over. It was calm when it went down. There were terrible winds here about six o’clock. The tornado whistle was blowing, but it went down when everything was calm. I’m surprised the way it came down.”

Dan has been living on the farm since 1960 when his father bought it. He was just a youngster then and remembers at that time the barn was straight. But in the last two or three years, it began doing some serious leaning, and became a conversation piece as it withstood storms and high winds.

History about the barn is sparse; but an old neighbor, George Carter, who lived a mile west of the Oppligers, thought it was built around 1910.

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“That’s about all the history I know,” Dan noted. “My dad milked cows in it. I raised thousands of little baby pigs in it, and used to fill it full of straw bales. We got a lot of use out of it.”

THE APPROXIMATE 32 ft. x 52 ft. structure was close to 30 ft. tall.

“We had a strong wind come up (a while back), and it was blowing 50 miles per hour and the barn started leaning and creaking, popping and snapping. We moved my buggy out and some containers,” Dan’s wife, Kathy, noted. “But I have some plans for it. I’m going to try to salvage some wood to build a saddle shed. I need some 2 x 8’s out of there; it’s really good lumber.”

The barn was built from pine. “Every town had a Chicago Lumber or something like that,” Dan explained. “And the wood was hauled here in (train) cars.”

A smaller barn just south of the big one was built out of cottonwood. There’s only one large cottonwood tree left on the Oppliger’s farm. Neighbor George Carter was again a source of information. “He told us they cut down the cottonwoods and had a sawmill right here, or brought a portable one here, and cut the lumber to make that south barn. There’s a lot of barns in this country that were built out of cottonwood. It was just something that was on hand.”

The barn was built on a limestone foundation. It’s what is referred to today as a floating footing that comes up and down with the frost. Buildings are still built that way today only with concrete.

The last time the barn was shingled was in the mid-60s. “Dad bought the shingles from Sears and we shingled about every building on the place. I painted it once upon a time, too – on a long ladder. It took 30 to 40 gallons of paint.”

Haylofts have always been favorite places for kids to play. Farm boys liked to rig up basketball hoops to make their own gym in the hayloft, even if it was on a floor of warped boards. Dan was no exception: “We had a basketball hoop up there and we’d clean the floor in the winter time and crawl up there and shoot a few hoops.”

The rail that was used to carry sling loads of hay was still in the hayloft. “I remember pulling on the rope with a tractor as a little kid. Earlier they used a team of horses. The barn’s seen a lot of stuff over the years. Dad milked cows in there every morning and night. It wasn’t a job I particularly enjoyed but I did it, too. When I went off to the service, somehow the cows disappeared before I got home,” Dan grinned at the memory. “Then I started farming and put some farrowing crates in there and started farrowing sows.”

BARNS ARE BECOMING a thing of the past. In early days, barns were a priority over a solid home. It was important to have a place of protection for livestock, and a hayloft was needed to store hay for the winter months.

Progress has changed the need for barns. They are no longer needed to store loose hay; instead, bales are stacked with weatherproof wrapping and grain stored in bins.

“(This barn) won’t be replaced. That’s just what’s happened on every farm,” Dan said. “I don’t have any idea what it would cost to build something like this one. It would probably scare you. If the barn had been straight and true, I would have had metal sheeting put on it. I like barns.”

There was a mutual affection in the Silver Creek community for the longtime rural landmark. When the structure laid to rest, it felt like a friend that deserved an eulogy all its own: The Barn, born in 1910, laid to rest on June 20, 2011, after providing warmth and shelter for its owner’s livestock, grain and equipment on the Merrick County farmstead it sat on for over a century.

The Oppliger’s said the barn had become a curiosity among motorists passing by their farm at 3166 State Highway 39, just west of Silver Creek. People often stopped to ask if they could take a picture of the building’s unusual slant.

“There’s a lot of people in the last five years that have stopped and taken pictures because it leaned so much.” A man from Milford and his girlfriend drove to Silver Creek last spring to take a closer look. “He told me they’ve been watching that barn. He drives by here every week delivering something, so they drove out here on their motorcycles because she wanted to take pictures of it.”

“It was a popular barn,” Dan said of the Silver Creek landmark.

Some might call it just a big old barn.

But for owner Dan Oppliger, his weathered barn has been the heart of the farm it rested on for over a century; and for the community of Silver Creek, Neb., it was a landmark for giving directions to visitors unfamiliar with the area.

But on June 19, 2011, the barn took its final bow.

“Kathy hollered at me to come outside,” Dan said of his wife’s request. “She thought it was going over. The barn just settled straight down. I watched it. You could see the door and the hay loft just settle down. It was still creaking and cracking after it settled. Then about 9:30 the roof fell over. It was calm when it went down. There were terrible winds here about six o’clock. The tornado whistle was blowing, but it went down when everything was calm. I’m surprised the way it came down.”

Dan has been living on the farm since 1960 when his father bought it. He was just a youngster then and remembers at that time the barn was straight. But in the last two or three years, it began doing some serious leaning, and became a conversation piece as it withstood storms and high winds.

History about the barn is sparse; but an old neighbor, George Carter, who lived a mile west of the Oppligers, thought it was built around 1910.

“That’s about all the history I know,” Dan noted. “My dad milked cows in it. I raised thousands of little baby pigs in it, and used to fill it full of straw bales. We got a lot of use out of it.”

THE APPROXIMATE 32 ft. x 52 ft. structure was close to 30 ft. tall.

“We had a strong wind come up (a while back), and it was blowing 50 miles per hour and the barn started leaning and creaking, popping and snapping. We moved my buggy out and some containers,” Dan’s wife, Kathy, noted. “But I have some plans for it. I’m going to try to salvage some wood to build a saddle shed. I need some 2 x 8’s out of there; it’s really good lumber.”

The barn was built from pine. “Every town had a Chicago Lumber or something like that,” Dan explained. “And the wood was hauled here in (train) cars.”

A smaller barn just south of the big one was built out of cottonwood. There’s only one large cottonwood tree left on the Oppliger’s farm. Neighbor George Carter was again a source of information. “He told us they cut down the cottonwoods and had a sawmill right here, or brought a portable one here, and cut the lumber to make that south barn. There’s a lot of barns in this country that were built out of cottonwood. It was just something that was on hand.”

The barn was built on a limestone foundation. It’s what is referred to today as a floating footing that comes up and down with the frost. Buildings are still built that way today only with concrete.

The last time the barn was shingled was in the mid-60s. “Dad bought the shingles from Sears and we shingled about every building on the place. I painted it once upon a time, too – on a long ladder. It took 30 to 40 gallons of paint.”

Haylofts have always been favorite places for kids to play. Farm boys liked to rig up basketball hoops to make their own gym in the hayloft, even if it was on a floor of warped boards. Dan was no exception: “We had a basketball hoop up there and we’d clean the floor in the winter time and crawl up there and shoot a few hoops.”

The rail that was used to carry sling loads of hay was still in the hayloft. “I remember pulling on the rope with a tractor as a little kid. Earlier they used a team of horses. The barn’s seen a lot of stuff over the years. Dad milked cows in there every morning and night. It wasn’t a job I particularly enjoyed but I did it, too. When I went off to the service, somehow the cows disappeared before I got home,” Dan grinned at the memory. “Then I started farming and put some farrowing crates in there and started farrowing sows.”

BARNS ARE BECOMING a thing of the past. In early days, barns were a priority over a solid home. It was important to have a place of protection for livestock, and a hayloft was needed to store hay for the winter months.

Progress has changed the need for barns. They are no longer needed to store loose hay; instead, bales are stacked with weatherproof wrapping and grain stored in bins.

“(This barn) won’t be replaced. That’s just what’s happened on every farm,” Dan said. “I don’t have any idea what it would cost to build something like this one. It would probably scare you. If the barn had been straight and true, I would have had metal sheeting put on it. I like barns.”

There was a mutual affection in the Silver Creek community for the longtime rural landmark. When the structure laid to rest, it felt like a friend that deserved an eulogy all its own: The Barn, born in 1910, laid to rest on June 20, 2011, after providing warmth and shelter for its owner’s livestock, grain and equipment on the Merrick County farmstead it sat on for over a century.

The Oppliger’s said the barn had become a curiosity among motorists passing by their farm at 3166 State Highway 39, just west of Silver Creek. People often stopped to ask if they could take a picture of the building’s unusual slant.

“There’s a lot of people in the last five years that have stopped and taken pictures because it leaned so much.” A man from Milford and his girlfriend drove to Silver Creek last spring to take a closer look. “He told me they’ve been watching that barn. He drives by here every week delivering something, so they drove out here on their motorcycles because she wanted to take pictures of it.”

“It was a popular barn,” Dan said of the Silver Creek landmark.

Some might call it just a big old barn.

But for owner Dan Oppliger, his weathered barn has been the heart of the farm it rested on for over a century; and for the community of Silver Creek, Neb., it was a landmark for giving directions to visitors unfamiliar with the area.

But on June 19, 2011, the barn took its final bow.

“Kathy hollered at me to come outside,” Dan said of his wife’s request. “She thought it was going over. The barn just settled straight down. I watched it. You could see the door and the hay loft just settle down. It was still creaking and cracking after it settled. Then about 9:30 the roof fell over. It was calm when it went down. There were terrible winds here about six o’clock. The tornado whistle was blowing, but it went down when everything was calm. I’m surprised the way it came down.”

Dan has been living on the farm since 1960 when his father bought it. He was just a youngster then and remembers at that time the barn was straight. But in the last two or three years, it began doing some serious leaning, and became a conversation piece as it withstood storms and high winds.

History about the barn is sparse; but an old neighbor, George Carter, who lived a mile west of the Oppligers, thought it was built around 1910.

“That’s about all the history I know,” Dan noted. “My dad milked cows in it. I raised thousands of little baby pigs in it, and used to fill it full of straw bales. We got a lot of use out of it.”

THE APPROXIMATE 32 ft. x 52 ft. structure was close to 30 ft. tall.

“We had a strong wind come up (a while back), and it was blowing 50 miles per hour and the barn started leaning and creaking, popping and snapping. We moved my buggy out and some containers,” Dan’s wife, Kathy, noted. “But I have some plans for it. I’m going to try to salvage some wood to build a saddle shed. I need some 2 x 8’s out of there; it’s really good lumber.”

The barn was built from pine. “Every town had a Chicago Lumber or something like that,” Dan explained. “And the wood was hauled here in (train) cars.”

A smaller barn just south of the big one was built out of cottonwood. There’s only one large cottonwood tree left on the Oppliger’s farm. Neighbor George Carter was again a source of information. “He told us they cut down the cottonwoods and had a sawmill right here, or brought a portable one here, and cut the lumber to make that south barn. There’s a lot of barns in this country that were built out of cottonwood. It was just something that was on hand.”

The barn was built on a limestone foundation. It’s what is referred to today as a floating footing that comes up and down with the frost. Buildings are still built that way today only with concrete.

The last time the barn was shingled was in the mid-60s. “Dad bought the shingles from Sears and we shingled about every building on the place. I painted it once upon a time, too – on a long ladder. It took 30 to 40 gallons of paint.”

Haylofts have always been favorite places for kids to play. Farm boys liked to rig up basketball hoops to make their own gym in the hayloft, even if it was on a floor of warped boards. Dan was no exception: “We had a basketball hoop up there and we’d clean the floor in the winter time and crawl up there and shoot a few hoops.”

The rail that was used to carry sling loads of hay was still in the hayloft. “I remember pulling on the rope with a tractor as a little kid. Earlier they used a team of horses. The barn’s seen a lot of stuff over the years. Dad milked cows in there every morning and night. It wasn’t a job I particularly enjoyed but I did it, too. When I went off to the service, somehow the cows disappeared before I got home,” Dan grinned at the memory. “Then I started farming and put some farrowing crates in there and started farrowing sows.”

BARNS ARE BECOMING a thing of the past. In early days, barns were a priority over a solid home. It was important to have a place of protection for livestock, and a hayloft was needed to store hay for the winter months.

Progress has changed the need for barns. They are no longer needed to store loose hay; instead, bales are stacked with weatherproof wrapping and grain stored in bins.

“(This barn) won’t be replaced. That’s just what’s happened on every farm,” Dan said. “I don’t have any idea what it would cost to build something like this one. It would probably scare you. If the barn had been straight and true, I would have had metal sheeting put on it. I like barns.”

There was a mutual affection in the Silver Creek community for the longtime rural landmark. When the structure laid to rest, it felt like a friend that deserved an eulogy all its own: The Barn, born in 1910, laid to rest on June 20, 2011, after providing warmth and shelter for its owner’s livestock, grain and equipment on the Merrick County farmstead it sat on for over a century.

The Oppliger’s said the barn had become a curiosity among motorists passing by their farm at 3166 State Highway 39, just west of Silver Creek. People often stopped to ask if they could take a picture of the building’s unusual slant.

“There’s a lot of people in the last five years that have stopped and taken pictures because it leaned so much.” A man from Milford and his girlfriend drove to Silver Creek last spring to take a closer look. “He told me they’ve been watching that barn. He drives by here every week delivering something, so they drove out here on their motorcycles because she wanted to take pictures of it.”

“It was a popular barn,” Dan said of the Silver Creek landmark.