Preserving a piece of history in central Nebraska

Pure Nebraska
Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 12:18 PM CST
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KEARNEY, Neb. (KOLN) - A Kearney area man is taking on the challenge of restoring an old barn that was nearly ready to fall down. Now, the structure has new life.

We caught up with Kyle Brown to talk about it. “This barn is dated back to the 1860′s and 1870′s,” Brown said. “We believe it’s about 157 years old. It had a 6′ lean to the east. It had a 4 1/2′ twist. It was really trying to pull itself off its foundation, and do a roll. When I bought the property, I made a pact with the owners to save the barn. I had several people come out and talk to me about fixing it up. They all said it was too far gone. But with so much history in the barn, I just couldn’t let something like this go. I called an expert from Wisconsin. That’s all he does is fix barns. He came here, and he told me the odds of this barn standing the next day after we started fixing it were slim and none. He thought if we started pulling on it, it might come down. That night, we pulled an all-nighter. We sat here with cables and wedges. We got it straightened back up, and it probably hasn’t been this straight in 30 years.”

There is a lot of history surrounding the barn. “The Oregon Trail is here in my backyard,” Brown said. “You are literally standing on it here. Fort Kearny was about a mile from the barn. The main town in the area before Kearney was Dobytown. That was a mile to the west of us. So, we sit between Fort Kearny and Dobytown, the main supply chain of the fort, so they were coming back and forth between here all the time.”

Right now, there are many options for the future of the barn once it gets restored. “We want to get it to a point where it’s a usable space,” Brown said. “That could be a barn we put hay in or cattle in. I don’t know if that’s what we’ll do. We do an annual haunted house. This year we’ll try to incorporate the barn into the haunted house. Last year, people wanted to go through the barn, but I couldn’t let anyone do it because it wasn’t safe. Now it’s stabilized, and can be used for that. Going forward, maybe we can have some events here. I’ve had people call me already saying, can you handle a wedding? We will see. It just depends on how fast we work. it’s definitely not an overnight process.”