Airborne Operation: Moving a Silo by Crane

Decades-old photos recall one-of-a-kind silo relocation.


| July 2008



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Beginning the move of the 14-foot diameter silo. Eugene Weibel got the idea for transfer-by-crane when he noticed the unit at Byam’s Gravel Bed in Rome, N.Y.

Snapshots from the mid-1950s tell the story: When construction of a new barn on a New York farm left the silo at an inconvenient location, farmer Eugene Weibel was not about to abandon the silo - or worse, raze it and start over. Instead, on an October day in 1955, he moved the 35-foot-tall structure 200 feet. "It took all day," recalls Eugene's wife, Rita. "I'm telling you it was a big day here. I never heard of such a thing before or since."

A crew of six tackled the project at the Weibels' Lee Center, N.Y., farm. Three-quarter-inch wire cable wrapped the silo's base and top and was attached to a crane's 60-foot boom. Two forms Eugene dubbed "cartwheels" braced the interior, one at the base and one half-way up. Eugene sawed through rotted wood at the silo's base, the crane swung the structure away and 20 minutes later the relic was securely attached to a new foundation.

The farm has been in Eugene's family for more than 100 years. Originally owned by half-brothers Jacob and John Ritter, the property passed to Fred Weibel (Eugene's father), who owned it 42 years, and then on to Eugene and Rita, who've owned it 57 years. Click through the Image Gallery to see more photos. (Photos courtesy of the Rome (N.Y.) Daily Sentinel.) FC