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Nebraska man owns boulder weighing thousands of pounds

July 14, 2018

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — He’s become used to strangers knocking on his door, and their question: Do you want to sell your rock?

“The answer to that is, ‘You can’t afford to move it,’” Tim Schulz tells them.

The first time this shed-sized chunk of Sioux quartzite moved, hundreds of thousands of years ago, glaciers nudged it into what is now Nebraska.

The last time, in 1977, a plumber paid $100 an hour for a pair of dozers and a flatbed trailer to finish its trip from a farm west of Lincoln to the corner of Southwest Ninth and West A.

The Lincoln Journal Star reports that first, though, Wayne Smith built a time capsule out of a copper pipe with lead caps. He filled it with silver coins, a bicentennial medal, a March 1977 Lincoln Star and a photo of himself, his mother, his children and his grandchildren.

And then he planted the 44,000-pound rock on top of it, behind his turn-of-the-century house.

“If he was rich, they’d call him eccentric,” his wife said at the time. “But since he’s poor, they call him crazy.”

The rock hound had already built a picnic table out of a 950-pound boulder topped with a slab of Colorado sandstone. Then he installed a farm-sized working windmill — and painted it red, white and blue — to draw water for his 15,000-square-foot garden.

“I try to do stuff different,” he told a reporter 41 years ago.

When Schulz bought the property in 1988, the 6-foot-high boulder wasn’t a selling point: His ex-wife liked the house, he explained. She’s gone, but he’s still here, and so is the rock, and so are the questions about it.

“I get all kinds of people asking where it came from,” he said. “I tell them the story as far as I know it.”

Last year, Smith’s grandsons knocked on his door, asking if they could take family photos with the rock to match their childhood pictures.

He doesn’t know of any bigger boulders in Lincoln, he said. A similar but slightly smaller stone is on display near Belmont Elementary, with a state historical marker describing its long-ago glacial migration from the Sioux Falls, South Dakota, area.

You can’t buy them this big. The largest General Excavating could sell would be just half the size, and that would be at least a $2,500 special order with heavy hauling fees, said the company’s Nick Engel.

Schulz is considered the fastest Nebraskan on wheels; the state auto racing Hall-of-Famer once hit 346 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. But he knows his rock isn’t going anywhere fast. So he mows around it and, occasionally, asks neighborhood kids to climb off of it.

And he talks about it, because other people want to.

“It’s definitely a conversation piece.”

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, http://www.journalstar.com

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