"Greensburg, Kansas" Greensburg by basstbn

Greensburg Travel Guide: 20 reviews and 68 photos

World's Largest Hand-dug Well

Site of the world's largest hand dug well, Greensburg, Kansas. The well is 109 feet deep, 32 feet wide, and was completed in 1888. The only digging tools were a shovel and a pick. Until 1932 this well provided Greensburg's water supply, and in 1939 became a tourist attraction, complete with the obligatory tacky roadside signs which can be found for miles around.

Look into the big well

Looking down into the world's largest hand dug well, Greensburg, Kansas. If you want to pay a few bucks you can go inside the enclosure, even descend the 105 steps to the bottom of the well.

A SITE OF INCREDIBLE DEVASTATION!

Just a few days ago, on May 4, 2007, a large and powerful tornado completely leveled the town of Greensburg, killing nine of its 1400 or so inhabitants, and leaving all of them homeless. This tornado funnel was almost two miles wide and the swirling winds within it topped 205 mph.

Nancy and I have passed through this town on numerous occasions, stopping occasionally to stretch our legs, or let our daughters see the big well again, or maybe to get gasoline. We know people who work there or have lived there in the past. It's typical of so many Kansas towns, and reminds us both of where we came from. We were shocked and saddened at the news of the disaster.

The accompanying photograph is shown courtesy of the Wichita Eagle, and was taken from the air by Jaime Oppenheimer. See this photo and others at www.kansas.com/static/slides/050507tornadoaerials/. The twisted green metal is the city water tower which stood next to the hand dug well. Recent new reports have indicated that the well itself has not been damaged, and after a couple of days' search the 1000 pound palasite meteorite housed in the big well's museum and gift shop was located.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:If you're driving Hwy 54, it makes a good rest stop, and the water in the gift shop is cold.
  • Cons:Due to the devasting tornado in May of 2007, little is left standing of Greensburg.
  • In a nutshell:Support the people of Greensburg as they rebuild their homes, schools, churches, and businesses!
  • Last visit to Greensburg: Jun 2006
  • Intro Updated May 10, 2007
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Comments (2)

  • atufft's Profile Photo
    Apr 18, 2010 at 10:07 PM

    Rebuild is taking longer than expected. Many collected insurance and moved away. Others can't come up with their share of the "matching grant" deals required for many state and federal underwriting. Some improvements are obvious now though too...

  • giampiero6's Profile Photo
    May 10, 2007 at 10:00 AM

    Thanks for sharing this piece of Americana. I remember tornadoes with awe and wonder, but the reality is pretty grim. Thanks, Frank. Hope Greensburg gets back on its feet, soon.

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