GREENSBURG — The Big Well in Greensburg, Kansas is 32 feet across and currently has about four and a half feet of water in the bottom, which is 109 feet down. It was built in 1887 at a cost of $45,000 to provide water for the Santa Fe and Rock Island railroads, and it served as the municipal water supply until 1932.
Hundreds of visitors come to Greensburg each week just to see the Big Well, and the numbers seem to continue to grow.
“Visitors come for a variety of reasons,” said Greensburg city administrator Stacy Barnes. “Some have seen news coverage of the big tornado we had here 10 years ago. Others come to see our sustainable green-building recovery efforts. Some are just random travelers on their way to Dodge City or Pratt, but there are a lot who come in summer as part of storm-chaser tour groups.”
Barnes said there is a huge international market for storm-chaser vacation packages, and many participants seem to end up in Greensburg. On any given week, the Big Well Museum guest book features visitors from Canada, Mexico, the Netherlands, Germany, Japan and many other international places, as well as those from across the United States.
“Quite a few tour companies make Greensburg a destination stop for their storm-chaser tours because they like to see what has happened here and see how we have recovered from it,” Barnes said. “When they come, they often stop at the Kiowa County Museum for ice cream at the soda fountain, get gas at Kwok-Shop, snacks at Dillons and take pictures here at the Big Well. It’s good for the community.”
The Big Well Museum, located at 315 S. Sycamore St., Greensburg, Kansas, is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., on Sunday 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. More information is available at www.bigwell.org.