Visitors down in previous year, but The Big Well is still a big draw in Greensburg

Hannah Brown
Kiowa County Signal
Caitlin Matile, director of the Big Well, stands by a poster kiosk at the Big Well Museum where visitors were down in 2020, but she has high hopes for 2021.

The Big Well in Greensburg has survived many difficult times since being dug in 1887. Two world wars, the Flu Pandemic of 1918, more war, financial recessions, and now, COVID-19 can be added to that list. Although the Big Well had to close for 10 weeks (March 19-June 1) to stop the spread of the virus, more than 6,500 people visited the tourist attraction throughout the other nine and a half months. 

“We had 6,645 people visit this from all 50 states and several different countries which was definitely down from last year,” said Caitlin Matile, Convention and Tourism Director for the City of Greensburg and the Big Well. 

In 2019, nearly 10,000 people visited and hopefully the visitor count is closer to that in 2021. Matile said the hardest thing about 2020 was the loss of revenue during the closure. Matile worked hard during this time to think of creative ways to sell products. One thing the museum offered was a mystery grab bag for $10, which could be shipped to anyone who ordered it. Ranger Pride shirts in honor of Greensburg Schools were another new item that could be mailed out. 

The digging of the Big Well started on August 9, 1887. Jack Wheeler and his crew went on to dig a 32 foot wide, 109 foot deep well lined with two feet of natural stone. The project was completed nearly two years later. The well provided water for the town as well as steam locomotives that traveled along the Kingman, Pratt, and Western railroad. In 1932 a new well was dug nearby and Greensburg received its water from there. Seven years after the new well was built the idea of a tourist attraction came to life, when residents put a handmade sign on the highway to bring people in. 

When the tornado hit Greensburg in 2007, much of the structure above the Big Well was damaged and had to be rebuilt, but the well itself stayed solid, below ground and safe.

The rebuilt museum has captured many memories of the night the tornado hit and the rebuilding of Greensburg after that. Visitors now come to learn about the tornado and the town’s rebirth as a "green" community. But the well itself is still the star of the museum.

For all of the latest happenings at the Big Well Museum and Visitor Information Center on Facebook. Take a visit to the Big Well Monday - Saturday from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.