An 8 Wonder of Kansas
Big Well, Greensburg
Address: 315 S. Sycamore, Greensburg, Kansas
Rural Culture Elements represented: Architecture, History
Contact: Stacy Barnes
BIG WELL UPDATE:
The new Big Well Museum is now open! Located under the water tower at 315 S. Sycamore. Hours: Mon.-Sat., 9 am-6 pm; Sun., 1-6 pm.
Admission information available at http://www.bigwell.org/museum/hours-and-admission-rates
The Big Well is one of The 8 Wonders of Kansas because the construction of it was an engineering marvel in its day and it is the world's largest hand-dug well!
On August 9, 1887 Jack Wheeler led his crew in an architectural adventure as the first shovel dug into what would become a 32-feet wide, 109-feet deep well with two feet thick native stone walls. Taking almost two years, the well was hand-dug, cribbed, cased and stoned with rock from the Medicine River and sand from the Cowskin Creek. Stone masons of Herculean talent constructed what many have called "a pioneer engineering marvel."
Although the well was built for city water it was also built alongside the Kingman, Pratt, & Western rail line, a subsidiary of the Santa Fe, which ran a freight line from Wichita to the Mullinville turnaround until 1893. A large amount of water was needed for the steam locomotives. The Big Well supplied Greensburg with water until 1932 when another well was dug nearby.
In 1939 the folks of Greensburg decided to slap a handmade sign along the highway and began sporting their wonder as a Kansas tourism site. Hundreds of thousands of people have visited the Big Well from every state and from all over the world since then. Obviously, the Big Well had become the economic heartbeat of Greensburg.
On May 7, 2007, Greensburg was hit by the monster EF5 tornado that destroyed much of the town, including everything above ground at the Big Well. A new museum at the Big Well opened May 26, 2012.