Big Well (Kansas)

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Greensburg Well
Former Big Well visitor center before it was destroyed by a tornado in 2007
Big Well (Kansas) is located in Kansas
Big Well (Kansas)
Big Well (Kansas) is located in the United States
Big Well (Kansas)
Location315 South Sycamore, Greensburg, Kansas
Coordinates37°36′20″N 99°17′37″W / 37.60556°N 99.29361°W / 37.60556; -99.29361Coordinates: 37°36′20″N 99°17′37″W / 37.60556°N 99.29361°W / 37.60556; -99.29361
Area1 acre (0.40 ha)
ArchitectWheeler, J.W.
NRHP reference #72000507[1]
Added to NRHPFebruary 23, 1972

The Big Well is a large historic water well in Greensburg, Kansas, United States. Visitors entered the well for a small fee, descending an illuminated stairway to the bottom of the well.[2]


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.[2] It was designated a National Museum in 1972;[3] in 1973 it was awarded an American Water Landmark by the American Water Works Association.[4] Under the name of "Greensburg Well," it has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) since 1972.[5]

It is billed as the world's largest hand-dug well, at 109 feet (33 m) deep and 32 feet (9.8 m) in diameter.[6] The Well of Joseph in the Cairo Citadel at 280 feet (85 m) deep and the Pozzo di S. Patrizio (St. Patrick's Well) built in 1527 in Orvieto, Italy, at 61 metres (200 ft) deep by 13 metres (43 ft) wide[7] are both actually larger.

Visitor center[edit]

The well had a visitor's center detailing the history of the well's construction. On May 4, 2007, a tornado hit Greensburg, destroying the center.[8] The well reopened on May 26, 2012.

The visitor's center also displayed a Brenham half-ton (1,000 lb, 450 kg) pallasite meteorite recovered from the area. The meteorite was billed as the world's largest single-piece pallasite,[9] but that title is held by other samples. It was reported that the Big Well visitor center was destroyed, and the meteorite was missing [10] on May 7, after an EF5 tornado destroyed the town. The meteorite, which was insured for $1 million, was later located underneath a collapsed wall and was displayed temporarily at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays, Kansas.[11] It has returned to the reconstructed museum site.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ a b Big Well official homepage
  3. ^ Big Well on World's Largest Things
  4. ^ Water Landmarks Archived 2005-09-24 at the Wayback Machine from the website of the American Water Works Association
  5. ^ KANSAS - Kiowa County, Accessed 2008-10-23.
  6. ^ Other hand-dug wells are much deeper, such as the Woodingdean Water Well in Brighton, England, but the Big Well's diameter gives it a greater total volume.
  7. ^ St. Patrick's Well
  8. ^ Evidence of the destruction is based on a Wichita Eagle/Associated Press photo published here on and hosted by CNN
  9. ^ Big Well Booklet Archived 2007-02-09 at the Wayback Machine, Chamber of Commerce, Greensburg, Kansas, written 1987, viewed 6 May 2007.
  10. ^ Greensburg loses unique town treasure too Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Greensburg's famed meteorite found under rubble Archived May 9, 2007, at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]