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Greensburg Well
Bigwell1.jpg
Former Big Well visitor center before it was destroyed by a tornado in 2007
Location 315 South Sycamore, Greensburg, Kansas
Area 1 acre (0.40 ha)
Built 1887
Architect Wheeler, J.W.
NRHP reference No. 72000507
Added to NRHP February 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.

History

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

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. 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 are both actually larger.

Visitor center

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. 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, but that title is held by other samples. It was reported that the Big Well visitor center was destroyed, and the meteorite was missing 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. It has returned to the reconstructed museum site.

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