World’s Largest Hand Dug Well

When I go on roadtrips I always have this dreamy vision of lazily winding through backroads, stopping at all the hokiest tourist traps, and just enjoying the journey. This has never once happened. Just like every other aspect of life, roadtrips are all rush, rush, rush, usually with me making it some sort of personal mission to not even stop to go pee. Many times I barrel past really cool stuff thinking, “ooh, I’ll stop there on my way back,” only to be in a rush, rush, rush on the way back as well.

My trip to Albuquerque was no exception. About an hour and a half outside of Wichita I passed some crazy road side art made out of street signs, stop signs, any type of road signs, and it all spun like crazy in the wind. There was a good 100 yards at least of all different twisty road signs, and it looked so cool!

I also passed a cool ghost town right inside the border of New Mexico, but convinced myself on the way back it wasn’t as cool as I originally thought, so I didn’t need to stop. But it actually was pretty cool, and I’m wishing I would have taken the time now.

By the time I was nearing Greensburg, Kansas I had a little less than 2 hours left in my 9.5 hour drive, and I really just wanted to get home and eat some food and go to bed. For at least 30 miles I was debating what I would do when I got to Greensburg.

You see, Greensburg is home to the “world’s largest hand dug well.” I’ve always wanted to see it. I know it will be hokey, and not nearly as cool as the billboards and signs make it seem, but it’s just one of those things that intrigues me. I’ve driven through Greensburg a few times in my life, and I’m sure I’ll drive through it again at some point – but really, ya just never know.

I’ve been trying really hard lately to “do it now.” So often I get caught up in the “I’ll do it tomorrow/next time/insert xyz excuse.” Will I really do it tomorrow? If I don’t make the time right now, what will be different in the future? Will there really be a next time? I decided I’m tired of waiting to see, and I need to just “do it now” with lots of things in my life. Albuquerque was one of those things. I’ve always heard of the Balloon Fiesta and wanted to go, but I kept waiting on next year, or waiting til someone would go with me, or waiting til I had the time off, and I finally realized either I make it happen, or I don’t. The same with going to Svensk Hyllningsfest in Lindsborg this coming weekend, and the same with the “world’s largest hand dug well” in Greensburg.

At the very last second I swerved my car onto the side street leading to the well. I’d been driving for almost 8 hours anyway with only 1 gas break, so a stop would probably be good for me. Plus, it was barely off the highway, so I wouldn’t lose that much time.

Aside from the well, Greensburg is famous for surviving an F5 tornado in 2007. Well, basically none of the town as people knew it survived, but the incredible spirit of the locals did. Because of the tornado, the entire town has been rebuilt, and is green certified with a few of the buildings being self-sustaining. The building the well is housed in was no exception, and it was pretty impressive. The first thing I noticed though, in keeping with the “green” initiative, there were a few bikes parked out front of the museum with a sign encouraging tourists to hop on and take a self-tour of the town, “maps available inside.” The bikes weren’t locked up or anything, just propped up on their kickstands. Beautiful, small-town life.

I pretty much just planned on going in, seeing the well, and leaving, but the museum was actually pretty cool, and was split into 3 parts: the founding of Greensburg, the well, the tornado and life after. It was all super interesting, and I ended up reading each little caption and display. I especially enjoyed reading about how the town got started, and its eclectic founder, as well as how the idea for the well came about. The displays are in a 360 around the well, with stairs going up and down in the middle of the room to descend into the well, or get a good view from above. The very top was really cool too because it has 360 views of Greensburg, and each window is labeled with what you have a view of, and how that building is “green.”

I’ve gone skydiving before, and I love big roller coasters and hiking mountains, etc., but looking down that well was terrifying. It’s 119 feet deep, and just thinking of what those men had to do to build it sent chills down my spine. It ended up being pretty impressive, and I’m sure the builders felt a great sense of accomplishment and pride when they finished.

I’m so glad I ended up taking the time to go see this wonder of Kansas – I learned quite a bit, and now I can cross that off my list and not take up brain space wondering what it’s like if I ever pass by in the future. Excited to see how else this “do it now” philosophy will enhance my life!

2 thoughts on “World’s Largest Hand Dug Well”

  1. Thanks Kelsey your story and pictures have convinced me the next time I’m in Greensburg I’ll stop and check it out!

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