Exterior view of the Big Well.

Meteorite Gone; Big Well Buried

A mile-wide tornado destroyed the town of Greensburg, Kansas, on May 4, 2007. The latest report is that at least nine people died and 75% of the town was flattened. Among its property casualties were the World's Largest Pallasite Meteorite and the World's Largest Hand-Dug Well, an Odd Couple attraction on the flatlands of the Sunflower State.

They were favorites of ours for their adjectival fame -- there are bigger meteorites and deeper wells, but none exactly like them that were bigger or deeper -- and for their buddy-buddy bundling.

Water Tower above the Big Well.

Passers-by may not have stopped to see hunk of space rock OR a hand-dug hole, but the thought of seeing BOTH at the same time? Near-impossible to resist.

The Big Well, as it's locally known, is probably okay, but early news reports describe it as being buried beneath a mountain of debris. The modest wood-frame gift shop that stood next to it, which housed the Meteorite, is gone -- vanished -- and the fate of the meteorite is unknown (the big hunk of iron and olivine weighed 1,100 pounds, was found on May 7 -- the display case around it had collapsed under the debris).

Greensburg is an active tornado zone; we vividly recall the town's tornado warning sirens performing a noon test alert while we descended the stairs, halfway down into the Big Well. The tornado on May 4 struck after visitor closing time for the Big Well.

We look forward to Greensburg rebuilding itself, and hope this unique attraction duo might eventually return to amaze and perplex us. But it probably won't happen right away.

[May 8, 2007 - Tipster Rich Elliot writes: "The town says it will rebuild the small museum and include a tornado exhibit. The museum was the town's pride and joy. Please send out your prayers to them."]


Meteorite display.

Big Well Museum and Visitor Center

315 S. Sycamore St., Greensburg, KS
Big Well Museum and Visitor Center. Next to the town water tower. On the west side of S. Sycamore St., between W. Iowa and W. Wisconsin Aves.
M-Sa 9-6, Su 1-6 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Adults $8.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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