- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 3, 2017

GREENSBURG, Kan. (AP) - A decade ago, the claim to fame in Greensburg, Kansas, was a really big hole in the ground.

But these days, the little town that refused to vanish after an EF5 tornado is more than just a stop to see the world’s largest hand-dug well. The 2007 tornado that destroyed 95 percent of the town and killed 11 people.

Not that The Big Well - which has come a long way in 130 years - isn’t a good reason to tour Greensburg, said Stacy Barnes, the city’s convention and tourism director.

Barnes, who grew up in Greensburg and moved back after the tornado, works to help attract businesses, as well as tourism, to the town of 800, The Hutchinson News reports (https://bit.ly/2pYBJQi ).

Barnes said they have plenty going on during the anniversary weekend, including guided tours and a tornado documentary that will show at the Twilight Theatre on Saturday.

Other highlights: the unveiling of a new Greensburg public art sculpture, an antiques auction and a memorial service, with a moment of silence at 9:45 p.m. Thursday - the time the tornado struck Greensburg 10 years earlier.

“This isn’t just about the anniversary weekend,” said Barnes. “We want to attract people throughout the whole year. We have great attractions here to see. There is a great hotel to stay the night, and people can go see other things in the area.”

Greensburg makes a great day trip or weekend getaway, she said. Here are a few highlights:

- The Big Well

At 109 feet deep and 32 feet, The Big Well is a world record setter.

The engineering marvel has been luring visitors off the highway since 1937.

The well was completed in 1888 as the city’s water source. It was used by the city until 1932.

In 1937, the city opened a museum in honor of the world’s largest hand-dug well.

The well itself survived the tornado, but the well museum was severely damaged. The well was closed until May 2012, when the well’s new visitors’ center was complete. The new museum features a vortex design with The Big Well in the center. A spiral staircase leads to the bottom. The museum features exhibits about Greensburg’s history, the tornado and the town’s rebuilding as a sustainable community.

- The Twilight

In April 2015, the curtains opened in a new Twilight - eight years after an EF5 tornado destroyed much of the Kiowa County seat town.

The 1917-built vaudeville theater was destroyed in the tornado. And, as residents rebuilt, the focus on the theater restarted. They raised the $3.5 million needed to build a new Twilight.

The theater, which shows first-run movies, is equipped with state-of-the art features, from the sound system and lighting to digital projection. The screen is one of the largest between Wichita and Denver - measuring 58 feet wide and 27.5 feet tall.

Watching a movie on a 58-foot-wide screen is awesome, said Loretta Heft, the theater’s general manager. And, she added, “Our surround sound - it makes it an experience.”

“Smurfs: The Lost Village” will be showing over the anniversary weekend, Heft said. But those not around for a movie can still come and take a tour.

“I encourage people to come for a tour - to see that there is this jewel sitting here in south-central Kansas,” she said. “Not only do we show great movies, but live performances, conferences and meetings are here, too. We are a multi-use facility.”

It also serves as the auditorium for Kiowa County Schools for a full slate of activities.

- The Arts Center

Designed and built by Studio 804, a nonprofit organization of graduate-level architecture students from the University of Kansas, the center is the first LEED-Platinum building in Kansas - the highest-rated certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

A community arts center, it provides new opportunities in the fine arts through classes and exhibits.

- Kiowa County Commons

Step right up to the soda-shop counter: You can still find a Green River or a syrupy Coca-Cola in Greensburg.

After the tornado, the city built The Commons, which houses the Kiowa County Museum, Extension offices, the library and a media center that serves as a technology hub for the region.

But The Commons is also home to the famous Greensburg soda foundation, where visitors can find their share of old-fashioned drinks served up by a soda jerk. The 1950s-style soda fountain had been a mainstay in the town for about 55 years when the tornado destroyed Hunter Drug. The owners didn’t rebuild, but they did salvage it from the rubble.

The historical society had the fountain restored and moved into The Commons.

- Green Tourism

Green tourism

In most towns, the school and hospital aren’t tourist stops.

But in Greensburg, they are.

Visitors can walk or drive, or even borrow one of the town’s bicycles at the Big Well Museum, to see the town’s attractions - many of which are built green.

A new app also can guide folks to the different sites, said Barnes. Visitors can obtain a map by visiting Greensburg’s new tourism website, https://visitgreensburgks.com, or by downloading the free Greensburg Tourism app to their smartphones.

A few of the sights include the school, hospital, John Deere dealership and city buildings. Moreover, visitors can stop at one of Greensburg’s six restaurants for a bite to eat or grab an ice cream sundae at the soda fountain.

- Places to Eat

From beef to pizza

There are six places to eat in Greensburg, said Barnes. They include:

Kook’s Meat & Deli: Just like it sounds, you can find deli sandwiches, salads and desserts. And if you are in town at breakfast, stop by for a breakfast sandwich.

Pueblo Nuevo: The restaurant offers an array of Mexican cuisine.

Reggie’s Pizza: It’s now located in a bigger building on Highway 54. Reggie’s has pizza as well as pasta dishes and other items on its menu.

Crazy Mule Food & Brew: Beef is on the menu here, including burgers and steaks. There are also appetizers, pork chops, lamb chops, sandwiches, wraps, salads and a variety of other entrees.

Cannonball Bar & Grill: Greensburg is named after stage coach driver D.R. “Cannonball” Green, hence the name of this bar and grill. The menu touts everything from a chicken sandwich and ribeye steak to mountain oysters and, of course, cold beer.

Subway: The same as the chain.


Information from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, https://www.hutchnews.com

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide