Back when only Indians roamed the
area, a half-ton pallasite meteorite, one of the world's largest, targeted what
was to be the community of Greensburg, Kansas.
After the pioneers of Greensburg,
Kansas settled into farming, they were hit by an unprecedented drought. Wells
dried up as the water table shrank ever lower. In 1887, the folks of Greensburg
got together and dug what is even today the largest hand-dug water well in the
country. It even made the National Register of Historic Places.
Greensburg flourished for many
generations until May 4th, 2007 when Mother Nature got into another foul mood.
One of the most potent EF5 Class tornadoes ever recorded killed a dozen
townsfolk and demolished 95% of Greensburg.
What it didn't destroy was the
determination and resilience of the people of Greensburg. I heard stories of
survival, of a community coming together to rebuild. They poked out of their
basements, gave thanks for the friends they could still hug, and simply started
The descendants of the well diggers
cast their eyes skyward and felt the wind in their faces. Instead of shuddering
in fear, they set about building a 12.5 megawatt wind farm. Large enough to
power every home, business, and municipal building in Greensburg, it sends its
leftovers to the rest of Kansas.
I spent a day working with a
Greensburg farmer, happily packing away a bumper crop of milo, which I think is
a type of soybean. Our conversation drifted to the internet stories I've read
about the waning greatness of America, of how one problem or another spells our
demise, how the time has come to leave the sinking ship.
Behind a piano-keyboard smile, I
heard his compact response, "Nonsense."
Amber waves of grain
The giant well of Greensburg
|For more pictures of Kansas, click here.