Prior to May 4, 2007, a big night out in Greensburg, Kansas, might have been a visit to the soda fountain at Hunter's Drug Store for one of "Dickey's hickeys." Soda jerk Dick Huckriede had been serving up ice cream treats since the 1950s. Then on that May night an EF5 tornado -- the biggest and baddest category -- destroyed all but three buildings in this town of 1,500 people. Hunter's Drug Store was flattened along with almost everything else.
Thankfully, enjoying a treat from the soda fountain is still possible. Somehow in the midst of the clean-up, the soda fountain emerged, dented and dinged, but in pretty good shape. Today, that beloved soda fountain, now located in the Kiowa County Historical Museum, tops the list of five places to visit in Greensburg, the town with more LEED-certified buildings per capita than any place in the world.
Learn about the history of this region and how that tornado changed things at the Kiowa County Historical Museum & Soda Fountain. Then sit down in an area designed to re-create Hunter's Drug Store and enjoy an EF5 Sundae. It includes 15 scoops of ice cream and 10 toppings. If you eat it in less than 30 minutes, it's free.
The Hand-Dug Well is the world's largest and Greensburg's claim to fame before the tornado. The museum shines a spotlight on the town, the tornado and the massive Ogallala Aquifer tapped by this well. Climb to the top of the building for a 360-degree view of the town and the path of the tornado.
5.4.7 Art Center is the first LEED Platinum certified building in the state of Kansas. This little green building showcases the work of some of the region's best artists and hosts wine tastings and other community events. The building also houses some graphic photos from the moments just after the tornado hit.
The Silo EcoHome is a model building for those interested in incorporating sustainable elements in their home construction. It includes a bed-and-breakfast suite and visitors center.
The remains of the community of trailers set up by the Federal Emergency Management Agency are a part of the self-guided or step-on tour that includes 30 environmentally friendly buildings that represent the new Greensburg. [Photo taken April 25, 2008]