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Why Corvette museum decided to fill giant sinkhole (+video)

A giant sinkhole that swallowed eight cars at the National Corvette Museum in Kentucky became a big tourist attraction. But the museum board voted Saturday to fill in the sinkhole.

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Cars lie in a sinkhole that opened up at the Skydome showroom in the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Ky., in Feb. The sinkhole that swallowed eight cars at the has become such an attraction that officials want to preserve it. They may even put one or two of the cars back inside the hole.

Michael Noble Jr./AP/File

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A massive sinkhole that swallowed eight sports cars won't be a permanent attraction at the National Corvette Museum in Kentucky.

The museum's board voted Saturday to fill in the entire hole that opened up in February and became a sensation. Curiosity over the hole revved up attendance and revenue for the museum in Bowling Green.

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The vote was reversal from an earlier decision in June. Board members reversed course by deciding against preserving a portion of the hole. Museum officials had been leaning toward keeping part of it and putting a crumpled car back in it to memorialize what happened when the sinkhole opened up in the museum's Skydome.

The museum was closed at the time, and no one was injured.

Museum officials say keeping part of the hole open lost favor because of added costs for safety features.

When the sinkhole opened up beneath the museum in February, the cars toppled like toys amid rocks, concrete and dirt. The cars carry a total value believed to exceed $1 million. The cars were eventually pulled out of the giant hole to great fanfare.

Museum officials say attendance is up nearly 60 percent from March through June. The museum sells sinkhole-related shirts, post cards and prints.

The museum struggled in prior years to keep its doors open, museum officials said.

The cars that took the plunge were a 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06 Corvette, a 1962 black Corvette, a 1993 ZR-1 Spyder, a 1984 PPG Pace Car, a 1992 White 1 Millionth Corvette, a 2009 white 1.5 Millionth Corvette, a 2009 ZR1 Blue Devil and a 1993 Ruby Red 40th Anniversary Corvette.

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As The Christian Science Monitor has reported, the science of sinkholes is well understood, and some parts of the country are more prone to them than others.

Sinkholes start with water and limestone ... Limestone dissolves in water, and the more acidic the water, the faster the limestone gets eaten away. What starts as a small hole, deep underground, can grow bigger and bigger until it's a cave you could walk upright in. Flowing ground water keeps dissolving away the top, sides, and bottom of a limestone cave, enlarging it in all directions. For people living on the surface above these caverns, there's no obvious sign that the ground beneath their feet is being eaten away from below....

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