BOWLING GREEN, Ky (WBKO) -- February 12, 2014 is a day some say will go down in history books, after a forty-foot-wide and thirty-foot-deep sinkhole opened up at the National Corvette Museum.
For the last several weeks, we've been following the recovery of the eight special corvettes that were swallowed by the massive sinkhole. Today is the first full day crews and museum officials can view the recovered cars within arms reach.
At 5:44 am on February 12, the National Corvette Museum's security cameras detected motion of eight classic cars falling into the sinkhole.
Fortunately, no one was in the museum during the collapse, but the emotional stress of the destruction left museum officials nearly speechless.
"That first day, we thought, is there really any hope?" said Wendell Strode, National Corvette Museum Executive Director.
Days later, crews were hired to extract the cars from the hole.
The 2009 ZR1 “Blue Devil” was the first car to come out and surprisingly, the engine started! The 1993 “Ruby Red” 40th Anniversary Corvette was next. The third car, 1962 black Corvette was recovered the following day. The 1992 white, one millionth corvette was the fourth car to come out of the hole. Underneath these cars, the 1984 PCG Pace car was discovered and was carefully lifted next. The 1993 ZR1 black Spyder caused for some heavy hearts, as it was lifted without the hood that was signed by workers at the General Motors Assembly Plant.
However, days later, crews were able to recover the special memorabilia. The 2009 white, 1.5 Millionth Corvette was underneath a fifty-plus-ton boulder, but crews still managed to get it out gracefully. Nearly two months after the collapse, the final car was lifted. The 2001 Mallett Hammer Z06 was the eighth car extracted.
"As rough as that car looked, it was just very rewarding to see the last of the eight cars removed from the sinkhole," said Wendell Strode, National Corvette Museum Executive Director.
Strode says the expenses to date sit at nearly $1,500,000. Although museum officials are glad the cars are out, they hope the momentum of the tourism continues.
"March was up 56% tourism wise. Even our website, had over 1.1 million visitors to our website since the sinkhole happened. Normally, we have less than 200,000 visitors to the website," said Katie Frassinelli, National Corvette Museum's Marketing Director.
Museum officials plan to rearrange the show room, allowing tourists to view all eight cars at once. The decision to restore these cars or to leave them as is, has yet to be decided.
Crews, engineers and museum officials will meet Tuesday to determine how to repair the sinkhole.