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Corvette Museum Sinkhole Draws Visitors

Updated: Monday, June 16 2014, 11:15 AM CDT

Attendance at the National Corvette Museum in Kentucky has skyrocketed, up nearly 100 percent in fact. Not because of any new vehicles on display, but because of the sinkhole that damaged a handful of priceless Corvettes.

For years, attendance at the Bowling Green museum showcasing sleek Corvettes was just enough to keep the doors open. The domed attraction drew hard-core lovers of the classic sports car and curious travelers wanting a break from the road.

Then on a February night this year, the ground beneath the skydome exhibit area opened up swallowing eight classic cars, including the 1 millionth and 1.5 millionth Corvettes to roll off the Chevrolet assembly line. The cars, believed to be valued at over $1 million, toppled like toys amid rocks, concrete and dirt in the gaping sinkhole. "Our sinkhole here at the National Corvette Museum, as it turns out was a cave, about 80 feet deep and about 240 feet wide," says Wendell Strode, Executive Director of the National Corvette Museum.

To stunned museum officials, it as a devastating setback as they assessed the wreckage to the cars and building. The museum was closed only one day. But since reopening, business shifted, turning the natural phenomenon into a potential windfall for the museum. The merchandising has started, with sinkhole-related shirts, post cards and prints sold at the gift shop. "I didn't really know what to expect, I knew it was going to be huge. But I've never seen this before and I've never seen a sinkhole before," said Kim Ashburn, a visitor from Beaver Dam, Kentucky. "It was beyond anything I expected, just the size and the depth of it."

The eight cars that fell, "Great 8" as they're now being dubbed, will be kept on display through mid-September, and then reconstruction and rebuilding will begin.

Corvette Museum Sinkhole Draws Visitors


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