At 5:39 a.m., motion sensors triggered an alarm at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, KY. But first responders to the February 12, 2014 breach would find no signs of burglary. In fact, a robbery would have been a welcomed scenario compared to the disaster scene that they encountered.
Staff members found a massive sinkhole at the center of the Skydome, the holding place for the museum’s prized collection of cars. The hole, measuring 40 feet wide and 30 feet deep, swallowed eight Corvettes in total. Security cameras captured just a portion of the destruction as it unfolded.
“When you go in there, it’s unreal,” commented museum spokesperson Katie Frassinelli. “The hole is so big, it makes the Corvettes look like little Matchbox cars.”
Had the phenomena occurred just hours later, the ensuing destruction would have certainly resulted in human casualties.
Bowling Green’s National Corvette Museum resides just a mile from the assembly plant where all Corvettes are built. But more notable is the museum’s close proximity to the most expansive cave system in the world, Mammoth Cave National Park.
“There’s a good chance that there’s a cave that the soil below the building was eroding into,” commented James Currens, a hydrologist with the Kentucky Geological Survey. Currens went on to name precipitation as the chief cause for soil erosion, creating a cavity in once-solid ground.
Cover-collapse sinkholes, as they are known, occur when the ground is no longer able to support the weight of what’s above it. They’ve been known to ingest entire city streets, houses, or in this case, 25,000 lbs of vintage sports cars.
The timing of this disaster couldn’t be worse for the National Corvette Museum, poised to celebrate its 20th anniversary this August. But the aftermath serves as a stark reminder of the radical transformations possible in land once deemed structurally sound.
Earth has demonstrated time and again its continuous state of flux, yet what occurs beneath is surface remains largely a mystery. But every so often, Mother Nature pulls back the cover, offering a rare glimpse to the dynamic inner workings of our living, breathing Planet.