On Feb. 12, 2014, the National Corvette Museum, the Holy Grail for all things Corvette, received the most shocking news in its 20- year history. On-site security cameras caught the opening of a 60-by-45-foot sinkhole more than three stories deep. Eight historic cars – several being one of a kind – were sucked into the huge cavern; five were destroyed.
Geologists said they believe that underground caves had been forming over the years and opened, thus swallowing the cars.
It was a mixed blessing that the cave-in took place when the museum was closed and no visitors were in the building. The story of destroyed cars could easily have turned into tragedies for tourists.
News of the sinkhole turned into extensive curiosity on the Internet, while the videos posted on YouTube generated 8.5 million hits. The story captured worldwide attention. The museum’s Facebook followers jumped from 50,000 to more than 250,000.
The amount of visitors to the Bowling Green, Ky., museum has jumped 70 percent over the past two years, which has resulted in additional staff being hired.
To mark the second anniversary of the sinkhole, the museum opened an exhibit showing the videos – complete with sound effects and commentary – of the hole opening up and consuming the Corvettes.
Also covered are the recovery operations of lifting cranes. The story of the $5 million in repairs to the building and General Motors’ efforts to save three of the cars are proudly recounted here. The other five classics were a total loss and remain on display for the curious to see.
First devastated by the news, museum officials now have a different attitude. The publicity has brought a great resurgence and interest to the museum and its future.
Until next time, happy cruising!