10th Anniversary Of The NCM Sinkhole Heard Around The World

Did you hear it? What was once front-page material on practically every newspaper and morning news program is still causing reverberations over ten years since the event. Of course, we’re talking about the sinkhole that formed under the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, in the early morning hours of February 12, 2014.

Just as the world was waking up and hearing about the sinkhole swallowing eight iconic Corvettes from their display area in the NCM’s Skydome, staff at the NCM had already spent hours evaluating the devastation. Each of the rare and classic Corvettes, with a total value of over $1 million, now resided some 30 feet below the floor of the NCM. The resting place of several Corvettes was still viewable from the surface while others’ fate was hidden by tons of rubble and Kentucky soil.

While the event could have been the death knell for any number of reasons, the resiliency and transparency of the NCM’s Board, and down through the entire NCM staff, kept the enquiring world updated as to the progress and fate of each of the Corvettes. Over the months and years following the event, enthusiasts and visitors flocked to the NCM to show support and to see ground zero first-hand.

NCM sinkhole

When the ground finally stopped moving, only a few Corvettes were visible through the rubble.

The staff at the NCM stood as a perfect example of the age-old maxim, “If life gives you lemons…” Many efforts were made early-on to assess the damage and to gird up the surrounding areas of the sinkhole. Several webcams were installed to help the world grasp the scope of the event. Throughout the following months, viewers could witness the reclamation of the area inside the Skydome; from the recovery of the eight Corvettes to the resiliency of a newly-created display titled, “Corvette Cave In: The Skydome Sinkhole Experience.”

Visitors of the NCM could better understand how the sinkhole happened and were virtually transported to the time of the occurrence through videos and interactive displays.

Through this new display, visitors of the museum (and there were many) had an opportunity to witness first-hand the effects of mother nature and the Karst terrain upon which the NCM was built. Visitors and much-needed support came from around the world to help the recovery process.

Each of the eight Corvettes was eventually extracted from their not-so-shallow grave. A few were restored, but most still carry the scars from their fall over a decade ago.

Time does heal wounds, but the scars remain. In the end, only three Corvettes could be repaired from the damage incurred that day. The rest will continue to carry the evidence of their fall and tell the sinkhole story as only they can. They have done so for over a decade and each of the eight Corvettes is far from forgotten.

One of the Corvettes to suffer the most damage was this 2001 Mallett "Hammer" Z06. It was determined to let its remains tell the story of the forces and pressure at play during this seismic event.

The NCM has announced that in June 2024, the “Ground to Sky: The Sinkhole Reimagined” exhibit will open to mark the 10th anniversary of the natural disaster. It will feature each of the recovered Corvettes on display, various media snippets that helped the world make sense of the incident, as well as documents that played a part in the past, present, and future of the museum. The new display also seeks to express recognition of the people and entities that helped build the NCM back to where it is today.

National Corvette Museum

The National Corvette Museum is always a great place to visit for anyone heading through Bowling Green, Kentucky. The fact that it is located directly across the street from the Corvette Assembly Plant, as well as the NCM Motorsports Park, just makes that icing on the cake all that much sweeter. If you’re in the area, be sure to schedule some time to stop in and see everything going on at the NCM. Not only will you be treated to the colorful history of Chevy’s Corvette, but you’ll be able to sample some of the tastiest lemonade ever to come from a geological crisis.

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About the author

Andy Bolig

Andy has been intrigued by mechanical things all of his life and enjoys tinkering with cars of all makes and ages. Finding value in style points, he can appreciate cars of all power and performance levels. Andy is an avid railfan and gets his “high” by flying radio-controlled model airplanes when time permits. He keeps his feet firmly grounded by working on his two street rods and his supercharged C4 Corvette. Whether planes, trains, motorcycles, or automobiles, Andy has immersed himself in a world driven by internal combustion.
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