The attraction known as Ark Encounter, features a full size replica of the Biblical Noah’s Ark.
The Noah’s Ark structure spans 510 feet in length, 85 feet wide and 51 feet in height. It is supposed to be the largest timber frame construction in the United States and likely the world.
This unique tourist site is located in Williamstown, Kentucky. The Ark Encounter is a Christian evangelical and fundamentalist theme park, that opened in the summer of 2016.
The facility is operated by Answers in Genesis (AiG), a young Earth creationism group that also operates the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky. This museum is just 45 miles or 70 kilometers from the Noah’s Ark site.
The Noah’s ark structure itself is held 15 feet (4.6 meters) off the ground by a series of concrete towers.
The starboard side of the hull merges into three 80-foot (24 meters) masonry towers. These contain stairwells, elevators and stairwells.
An unusual gift shop can be found below the ark. Behind the ark one discovers a restaurant called Emzara’s Kitchen. The name is an allusion to the traditional Jewish name of Noah’s wife.
The Ararat Ridge Zoo, has the added attractor of being a petting zoo as part of the tourist site.
Ark Encounter: Full Size Replica of the Biblical Noah’s Ark
Ark Encounter like the nearby Creation Museum, both promote more traditional theories of history, that many people label pseudo-scientific.
The project moved forward locally, when it was determined, that the park would indeed by a boon to the state’s tourist industry. In the first year of operations, the site received near a million visitors.
Upon arrival visitors will ride a shuttle from the parking lot along a 1 mile path to the ark. There is no need to worry, photo opportunities will be provided, as visitors approach the ark from the port side.
The bow of the ark is the end with the fin, the stern is actually the other side, which resembles a more modern bow or front.
The ark contains 132 bays, each standing near 18 feet (5.5 meters) high and are arranged into three different decks.
Travelers will enter on the first deck and move between the decks on ramps, that are constructed in the center of the ark.
Bays on the first deck contain models of various animals, that AiG believes would have been there. They are meant to represent kinds of animals, that would later give rise to more modern creatures.
According to the creators of the ark, this occurred through a process of rapid speciation, following the Great Flood. Interestingly, dinosaurs can be found among the different displays.
There are no live animals to be found on Noah’s ark itself.
The second layer of the deck contains bays of additional animal models, along with dioramas of Noah’s blacksmith and workshop.
On the third deck visitors will find an assortment of displays, presenting AiG ideas, of what may possibly of happened on both the inside and outside parts of the Ark, during the flood.
In three of the bays, artifacts are displayed from the Green Family Collection. They were significant donors for the Ark. There are also objects to promote the Museum of the Bible, another family project. This attraction can be found in Washington D.C.
Plans for additional phases of the park to begin in 2018 or 2019, include the Tower of Babel, along with replicas of a first-century Middle Eastern village and an ancient walled city.
Also planned in future construction, is an aviary and a 500-seat special effects theater.
At present there is a zip line attraction that tourists can use, to get a somewhat different aerial perspective of the Ark.
Hired as the lead consultant for the Ark Encounter is Cary Summers. He previously headed Herschend Family Entertainment from 1992 to 1998.
The park’s constructions and infrastructure were all built using environmentally friendly certified methods. This would include active and passive solar heating, geothermal heating and rainwater capture.
Patrick Marsh who had previously designed attractions for Universal Studies Florida, was part of the design and planning effort. He also helped create exhibits for the Creation Museum.
The Ark Encounter consists of close to 3,300,000 (7,800 m3) board feet of wood. The framing of the ark itself consists mostly of Englemann spruce.
The exterior is comprised of pine, with some of the logs 50 feet long and 3 feet in diameter.
The construction of the Ark was done by Amish builders using timber framing techniques.
In total, over 1,000 craftsmen were hired in the ark’s construction. Whenever possible, the builders would use ancient era techniques. This included manually bending the wood for the rudder, rather than steaming it to make it more pliable.
The original builders wanted to hold the ark together with wooden pegs. Modern building codes required instead, the use of steel fasteners. This would add near 95 tons of metals plates and bolts, that were used to connect all the wood together.
The electric lighting inside the ark is designed to look like oil lamps.
The Ark Encounter
1 Ark Encounter Drive
Williamstown, Kentucky 41097
Is readily available in the nearby cities of Cincinnati, Ohio and Lexington, Kentucky. There is a wide range of accommodations, to fit the needs of all travelers. If you plan on visiting the Creation Museum, staying in Cincinnati would make more sense, because of distance.