A ship's keel is a structure along the bottom of the ship's hull, to support the main body of the ship. In some cases, the keel is extended downward to function as a stabilizer for the ship. Noah's ark, as described in Genesis 6 may have had a keel since it seems to have been an essential piece for the ship to survive the wind and waves. No one wants the ship to be "keeling over" from unstable conditions! (The keel of the Ark replica at the theme park caught my attention, since my maiden name had the word "keel" in it, and I have always thought of myself as having a "boat gene" in my background!). This photo shows the the vast quantities of wood used to construct the Ark. The exterior used mostly pine, while the framing of the Ark consists mostly of Englemann spruce. Some of the logs were as long as 50 feet, and 36 inches in diameter. Much of the wood used to build the Ark Encounter was sourced from renewable forest or trees infested by beetles.
After one has parked and purchased their ticket, guests have a mile-long scenic ride as they ascend to the hilltop, in view of the massive Ark.
Guests enter at the bottom of the Ark, which gives one the opportunity to see the timber framing construction techniques used by the Amish builders, known as the Troyer Group. Over 1,000 craftsmen were involved in the construction. The builders originally planned to hold the Ark together with wooden pegs, but modern building codes required the builders to use steel fasteners. Thus, 95 tons of metal plates and bolts were used to connect the wood together. The Ark contains 3,300,000 board feet of wood, and is said to be the largest timber frame structure in the world.
There are dioramas throughout the Ark, depicting scenes of what life might have been like for Noah and his family, both before they entered the Ark, as well as during the 150 days they spent on board the Ark.
The Ark contains 132 bays, arranged into 3 decks. The bays on the first deck contain models of some animals believed to be on the Ark. The use of the word "KIND" in this display is significant, and is based on the Genesis verse that says "so Noah and his family went into the Ark because of the coming flood, and every land animal AFTER ITS KIND went with them..." One of the questions addressed in the exhibits was, "Was every species on the Ark?" The answer is "no". Species is a term used in the modern classification system. The Bible uses the term "kind". The created kind was a much broader category than the modern term of classification---species. The Biblical concept of created "kind" probably most closely corresponds to the "family level" in current taxonomy. A good rule of thumb is that if 2 things can breed together, then they are of the same created kind. (It is actually more complicated that that, but this is a quick measure of a "kind").
A scale model in one of the bays allows guests to more easily see the three decks, with their partitioned-off bays. According to the Bible, the Ark measured 300 x 50 x 30 cubits. The Ark Encounter builders used the measure of a cubit that made the final product be 510 feet long, or the largest replica in the world. Next in size, is the Ark replica in the Netherlands at 450 feet, and also one in China at 450 feet, both of which used a slightly different estimate of what constituted a cubit in Biblical times.
The announcement of plans for the Ark Encounter were made public in 2010, by the Answers in Genesis group, which also operates the Creation Museum ( creationmuseum.org ), in a nearby northern Kentucky town. The construction actually started in 2011, and was built in phases over the next five years. Photos of the construction stages can be seen inside the Ark, as well as on their website ( Arkencounter.com ), under the "Blog" heading.
There are ramps that connect the three decks, and will give the visitor plenty of exercise (elevators are also available). Environmentalists should be pleased to learn that the park's structure and infrastructure were built using environmentally friendly Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certified methods, including geothermal heating, rainwater capture, active and passive solar heating.
I read that during construction, former President Jimmy Carter toured the Ark Encounter, as a personal guest of the head of the Troyer Group of Amish builders. Since the President is famous for becoming an avid woodworker after he left office, plus helping build houses through his work with the Habitat for Humanity organization, plus a Baptist Sunday School teacher, I can imagine he took great interest in the project!
The various exhibits inside the Ark did not ignore the controversial nature of their project. The exhibit would give "The Secular View", plus "The Biblical View", of various scientific discoveries down through the ages. This allowed each guest to form their own opinion. I am well aware that sometimes a theme park will spark controversy. I grew up in a town near where the Dogpatch, U.S.A., theme park was built. Despite the fact that the park brought thousands of visitors to the area, created new jobs, and provided enjoyable entertainment for its guests, there were many local folks completely disgusted with the park, fearing it would entrench the "hillbilly" stereotype to our region.
Thisphoto allows you to see the three decks, and gives you an idea of how massive the center logs are.
There aretheaters in the Ark, which were a very welcome "rest stop" for me! Plus, the videos they were showing were top quality productions, providing many helpful insights into the exhibits we were witnessing.
This "kids" exhibit sign is a reminder for me to mention that groups of 30 can arrange to spend the night in the Ark. It makes me wish I could be a kid on a field trip that got to have that experience! (I once did an overnight stay in the San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Safari Park. We stayed in tents overlooking the savanna where the lions lived. Thus, it was called the "Roar and Snore" camp!)
This photo shows visitors studying the exhibit designed to look like a blacksmith shop of Biblical times.
The first time I saw human-like figures moving and talking, was at Disneyworld in Florida. This theme park has them as well, as shown in this photo of Noah, and his wife. The Bible tells us that Noah was around 500 years old when he and Mrs. Noah had children. (Noah's grandfather, Methuselah lived to be 969 years old!)
This photo of me in front of "The Door" brings up the topic of God's specific instructions for Noah to build a door in the side of the Ark. Noah and his family entered this door to be saved from the physical destruction by the flood. Everyone outside of the Ark perished. Likewise, God has provided another "door" to save people from the coming eternal judgment. Jesus Christ said, "I am the door of the sheep" ( John 10:7). One can go to the "Good News" section of the Ark Encounter website, to see exactly how to make this door example applicable in their own lives.
On the day I visited, a section of the Ark had been fenced off, and some live animals were "grazing" inside the enclosure. This definitely gave a "whiff" of what it must have been like to have so many animals enclosed inside the ark, as they did in Noah's day.
The Ark is held 15 feet off the ground by a series of concrete towers. The starboard side of the hull merges into three, 80 foot masonry towers that contain the stairwells, elevators, and restrooms. One exits the Ark through the glass doors underneath the keel. This photo was taken as I stood on the front porch of the the two-story restaurant within the park.
I like this photo because it gives one an idea of the scale of the Ark. Notice the motor coach on the right side, and the people standing underneath the keel.
This photo serves as the visual aid for my First Place 4 Health ( www.FirstPlace4Health.com ) memory verse from Psalm 95:6. The verse says, "Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker." It is to illustrate Noah, leading his wife, their three sons, and the sons' wives in worshiping God. I am very thankful that Noah, the original "ship man", found favor in God's eyes, and was spared from the flood. Likewise, I am thankful for the opportunity to tour this outstanding attraction. Since I am someone who is fascinated by the use of "visual aids", this expedition gave me "MILES OF SMILES"!! Tricia