Noah’s Ark is one of the Bible’s most humbling tales, cautioning followers of the faith of just how truly powerful God can be.
In the story of Genesis, a biblical global flood wiped out nearly all of God’s creations to return the world to a pre-chaotic state following turmoil and warfare. Before this reversal of creation, though, God had a man by the name of Noah construct a massive ark—450 feet in length, or twice the width of a typical New York city block—to shelter his family and a pair of each and every living animal in order to weather the storm.
The ark has become symbolic of shelter and security through peril, proof that faith and inherent goodness are often rewarded in mysterious ways. So while the actual mythological ark depicted in both the Bible and the Quran has never been definitively discovered, a life-size reproduction has been erected in Northern Kentucky to serve as a place of reflection and safety for journeyers the world over.
The reproduction made with building materials is called Ark Encounter, and sits on the edge of a minuscule Kentucky town called Williamstown. It’s open every day of the week, providing visitors with a chance to tour all three decks of the life-size replica while also offering both a petting zoo and models of animals that theoretically would have been present on the original ark.
The entire project, which opened in 2016, certainly didn’t have the smoothest journey from its idea inception to its open. The project, which was awarded taxpayer funding due to the tourism boon it was projected to provide in a remote area, met with resistance when it was challenged for the separation of church and state.
Ultimately, though, the project’s universal appeal as both an interesting attraction and a place for reflection managed to win out and maintain the funding it was provided by the State of Kentucky. And six years after the idea first took place in the minds of a pair of organizations, it officially opened for business—drawing in as many as 1 million visitors every year.
It’s certainly a sight to behold. The ark itself took 3,300,000 board feet of wood to construct, sitting 510 feet long, 85 feet wide, and 51 feet high. It contains eco-friendly features like geothermal heating, both active and passive solar power, and rainwater capture, clearing trees before the endangered Indiana bats were set to migrate in order to ensure their survival and sourcing the majority of the wood from either renewable forests or trees infested by beetles to begin with. The project is so impressive in both scale and eco-friendly procedures, in fact, that even former president Jimmy Carter toured the site as a climate preservation advocate himself.
Some of the visitors may come for religion, while others come for entertainment or to reflect and consider the wonderment. But regardless of what they drive into Williamstown to see, one thing is clear: the incredible wooden monument is certainly one of a kind.