Williamstown, KY (WLTX) - If you build it, they will come. That famous movie line is a reality in Williamstown, Kentucky, where visitors have been lining up to see Noah's Ark.
According to Patrick Kanewske, the director of communications for the Ark Encounter, "hundreds of thousands have visited since we opened in July of last year. It took just under two years, 23 months, so we say right at two years to build this from groundbreaking to opening on July 7th, 2016."
If you go, the Ark isn't visible from the road or parking lot. Instead, visitors board a bus that will take them nearly a mile to the site.
"Most of the words I get from people who describe the place is amazing," says Kanewske. 'A lot of people can't determine what the best part is. You get a real wow factor when you come up the hill and see the Ark for the first time. Folks are really amazed".
Once you get off the bus, you get an up close look at the Ark. It's a staggering 510 feet long, 85 feet wide and 51 feet high. The dimensions come from the Bible, the book of Genesis. It's believed to be the largest timber frame structure on the planet.
Clayton Shumpert is pastor of the Grace Baptist Church in West Columbia. "It's amazing," Shumpert said. "I don't think there's anything close to it in the world.The measurements are right. It's the best thing I've ever seen. I think it's a must see attraction".
However, critics have pounced on the Ark Encounter for what they say it teaches. They say the Ark encourages visitors to trust their faith in God over science. For example, the group responsible for the Ark Encounter, Answers in Genesis, believe the earth is only 6,000 years old, not the 4.5 billion estimated by scientists.
Jeff Lemke of Michigan didn't let the controversy keep him or his family away. "We were looking forward to this. It was something we wanted to do. The history of Noah's Ark is pretty cool and to have the real one discovered one day is the ultimate, but in the meantime doing something like this is pretty neat."
The Ark Encounter covers more than 120,000 square feet. If you're planning a visit, it could take 4 or 5 hours to see everything on display. That's something Steve Huff of Tennessee planned on when he decided to visit. "We heard a lot about it and we thought it would be a fantastic way to spend our vacation and it was spectacular. It just took my breath away and gave me chills."
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