‘First rock’ cast as sinkhole fill-in is underway

‘First rock’ cast as sinkhole fill-in is underway

They cast the “first rock” Monday at the National Corvette Museum, where executive director Wendell Strode led a group hurling stones into the sinkhole.

Museum personnel hurl their stones into the sinkhole | National Corvette Museum photos

Museum personnel hurl their stones into the sinkhole | National Corvette Museum photos

They cast the “first rock” Monday at the National Corvette Museum, where executive director Wendell Strode led a group hurling stones into the sinkhole beneath the museum’s Skydome.

Strode inscribed his rock, “Awesome God, Everyone Safe,” before hurling it into the hole.

“The good Lord let it happen,” Strode said before pitching his rock. “It was roughly a quarter to six in the morning and we did not have anyone in the museum. No staff, no visitors, no guests. We’re so thankful for that.”

It was the early morning of February 12, 2014, that a sinkhole opened beneath the Skydome and swallowed eight of the Chevrolet Corvettes on display.

Reconstruction of the facility has been underway for nearly two months. Monday marked the official “filing of the hole” process now that preliminary work has been done.

Bases were poured for pilings that will support the new floor

Bases were poured for pilings that will support the new floor

Concrete, steel sheet pilings and gunite were used to plug crevices and to provide reinforcement for the floor that will be re-laid once the sinkhole is filled, a process that will take two weeks as gravel is conveyed into the hole, where a Bobcat is being used to level the fill.

It was revealed Monday that a 48-inch manhole will allow access to one side of the cave beneath the Skydome, even after the sinkhole is filled.

“We have some ideas for an exhibit where you can see into the cave via a camera with lights, and guests would be able to maneuver the camera, so we needed access to the cave to allow us to service that equipment as needed,” said Katie Frassinelli, the museum’s marketing and communications manager.

Bobcat is used to smooth gravel fill in sinkhole

Bobcat is used to smooth gravel fill in sinkhole

Plans now include a sinkhole/cave exhibit to be installed in the Skydive after the construction work is finished. That work is expected to be done by July 2015, with the new exhibit opening for the Labor Day weekend in conjunction with the museum’s 21st anniversary celebration.

While entrance into the Skydome is closed during construction, a Plexiglas viewing window remains in place so museum visitors can see the ongoing work.

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