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'Ark-itectural Wonder' Wows Supporters

Ann Thompson
The total amount of timber used to build the Ark could stretch between Willimastown and Philadelphia.

Phase One of the Ark Encounter, the largest free-standing timber frame structure in the world, will open for business July 7, 2016. The attraction, portraying the Bible's account of Noah and the flood, gave media and supporters a sneak peak Tuesday.

Bill and Linda Greenhaw from Lubbock, Texas called the Ark fantastic. "It's so impressive to drive up and see that big Ark."

Eleven-year-old Joshua Schroeder was visiting with his five brothers, parents and grandparents. "There's a whole lot of things I like about this place. I love the huge structures and what they did with the woodwork, the lifelike designs, it's awesome."

The full-scale Ark is based on the dimensions from the Bible and is 510' long and 80' wide (two football fields and 5 stories tall). It used 3.3 million board feet of timber. That equals 612 miles, or the distance between Williamstown, Ky and Philadelphia, PA.

Credit Ann Thompson / WVXU
(second from left) Ken Ham speaks to the media during a preview Tuesday.

According to founder Ken Ham, the Ark doesn't float because "God will not send another flood of biblical proportions."

The first phase cost $100 million and includes:

  • The Ark
  • The Ararat Ridge Zoo
  • Daily animal shows
  • Zip lines
  • Interactive children's area
  • Themed restaurant and shopping

A theater has yet to be built. In addition, future phases will include a Walled City, the Tower of Babel, a first-century Middle Eastern village and more.
Williamstown Mayor Rick Skinner says the Ark has created, and will continue to create, jobs. He met with Ken Ham when Ham started planning the park in 2010. "In a very, very professional way we figured out what the city could do, what the county could do, and what the Ark could do, and from that professionalism came a mutual respect that I have for the Ark Encounter and what they stand."

Here is drone footage of the Ark Encounter:

While supporters are celebrating, the group Tri State Free Thinkers is opposed to the park and the idea behind it. It is planning a 10:00 a.m. protest when the Park opens on Thursday.