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Noah's Ark replica in Kentucky follows a flood of plans in Colorado

A rendering of the Ark Encounter under construction.
A rendering of the Ark Encounter under construction.
arkencounter.com

Marijuana may have taken center stage last weekend, as thousands of pot-positive people smoked up for the annual 4/20 "holiday." But a couple of other holidays were celebrated as well: namely Passover and Easter. And as a result, there was a flood of news about a calling even higher than legalized weed, as the organizers of the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky -- which "brings the pages of the Bible to life" -- said they have raised enough money to create a 510-foot-long replica of Noah's Ark.

Creation Museum president Ken Ham told USA Today and other news outlets that the ark, which will cost about $25 million, will be the largest timber-frame structure in the United States and the centerpiece of an 800-acre "Ark Encounter" park that could open by 2016. But the announcement leaves Colorado high and dry.

This isn't the first time that someone has wanted to get ahead of the rising tides. In 2001, the Messiahville Baptist Church in Longmont proposed building a Christian theme park in Broomfield that would have come complete with full-sized replicas of Noah's Ark and the Temple of Solomon.

But Broomfield denied a zoning-change request from the church (possibly because blueprints for that original ark are so hard to come by, for some reason). In 2010, the church returned to the city with a request to build a new church and school, but left the ark plans behind.

At the time, Pastor Tommy Moore told the Boulder Daily Camera that the church hadn't ruled out the concept of an ark entirely. "We still look forward to building Noah's Ark and having a complex for Christian families, but we're just biting off one bite now," he said.

Which seems like the kind of logical approach a scientist might take -- even a celebrity scientist like Bill Nye, who debated Ark Encounter's Ken Ham on the subjects of creationism and evolution at the Creation Museum earlier this month.

But logic and science don't seem to fare very well when it comes to Noah's Ark. Take the case of another Colorado ark enthusiast, the late James Irwin, a NASA astronaut and pilot who became the eighth man to walk on the moon back in 1971 as part of the Apollo 15 mission.

Before joining NASA, Irwin earned graduate degrees in aeronautical engineering and instrumentation engineering, as well as various honorary degrees. But Irwin's animal instincts led him to resign from NASA and the Air Force in 1972 in order to create a Christian nonprofit in Colorado Springs called the High Flight Foundation -- a foundation with a particular interest in Noah's Ark.

And over the last twenty years of his life (Irwin died in Colorado in 1991), he and his wife, Mary, searched for the ark, leading expeditions to Mount Ararat in Turkey, where they believed its remains could be found. And last year, Mary Irwin, who still lives in Colorado Springs, published her fourth book, The Unsolved Mystery of Noah's Ark.

Here's the publisher's description: "Mary Irwin has flirted with death, climbing Mount Ararat's unforgiving glacial slopes three times. It wasn't adventure she was seeking in the Turkish frontier. She was looking for the ancient boat that saved two at a time from the great flood. Drawing from her personal experiences and 25 years of in-depth research, Irwin reveals the facts behind the final resting place of Noah's ark in her latest book.... The book examines several alleged sightings over the past 100 years and helps readers discover the truth and myth within each study. 'Mankind has been deluged with inaccuracies concerning a global flood and the ark,' Irwin says. 'Like a parrot, people just repeat what they have heard. Finding the truth behind these stories was laborious, but also truly fascinating and exhilarating.'

"Irwin's book displays her unique approach in studying the ark. Her work delves more in-depth than previous studies and seeks to validate the truth of past assertions. Through her research, she argues that the ark did not land on Mount Ararat, as commonly believed.

"So where is it?"

Kentucky, apparently -- and not Colorado.

More from our News archive: "Photos: Top eight ways Colorado kicks the sh*t out of New Jersey."


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