Exploding Whales are only the tip of the Bigfoot

“We know what we are, but know not what we may be.”*

All states have their strange and wondrous tales, but only Oregon blew up a dead whale on film. There is no particular reason to blame the weather for the oddities that bloom along our byways and trot down our roads and hide deep in our forests, but the winter can pull on the mind until it snaps back a bit misshapen as the rain and snow level off and sink into the undergrowth. You might see something peculiar.

Begin your journey into Oregon absurdity with an exploding whale, but there's more to discover on the pages of The Oregon Encyclopedia: Bigfoot, beeswax, Bobbie, Brooten Kelp Ore, Blockbuster--a lot of Bs.


Florence Whale Explosion

by Luke Carlson

On November 9, 1970, a forty-five-foot, eight-ton sperm whale washed ashore near Florence on Oregon's south coast. In addition to the stench and the possibility that the body would burst, local officials were concerned that people curious about the carcass might climb on it and fall in. The agency responsible for Oregon beaches, the Oregon State Highway Division (now the Oregon Department of Transportation), was called in to remove the whale. After consulting with U.S. Navy and munitions experts, Assistant District Highway Engineer George Thornton decided to treat the carcass as a boulder and to use dynamite to dislodge it.

A crowd of spectators and local reporters gathered on the beach on November 12 about a quarter mile from the carcass. The engineers expected the whale to explode into small pieces, which seagulls and other scavengers would take care of. When Thornton gave the signal, State Highway Division workers set off a half-ton of dynamite. READ MORE

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