Event, HISTORY, Oregon

Oregon’s ‘Exploding Whale’ legend turns 50

A mother sperm whale and her calf off the coast of Mauritius. The calf has remoras attached to its body.By Gabriel Barathieu – https://www.flickr.com/photos/barathieu/7277953560/, CC BY-SA 2.0,

November 9, 1970. The sperm whale, washed up on Heceta Beach near Florence, Oregon, was dead, and the plan was to blow it up.

But three days later on November 12, they used too much dynamite. 

And the rest, as they say, is history. 

November 12 marks the 50th anniversary of the infamous incident that saw whale blubber crush a car, splatter bystanders, and even inspired the name of a local park almost five decades later. The incident was marked by KATU news reporter Paul Linnman and filmed by cameraman Doug Brazil. We’ll let KATU give the full accounting of the story, since it was their scoop 50 years ago that eventually coalesced into an Oregon legend. 

Linnman ended his story with “It might be concluded that, should a whale ever be washed ashore in Lane County again, those in charge will not only remember what to do, they’ll certainly remember what not to do.”

Those interested in hearing from Linnman himself on the historic incident can sign up for a free webinar from the Oregon Historical Society scheduled for Thursday, November 12. 

Chas Hundley is the editor of the Banks Post and sister news publications the Gales Creek Journal and the Salmonberry Magazine. He grew up in Gales Creek and has a cat.

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