FLORENCE, Ore. (KATU) – It was the whale explosion seen ‘round the world. Today, November 12, 2019, marks the 49th anniversary of KATU's infamous whale explosion.
When a 45-foot, 8-ton whale washed ashore on a beach near Florence in November 1970, the Department of Transportation had a stinky situation on its hands. They had to figure out what to do with the massive corpse.
It had been so long since a whale had washed up in Lane County, that no one could remember how to get rid of one.
In selecting its battle plan, the Oregon State Highway Department decided the carcass couldn't be buried because it might be uncovered. It couldn't be cut up and then buried because no one wanted to cut it up, and it couldn't be burned, so dynamite it was - some 20 cases, or a half ton of it.
Anything left over, officials reasoned, would be taken care of by seagulls and other scavengers.
KATU’s Paul Linnman was at the scene reporting and recording when the blubber went “boom.” The camera stopped rolling immediately after the blast, but Linnman recalls making his way out of the area as huge chunks of blubber fell everywhere.
A parked car over a quarter of a mile from the blast site was the target of one last chunk. Fortunately, no one was hurt as badly as the car. However, everyone was covered with small particles of dead whale.