45th anniversary of the infamous exploding whale

FLORENCE, Ore. - Today, November 12, 2015, marks the 45th anniversary of KATU's infamous exploding whale video.

Even years later, KATU still receives phone calls and emails from viewers interested in re-watching the story KATU's Paul Linnman reported on in November of 1970.

Prompted by such demand, we dug into our video archives and resurrected the story about the dead whale, a half ton of dynamite, and bits of blubber falling from the sky.

Unable to find a use for it, and unsure how best to dispose of it, the Department of Transportation blew up a dead whale on the Oregon coast in November of 1970.


The Oregon Highway Division not only had a whale of a problem on its hands, but a stinky whale of a problem--what to do with one 45 foot, 8 ton whale, dead on arrival on a beach near Florence.

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 Highway Division 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.

The KATU cameras 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.

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