They Blew Up a Dead Whale. It Didn't Go as Expected

'For the blast blasted blubber beyond all believable bounds'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 12, 2020 9:30 AM CST
Updated Nov 15, 2020 1:00 PM CST

Oregon is celebrating a special anniversary on Thursday: the 50-year commemoration of when highway workers there blew up a dead whale. Per the Willamette Week, a 45-foot, 8-ton sperm whale washed up on the shores of Florence in late 1970, and on Nov. 12, the state's highway division decided to dispose of the rotting, stinky carcass in what it believed would be the most efficient way: by detonating 20 cases (a half-ton) of dynamite around it. KATU-TV sent reporter Paul Linnman and cameraman Doug Brazil to the bizarre scene; they camped out about a quarter of a mile away to document the detonation, per the Oregon Historical Society. The KATU video of the explosion went viral decades later after it was unearthed and posted to YouTube.

"For the blast blasted blubber beyond all believable bounds," Linnman says in the segment, which then shows the blast. It's followed by this from Linnman: "The humor of the entire situation suddenly gave way to a run for survival." That's because huge chunks of whale blubber rained down on spectators instead of being thrown closer to the ocean. "A piece of blubber the size of a coffee table hit the top of an Oldsmobile and completely flattened the roof," Linnman told the Oregonian in 2004. The reason the video is suddenly making the rounds again is because the OHS has released a newly restored version of the 16mm footage in honor of the explosion's 50th anniversary (you can watch the longer restored version of the video here). Don't expect any more such blasts in the Beaver State: The Wiki page for this odd Oregon event says whale carcasses are now simply buried in place. (More strange stuff stories.)

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