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Thar She Blows (Again)! Notorious Whale Incident Memorialized With Florence Park

City of Florence

The coastal city of Florence has announced a name for its newest park, which references a literal blast from the past. KLCC’s Brian Bull reports on…”Exploding Whale Park.”

Yes, you heard that correctly, dear listener. “Exploding Whale Park”…because, exploding whale! 

It all started 50 years ago, when a dead sperm whale washed ashore in Florence. Locals wanted the rotting whale gone, prompting highway officials to blow it up with dynamite. KATU-TV covered the event, making for one of the most bizarre moments in broadcast history.

Credit KATU-TV/YouTube
In this vintage clip from KATU-TV, a sperm whale carcass explodes from a load of dynamite.


The whale didn’t disintegrate into fine bits as hoped, but rather big chunks that crushed a car, and thankfully nothing else.

Megan Messmer, City Project Manager for Florence, says when asked for suggestions, the community came in heavily for “Exploding Whale Park” (following several rounds of narrowing down 124 'unique' suggestions). 

“We’re just excited about our new park, it’s a beautiful place," she tells KLCC.

Credit City of Florence
A map showing the location of the new park (no, it's not on the original blast site)

"Hopefully we’ll have some extra info about the whale in the coming months.”

The new park opened in May 2019.  It’s along the Siuslaw River on the south side of Rhodendron Drive and is NOT on the site of the original explosion.

Copyright 2020, KLCC.

Brian Bull is an assistant professor of journalism at the University of Oregon, and remains a contributor to the KLCC news department. He began working with KLCC in June 2016.   In his 27+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (22 regional),  the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from  the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.