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The Big Bang In Oregon That Still Whales To This Day, 50 Years Later

Oregon Historical Society/KATU-TV
Oregon Historical Society

This Thursday (Nov. 12) marks the golden anniversary of one of the oddest incidents in Oregon history: the explosion of a dead whale in Florence.  The journalist who covered the story is still talking about it 50 years later.

Paul Linnman was a 23-year-old reporter for KATU-Channel 2 in Portland when he was sent to Florence to cover the deliberate detonationof a dead, beached sperm whale. When the blubber blew, chunks flew…and Linnmann and the whale are still genuine blasts from the past…thanks to social media and the internet.

“The BBC in particular has loved the story," Linnman told KLCC.  "I don’t know how many times I’ve been interviewed by the BBC in London about the whale. (laughs)

"It just has a way of capturing people’s attention, and if I find out you haven’t seen it, I want you to see it and you’ll do the same with the people you know.”  

Linnman adds no one was hurt in the blast, which keeps it a fun fish tale.  He’ll talk about the incident in a free ZOOM talkpresented by the Oregon Historical SocietyThursday night.

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.
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