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

Nov 10, 2020

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.

A still from the November 12, 1970 blast that was supposed to vaporize a dead whale, but created a reeking avalanche of blubber chunks instead.
Credit Oregon Historical Society/KATU-TV / Oregon Historical Society

Paul Linnman was a 23-year-old reporter for KATU-Channel 2 in Portland when he was sent to Florence to cover the deliberate detonation of 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 talk presented by the Oregon Historical Society Thursday night.

Copyright 2020, KLCC.