Dynamite idea 40 years ago blew up into a whale of a story

Dynamite idea 40 years ago blew up into a whale of a story

FLORENCE, Ore. - How do you get a 45-foot, 8-ton whale off the beach?

"The Oregon state highway department not only had a whale of a problem on its hands - it had a stinking whale of a problem.," reporter Paul Linnman said in archived footage from KATU News in Portland.

Officials finally decided to deal with the whale in the same way they would a boulder: blow it up.

"Dynamite it was, some 20 cases or a half ton of it," Linnman reported. "The hope was that the long-dead Pacific gray whale would be almost disintegrated by the blast."

That's not exactly what happened.

As the camera rolled, the dynamite went off - and bits of blubber rained down all over the beach and curious bystanders.

A large chunk crushed a car.

And in the final analysis, officials spent days burying all of the blubber on the beach. Decades later, burying beached whales is common practice - a practice born that day in November 1970.

"It might be concluded that should a whale ever was ashore in Lane County again. those in charge will not only remember what to do," Linnman reported at the time, "they'll certainly remember what not to do."