Exploding Whale Memorial Park – Florence, Oregon - Atlas Obscura

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Exploding Whale Memorial Park

Fifty years after a “blast blasted blubber beyond all believable bounds,” this idyllic natural area commemorates the carnage.  


In an infamous 1970 news report, journalist Paul Linnman described a stinky situation: a sperm whale had washed ashore near Florence, Oregon. Measuring 45-feet long and weighing approximately eight tons, the decomposing whale presented a challenge for the city. Officials were left baffled by the predicament, unable to bury or burn the carcass. Their solution? Blow the thing up with dynamite. 

Unfortunately for the residents of Florence, the whale did not blow out to sea as planned, nor did it break into convenient bits for seagulls to carry off. After a spectacular explosion, bystanders were horrified to find huge chunks of blubber hurtling towards their heads. A car over a quarter of a mile away was crushed under one of the pieces, and everyone present was reportedly coated in “particles of dead whale.”

To make matters worse, the explosion only exacerbated the overwhelming odor, and the Oregon State Highway Division was still faced with the problem of disposing of the considerable remains on the beach, even after a half ton of dynamite had been expended.

Fifty years later, when the city asked residents to suggest names for a new recreation area, over half voted for “Exploding Whale Memorial Park.” It would seem that despite the Highway Division’s folly, locals are just as unwilling to bury their history as workers were to bury the deceased cetacean. 

The park’s mascot, an unexploded, living whale named Flo, welcomes visitors to a peaceful natural area complete with picnic tables and scenic views of the Siuslaw Dunes.

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