Oregon Historical Society Has Released Newly Restored Footage of That Time State Officials Blew Up a Dead Whale

Happy Exploding Whale Week!

There are many things to celebrate this week—including, of course, the 50th anniversary of Oregon's whale explosion.

In honor of the occasion, the Oregon Historical Society has released newly restored footage of the bizarre, and kind of disgusting, event.

On Nov. 12, 1970, the Oregon Highway Division decided to remove an 8-ton sperm whale from a Florence beach by blowing it up with dynamite. The idea was that rotting whale would be easier to dispose of if it was first blasted into smaller bits.

Of course, it didn't go as planned.

Huge chunks of blubber were blown into the air, scattering screaming onlookers and crushing a car.

KATU-TV sent reporter Paul Linnman to capture the scene. In the clip, Linnman underscores the scene's deapan absurdity with punny lines like, "The sand dunes there were covered with spectators and land-loving newsmen, shortly to become land-blubber newsmen. For the blast blasted blubber beyond all believable bounds."

The exploding whale and Linnman's TV segment have now become legendary, and gained over 1 million views on YouTube. Now, it also has a 4k digital restoration.

Today, the Oregon Historical Society released its pristine update of the 16 mm print original, which has been under the museum's care since the 1980s.

The 10 minutes of KATU's raw footage maintains the nostalgic grain of the film, and includes some much more grotesque shots than what made it into the original broadcast, including one where a bulldozer pushes the partially obliterated whale carcass into a sand pit.

This Thursday—the exploding whale's 50th anniversary—OHS will stream a free talk between Linnman and museum director Kerry Tymchuk on Zoom. You can register here.

Related: Florence Has Named a Park After the Legendary 1970 Whale Explosion

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