Date of visit: Saturday, October 23, 2010
Population: 9,580 (2000 Census)
Florence is known for its charming Old Town area, as well as the nearby Heceta Head Lighthouse, probably the most photographed lighthouse on Oregon’s coast. But Florence is also famous for being the site of the exploding whale.
The reporter who reported on the whale was a 23-year-old named Paul Linnman. In 2003 he wrote a book about the experience called The Exploding Whale (And Other Remarkable Stories from the Evening News). On November 12, 1970, he had been a reporter for KATU for several years when he and cameraman Doug Brazil were given an assignment to cover the disposal of a dead whale that had washed up on the beach near Florence. The Oregon State Highway Division was going to blow the thing up with dynamite. The whale stunk to high heaven and definitely needed to be disposed of. For whatever reason, officials decided that explosives were the best way to go.
It didn’t quite work. To sum it up from the news story (in what is quite possibly the best quote ever uttered in a newscast): “The blast blasted blubber beyond all believable bounds.” Paul Linnman says in his book, “If anything ever gave me the sense of what it might be like to be in combat and under fire, it was the day Doug Brazil and I ran in terror to escape the blubber shrapnel.” I’m sure it was plenty terrifying to experience that, but because of the incident, we now have a highly amusing news story that we can watch over and over again. The video has gone viral thanks to the internet, and Dave Barry even wrote a column about it once. And now, enjoy:
Here are my photos from Florence:
Siuslaw River Bridge