An Oregon town has named a park after a whale that the state blew up 50 years ago.
“Exploding Whale Memorial Park” in Florence opened last week, taking its name from a massive, rotting sperm whale that officials dynamited in 1970 after it was determined there was no safe way to remove it.
The whale washed up on the banks of Siuslaw River, and was too big to bury. As it started to rot, it turned into a public health risk, according to the Oregon Historical Society.
People had been touching, climbing or “falling in” the carcass, but blowing it up sent chunks of blubber raining down across the area. One piece was large enough to crush a nearby car.
“The humor of the situation suddenly gave way to a run for survival,” TV reporter Paul Linnman said while covering it at the time, according to the Willamette Week. “The remaining chunks were of a size that no respectable seagull would attempt to tackle.”
The city voted in a public poll last year as to what to name the recreation site: Exploding Whale Memorial Park won 439 out of 856 votes, beating such names as “Dune View Park,” “Bridge View Park” and “Little Tree Park.”
“If you talk to people, it’s not necessarily a proud moment,” said Megan Messmer, Florence’s city project manager.
Despite the misgivings, the name won support. A sign commemorating the incident went up on June 13, the 50th anniversary of the bizarre incident.