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Oregon Engineer Who Had Bright Idea to Blow Up Beached Whale Dies (Watch This!)

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Slade Sohmer

By Slade Sohmer on November 1, 2013

In November 1970, a 45-foot-long sperm whale washed up on the beach near Florence, Oregon. This being a simpler time, the decision was made to stick a half-ton of dynamite inside the whale to blast it to smithereens.

This, it turned out, was a terrible decision. The blast rained down chunks of sperm whale that covered spectators and flattened the roof of a car.

The Oregon highway engineer who made the call and then shepherded the faulty process died this week. George Thornton was 84. The engineer was presumably buried, and not stuffed with TNT and exploded on the beach.

Thornton’s death allows us to revisit one of the greatest clips that resides on the internet. KATU’s Paul Linnman was at the scene with Thornton and spectators who would soon be covered in whale guts. This is terrific.

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Oh, and here’s an updated colorized version that ran on or near KATU’s 50th anniversary on air, complete with a new Linnman interview.

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