We humans are complicated beings.

Sometimes we think we’ve hit on just the solution to a problem, only to find we’ve created an even bigger problem.

In 1970, the problem before officials in Oregon was a whale carcass on the beach, and the solution they came up with literally blew up.

If you wanted to be charitable, you could point out here that when eight tons of dead whale, 45 feet long, wash up on your beach, there aren’t a lot of good options to remove it.

You can’t put it on the back of a sixteen ton truck and drive it over to the rendering plant.

In fact, the rendering plants said they weren’t interested.

It was too big to burn, nobody was willing to cut it into pieces, and there was no way to bury it in a way that wouldn’t eventually be undone by ocean waves.

And they couldn’t just leave it there to rot, because of the smell.

Because the beach was considered a public right of way, it fell to the state Highway Division to deal with it.

Their plan was: blow the thing up and let seagulls and crabs eat the disintegrated leftovers.

Several of the division’s top officials happened to be on their way to a deer hunt (apparently they didn’t feel like canceling the trip to deal with a rotting whale?) and so a team led by highway engineer George Thornton packed the dead sperm whale with half a ton of dynamite.

Even then, Thornton and his team admitted they weren’t sure whether a half a ton was the right amount.

Amazingly, it ended up bring both too much and not enough.

The explosion was enormous, and it sent chunks of whale flying in every direction.

As TV reporter Paul Linnmann reported from the scene, in a video that has been shared millions of times online, “The blast blasted blubber beyond all believable bounds.”

Fortunately no one was hurt, but one large piece of whale crushed a car about a quarter mile away.

But even after 20 boxes of dynamite there was still a lot of whale intact.

And the smell continued to spread.

The Highway Division workers ended up burying the rest, and nobody ever blew up another whale.

In fact, a few years later a group of pilot whales died not too far away, State Parks workers showed up – not with dynamite, but with chainsaws.

Just so we don’t think Oregon is the only place where these grisly things happen: sudents at the University of Colorado – Boulder named the restaurant at the student union the Alferd E. Packer Memorial Grill.

Packer had led a group of would be gold miners through the mountains in the winter in 1874.

Only he had come out alive, and while Packer insisted that he hadn’t killed the other men, he did admit to eating them.

Another group even got a plaque put up in Packer’s honor, but the federal government removed it, saying it was in – and this is a quote – “bad taste.”

Oregon’s Infamous Exploding Whale (Snopes)

50 years ago, Oregon state officials blew up a whale — and led a news reporter to infamy (CBC)

Man Who Ate Democrats Is Remembered With Relish By Colorado’s GOP (Washington Post)

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