George Thomas Thornton, Famed Whale Exploder, Dies
Rest in peace, old chum.
Let’s take a moment of silence to honor fallen hero George Thomas Thornton, better known as “That Guy Who Blew Up A Beached Whale And Caused A Big, Disgusting Blubber Shower,” who passed away this week. He was 84.
In 1970, a 45-foot sperm whale washed ashore the Oregon coast, and, lacking any good ideas to get rid of the stinky carcass, Thornton, a highway engineer for the Oregon Department of Transportation, decided to use 20 cases of dynamite to blow the sucker up. After hitting the plunger, eight tons of rotting whale flesh fell from the sky, raining down on people and cars. In one case, a chunk was so big, it flattened the roof of a car.
A local news story (above) made the media rounds and soon made Thornton a national legend. Unfortunately, he refused to ever talk about the incident, once saying, “Every time I talk with the media, it tends to blow up in my face.” (Amazing pun unintended.) So, may you rest in peace, George Thomas Thornton. And unlike the whale, may you also rest in one piece.