Bob Welch tracks down Walter Umenhofer

[The RG]One of the Exploding Whale’s biggest proponents strikes again! Bob Welch, a columnist for the Register-Guard (Eugene, OR), profiles Walter Umenhofer, the gentleman whose brand new Oldsmobile 88 was crushed by a 300-pound piece of dead whale sent skyward when the Oregon Highway Division detonated 20 cases of dynamite underneath a rotting whale carcass (see video). Mr. Umenhofer, now 75, has long been one of the most intriguing, if reluctant, characters in the saga of the Exploding Whale. He has largely avoided interviews and little is known about his opinion of the incident.

“It’s funny,” [Umenhofer] says. “That was one big piece of blubber. It hit so hard that it bent my roof down and pushed the back of the seats to the floor.”

Unfortunately, Bob’s interview, which is part of his “Where Are They Now?” series, is pretty brief. Walter does share one humorous tidbit: when he purchased his brand new Olds, the car dealer was using the motto, “Come to us for a whale of a deal.”

Here’s a link to the original article:

And here’s a link to the permanent copy stored in our archive:

Finally, for additional background, here are links to some of the original Register-Guard newspaper reports from 1970 that involve Mr. Umenhofer:

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One Response to “Bob Welch tracks down Walter Umenhofer”

  1. Gary Lane Says:

    Just noticed Walt Umenhofer’s obituary. Walt told me his Olds was parked next to a Japanese import with sleeping infant in the back seat. Walt’s car ~ crushed. Sleeping infant ~ slept soundly not six feet from disaster. Walt did offer his WWII demolitions experience to the ODOT engineer (can you imagine the teasing from his co-workers, family, and friends for the balance of George Thornton RIP at 88 years) that the sand would depress into a cone then all the energy would be focused up severing large chunks which could catapult half a mile. Safety area was 1/4 mile as per Oregon Police and ODOT recommendations. Walt Umenhofer has about 30 minutes of film on this memorable event.