The Blue Whale in Catoosa, Oklahoma is an oddity along Route 66. Most people think of Route 66 and conjure images of a bygone era involving automobiles, traveling, diners, and garages from the early part of the century. The Blue Whale, on the other hand, rose to prominence and then almost disappeared during the latter part of the 1900’s. The fact that it’s a random Blue Whale sitting hundreds of miles from the ocean is strange enough, but isn’t a lot of Route 66 just…different?
The Blue Whale came to be in the early 1970’s by a man named Hugh Davis. He surprised his wife, Zella, with the massive sculpture because she had a think for collecting whale figurines, which is simultaneously incredibly random and incredibly sweet. Because it stood next to old Route 66 it was easily visible from the road, so as time passed it became a neat spot to stop and swim. In fact, it became so popular that Mr. Davis decided to open up a reptile park right next to it, which can still be seen (in disrepair) today.
In its heyday the Blue Whale was the place to hang out, as you could jump from the whale into the water or slide down the slides. After Mr. Davis and his wife passed, however, the spot almost disappeared because no one was around to keep it maintained. In the early 2010’s, however, the town of Catoosa came together and brought the Blue Whale back to life; the problem is that you’re no longer allowed to swim there. I actually asked about this and they said that since the city is in charge of the property now, they don’t want to pay the massive increase in insurance that would come by allowing swimming, especially when there is no charge to visit the location. It’s understandable but it makes the whole attraction feel a bit less enticing than it should. Either way, it’s still an outstanding place to go for a picnic, and it’s a must see if you’re on Route 66.
The people who work there also mentioned that the city was trying to decide if they were going to turn the place into a small water park, which would be really neat. In addition to the whale they also have a gift shop with all kinds of Blue Whale mementos. They even have a “wanted” poster for Dean “Crazy Legs” Walker! I truly would have loved to have seen this place in it’s prime.
Our trip had its own bit of fun and drama, however. One member of our family, the littlest, decided it was not cool that people couldn’t swim at the Blue Whale. And before you ask, no, he didn’t jump in. Thankfully. We went into the gift shop and he saw a stuffed whale he desperately wanted, and it sort of looked like a Baby Shark plush (he’s obsessed with Baby Shark). So what did we do? We bought it for him like the cool parents we are. I then carried him outside to walk out onto the Blue Whale and he was snuggled up with it. Around that time, apparently the whale said something to offend him, and he chunked his brand new whale into the pond.
But wait, there’s more.
Turtles! The pond is full of turtles, and they all came rushing over to the splash as if they were piranhas trying to take out prey. They latched on to the whale and kept biting it, and pulling it further out into the pond. They kept this up for about five minutes until they finally realized the whale had nothing to give them, and they let it go. Luckily, Baby J’s oldest brother is awesome and he was able to retrieve it from the water about five minutes later when it drifted close enough to shore.
The Blue Whale was a neat stop, regardless of whether you can swim or not. It has that aura of a place that once was something big that fell by the wayside before being brought back to life by people who just didn’t want to see history disappear. It’s by no means an all day stop, but it definitely is worth checking out as you make your way down Route 66. Just hold on to your plushies.