One of the greatest qualities of Route 66 and the bygone kitsch era of Americana are the roadside testaments to individual gumption and creativity. The world’s largest this or that, massive fantastic creatures straight from the books of childhood, the everyday made extraordinary thru magnification and neon or folk art. What drives a man to pour pound upon pound of concrete into a dream? And where do those dreams begin?
In Catoosa Oklahoma stands one of those remaining roadside oddities of yesteryear, a great blue example of roadside folk art poured in concrete. One of Route 66’s better known remaining attractions, that azure giant is the Blue Whale. At twenty feet tall and eighty feet long, the whale required thousands of pounds of pipe, metal, rock and concrete and two years of time to build from 1970 to 1972. Hugh Davis undertook the massive task of building the whale from his imagination and years of sketches on the same property where he had already built an ark to house a herpetarium and other animal exhibits after his retirement as a zoologist from the Tulsa Zoo. He gave the whale as an anniversary gift to his wife and had envisioned it as a place to play for the children of his family and friends who swam in the spring fed pond on which the whale rests. It quickly attracted the attention of passing motorists on Route 66 and with the addition of a man made sandy beach, picnic tables, and life guards it became a favorite stop on the mother road. Sadly, by 1988 Mr. Davis’s declining health lead to the closure of the park and after the passing of Mrs. Davis in 2001 the whale and park fell into disrepair. However, rather than let is disappear like so many 66 icons, within a decade the people of Catoosa and the local chamber of commerce launched a fund raising campaign to assist the Davis family in reviving the landmark and maintaining it for future generations. Today, the whale is restored and back to his bright blue self and the property is undergoing constant efforts toward its full revival while visitors pour in daily from all over the world.
For more information about the Blue Whale, see here.
We have similar attractions here in Australia too. The big pineapple, big prawn (shrimp), big bananna and the big Merino are just a few.
Younger generations, over here at least, see them as lame… i kinda like them, I think they aďd a touch of nostalgia to a town.
You had me at giant prawn. 🙂 I think here they were seen as hokey by the last generation but they are seeing a revival in nostalgic kitsch value these days.
I took this trip last year, was great 🙂
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I want to play in that! Very cool!
It is so cool!
WOWWWWW…what a cool place…and excellent photos!!! I need to catch up with your work…..
Thank you. If you ever come this way, let us know. We’ll go photo op hunting. 🙂