"The Whale sculpture being proposed for the new mini-park would with out question become an immediate landmark," The Yachats Sculpture Committee said in 1990. The Committee was told by "professional fund-raisers" that people like categories to choose the amount of their donation. So they came up with categories. People who donated $35 who were "nice" people. "Nice people will be profusely thanked by members of the Committee and will be taught the secret Whale salute." People who donated $500 were "extraordinary" people. "Extraordinary people will be profusely thanked, taught the salute, held in very high esteem, staunchly defended, gossiped about nicely, and make us all proud to say we know you." And $1,000 donors? They were saints. "You don't need to be thanked," the Committee said. "You will be revered."
The whale sculpture "would attract the attention of virtually every travel publication in the Northwest and would certainly become a 'must-see' recommendation for coastal travelers," the Committee said when pitching the idea. "Everybody's scrapbook would contain at least one photograph of some member of the family standing on it, and they would remember the town fondly as the one with the whale in it."
The Whale Sculpture may not have achieved quite that much fame, but it is still a fun sight to behold.
Jim Adler said when he designed it, he looked at the land that had been donated to the city of Yachats and the wall and saw, "a Norwegian fjord or an inlet in Alaska. ... And the next thing I saw, in that fjord, was a whale."
After making the design for a full-size gray whale he jokingly asked his wife, Ursula, and a friend, "How about if I put a pump into the park and make it spout?'"
"That's terrific," they replied.
Adler thought otherwise. He said he was trying to show something majestic, something beautiful, something "with lungs the size of Volkswagens." He was afraid a spout was going to make it look "undignified" and maybe even "slightly frivolous."
Instead of going with a wimpy garden-type sprinkler, he put in a system that spouts water at 1300 PSI.
Many worked on the sculpture and park. Adler designed it. Farwest Steel in Eugene cut two wings that form the fluke. Marks Brothers in Portland bent and shaped the fluke. Rod Smith drove the fluke back to Yachats and enjoyed the reactions he got when people saw it in the back of his truck. Leigh Green used his crane, a converted beat-up1940 military-truck, to site the fluke.
It took five truckloads of soil to, as Adler said, "Make it look like the whale was right under the park, and either coming up or going back down."
Adler named his whale Bazalgette, after Leon Bazalgette Russell, "a crazy French artist friend," who some in Yachats remember as, "the old dude who terrorized the town on his bicycle and occasionally left $100 tips at the Adobe causing fistfights in the kitchen." Russell was named after Leon Bazalgette, a biographer of Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman.
The park was dedicated in October 1990.
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