World's Largest Blue Whale
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Just happened to stop by on the perfect day – as I pulled up to the whale from my visit to the World’s Largest Totem Pole, I noticed the concession area was open. There were four little girls there, under the watchful eye of their ‘Poppa’. Turned out to be their grandfather, the son of the builder of the Blue Whale.
The Catoosa Whale was built in the early 70’s by Hugh Davis as a present to his wife, Zelta. They already had an reptile farm on the property, as well as a two story arc on site that was rentable for kids birthday parties and such. He’d spent 20 years as a zookeeper in (Tulsa?), so had the expertise needed to run a reptile farm, complete with wrestle-able ‘gators and charmable snakes. The whale was built in the swimming hole that kids were using anyway – he decided that there should be something better to jump off of than some smelly old boring dock.
The whale took two years, and is made of rebar, a chicken-wire-like material (I forgot exactly what he called it), and cement pushed through the wire mesh, then finished off (smoothed) with a wet hand. It was built on the water, with water in the pond, sometimes high sometimes low. Hugh wasn’t a welder, so he’d hold the rebar in place with twists of bailing wire, and every once and awhile a friend would come over to weld the pieced together. Since some of the structures were only accessable overwater, in an aluminum boat, sometimes a jolt would go through the water as the arc grounded itself unexpectedly.
I got the background from the son of the builder (dad passed away a bit ago), who is in some of the historic postcards. He’s a full-time RVr, who parks at the whale when he’s in the area. When he’s not around, one of his sons opens the gates. The girls manning the souvenier stand were his granddaughters. They were all there this day for a Route 66 cruise.
Periodically while we talked, a classic car would roar up, park in the lot, and the driver would get out with a pink tally sheet in his/her hand. They were to get a stamp from each place on historic 66, each attraction having a distinctive stamp, with the tour ending about an hour onwards towards Oklahoma City. There were some amazing vehicles stopping for the stamps, and the granddaughters would squeal with delight every time they sold a T-Shirt (no smalls, so no dice).
The son talked about his dad building, remembering swimming, pausing to dtamp papers and giving the brief version of everything he was telling me, travelling and living the RV life, and factory tours he’d gone on (after seeing my Tabasco bottle out for my hard boiled egg lunch).
At the gift area, there were T-Shirts and historic postcards. They’d found a stash of the original souvenier cards in the basement, and were selling sets of five for $2.00. I thought long and hard about telling him that he could get lots more for them, but thought better of it and bought five sets. They feature Hugh Davis taming a snake, Zelta Davis atop two alligators (complete in a very stylish ensemble of pink and floral polyester, cat-eye glasses, and a lode of turquoise), the original Snake and Alligator farm attraction split-screened with the Ark (A.R.K. Animal Reptile Kingdom, Nature Wonders of Interest for any Age, Advance Bookings For Children’s Birthday Parties in the ARK – Cameras Welcome – Owned and Operated by Hugh and Zelta Davis – Over 40 years Experience in Zoological Work), a shot of the son’s Uncle (Zelta’s brother) in full Native American garb (Chief Wolf Robe Hunt, full-blooded Acoma, Has done much to further the understanding and appreciation of the songs and dance, and the arts and crafts of the American Indian. ), and a split-screen of the Blue Whale.
In the picnic area are poured concrete tables, form-based, and smaller individual tables and stools for the kids in the shapes of whales holding platforms. The tables were re-done and some of the landscaping taken care of when H(?) Hotels asked if there needed to be anything more done, restoration-wise.
World's Largest Blue Whale Stats
Built early 70s, Concrete and welded rebar, two-story walkup head, exterior is a resin paint to resist weathering
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