The Blue WhaleHugh S. Davis (1909 - 1990)
About the Artist/Site
Driving down the legendary U.S. highway Route 66, you’ll encounter many sights – but none as big and blue as The Blue Whale of Catoosa, Oklahoma.
Zoologist Hugh S. Davis had already spent much of his retirement from the Tulsa Zoo creating his own dynamic, animal-centered space called Nature’s Acres with an Ark and an Alligator Ranch when he began working on a giant fish to activate the pond enjoyed by his grandchildren and other community members. The fish plans on the back of a napkin eventually grew into whale plans on giant sheets of paper. Davis called upon his welder friend Harold Thomas to help create the iron armature for the 20-foot-tall, 80-foot-long cetacean. Davis then hand-mixed and applied the concrete one five-gallon bucket at a time.
Completed in the early 1970s, Davis’s family and other visitors enjoyed the Whale as an exciting water feature in the pond – sliding into the water, jumping off the tail, and peeking through portholes. The Davis family refers to the “blessings” of this time – no one was ever injured while playing on the Whale or swimming in the pond.
Health complications caused Davis to close the Blue Whale in 1988, and he passed away in 1990. He had given his wife Zelta the Whale as an anniversary gift, and she passed in 2001. The site remained in the family until 2020 when it was purchased by the City of Catoosa. The Blue Whale is now open to the public, and there is a gift shop on site.
Narrative adapted from “The History of the Blue Whale” panel on site written by Davis’s daughter Dee Dee Belt.
–Annalise Flynn, 2023
welded iron, concrete, paint
Map & Site Information
Catoosa, Oklahoma, 74015 us
Latitude/Longitude: 36.1938514 / -95.7329234