Now a Route 66 icon, the famed Blue Whale of Catoosa is actually the most wonderful anniversary gift ever given…
Commercials these days would have you believe jewelry is the perfect gift for the love of your life, but one man in Oklahoma thought perhaps his wife would rather have a massive blue whale built on their family pond. Today, the Blue Whale of Catoosa is one of the most photographed stops on all of Route 66.
Hugh S. Davis wasn’t one to sit idly and watch life go by. This zoologist, photographer, Boy Scout, and patriarch found himself with a little time on his hands after his retirement from the Tulsa Zoo and, at the age of 60, began sketching a strange fish-looking creation with hopes of building it on the pond their family frequently enjoyed.
Like all great American projects, his “fish” grew larger with each sketch until it became a whale.
It took 2 years to construct the 80-ft long Blue Whale of Catoosa, but in 1972 Hugh was finally able to give his creation to his beloved wife, Zelta, as an anniversary gift.
Soon, people from all over the world were enjoying her whale of a gift- climbing and sliding off its fins and tail.
The Blue Whale of Catoosa operated as a haven for those looking for a unique place to swim, fish, and picnic until arthritis forced Hugh to close the Blue Whale in 1988.
Hugh passed on in 1990, leaving a legacy of creating joy for thousands through his various pursuits, including the Blue Whale of Catoosa. His wife Zelta joined him in 2001, but not before seeing the community rally to restore the Blue Whale as a Route 66 icon.
In the late 90s, an initial refurbishing was undertaken with even then-Governor Frank Keeting stopping by to lend a hand and paint the whale’s eye.
Today, Hugh and Zelta’s daughter Dee Dee and her husband Dick own the famed Blue Whale of Catoosa with her brother Blaine and his sons working to keep the area maintained so all can continue to enjoy Hugh’s gigantic anniversary gift.
As traveling Route 66 has surged with popularity, the Blue Whale of Catoosa has become a must-see for travelers from all over the world.
Stopping to enjoy the Blue Whale of Catoosa won’t cost you a dime, but we implore you to stop by the little gift shop and spend some money or make a donation to keep Hugh’s gift to Zelta going strong for many years to come.
The Blue Whale of Catoosa
2600 OK-66, Catoosa, OK 74015
(About 20 minutes east of Tulsa)
Cover Photo via The Blue Whale of Catoosa