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The Great Salt Lake Whales

Filed under: Media Pranks, The History of Pranks

From Emerson Dameron:

As seen on Futility Closet:

Here”™s an imaginative newspaper hoax from the American West “” James Wickham, a “scientific English gentleman,” was said to have released two 35-foot whales in the Great Salt Lake in 1873:


Mr. Wickham came from London in person to superintend the “˜planting”™ of his leviathan pets. He selected a small bay near the mouth of Bear River connected with the main water by a shallow strait half a mile wide. Across this strait he built a wide fence, and inside the pen so formed he turned the whales loose. After a few minutes inactivity they disported themselves in a lively manner, spouting water as in mid-ocean, but as if taking in by instinct or intention the cramped character of their new home, they suddenly made a bee line for deep water and shot through the wire fence as if it had been made of threads. In twenty minutes they were out of sight, and the chagrined Mr. Wickham stood gazing helplessly at the big salt water. (more…)