Whale of a Tale

Whale Of A Tale

Artists Christine Baczek and David Hyams use a Utah Enquirer article published in 1890 as inspiration for Whale of a Tale. According to the article, two juvenile Australian whales, one female and one male, were placed in Great Salt Lake in 1873. James Wickham imported them and commissioned special rail cars filled with seawater to transport them from San Francisco to the lake. This would not have been possible without the transcontinental railroad and its unique path along the northern part of Great Salt Lake.


The artists use period-correct photography--wet plate collodion--to document this story as if it actually happened. “Fake news” of whales in Great Salt Lake continues to this day. An article published on January 16, 2019 in the World News Daily Report describes how a dairy farmer in Farmington found a 12-meter long humpback whale in his field which most likely came from Great Salt Lake.

Whale of a Tale

Whale of a Tale

An article published in The Utah Enquirer in 1890 tells the story of Mr. James Wickham. Born in England, Mr. Wickham believed that the Great Salt Lake was the perfect habitat for breeding and raising whales to meet the oil and bone market demands of the late 1800s. He imported 2 juvenile whales to San Francisco from Australia and further transported them to Great Salt Lake via the transcontinental railroad in 1873. This tintype is the only known portrait of Mr. Wickham.

Whale Of A Tale

Whale Of A Tale

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Whale of a Tale

Whale of a Tale

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Whale of a Tale

Whale of a Tale

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Whale of a Tale

Whale of a Tale

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