World's Tallest Thermometer
72155 Baker Blvd,
As you drive along Interstate 15 heading towards Las Vegas, you'll pass by the small town of Baker. Even though the town has less than eight hundred people, you won't miss it, as you'll see off to your left, the large 134 foot tall thermometer rising up from the middle of the town. Yes, Baker, taglined the Gateway to Death Valley, is home to the World's Tallest Thermometer. In addition to the World's Tallest Thermometer, Baker, being really only one road with three off-ramps, one at either end and one in the middle, is a treasure trove of weird.
The three sided World's Tallest Thermometer is 134 feet in honor of the highest recorded temperature in Fahrenheit in the United States recorded on July 10th, 1913 in Death Valley; not too far north of Baker. Although the thermometer has never recorded a temperature of 134 degrees Fahrenheit, it did reach 127 degrees on August of 1995. The thermometer was originally built next to one of two Bun Boy Restaurants in existence both were established in 1956, the other location being down Interstate 15 in Barstow). When the Bun Boy Restaurant regrettably sold in 2005, it was turned into a Bob's Big Boy, sadly also eventually closing in May 2013. The Bun Boy / Bob's Big Boy location sat vacant for a long time and is now a new eatery called Marketplace 15. A Bun Boy Motel, long abandoned, also sits vacant behind the thermometer and the former restaurant.
The thermometer was dreamed up by Willis Herron, then owner of the Bun Boy restaurant, and constructed by Young Electric Sign Company in October 1991. Herron had been imagining the giant thermometer for twenty-five years! 33 tons of steel and almost five thousand lamps were used in its construction. The thermometer weighs 76,812 pounds and cost about $700,000. Despite issues after construction dealing with part of the thermometer being knocked down by high winds, the thermometer was finally lit up on October 9th, 1992. As the temperature rises, more bulbs light up on the structure's three sides. Almost five thousand lamps are in the thermometer.
The thermometer passed through a few owners, who didn't maintain the structure very well. Will Herron had passed away on July 11th, 2007. His tombstone has a color picture of the thermometer depicted upon it. Sadly in 2012, the thermometer was put up for sale by its then current owner (Matt Pike), and its lights were turned off. The owner stated the shutdown was a result of the bad economy and an extremely high electric bill, then rumored to be a cost of about $8000 a month. Luckily in 2014, LaRae Harguess, the daughter of Willis Herron, the original owner of the Worlds Tallest Thermometer, reacquired the thermometer and as of 3:30 PM on July 10th, 2014, the thermometer was operating again with a temperature of 102. The gift shop, now named Temp 134, has also re-opened and is selling signed and numbered light bulbs from the original thermometer. The location has also taken on a buzzard mascot with stuffed versions of him being available in the shop.
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- Andrew of North Hollywood, California on 2014-02-05 said:
- Google "Havoline Thermometer" It no longer stands, but topped out at 200 feet. It was also a 3-sided thermometer with neon tubes that indicated the temperature. It was constructed for the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago.
- Roadside Attractions (2007) by Butko, Brian and Sarah, p: 110 - 111
- The Ruby Slippers, Madonna's Bra, and Einstein's Brain (2006) by Epting, Chris, p: 109
- Weird California (2006) by Greg Bishop, Joe Oesterle, Mike Marinacci, p: 168
- Southern California Curiosities (2004) by Rubin, Saul, p: 179 - 181
First Created: 2013-06-15
Last Edited: 2020-12-19