World’s Largest Thermometer

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Do you know where the world’s largest thermometer is?

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If you looked closely at the above photo, you’ve probably guessed it’s in Baker, California. You’ll also see that Baker, which is close to the Nevada border, calls itself the “Gateway to Death Valley.”

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According to Roadside America,

The World’s Largest Thermometer is a 134-foot-tall symbol of the record high temperature in the U.S., in nearby Death Valley — 134 degrees Fahrenheit in 1913.

I’d heard of this thermometer before, but I thought it was in Needles, CA. (I don’t really know why I thought it was in Needles.) I had no idea I was going to see it as I drove from Barstow to Las Vegas, but there it was, rising out of the desert. I decided to pull over and see it.

It was still early in the day (around 11am, I think) and only 91 degrees. I wanted to see that sucker lit way up, but it wasn’t hot enough for that.

Here’s the history of the thermometer, from the aforementioned Roadside America Article

Willis Herron, a businessman, dreamed of a huge thermometer for 25 years before he made it real in California’s high desert.

The site chosen for the thermometer was along the main drag through town [Baker], visible from the interstate. In 1990 Herron paid to have the thermometer constructed by Young Electric Sign Co., manufacturers of many neon and bulb monstrosities on The Strip in Las Vegas. 33 tons of steel and almost 5,000 lamps went into the three-sided digital display.

But strong winds broke the thermometer, smashing a gift shop under construction. Herron, undaunted, had the thermometer rebuilt, filled with concrete…

Herron died in 2007. In 2012 the Baker thermometer stopped working and was put up for sale. Its owner blamed its shutdown on a bad economy and a thermometer-topping monthly electric bill. In 2014 the thermometer was purchased by Herron’s daughter, and his widow paid to repair the thermometer; it was officially turned back on Oct. 11.

Willis Herron’s decision to build his thermometer 134 feet tall has proved to be just tall enough, as the highest temperature it’s recorded was 127 degrees in August 1995.

When I pulled off of I-15 at exit 246, and drove through Baker to get as close as possible to the attraction, I felt as if I had been there before, although I didn’t have any memory of the thermometer. I thought maybe Baker was the place where Mr. Carolina, Sweet L, Robbie, the Fighting Couple, and I  slept the night we left Las Vegas. However, as I drove through town, I didn’t see where we might have parked or where everyone would have gone after piling out of my van. Maybe we slept at a rest area somewhere right outside of Nevada and then went to Baker in the morning? If we did stop in Baker, it was only for a short time, but how could I have forgotten about seeing the world’s largest thermometer? The workings of my memory is very mysterious.

In any case, now I know I’ve seen the thermometer, and I have photographic evidence to prove it.

About Blaize Sun

My name is Blaize Sun. Maybe that's the name my family gave me; maybe it's not. In any case, that's the name I'm using here and now. I've been a rubber tramp for nearly a decade.I like to see places I've never seen before, and I like to visit the places I love again and again. For most of my years on the road, my primary residence was my van. For almost half of the time I was a van dweller, I was going it alone. Now my (male) partner and I (a woman) have a travel trailer we can pull with our truck. We have a little piece of property, and when we're not traveling, we park our little camper there. I was a work camper in a remote National Forest recreation area on a mountain for four seasons. I was a camp host and parking lot attendant for two seasons and wrote a book about my experiences called Confessions of a Work Camper: Tales from the Woods. During the last two seasons as a work camper on that mountain, I was a clerk in a campground store. I'm also a house and pet sitter, and I pick up odd jobs when I can. I'm primarily a writer, but I also create beautiful little collages; hand make hemp jewelry and warm, colorful winter hats; and use my creative and artistic skills to decorate my life and brighten the lives of others. My goal (for my writing and my life) is to be real. I don't like fake, and I don't want to share fake. I want to share my authentic thoughts and feelings. I want to give others space and permission to share their authentic selves. Sometimes I think the best way to support others is to leave them alone and allow them to be. I am more than just a rubber tramp artist. I'm fat. I'm funny. I'm flawed. I try to be kind. I'm often grouchy. I am awed by the stars in the dark desert night. I hope my writing moves people. If my writing makes someone laugh or cry or feel angry or happy or troubled or comforted, I have done my job. If my writing makes someone think and question and try a little harder, I've done my job. If my writing opens a door for someone, changes a life, I have done my job well. I hope you enjoy my blog posts, my word and pictures, the work I've done to express myself in a way others will understand. I hope you appreciate the time and energy I put into each post. I hope you will click the like button each time you like what you have read. I hope you will share posts with the people in your life. I hope you'll leave a comment and share your authentic self with me and this blog's other readers. Thank you for reading.  A writer without readers is very sad indeed.

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