If you've driving the stretch of I-15 between Los Angeles and Las Vegas and get off at the Baker exit near Death Valley, you have the opportunity to see the ultimate tacky weather object--the world's tallest thermometer. Rising a full 134 feet above the dusty streets of Baker (population: 700), the working thermometer is the brainchild of Baker resident Willis Herron, who spent $700,000 erecting the huge instrument. In an article in the June 2005 issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Willis says: "Awww, I know it's tacky. But I also know people won't be able to pass it more than four or five times without saying, 'What is that?'". And hopefully pull off the expressway to take a look--and buy a burger at the Mad Greek restaurant or a slice of strawberry pie at the original Bun Boy restaurant, now owned by Steve Carter, whom Herron sold the thermometer to in 2000.
The thermometer weighs 76,812 pounds, sports 4900 light bulbs, and is held together by 125 cubic yards of concrete--much of this added after 70-mph winds snapped the thermometer in half shortly after it was built in 1991. The 134 foot height is symbolic of the 134 degree maximum temperature recorded in Death Valley in 1913--the all-time record for North America.