World's Largest Thermometer
Will Herron, a businessman, dreamed of a huge thermometer for 25 years before he made it a reality in California's high desert. The World's Largest Thermometer is 134-ft.-tall, symbolic of the record high temperature in the US, in Death Valley -- 134 degrees Fahrenheit in 1913.
It juts up next to Bob's Big Boy in Baker, a small town near Nevada, "Gateway to Death Valley."
The site chosen for the thermometer was along the main drag through town, visible from the interstate, and next to Failing's Bun Boy coffee shop (a popular eatery owned by J.O. Failing, rebuilt after a fire in 1990, and since closed). In 1991, Herron paid to have the thermometer constructed by Young Electric Sign Co. (manufacturers of many neon and bulb monstrosities of the Vegas strip). They used 33 tons of steel, and almost 5,000 lamps to render the three-sided digital display.
After strong winds broke the thermometer, smashing a gift shop under construction, it was rebuilt, and eventually filled with concrete so that it would survive anything short of a direct thermonuclear attack (okay, that's our claim -- not Baker's).
On one trip, we tried to coax the lovely ladies of Exotic World out to dance at the base of the thermometer. It was only 121 degrees F that day, but the plan fell apart, and we continued on to the thermometer alone.
Baker's Thermometer has no real competition as far as other towering thermal measurement devices are concerned. International Falls, Minnesota passively perpetuated an old claim that their 22-ft. tall thermometer was the World's Largest (ha!), but even the notion that they are still the "Coldest Spot in 48 States" was challenged by a sturdy concrete penguin statue in Cut Bank, Montana -- "Coldest Spot in the Nation." In 2002, International Falls gave up and took apart their thermometer after it stopped working.
Update: In 2012, the Baker thermometer was put up for sale and stopped working. Its owner blamed its shutdown on a bad economy and a thermometer-topping monthly electric bill.