“The World’s Largest Thermometer rises out of the desert, reminding travelers they have air conditioning for a reason.” ~ Statement from World’s Largest Things, Inc.
Our thermometer is watched with more regularity than TV, especially during the final and hottest days of summer. May I also add unpredictable, as current temperatures display? Coastal fog moved further inland as the thundercloud formations out of the desert began to dissipate. One morning it was actually a cool and cloudy 65 degrees! Could it be a sign of autumn on the way ?
Last week’s column reflected on bank thermometers and today it’s about the one in Baker, Calif. – the “Gateway to Death Valley.” At 70 mph, most drivers have passed this weather tool that is an icon along Interstate 15 in route to Las Vegas. Bypassing the slots, we usually drive through to Zion and Bryce National Parks – land of wide open space, snow and Christmas trees. Slow down … I’m getting way ahead of myself with anticipation of cooler weather.
On cold or hot days, the world’s largest thermometer in Baker has provided major boredom relief.
“Let’s play a game!”
“Okay, Mom. What?”
“I want everybody in the car to guess what the temperature will read on that really big thermometer.”
Rewards included M&Ms, a dollar, soda, etc. All this because a businessman, Will Herron, had a dream. In 1991, in the California high desert, he built a 134-foot tall thermometer (based on highest recorded temperature in Death Valley – 134 degrees in 1913).
Thirty-three tons of steel, 125 cubic yards of concrete and 5,000 lamps were used to construct the three-sided digital display. With an electricity bill of $8,000 per month, the current owner turned off the lights in September 2012. There it stands … dark.
Anyone notice summer evenings are getting cut around 7:30 p.m.? A “gradual slip into darkness” will continue until the Winter Solstice. We may be losing daylight hours but not the heat as weekend highs climb once again into the 90’s. Next week, cooler weather returns to the Foothills.
Perhaps the CV Town Council and Chamber of Commerce should consider a community thermometer.
In the desert, 115.1 miles from here, stands one used thermometer priced at $1.75 million.
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.