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World's tallest thermometer to light up again in Baker

BAKER, CA - JANUARY 07:  The world's tallest thermometer is displayed on January 7, 2013 in Baker, California. The 134-foot thermometer billed as the world's tallest thermometer has been put up for sale with an asking price of $1.75 million.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
BAKER, CA - JANUARY 07: The world's tallest thermometer is displayed on January 7, 2013 in Baker, California. The 134-foot thermometer billed as the world's tallest thermometer has been put up for sale with an asking price of $1.75 million. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
BAKER, CA - JANUARY 07:  The world's tallest thermometer is displayed on January 7, 2013 in Baker, California. The 134-foot thermometer billed as the world's tallest thermometer has been put up for sale with an asking price of $1.75 million.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
A group of friends make a stop at the Country Store in Baker, Calif., Thursday, November 9, 2012. The ladies frequent the small town on their trips from Bakersfield to Las Vegas.
Anibal Ortiz / KPCC
BAKER, CA - JANUARY 07:  The world's tallest thermometer is displayed on January 7, 2013 in Baker, California. The 134-foot thermometer billed as the world's tallest thermometer has been put up for sale with an asking price of $1.75 million.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Truck drivers frequent the area around Baker, Calif., Thursday, November 9, 2012. Travelers to and from Las Vegas would use the thermometer to gage the temperature during their trip.
Anibal Ortiz / KPCC
BAKER, CA - JANUARY 07:  The world's tallest thermometer is displayed on January 7, 2013 in Baker, California. The 134-foot thermometer billed as the world's tallest thermometer has been put up for sale with an asking price of $1.75 million.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Alien Fresh Jerky's owner displays his plans for an alien space ship motel that is in the works in Baker, Calif., Thursday, November 9, 2012.
Anibal Ortiz / KPCC
BAKER, CA - JANUARY 07:  The world's tallest thermometer is displayed on January 7, 2013 in Baker, California. The 134-foot thermometer billed as the world's tallest thermometer has been put up for sale with an asking price of $1.75 million.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Rich and Kathy sit down for lunch at The Mad Greek restaurant in Baker, Calif., Thursday, November 9, 2012. Many businesses have shut down over the years, the broken thermometer being seen as an eye sore by some of the townspeople.
Anibal Ortiz / KPCC
BAKER, CA - JANUARY 07:  The world's tallest thermometer is displayed on January 7, 2013 in Baker, California. The 134-foot thermometer billed as the world's tallest thermometer has been put up for sale with an asking price of $1.75 million.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
A resident walks past the broken thermometer in Baker, Calif., Thursday, November 9, 2012.
Anibal Ortiz / KPCC


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We called it back in March: The world's tallest thermometer in Baker will light up again. 

A glimpse into the light

You can catch the "soft-lighting" of the attraction Thursday. The event will commemorate the 101st anniversary of the hottest recorded day on Earth — 134 degrees in Death Valley.

"It's very important to my mom that we get it turned back on," LaRae Harguess, daughter of the original owner Willis Herron, told KPCC in March. "My dad always wanted the thermometer not for personal gain of our family. He wanted to help the town of Baker, and my mom has made a commitment to pay for restoring the thermometer."

So how did this unique attraction become a roadside eyesore? Here's a little history. The thermometer was built in 1991 as a way of attracting tourists to Baker, a small desert town in San Bernardino County. Herron later sold the thermometer property, and eventually it ended up under the ownership of Matt Pike.

And then, it happened. The thermometer went dark in 2009 when Pike said he couldn't afford its electricity bill, which was reportedly about $8,000 a month. 

The family finally got the property back in March through a foreclosure. Yet it took a chunk of change to restore, reports LAist. 

Reacquiring the thermometer was one thing, but making it work is another. After years of "no maintenance whatsoever," it took a lot of work and $150,000 (entirely footed by her mother) to restore it to its original glory.

A fixed thermometer could bring more tourists to the desert town of Baker. Several businesses told KPCC that sales declined after the thermometer stopped working. There were even efforts to revive the tourism industry with the creation of a hotel shaped like an alien spaceship.

In October, the family will dedicate the thermometer back to the late Willis Herron with an official grand opening on the anniversary of its original lighting.