Baker California is located in the Mojave Desert region of California between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Nevada, and is home to what was once the World's Tallest Thermometer.
Baker, California, Home of the World's Largest Thermometer and Gateway to Death Valley National Park on Interstate Highway 15 between Los Angeles and Las Vegas was a 134-foot tall thermometer erected in 1991 by resident and entrepreneur Will Herron, who decided to commemorate the temperature of the desert place with something big. Electric Sign Co. of Las Vegas hauled in 33 tons of steel to build the beacon, a broadcaster of heat and cold, and a tourist attraction, all on its own.
For over 25 years Will Heron dreamed of building the giant thing. For travelers who have made the long, sometimes boring drive between Southern California and Las Vegas, the thermometer makes sense. The drive seems to be filled with endless miles of open space and not many landmarks. With little to look at but cactus, rocks, shrubs and some small towns marked by road signs, Herron's dream is to be lauded. Recognized in nearly every travel log, the icon provides photo opportunities, road stops that would not have occurred otherwise, and an interest in the nearby restaurants, shops and visitors center for the Mojave National Preserve in Baker.
What does it take to build such a huge thermometer? It took around 5,000 lamps to light up the three-sided digital display. The thermometer cost between $700,000 and a $1 million, according to estimates. Concrete reinforcement was needed after the thermometer was built and subsequently damaged by the famous Mojave winds that blow across the high desert.
How hot does it get out in the region where this world's tallest thermometer once rose into the sky (heat rises, right?) 134 degrees Fahrenheit was recorded in Death Valley in 1913, cooking anything that sat on the ground under the sun too long.
Things to do in Baker:
Rest Stop on the I-15 freeway between Los Angeles, California and Las Vegas, Nevada (two-thirds of the way to Las Vegas from L.A.) Eat, shop and stretch. Bun Boy restaurant, Alien Fresh Jerky and "World Famous" Mad Greek Cafe road signs announce your arrival in this small town with around 1,000 population. If you are looking for a place to stay, the nearest cities with choice accommodations include Barstow (1 hour by car, approx.) or Las Vegas (1.5 hours by car).
Baker is located in San Bernardino County and is part of the Riverside-San Bernardino, California metro area. It was named after R.C. Baker, president of the Tonopah and Tidewater Railroad, in 1908. It is also the last town for those traveling on CA-127 north to Death Valley National Park or south to the Mojave National Preserve. The landscape in this arid desert location appears earthen in color tones ranging from a dusty pale brown to golden yellows and in the rainy season, even green in some locations.