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World's tallest thermometer: Death Valley landmark deemed roadside eyesore

Photo by DrewToYou via Flickr Creative Commons
Photo by Robin Kanouse via Flickr Creative Commons
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
A resident walks past the broken thermometer in Baker, Calif., Thursday, November 9, 2012.
Anibal Ortiz / KPCC
The water tower attracts tourists and travelers claiming to have the worlds tallest thermometer in Baker, Calif., Thursday, November 9, 2012. The thermometer, not in working condition, is privately owned and has become an "eyesore" for residents.
Anibal Ortiz / KPCC

A giant thermometer built to attract motorists headed to and from Las Vegas has become an eyesore and residents in Baker, Calif., are divided about whether to take the landmark down.

KPCC reported in November that the 134-foot tall icon — erected in 1991 in the small desert town of Baker, CA —  quit working about three years ago. The degrees are off, with random numbers reflected against the sun. The gift shop is empty, scarred with graffiti.

The thermometer’s owner claims he can’t afford its electricity bill—about $8,000 a month. But some community leaders are tired of hearing excuses. They say the broken thermometer is an eyesore and they want it taken down. There also are plans to remove the words “World’s Tallest Thermometer” from the Baker water tower.

“It’s just kind of an embarrassment,” said Le Hayes, general manager of Baker Community Services District, a state agency that provides water, sewer service and trash collection. Hayes said his office has received plenty of calls from tourists about the thermometer.

The tower's height was selected because of the 134-degree record set in nearby Death Valley in 1913.

What do you think? Should the roadside relic stay standing?