Baker, California is home to one of the country’s most well known roadside attractions, the world’s tallest thermometer. The town itself is a small population of just over 700 people was founded, but never incorporated, in 1908 as a railroad stop for the borax mines. Eventually, some saw an opportunity to create a small pit stop for folks driving to and from Vegas on Interstate 15 and lined a small stretch of road less than a mile long with restaurants, motels and gas stations, but no traffic lights. In 1991, after being repeatedly asked just how hot it was in the small town in the middle of the desert, the owner of Bun Boy built the 13 story high landmark out of his own pocket with more than $700,000!
Unfortunately, when he passed away and property exchanged hands a couple of times, the Bun Boy was replaced by a Bob’s Big Boy franchise and the current owner has chose to turn his back on the giant monument, complaining that it was several thousands of dollars a month to keep it on and that’s hard to keep up with in a town that’s failing due to a lack of tourism during the economic downturn. Now, disappointed tourists and some of the town’s own residents say it should just be torn down. Some might fear that this would bankrupt the already struggling town that is almost completely boarded up now, but someone has a plan.
That someone is Luis Ramallo who happens to be the owner of the Alien Fresh Jerky, which is one of the town’s only surviving businesses and even out lasted a Starbucks that closed 4 years ago. He plans on building a 3 story flying saucer UFO shaped hotel with a gray alien head shaped pool for his guests to cool off in. Luis’ first stand was based 4 hours away in the region of Area 51, and once that was successful, he branched out to Baker, California. Now he wants to step it up with his new venture into the hotel industry and would also like the thermometer torn down, clearly, so the hotel becomes the new landmark.
The new hotel would provide work for residents, that the thermometer cannot provide, and new tourism into the town that is desperate for some cash flow. Can’t the two co-exist? Apparently, Ramallo doesn’t think so and if no one comes to the rescue of the world’s tallest thermometer, it may become a thing of the past just like some of the other town fixtures prior to the financial crisis, like the Royal Hawaiian that was the shooting location of the sci-fi film The Big Empty.
Thermometer or no thermometer, the hotel is sure to be a success with more and more Americans believing in extraterrestrial UFO’s, 36% as of a poll conducted in the summer of 2012, and many of the hundreds of thousand science fiction fans that will be sure to reserve one of the 30 planned rooms far in advance. The question is, should the thermometer stay, or does it definitely need to go?