Hold the Pineapple
Arne’s Royal Hawaiian Motel opened in 1957, at the height of the post-war South Seas boom. The motel is located in the tiny town of Baker (pop. 835), conveniently close to the intersection of I-15 and State Route 127 (Death Valley Road).
Reasonable Bates er, Rates
At roughly the halfway point between Los Angeles and Las Vegas, the 43-room motel hoped to lure road-going travelers in need of an overnight sleep stop. As well, tourists visiting infamously hot & dry Death Valley just to the north no doubt appreciated a dip in the motel’s refreshingly cool, guests-only, outdoor swimming pool.
Baking In Baker
Baker wasn’t just a well-placed rest stop, however. The so-called “Gateway to Death Valley” also boasted The World’s Tallest Thermometer. Standing 134 feet tall, the electrically-powered monument commemorates the world’s record highest temperature of 134°F (56.7°C), recorded at nearby Furnace Creek on July 10th, 1913.
On the downside, Baker is also home to a shuttered, 223-bed, for-profit prison formerly operated by Cornell Corrections. The prison’s checkered history includes occasional escapes by inmates (twice in 1995 and another two in 1997) and a major riot in December of 2003 that forced a temporary closure. The leaky slammer closed for good in late 2009, allowing nervous Bakerites (and motel room-renters) to breathe a bit easier.