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Soap Lake Dreams Of Giant Lava Lamp To Get Economy Bubbling Again

City of Soap Lake
The residents of Soap Lake, Wash. have a dream of constructing a 65-foot-tall lava lamp.


Soap Lake, in Central Washington, is a small town with a really big dream. It’s home to about 1,600 people, and its economy has seen better days. A lot of small towns in that situation might respond by trying to lure a big-box store or coming up with a snappy tourist slogan. But those ambitions are far too puny for Soap Lake.


Instead, since the early 2000s, the town has been working toward creating something big and weird and really kind of beautiful: They want to build the world’s largest lava lamp.


“Basically, it’s an idea that won’t die," said Burr Beckwith, a retiree who lives in Soap Lake. "There’s a certain magic about this lamp, so the lamp could be like the Space Needle is for Seattle.”


So, Sound Effect’s Gabriel Spitzer got curious about this quixotic dream and paid a visit.


Gabriel Spitzer is the Host and Senior Producer of Sound Effect, KNKX's "weekly tour of ideas inspired by the place we live." Gabriel was previously KNKX's Science and Health Reporter. He joined KNKX after years covering science, health and the environment at WBEZ in Chicago. There, he created the award-winning mini-show, Clever Apes. Having also lived in Alaska and California, Gabriel feels he’s been closing in on Seattle for some time, and has finally landed on the bullseye.