Enhancing Rock Art

Although I flip-flop between ghost signs and rock art, I use the same photographic and enhancement techniques for both.

 

This example is a well-known location in Dinosaur National Monument.  The two enhancements emphasize different things.  The first brings out details such as the texture in the “flower pot”.  The second emphasizes the scratched vandalism.   The second example is from the Rock Art site south of Rangely, Colorado.  This example of Barrier Canyon style painted rock art is both faded and vandalized.  The enhancement emphasizes the red pigment and minimizes the scratches.

Updated Ghost Sign Database

I just added around 600 more ghost signs to my database. These were signs I photographed in 2014, plus a few from 2015 and 2017.  The map shows where these newly added signs are located – mostly New York, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Connecticut.  There are a few others scattered around.

The map below shows the complete coverage of ghost signs in the database. It contains around 7300 ghost signs.  I still have another 1000 to add that I have already photographed.

Here is a gallery of some of the more interesting (and pretty) signs that I just added.  I have included some enhancements so you can see the separate layers.  If you want the signs’ locations, click on the map at the top of the left column of this page.  That link takes you to the database.

Mexican Mustang Liniment – for Man or Beast

I’m starting a series where, for ghost signs I have photographed, I will show examples of the products themselves which I have found on Ebay. The first is for Mexican Mustang Liniment.

I found this great sign on a side street in Virginia City, Nevada. Virginia City is the mining town associated with the Comstock Lode, the largest silver deposit found to that time.  The town went through the typical boom and bust cycle, peaking in the 1870’s.  The town is also notable because it is where Mark Twain started his writing career. Today, it is an active tourist destination.

[VENI. V]IDI. VICI.
The Old
Mexican Mustang Liniment
for Man or Beast
It has STOOD the TEST
for over HALF a CENTURY
Penetrates to the ROOT of ….
AND ……

Mexican Mesquite Liniment was started in 1830 and later purchased by a New York company. There was some residue in the bottle I purchased and it smells like some yucky petroleum product.  This bottle is from after 1923 based on the information shown on the paper label.

Where else would something named Mexican Mustang Liniment be made than Brooklyn, NY?

 

Updated Ghost Sign Database

I have updated my database of ghost signs I have photographed.  I added around 800 new signs, mostly in Connecticut, Georgia,  Virginia, and West Virginia. There are also many signs from Milwaukee from 2013.

Here are maps showing the extent of the United States I have photographed.  The red markers indicate ghost signs that are now available on my database.  Click here to get started browsing.

The brown diamonds are towns where I have photographed ghost signs.  I am currently working on adding approximately 1500 more signs to the database.This overlay of photographed ghost signs and cities where I have photographed ghost signs.  There are many in the Dakotas that needed to be added.

Revolving Account

I found this newly revealed sign in Denver.  I had been by the same location last  year, and it was not there.  Google Street View shows that it was revealed when the surfacing on the building was removed during remodeling.  So, while, as shown in the last post, many ghost signs are disappearing, others are reappearing.

 

May 2014

Sept 2016

Going, Going, Gone

When I started photographing ghost signs in 2009, it occurred to me that, as the economy came back from the recession, buildings would start being renovated or torn down.  Of course, I was correct. As I update my database to include the most recent Google Map formats, i have found some that are now gone. Here are example of some of the best ghost signs that are no longer with us.


Coca Cola – Schenectady, New York (Demolished)


Charter Cigar – Irvington, New Jersey (Demolished)


Bridal Tomato Soup / Coca Cola, Irvington, New Jersey  (Painted Over)


Mail Pouch Tobacco / Owl Cigar, Columbia City, Indiana (muralized)


 

Quaker Oats, Boston, Massachusetts (covered by new construction)


 

Quaker Oats  / Moxie, Boston, Massachusetts (covered by new construction)

Cripple Creek – 1957

Going earlier in my slides, I found the same view in Cripple Creek in 1957.  What this reveals is the location of the Wrigley sign in the previous post. It is barely visible on the building between the Schlitz and Texaco signs. It was blocked by new construction by 1984, and appears to still be there – a time capsule.

This was taken on Ektachrome which had faded to what appears to be totally red.  My Nikon LS-4000 scanner plus VueScan software reconstructs the color pretty well.  Pretty grainy however.

Also, the Mt. Pisgah sign was not there, nor was the Columbine Buffet sign.

Cripple Creek – 1984

I am currently scanning my slide collection – about 30000 slides, mostly family stuff. However, I have some photographs of ghost signs that I took way before I started this project.  Here are some from Cripple Creek, Colorado, in 1984.  Some signs are still there, some are gone.

 

Many of the buildings have now been converted to Casinos, or have been replaced by new construction.

In an extracted area of the above slide, the wonderful Walk-Ezy sign is visible, along with the Assay Office and the Safe Deposit building.

Across the street, the Mt. Pisgah sign is still there, but the top sign, the Bran…., is now gone.

This Wrigley’s Gum sign is  long gone, unless I didn’t look around the correct corner.  I couldn’t find it in 2009, and it doesn’t appear in Google Street view.  I wish I had photographed the entire sign!

This group of buildings in the photo below are also gone, and a gap between building is there today.

The building at the end of the block in the above photograph is still there, but the sign for the Columbine Buffet is now gone.

Ghost Sign Harvest #12 – Legend Rock, Wyoming

Now for something completely different. Not really. Petroglyphs, drawn by early peoples around the world, are just a much earlier form of ghost signs.  These are some from the amazing location north of Thermopolis, Wyoming, called Legend Rock.  The petroglyphs are visible along a short trail from a parking area.

I am using the same methods I used for ghost signs – mosaicking multiple images together to increase resolution. The result will be very large wall panels that are as clear as the original.

I am also using my enhancement techniques to bring out hidden layers.  There are also some modern letters  that defaced the graphics, visible at lower right.

I found almost identical graphics on a piece of pottery in the archaeology museum in El Salvador, so some of these “legends” were carried a great distance.  They appear to represent various deities, possibly a creation story.  Unfortunately, are are some modern “additions” to the drawings, plus some defacing.

I think the “alien” in the upper right was an add on, as was the letter “B” at the left.