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.
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.
Mexican Mustang Liniment
for Man or Beast
It has STOOD the TEST
for over HALF a CENTURY
Penetrates to the ROOT of ….
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?
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
I had to truncate my route, eliminating a plan for Wisconsin, since I spent more time in Indiana and Illinois due to the road closures from flooding.
This sign in Vincennes, Indiana, has appeared since I was last there in 2010.
If you see these stars on a building, they are called “Star Anchors”. They are a decorative way to cover the end of a threaded rod that braces the brick wall to the internal structure. Apparently, these are taken down by people who sell them in antique stores, leaving the buildings vulnerable to collapse.
General Arthur Cigar in Plattsburg, Missouri
Terre Haute Beer in Linton, Indiana
When I first photographed this sign in Indianapolis in 2010, the building was supposed to be demolished. However, here it is! Jung’s Red Heart Beer’s Sustains Life [sic].
This great sign for Greenback Tobacco in Terre Haute, Indiana, was difficult to photograph. The tree branches touch the best part of the sign – an emblem of a happy frog. I used a rope to pull branches back from the building, but still needed to photograph from many different positions and slanted angles. Note to self – carry a tree trimmer stick.
I drove through the beautiful Sand Hills in Nebraska on my way to some of the ghost signs in the West.
I “invented” my pole stick to specifically get this sign in Columbus, Nebraska, but hadn’t been back until this trip. It is a very nicely preserved Cremo Cigar ad.
Detail of the Cigar – part of the higher resolution imaging used for stitching.
I revisited Alliance, Nebraska to rephotograph this sign I first photographed in 2010. This time, I used my pole to get the camera into a good position. However, it was also easier because a foreground tree had been removed. The town is undergoing a major makeover because it is one of many cities directly under the central path of this year’s Total Solar Eclipse.
It Came from Outer Space – 3 Dimensions, from the 1953 release.
Alliance makeover is in progress for the Solar Eclipse. East Wyoming and Western Nebraska have the highest probability for clear skies on the eclipse date. I thought it appropriate that one of the signs that is there is It Came From Outer Space.
I have many more ghost signs to post, but I thought I would concentrate on this sign I found yesterday in West Frankfort, Illinois. It was revealed in the last two weeks by the collapse of a brick protective wall. I had been to West Frankfort before, I was going to photograph another sign across the street from this one that I had missed, but – WOW – here it was!
While I was photographing this sign, I spoke to a woman going into the back door of an office in the alley. It turns out it is the town Newspaper – the West Frankfort Gazette. Here is a link to their article about the sign that has more history – http://www.wfgazette.com/news/local-history-uncovered-at-condemned-building/article_6fed82f2-3438-11e7-bb9b-9b4eedb6bce9.html
It is in beautiful shape. The building itself is apparently in need of demolition. Hopefully, they will be able to save this remarkable sign.