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Many of the buildings have now been converted to Casinos, or have been replaced by new construction.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

Ghost Sign Harvest #11 – Indiana to Nebraska

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.

Ghost Sign Harvest #10 – West Frankfort, Illinois

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 –

It is in beautiful shape. The building itself is apparently in need of demolition.  Hopefully, they will be able to save this remarkable sign.

Ghost Sign Harvest #9 – Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Indiana

The Traveling Saleman Problem – finding the shortest route among multiple locations – leads on some fairly strange twists and turns in one’s route.  I went back and forth several times where the state of Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky meet

I thought I had posted enough barn photos, but this unusual ad for Old Loyalty tobacco changed my mind. It is located north of Madison, Indiana.

A combination of Selz Shoes and Coca Cola was painted over with white paint sometime in the past.  It has now been exposed and is next to a memorial park which seems to feature this sign in Wilmington, Ohio.

The difference between the modern white paint – easily flaked off – and the underlying sign paint is pretty obvious here.  The white paint may have, in fact, protected the sign.

I made some new friends in Seymour, Indiana.  I went there to locate a Dr Pepper sign painted on wood, but had no idea of the location. When I stopped to photograph this Gold Medal Flour sign, these two gentlemen – Tim Decker on the left, and Jim Noelker on the right – came over and we started talking.   Jim has a sign company, Westwind Signs in Seymour, so he knows his signs. He also knew where the elusive Dr. Pepper sign was located.  Thanks to both!

Thanks to Jim for taking the rare photo of me.

The entire side of the building was originally covered with graphics, but when the building owner repainted, he nicely left the main Dr. Pepper untouched.

And, as frequently happens, the “best” sign in Seymour, Indiana, was unknown to me before I arrived.  This one contains, among other things, an ad for Cremo Cigars.

I have visited many towns more than once, looking for signs I may have missed. This one, in North Vernon, Indiana, is painted at an angle to match the slanted roof line instead of the line of the bricks. I don’t recall hearing the term Foot Fitter before.

I also returned to Maysville, KY, to see if I could have better access to a Coca Cola sign with multiple layers. I spoke with the building owner, but there really wasn’t any access short of getting a high lift.  However, I was able to rephotograph this sign for Poyntz Bros. Whiskey.  The trees had been trimmed which made parts of the sign more visible. However, it still took some moving the camera around to get complete coverage shooting between the tree and the buildings. 

Although not as old, this interesting sign explained some of the jet engine noises I heard in the distance.

I had this sign in Albany, Indiana, on my must-visit list since 2009.  I had no idea whether it was still there, but there it was, looking unchanged from the 2009 photo posted online.

Madison, Indiana, is a beautiful tourist town (in the best sense) along the Ohio River.  For those of you unfamiliar with US History, the Ohio River played a most important role in the history of our country from the mid-1700’s onwards.  If you are ever interested in the truly beautiful drive, follow the river from it’s beginnings in Pennsylvania until it meets the Mississippi at Cairo, Illinois.

Madison had two signs I had missed on a previous visit. The Pillsbury’s Best Flour I had totally missed back in 2009.

I knew this second sign existed, but couldn’t find it before. With more internet resources including city directories and company histories, I was able to locate it this trip.  “See Hen & Ben The Shoe Men”

One last photo,  a historic bumper sticker on a historic truck which also had a historic license plate.

Ghost Sign Harvest #8 – Pennsylvania & Ohio, plus a Barn Tour

One of the great joys of photographing ghost signs and ghost barns is meeting people.  As I was photographing this Mail Pouch Tobacco barn in Ohio, the owner came over and we talked. The first thing I did was thank him for not having the barn “restored”.  It is the only Mail Pouch Barn I have seen that has a depiction of the package.

Mr. Gardner, who has owned the barn for 35 years, invited me inside to see how it is built.  How cool is that!!!!  These are pretty amazing timbers.  What is even more amazing is that about 100 years ago, the barn was moved to this location from a field across where the present highway is located.

This view shows the inside of the painted part of the barn.

And how about this flooring?

Mr. Gardner maintains the barn, including climbing on to the roof when it leaks, and uses it for storage.  I think the continual usage is one reason it is in such great condition.


When I am planning my route, I always look for possible towns along my route to see if any other towns might have a sign. i found this beauty in Cadiz, Ohio, just this morning before starting my drive.

I returned to Carnegie, PA (it was just off the road I was on anyway) to rephotograph this Mail Pouch sign.  During my prior visit, I had to shoot around several parked cars, plus there it was sunny.  This is a nice shadow setup.

Another Ivory Soap ghost sign, this one in Washington, PA.

I returned to Lisbon. Ohio, to photograph this sign which required my using the pole rig to see over the edge of the building. I always shoot a wide angle panorama, like the one below, before using the longer focal length, to see what other objects are on the room that might block the view.

Mail Pouch Tobacco Barns seem to be everywhere in the Ohio River Valley.

I returned to New Kensington, PA, to continue my series of the revealing and deterioration of this Pillsbury’s Best Flour sign.  I photographed it in 2011, 2012, and 2014.  Now, the entire top of the sign is revealed, but the bottom half is mostly gone.  I’ll create a single composite image when i get home that contains as much of the original sign as possible.

2011, 2012, and 2014

Ghost Sign Harvest #7 – Pennsylvania, more Barns, and an Owl

This very nice Mail Pouch Tobacco barn is just south of Halifax, PA, and was unknown to me before I spotted it.

I went into the barnyard, through and open gate, and photographed the entire sign in lots of detail.  The letters always look like they are melting.  The farmer’ cows had a great deal to say – very moosical.

A very faded Mail Pouch barn, but I photographed it straight on as well and it can be enhanced.

I’m not sure this barn was ever originally painted as a Mail Pouch ad. I think it was just done for fun.

I found this sign in Alverda, PA, posted online and went to photograph it. Signs about now gone Flour brands are very popular.

A different kind of barn.  I asked permission of a very nice couple who let me go up their driveway to photograph the barn.  It belongs to their sister.  Thanks to all.

The GPS took me on this small back road to Johnstown, PA.  It was twisty, bumpy, potholey – in summary, wonderful.

I had been to Johnstown before, but this sign was exposed in the last two years.  It may be the best Owl Logo I have seen.  No tuckpointing or cleaning.  It may have been painted by the same sign painter who did the Owl Cigar signs in New Kensington that were revealed a few years ago.

When I arrived, it was sunny which produced bad tree shadows across the graphics. I waited about an hour for a storm front to arrive with a nice overcast sky.  I spoke to a couple about living in Johnstown.  They were around my age.  They had grown up here, moved to the DC area, and then returned for family reasons.  What struck them on returning is that everything is expensive in Johnstown.  Utilities are triple in the DC area.  I found that gas is the same as Los Angeles.  The city is slowly dying because it is not connected to the world by any major highway.  The young people are leaving because there are no jobs. Its past industries were Bethlehem Steel and coal.  Needless to say, I saw many Trump posters.

Once it became overcast, i used my pole rig to photograph the entire sign over the fence.

Here’s lookin’ at you, kid.  I’m looking forward to stitching all of the photos together when I get home.

Ghost Sign Harvest #6 – New York & Pennsylvania

I’m filling in gaps in my ghost sign collection – which means that I am visiting the places that were too out of the way for previous trips.  I photographed a couple of signs in Narrowsburg, NY.  The town is located on the upper parts of the Delaware River.  The leaves on the trees are very late this year – just a few buds and flowers.

Narrowsburg, NY

RR bridge in Narrowsburg for the Erie RR.

I photographed this nice un-repainted barn for Kentucky Club Pipe Tobacco in Brodheadsville, PA.  Another barn, for Mail Pouch Tobacco, near New Tripoli, PA, has apparently been demolished (or sold to Barn Wood Builders?).

I had visited Pottsville, PA, before and photographed this great revealed sign for Mail Pouch Tobacco.  It is still there as of yesterday.

However, as usual, there were more signs, a couple of which I “discovered” while photographing signs I knew about.  This mystery sign will require some work to reveal its contents.

Another sign is for the Packard-Hudson dealer.

Also., this great sign for Yuengling Beer was coverted by trees.  I had to shoot from all sorts of angles to try to get complete coverage. I’ll post the results later. Although Yuengling sounds like some sort of Asian imported beer, it is actually the oldest brewery in the United States, family owned, and started in 1829.

Pottsville is the home of Yuengling’s.  They have factory tours.

Ghost Sign Harvest #5 – “Unseen, Photography Beyond the Visible”

Thursday night I went to the opening of the show “Unseen, Photography Beyond the Visible” at the Providence Center for Photographic Arts. One of my photos was accepted and on display. It  shows a ghost sign in Baltimore with an unprocessed image side-by-side with the result of my enhancement process. I received an Honorable Mention which pleases me since my photo isn’t really “artistic” in the sense of interesting angles or lighting.   It is documentary.  Nevertheless, I had lots of interest and met with many visitors discussing my methods for stitching and enhancing ghost signs. They liked the photo and the entire American Ghosts project.

There were around eighty photos on display. I met many super interesting people since this show incorporates very specialized photo methods.

One couple who came is an old friend Jim Head from Brown University. He heads up the Planetary Sciences Group where I went to graduate school.

I dropped by Brown University and visited the Planetary Sciences building.

David Weiss, myself, and Jim Head.  I was invited to David’s thesis defense the next day.  Now he is Dr. Weiss.  It turned out that his thesis drew partly on work I had done on my thesis back in 1974 on Mars Crater distributions.  It was pure chance that I happened to be there that day.

My work was done using Mariner 9 imagery data, acquired with 1960’s technology!  I hadn’t been in touch with the Mars Community for a while, and was astounded, and pleased, to be told that my thesis and subsequent published paper are now considered seminal works on Martian geology.  The conclusions have held up to the test of time. That is unusual in science that involves such rapidly changing technology. Hopefully, my ghost sign photography will be received the same way.