Day 31: Back in Action in Fargo & Central MN

Got rolling again at 2pm.   Cost me $400-something for three frayed wires, new transmission gasket thingie & replacing transmission fluid (again), an evap something or nother.  And hopefully, that’s that — no more trouble rest of trip.

On the way out of Grand Forks, ND, I shot this one for you.  I think those disks cover earlier neon tubing holes — indicating that this sign must have been retexted at least once:

On to West Fargo — a roundie building housing a liquor store:

Lots of stuff from Fargo proper.  Nodak is an appliance, clothing, etc. store.  It’s also the nickname for North Dakota, of course:

Super cute, no?

This is a replica of the original sign — part of a building renovation around 2000.  While I applaud the effort — and it’s a nice big sign which cost quite a lot I’m sure — but I think that channel lettering (metal surround the letters) looks kinda cheesy:

I’m betting there was another name before “Metro”, matching the green color, font, and embossing of the “Drug” portion.  The arrow was probably bulbs or neon.  But I’m grateful that this is still here:

Back to Minnesota for some things.  This one’s in Dilworth:

Also in Dilworth.  I like how the sign is integrated into the building.  And the way those drainage pipes extend way, way out to the edge of the sidewalk:

Out of daylight but Dee came through for this one in Detroit Lakes:

One more from Detroit Lakes before hitting the highway back to ND.  A bar with some decorative glass block:

It was a very long journey back to ND.  I wanted to get to Jamestown to get set up to shoot the giant buffalo, a faux Conestoga wagon, etc.  Should have been a couple of hours from Detroit Lakes but torrential crazy rain with sideways lightening made it a real white knuckle journey.  Had to drive 25 and 30 mph most of the way because I could barely see in front of me and was worried about flash flooding.  But we made it.  Not much sleep but I’ll get by with coffee and knowing I only have four more days to shoot.  From Central MN back to Brooklyn, it’s a 21 hour drive — so there will be no messing around — must hit the interstate on Friday night.

7 thoughts on “Day 31: Back in Action in Fargo & Central MN

  1. So if the Donaldson sign is replicated from the original, were the letters channeled on the original also? I hope they got all your mechanical issues fixed. Wishing you and the dogs the best!!

    • I’m assuming this sign is too old for channels letters — that’s why I was snarky about it. I can’t find any vintage photos of the sign but it sounds like it’s from the 1920s. Sparkle ran great today. Thanks for the good wishes.

    • Ah ha! Here’s the original, discarded sign — no channel letters — and a nice rope-y border that the new sign doesn’t have:
      Hotel Donaldson
      I don’t know if the original sign was brown — but if it was, then I’m p-o-ed about that, too. I guess Disney-fied history is better than a plastic box sign — but if you’re gonna make the effort, could you try just a little bit more for authenticity!
      For instance, the very recent recreation of the long-missing blade sign for the KiMo Theatre in Albuquerque. A LOT of time and effort to make it as close to original went into that:
      Kimo Theatre Albuquerque, NM Postcard

  2. DJ,
    Thanks for shooting that sign just for me.

    You can call me Big Daddy anytime.

    I have one word for your latest stuff : Belissimo.

    ‘Nuff said .

  3. Do you find it harder or easier to find older, more nostalgic types of signage in more rural areas, more trafficked areas, or both? It seems to me like many of the “cooler” hotel/restaurant signs are on historic, older routes. What do you think?


    P.S. – I’m working on a blog about attractions and unique businesses on U.S. 40, so I’m trying to seek tips from more experience road-trippers. Thanks!

    • I guess I would say — none of the above. Surviving signs in general seem to exist in three situations (rather than geographical route): a) businesses that somehow still survive, b) businesses that have been gone for a long time and the present owner/tenant of the space below don’t mind the sign’s continued existence, and c) the rarest of all situations, historic landmarking or adaptation by a later business. If anything geographic, signs and interesting buildings exist in places that have not had urban churn — development of big box stores, modern fast food places, etc. So, more likely to find neat things in more impoverished areas or towns that have fallen on hard times. Most downtowns, everywhere in the country, regardless of size, region, or route, had neon signs, 1960s buildings, etc. It’s only in the above-mentioned situations that they still exist. It might help to consider when certain highways & roads & cities were developed. But that’s a lot of work figuring that out and no guarantee that anything is left.

      Basically, when I go out to search down signs, buildings and statues as documented in this blog, I don’t just tool down the road relying on luck. The fun/interesting stuff have gotten scarcer over the years and I wouldn’t get to see/shoot 5% of what I do if I didn’t do extensive research and planning. More about all that at my “planning a roadtrip” page here at this blog (right hand column). Hope this helps or answers your questions somewhat.

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