June/July Trip – Day #11 (More Montana)

There was a quite a bit of fog & clouds in the morning but then it was gorgeous. One of those days that had me literally running to get as many stops in as possible.

Let’s start with this sadly neglected sign in East Glacier Park:

From Helena:

This clock is on the corner of a former Husky gas station (now a muffler/radiator shop):

Here are a few signs in East Helena. This one is modern. It copied the design of the Rialto Club Room in Helena:

This sign was installed just a few years ago. It appears that new partial text panels were tacked over a vintage sign that the restaurant got from somewhere:

This Chinese restaurant has been there since the late 1800s. This looks like a modern replacement of a 1950s sign:

Here are a few photos from Great Falls:

This drug store was destroyed by fire and a new building was built nearby. Fortunately, the signs were saved and restored:

The property is surrounded by chain link fencing and demolition is planned. I don’t know what will become of this sign but I’m not optimistic it will be there long:

Another wagon wheel sign — this one in Augusta:

This sign is in Fort Benton:

These two are in Black Eagle. The neon was replaced with LED rope tubing a few years ago:

This Italian restaurant is right across the street. I believe the bulbs are scintillating:

From Dutton:

A couple of signs from Shelby:

This motel has closed and the city wants to adapt the vertical letters to read “Shelby”. The sign really does tower over the little downtown. I hope that they keep the sign even if they do a typical cheap adapting. I hope that the lantern & lower panel survive but I have a feeling they won’t make it:

Let’s close with a couple of buildings and some other stuff. The mid-century modern St. Mary Visitor Center at the entrance to Glacier National Park in St. Mary:

This former Greyhound station from 1947 is in Great Falls. The original look:

and now:

A former Triple XXX Root Beer stand shaped like a barrel in Great Falls. Unfortunately, only half the barrel is visible now:

How about some dinosaurs? This T-Rex is in Bynum:

There are three wonderful dinosaurs in Choteau in front of the Oil Trail Museum. Here are two headshots:

And, lastly, my traveling buddies with the Shep Memorial in Fort Benton:

I still have a couple more days of Montana to work on before we move on to North Dakota. Be back soon.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

June/July Trip – Day #10 (Montana and Idaho)

Let’s start with some Idaho stuff which was right across the border from the NW corner of Montana. I still have about three more days of Montana to go after this.

The canopy sign is in Wallace, ID:

The Oasis Rooms in Wallace was a brothel for many years — and now this building houses the Oasis Bordello Museum. This sign was displayed in the basement but then moved outside in recent years. I don’t know if the coconut (?) tree is original or created when the sign was hung:

The Wallace District Mining Museum in Wallace previous housed the Butter-Top which I assume was a restaurant. Some nice other neon signs in the background in this 1950s postcard:

Also in Wallace – restored recently with a different font and the wording changed from “Co.” to “Hotel”:

This one in Sandpoint, ID. The neon removed and sign repainted recently:

Another from Sandpoint at Dub’s Drive-in:

A couple of signs from Osburn, ID:

Recently repainted:

From Kellogg:

Back to Montana: in Kalispell:

A couple of signs from Libby:

Closed for a number of years but the sign and log cabin-ish restaurant still there:

From Polson. I believe this sign was inspired by the Chief Diner sign in Durango, CO. See my webpage here:


And here are a few non-signs in Montana. Libby is known as the City of Eagles and this metal sculpture is one of several around town:

This cute sculpture is on the side of the Valley Bank in Kalispell:

A giant gunpowder barrel at a fireworks stand in Haugan:

The China Gate Restaurant with a sweet mid-century modern roofline in Polson:

Back soon with more goodies.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

June/July Trip – Day #9 (More Montana)

Here’s the latest installment from the Montana portion of this summer’s trip.

From Drummond – the squarest arrow that I’ve ever seen. With a strange little readerboard built it. I guess that was used for the price or something very short!

I missed shooting the motel’s other sign which is still there. This postcard shows a panel on top right above “MOTEL” that now reads “Phones”:

The Bel Aire Motel in Missoula had a pole sign in the 1960s:

This digital board at the bottom was originally a backlit plastic readerboard with changeable letters:

Some more signs from Missoula. Ron’s opened in 1965 at this location and the sign appears to be from then:

Note the multi-stroke neon tubing:

The Top Hat opened in 1952 but I’m pretty sure that this sign is modern:

A close up of the Zip sign – note the embossed letters and textured porcelain panel. This place has an incredible go-with Art Deco building — and they are still in business:

This non-working spinner sign in Butte is a mystery. The plastic panels most recently advertised for a real estate office but I don’t know what business it was built for. I have seen two and four paddle spinner signs but not one this deluxe:

This one is in Deer Lodge — probably from the 1940s/1950s:

Here are a couple of photos from Anaconda. The Barclay II opened in 1981. The building housed Gil’s Gourmet House in the 1970s. I’m betting the sign is from the 1960s:

This place was built in 1937. There was a big fire in 2016 and it looked like this place was doomed — but it wasn’t! It reopened the following year:

Let’s close with some non-signs. This is a former Tastee-Freez in Missoula — the building has housed a computer business for many years:

This rooster in the grass statue is in Seely Lake. I’ve got a few other examples of this type at my website (and you’ll find hundreds of other roosters there as well):


This giant shoe is at the Silver Slipper Sports Bar in Missoula. It’s been there since around 2013. More giant shoes of all types at my website here:


More photos coming soon.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

June/July Trip – Day #8 (More Montana)

I’ve got a nice big post for you. The weather was not the best, so, expect some no-sky backgrounds. Let’s start with some signs from Lewistown — the 4 Aces Casino:

At the former Bon-Ton Confectionery which dated back to 1908. The building now houses a closed cafe:

Here are a few signs from Harlowton. The State Theatre building is a hollow shell after a fire in 2012 but this sign remains:

At the Moose Lodge:

Obviously, the Oasis Bar:

This one is located at the Oasis’ side entrance:

From Wilsall — this one is a modern sign:

Here are some goodies from Butte. Note the former chasing bulbs on the vertical panel and the cute Tyrolean hat on the mountains:

Mighty colorful – sooooo many layers of paint:

The Pekin Noodle Parlor opened in 1911 and is the longest operating Chinese restaurant in the country! The interior with little wooden booths (very private!) is incredible. This sign is from around 1940:

In the ground level window next door is this beauty with ripple tin panels, beading, what I call “applied letters” for 119… After much digging, I got this vintage photo when it was hanging for the London Company Cigars store:

This is how I like my ghost signs — untouched! There’s such a trend lately to repaint them and they always end up look like crap. The whole point of these signs is the patina and layering of paint and color:

This one is in Livingston. Coca-Cola on top of Wrigley’s Spearmint gum — it doesn’t get any better than this!

Some other signs from Livingston. This one originally advertised for the Gil’s Indian Trading Post souvenir store and read “Gil’s Gifts”. It was restored and adapted for the Gil’s Goods restaurant:

The peeling paint on this bar sign seems to reveal different lettering. I believe this one originally advertised for the Park Hotel although I can’t find a vintage photo or postcard to prove it. The other two signs are modern:

A couple of signs from Bozeman. This closed cleaners sign was restored recently when the building became an outdoor/clothing store:

The paint is starting to go on this one but it still looks fabulous:

The Longbranch Saloon is in Ennis:

Also in Ennis — this incredible facade sculpture:

That’s enough with the signs! Let’s close with three buildings. This theatre is still operating in Harlowton:

This incredible mid-century modern building in Butte was designed by William Pereira and built as the Prudential Federal Savings & Loan in 1962. Note the round building inside the columns with the spiral staircase on the corner:

This late Art Deco house in Bozeman was built in 1942:

That’s a wrap for now. More Montana coming soon… different photos from this same day over at Flickr:


Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

June/July Trip – Day #7 (More Montana)

We were in Montana for about a week so there will be a bunch more posts for that state. Let’s start with Billings. This sign was saved from the closed Park Drive-in in Cody, WY. It was on the back of the screentower in Cody and then converted to an entrance sign here and the word “Amusement” for Amusement Park Drive-in added. Unfortunately, there was a fire and the screentower burned down. It seems unlikely that it will be rebuilt.

This is one of the few unmaintained/unrestored signs in town:

I don’t know how old the Western Pawn signs are but there are several vintage local signs inside — see below:

More Billings signs:

After all these years, the Monte Carlo Casino can no longer use the name after being pressured by the Principality of Monaco since their older casino with the same name was trademarked. So, the “Carlo” panel has been covered up and the place is now known as The Monte:

This stained glass canopy is at the Eagle Hotel:

The Sunset Bowl opened in 1959 and this sign appears to be from then:

This modern sign was added around 2008:

and this fun one was added to the side of the building around 2017:

Two signs from Roundup. This faded beauty…

and the Arcade Bar:

This long-gone drive-in’s sign in Miles City has been moved to private property where it is still visible:

From Broadus:

From Forsyth:

Let’s do a deep dive on this sign in Miles City. It previously read/advertised for the Range Rider’s Bar and was located next door:

But to understand the complete history, you gotta go back to the 1940s. This photo from 1942 shows the original (and I think bigger) sign. Note, no arrow and much closer to the street:

But it gets better. That sign was moved up when this incredible street level animated sign is installed — probably late 1940s/early 1950s:

At some point in the 1950s, a different sign — theatre canopy style — is below it and a bulb arrow was installed:

There were weird little window cutouts on that sign but I can’t find anything high-rez enough to determine what those panels looked like. By 1978, those windows were falling apart and both the canopy sign and the one above had been repainted and it looks like the neon was gone. The bulb arrow no longer had bulbs:

By 1984, the paint was peeling but the window on the canopy on the left side looked to be fairly intact:

Skipping ahead to recent years… this Google Street View map shows what the two buildings look like now. The Trails Inn Bar and its horizontal sign had already been there for decades. In 2009, the two businesses were consolidated and the projecting sign with the horse & rider was adapted with the new name and moved to the right, next door. A few years later, the Range Riders Cafe opened in the vacant space on the left:

Let’s close with a couple of non-signs. This Indian and horse are in Miles City. Despite my best efforts, I can’t find any info about their history:

This dome-shaped coffee place in Roundup was built in the 1980s:

I’ll be back soon enough with more Montana.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

June/July Trip – Day #6 (Idaho and Montana)

There wasn’t much sun today, as reflected by the no-sky/no-sun backgrounds in the following photos. Let’s start off in Pocatello, ID with one of the signs recently restored and installed by Relight the Night:

Randy Dixon at Relight the Night hopes to restore this one someday:

One more from Pocatello. I believe this is the only Master Muffler sign in Idaho with the cute blonde guy. There are lots of them in Utah — at my website here:


This one is in American Falls, ID:

This one is in Blackfoot, ID — that’s Gator behind the deliberately slanted sign pole:

This sign in Blackfoot was restored and installed above the Collecting America store a couple of years ago. It came from a drug store in town:

In a private collection in Lava Hot Springs, ID:

Waaaay above the Lava Spa Motel in Lava Hot Springs:

This sign in Idaho Falls originally advertised for the Paris Cafe. The panels on the left and bottom have been messed with but at least the central neon panel remains. This is what the sign looked like originally:


Some combo signs from Idaho Falls:

Moving on to West Yellowstone, MT. I believe the owl at least was originally a pole sign — looks like that piece is double-sided:

This sign originally advertised for an Imperial 400 Motel. Although the nationwide chain did have locations in Montana, I don’t think there was one in West Yellowstone. So, this sign must have come from another city. This postcard shows a sign in Casper, WY:

This sign was adapted at some point from the Ham & Eggery:


Very dreary (and cold!) in Silver Gate, MT for these two:

A few more photos of non-signs — the Nuart Theatre in Blackfoot, ID. The signs were updated recently with graphic display boards and LED but the Art Deco building is still a marvel. That’s a new addition on the left:

This castle building is in Idaho Falls, ID. I could not find any info about what was here originally but it was most recently a Mexican restaurant.

This building in Idaho Falls was built in 1974 as the Westbank Motel.

This giant trout is at Hyde Drift Boats in Idaho Falls. It was installed sometime between 2008 and 2011 but clearly it’s older than that:

That’s it for now. I’ll be back with lots more Montana soon.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

June/July Trip – Day #5 (Idaho)

Let’s start off with this pair of raceway bowling signs at the Bowladrome in Twin Falls, ID. By the way, if you like bowling signs, you’ll love this section at my website:


Another sign from Twin Falls. The motel has been closed for many years:

A bunch of signs from Boise, ID. The 44 Club opened in the 1940s but this sign looks more 1960s, if that:

This one though, with the beaded border, is probably from the 1930s. It was in really bad shape until it was restored in 2015:

Gotta be 1960s:

This sign shaped like a camera on a tripod advertised for Idaho Camera until recently. I’m glad that it’s still basically there, just that ugly blue panel on top of the lens panel:

The Travelers Motel sign has been through a lot. I can’t find a vintage postcard but here’s what it looked like when I shot it in 2014:

Note the neon extension tubing for “TV” in the middle of the sign. I haven’t seen any other signs with that:

Well, that’s gone now and so is just about all of the other neon. I guess it’s better than a plastic box but…”

After much internet sleuthing, I was able to determine that the Vista Uptown Bar was built in 1962 as the Two Boys Inn. Here’s a little advertisement showing its original look. Note how the canopies with picnic tables were replaced with building additions. Too bad…

From Garden City, ID:

From the beginning of the day, this one is in Snowville, UT;

From Mountain Home, ID – this sign apparently revolved. It looks like the business is closed – shoot ’em while you can, folks:

Also Mountain Home. The paint on the sunny side of the sign was gone — don’t know what happened.

This giant bowling pin sign is at the Bear River Bowling Center in Tremonton, UT. I’ve got a lot more giant bowling pins and sports-related stuff at this page at my website:


Let’s close this post with a couple of buildings. This incredible Art Deco courthouse is in Jerome:

And this repurposed Sambo’s restaurant is from Ogden, UT where I started the day:

I’ll be back soon with more Idaho and a little bit of Montana.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

June/July Trip – Day #4 (More Utah)

Glorious sun for today’s shooting. This one in Murray is a new sign but very cool:

This one in Salt Lake City might not be around much longer. In 2019, a proposal was announced to demolish the motel and build a big residential/commercial complex. I didn’t see this sign in the plans at all. But maybe things have fallen through:

More stuff from Salt Lake City… With city permission, a smaller replica of the original sign from 1950s was created by Rainbow Neon:

In 2019, this sign was declared too unsafe and beyond maintaining. The original sign was shipped off to the Railroad Museum in Ogden and this sign was created. It’s double-sided like it was originally but lit with LED instead of neon:

This Park ‘N Jet sign with sputnik has gotta be 1960s:

There are a few Village Cleaners signs in the SLC area using some variation of this logo. This one is in Murray. I think we can assume from the round shape and stripes that these signs are a tribute to the Norgetown “Norge Ball” signs. Norgetown signs with stripes were the later versions of the polka dot signs. Loads of info and examples at my website section here:


Speaking of polka dots. This pylon sign in Salt Lake City originally advertised for a Safeway. It was later adapted for Hostess Brands/Wonder Bread. Those polka dots were associated with Wonder Bread all the way back to 1921 when the VP of merchandising was inspired by a Balloon Race at the Indy Motor Speedway. Anyway, the neon had been missing for years but was restored by Furst when they moved into the building in 2014. They left the original corrugated material and faded paint and just added their own name to the sign:

Lots more from Salt Lake City. The Classic Lanes opened in 1958. Here’s a photo I took in 2006:

In 2015, the bowling alley closed and was demolished. The sign was preserved and adapted with LED for the apartments built on the site in 2015:

This Fendall’s Ice Cream sign is probably from 1957 or thereabouts. It closed in 1997 but the sign escaped being messed with until last year when it was adapted for this pizza place:

Speaking of ice cream. This Snelgrove Ice Cream sign was built by YESCO in 1962. Here’s a photo I took in 2006:

In 1990, Dreyer’s bought the company and used the site for ice cream production. Little by little, the sign deteriorated — hit by a truck, then repainted, then Dreyer’s left and their signs were removed… and we are left with the photo below. The site is a vacant lot right now but I know that the Sugar House historical people will not let anything happen to the cone:

Some happy news. This bulb sign originally advertised for the West Side Drug store. Here’s a photo I took in 2014:

The building had long been vacant and was about to be demolished when this piece was removed, restored, and installed at the Red Iguana 2 Mexican restaurant. I posted a little video of the bulbs in action here:

This place opened in 1968 and I’m betting the bulb piece on top is from then:

One more sign — this one from Bountiful:

Let’s close with some statues. This half “Muffler Man” is installed on the roof of Rainbow Neon in Salt Lake City. He was remodeled as Spock when Leonard Nimoy died in 2015. He is currently masked-up for COVID.

This wood-carved “Captain EZ” is located in Vernal:

Lastly, one of my favorite Indian statues. This one was in Roosevelt originally where he sat in front of the Moqui Trading Post. He was built in 1976 — and this postcard is from around then:

He was in pretty rough shape when I shot him in 2012:

Then, in 2018, he was adopted by the the Ute Indian Tribe. The statue was restored and moved to the Ute Tribal Plaza in Fort Duchesne:

That’s a wrap. I’ll be back soon with stuff from Idaho. Don’t be forgetting that I post different photos over at Flickr from these trips:


Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

June/July Trip – Day #3 (Wyoming)

A discouraging day which was mostly cloudy with a little rain. But I persevered through this part of Wyoming at my usual fast face since I couldn’t wait around which would mean canceling stops at the end of the trip.

Here’s a two-fer from Evanston. I don’t know if the wood on both signs is just to hold them together or if there is hope of some restoration:

Also in Evanston — no neon here but still some lovely raised letters and script:

This place in Evanston is a historic Lincoln Highway Landmark but boarded up since forever:

The pole sign from the same place – barely readable but incredible nonetheless:

Jackson was one big cloud — better luck next time… This sign hasn’t changed a hardly a bit since this 1960s postcard (except the AAA and Color TV signs are gone):

This nice script sign is in Riverton:

This Elks Lodge is also in Riverton:

Momentary sun — this one is in Lander. The photo below is probably a 1960s replacement of the sign in this postcard:

I wonder what was on those spikes?

This sign in Rawlins is shaped like a giant motel room key (remember, before we used plastic access cards?). No postcards that I could find but I’m betting there was neon on the key and maybe different text. Note that this one still has the vacuum form Color TV sign at the bottom:

A vitrolite storefront in Rawlins, I think from 1935. Probably a jewelry or clothing store but I’ve never been able to figure it out. I just looked at dozens of downtown pcards but can’t find it either:

I shot the terrazzo apron in 2012 without the mat in the way:

Pretty beat but here’s another sign from Rawlins:

This one is in Kemmerer — used as apartments now. I’m a sucker for signs with lanterns:

Also Kemmerer. The neon’s been removed and so has the plastic circle with the deer (that partial circle on the panel). Purple is an interesting paint color — previously red and black. I love a deliberately leaning sign. Does that instinctively catch the driver’s attention as if it were possibly a falling object?:

Another one from Lander. They’ve added rustic log-like stuff to the facade on the left since I was here 10 years ago. Note how the pheasant’s tail is used to make the middle stroke of the “H”. And the fishie is used for the “O” in “LODGE”:

This one in Sheridan breaks my heart. Here’s what it looked like in 2012:

The neon stars and rays were removed around 2019:

Here’s one from Dubois. This place is closed so… shoot ’em while you can folks. It was established in 1889:

Those of you that are familiar with my website know that I shoot a LOT more than just signs. Most of the followers of this blog and my Flickr account are signs geeks, so, I usually focus on those. But let’s throw a few more photos into the mix for this post.

A couple of statues. This bronze statue of James Cash Penney (the founder of J.C. Penney stores) is now in Kemmerer. It was installed in the lobby of the headquarters in Plano, TX since around 1992. I think his legs are short (and arms so long) to compensate that he was meant to be seen from up on top of pedestal. Much like the Birmingham Vulcan statue. The Plano office closed and the statue was moved here last year. The still-operating (!) JC Penney store in Kemmerer was the very first one and this statue is installed in the little park across the street:

This fiberglass Sumo Wrestler statue in Rawlins is one of a few in Wyoming and Colorado built for Sapporo Japanese Steak Houses. I think this Ichiban Japanese Steakhouse got this guy from a closed location:

This theatre in Lander is still plugging away. It seemed like every theatre I saw on this trip was showing Top Gun:

A former Safeway in Lander:

And two gas stations froms Rawlins. This building was recently restored as a Texaco (which I believe it was originally) with pumps & signs added:

Pouring rain but here’s a very rare former double-canopy Phillips 66 that sat empty for many years. Now housing Union Wireless and a little cafe:

That’s enough for now. The next post will cover lots of Utah things.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs

June/July Trip – Day #2 (Utah)

The trip continues — scurrying through a few states that I’ve covered pretty thoroughly more recently before to get to the states that I haven’t been to in about 10 years (MT, WY, SD, ND, NE, etc.). The weather was sucky for a couple of days — mostly clouds but there would be sunny days to come.

There’s been a lots of restoration and recreation in Helper lately so I definitely wanted to get some shots there. I’ll have to go back in a few years in the sun.

The neon on the Hillcrest Motel sign has been restored but the patina left intact. Look at that lovely beaded border! The neon at the Strand Theatre next door was also restored. Here’s a night photo:


Some new stuff was also added to this little strip of Main Street:


I’m pretty sure these ghost signs are “imaginative” rather than restorations:

Some of the other rusty vintage signs have been left as-is:

It was certainly the wrong time of day and weather for this one but I’ll share it anyway. This is on the roof of a long closed restaurant in Wanship:

This place (AAA Lakeside Storage) in Provo has one of the largest gas station sign collections that I’ve ever seen — this is just a sampling:

The nicest sign in Echo (the Kozy Motel & Cafe) is gone now but I’m glad these two are still there:

The Riverside Ranch RV Park Motel & Campground in Hatch has an adapted Best Western crown sign on top of its box sign. They’ve added the little snowy mountain with a river (at least that’s what I think it is):

This sign which I shot in Springfield, MO shows you the original look:

I should mention my traveling companions (four lucky terriers). They got to run all over the place but they also greatly enjoyed watching the wildlife from the confines of the van: bison, elk, moose, deer, and, of course, cows. I was on the lookout for prairie dogs since that’s one of their favorite sports. But I only saw one field of them in Colorado so I let the dogs run their asses off trying to catch them. Honestly, I think the prairie dogs enjoy it just as much since they always “win” knowing where all their hidey holes are. Here’s Orbit and Dilly:

That’s it for now. I’ll be back with Day 3 soon which covers more Utah and some Wyoming.

Happy trails,
dj & the dogs