Railroad Hand-Signal Lantern, 1989

This “Conger” model battery-powered signal lantern was manufactured by the Conger Lantern Company of Honeoye Falls, New York in 1989. The Conger Lantern Company originally operated in Portland, Oregon until it was purchased by the Star Headlight & Lantern Company of Honeoye Falls, New York in 1982. The lantern was incredibly popular due to its lightweight, rust-proof stainless steel body and rubber coated handle. The lantern has sockets for two bulbs; the bare bulb with reflector below the lantern body was used for signaling while the smaller adjacent bulb makes a focused beam that could be used as a flashlight. This particular lantern was witnessed to be the last Conger from the Star Company's assembly line, as the company changed to producing their line of plastic lanterns in 1989.
Before the advent of portable two way radios, train crews communicated via hand signals during the day, and lantern signals during periods of low visibility or at night. Hand lantern signals are still used in situations when radio intercommunication is impractical. Specific motions of the lantern convey precise instructions such as “Clear to Depart;" "Move the train Forward;" "Move the train Backward;" "Slow Down;" "Slow Down Further;" or "Stop and Remain Stopped."
Currently not on view
Object Name
lantern, hand signal
date made
Star Headlight & Lantern Company
Physical Description
stainless steel (latern body material)
stainless steel (sliding electrical switch material)
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
See more items in
Work and Industry: Transportation, Railroad
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Star Headlight & Lantern Company, Inc. (through David W. Jacobs)

Visitor Comments

10/18/2016 7:31:04 PM
Allen Wesley
What kind of battery does this lantern take,Is it a 6 volt sq.?
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