Railroad Hand-Signal Lantern, 1989

This Starlight 222 model lantern was manufactured by the Star Headlight & Lantern Company of Honeoye Falls, New York in 1989. The Star Company replaced their metal lanterns with acrylic plastic lanterns like this one beginning in 1989. This side of this lantern is stamped with the text “PRODUCED IN OUR 100th Year 1889-1989” surrounding the Star Company logo. 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. The Starlight model was available in several colors with a choice of railroad logos on the side.
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
plastic, acrylic (body material)
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
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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)

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