Railroad Hand-Signal Lantern, 1920s-40s.

This kerosene railroad hand-signal lantern was made by the Armspear Manufacturing Company around 1920–1940. The lantern has a metal body with a glass globe, surrounded by a protective wire frame, with a wire handle. The top of the lantern is stamped with the text “ARMSPEAR MANFG CO./“1925”/New York” while the lower metal portions reads “Erie R.R.” The globe is stamped with the initials “DL&W” which stands for the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad. The Erie Railroad merged with the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad in 1960, perhaps explaining this lamp’s representation of both railways.
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. 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
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

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Selected comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about the history, rarity, or value of your personal artifacts.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Enter the characters shown in the image.