Vintage Railroad Crossing Sign

I’ve always coveted those big old Railroad Crossing signs. I’ve seen them at a couple antique stores here in Seattle, but they’ve always been super expensive. We were in Door County, Wisconsin, by Sturgeon Bay this summer for our annual family trip and I stopped by one of my favorite antique stores there – Richard’s Antiques. I wanted to back a truck up to the store and take everything with me, but settled on 2 sets of railroad signs (and some other things too numerous to mention here).



There are many reasons why people have such a fondness for trains – the history, the mechanics, the beautiful railroad company graphics. My mom even tells stories of taking the train to nearby towns for basketball games. One of my reasons for loving the railroad: when I was in college, I worked for a summer in Yellowstone National Park. A friend from Portland thought it would be so cool (“really, I do it all the time!”) to hop a freight train and take it to wherever it would take us. He talked me and a couple of friends into it, and to make a long story short, we got caught (by the FBI who worked for the railroad), got kicked off, snuck back on again, got kicked off again in the middle of Wyoming and had to hitchhike back to Yellowstone. We found out later that it was a pretty dangerous thing to do (duh), but it was so much fun to sit on a flatbed train car going through arid countryside with the wind blowing all around and the sound of the wheels going clickity clack on the tracks. Until we got kicked off – that wasn’t fun at all.


A couple of train travelers during the depression, their despondent mood very similar to ours after getting kicked off the train.     photo public domain:


We did not do this, we were stupid but not that stupid.    photo public domain:

Back to the present day.

I wanted to hang the sign above the old Washington map in the stairwell. It’s pretty high up there. I ended up hanging it on a day when I was home alone. No “hammer like a girl” assistance on this project. I should’ve waited for help, but managed to get the thing up on my own without breaking my neck. I’m not going to give a tutorial on how I hung it. It was a little dangerous, although not as dangerous as hopping a freight train. But it involved balancing between a too-short ladder and a stair post, reaching uncomfortably far with a stud finder, a hammer and nails, and using a button on a string as a plumb-bob.



To see more of Heidi’s artwork, visit her at Old Stuff. New Stories.

4 thoughts on “Vintage Railroad Crossing Sign

  1. It looks awesome! I too have been looking for a RR crossing sign to call my own, My dad worked in the freight yards for the LIRR (Long Island Rail Road) here in NY. keep up the good work but be careful!!

  2. You crazy nut. LOL, train hopping and stairwell-skapades sound plenty dangerous. But the results look great. Loved the vintage photo’s too. The major train line in western Canada derails at least once a week. Their record is dismal. But there is a private train that travels between Calgary and Vancouver called The Rocky Mountain Railway that I’d love to take.

    • Wow, just now seeing your comments. You are doing some catching up! I know, trains don’t have a great reputation nowadays – especially passenger trains. When we see Amtrak going by, we all yell “there’s a Happy Train”. Don’t know how we started that, but it’s turned into a tradition.

      That was probably the stupidest thing I’ve ever done, but it was also the most fun. The train, not the ladder. That was not very fun. Especially after I realized that I first nailed the nails into the wrong locations. :(

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