Old Time Utica

Utica, NY was once a thriving city of over 100,000 residents. Today is is a shell of it’s former self with most large manufacturers like GE, Chicago Pneumatic and hosts of other large manufacturers gone. With the decrease in population comes less cars and the need for less traffic control devices. Utica still has many, but in the earlier years, many really nice ones existed on the streets of the city.

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Broadway Street and Columbia Street. Crouse Hinds D or D/T. The same pole is still there today but with a different controller.
clemente
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Genesee Street and Bleecker Street also known as the busy corner. Looks to be a Crouse Hinds Art Deco with beautiful tunnel visors. Looks like one that I have. Photo from the 1950’s
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These signals went up in the late 1990’s/ At least there’s still a span setup there.
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Genesee Street and Emerson Ave. Beautiful Crouse Hinds Porthole Signal there in the 1950’s
Uptown
New signals installed around 2005. There was another Crouse Hinds Deco 4 way cluster signal here  along with 2 single Deco’s also. I have pictures of them in my head but haven’t found any for the site just yet.
Baggs Square Utica NY 1950's
Baggs Square. Genesee, Broad & Whitesboro Street 1950’s
Baggs Square Utica, NY 2017
Today. It’s almost all gone sadly.
Genesee Street at Hopper Street and Court Street

These lights were up for around 20 years or so. They were gifted to the City of Utica from Montreal I believe. Only intersection anywhere near here that I know of that had these “Canadian” type signals. Long gone as the city let them waste away and were replaced in the mid 1980’s

Northwest Corner of Genesee & Elizabeth Street & Columbia Street
Southwest Corner of Genesee & Elizabeth Street looking south from Columbia Street
Genesee & Elizabeth & Columbia Street looking north along Genesee Street.

Fuzzy photo. Taken by my Grandfather in the late 1960’s Post mounted signal same as the above photo. Long gone sadly. They were so cool looking.

Mystery Signal. Was at Deerfield Corners in North Utica.

Don’t know much about it but sure would like to know more. Looks like it was in the middle of an intersection and it would “talk” so the caption says.

Oswego Street at Sunset Ave Utica, NY

This light has been there since at least the 1960’s. It’s about the only thing left at that intersection that’s still in relatively good condition. Area is pretty much bombed out as shown with the boarded up windows on the buildings. I took this from my car lol.

Utica/Rome Signal Meet 2019

Had some fellow signal collectors up. We went on the hunt for cool signals and any other old stuff we could find. Was a really good time! Just a start. I’ll be adding more soon.

Downtown Utica, NY.
These beautiful old buildings will soon be bulldozed in the name of “progress” (it’s a joke) to build a hospital downtown. 2 blocks of downtown will see the wrecking ball soon. Very sad.

Railroad Street Bridge, Rome, NY.
Beautiful bridge built in 1900. Thankfully the City of Rome will do some rehab on it vs tearing it down.

Higginsville Road Bridge

This bridge has been closes for about 8 years now. The town got a grant to replace it. It was a nice bridge but structurally unsound. Here’s the Bridgehunter page about it.

Lock 20 Barge Canal, Marcy NY

Haven’t been to one of these since I was a kid. We had a great time there and the lock master was a cool guy showing us all kinds of stuff.

Herkimer Road, Utica, NY

Herkimer, New York.

Some real classics here. Command lenses, signals from the 1930’s +/-

Frankfort, NY

Rome, NY

Tipperary Hill & Syracuse, NY

What’s It Worth??

What is my signal worth??

I get asked that many times. At least once a week actually. Answering that question is very hard to be honest.

Figuring out the worth from a description of the signal is pretty much impossible. If there are pictures that helps. But, pictures of the outside front and back, the indides, wiring, lenses, that all helps to figure out “how much is it worth.”

The other variable in determining it’s worth is a signal may be worth $150 to one person, but $250 to another. What i’ve paid for them vs. what someone else has paid for them can vary. A rough estimate is really the best you can do. I’ve paid too little and too much for some of my collection, but it’s probably all evened out by now.

The other big question is how old is my signal?

Determining the age of a signal is pretty much impossible. They don’t have any kind of date code on them and best that can really be done is a general “they were manufactured from this year to that year.” You can narrow it down somewhat by certain style or models of a signal and the years they were produced, but that can be a span of 5-20 years for some types of signals.

Some are pretty easy, like the Harrington Seaberg signal. They were around making signals for only a few years. Even so, it’s a narrow range but pinning it down to the exact date is impossible.

If you’d like a rough price of your light as to what it’s worth, that would more than likely what me as a collector would pay for it. You could get more or less selling it on an auction site or some place like that. The age, I can give you a rough timeline of what the signal was produced.

Backyard Span Version 3.0

Backyard Span

Took me a bit, but the backyard span version 3 is all set finally.

The old span served me well. 12 foot 6×6 posts. They were 2′ into the ground. 1 of them continually sagged. I had guy wire on it, but I think it was a soft spot in the yard that made it always bow. The other post was rock steady the entire time it was up.

span setup post

This time I upgraded. Using 6x6x16 foot tall posts. They are HEAVY. Got these last year. I planned on doing this upgrade so when I got my wood pellets delivered for the season, I got 2 of these. No other way for me to get these here on my own.

My trusty post hole digger helped me once again. I’ve had this forever. It’s dug a lot of holes. I got the 2 holes for the new posts down 3 feet this time. Only hit a few rocks. The ground here is mostly topsoil for about the first 12-18″ then there is nothing but clay. Fun stuff to dig through.

You can see the difference in the posts. The old ones were about 3 feet shorter sticking out of the ground than the new ones.

Both new posts up. I had to get them around the same distance apart so the existing wire would reach each post.

I pre-drilled the holes for the span about 12″ from the top of the post. Unfortunately, the hole were higher than I could reach with my ladder. Plus, there would be no way for me to lift the signal up to the span, hook it up and wire it with the ladder I have. So I had to drill new holes. They’re 11 feet up the pole.

And so it begins, once again. A ladder, some rope, a lot of sweat, no tears, and I was able to pull the lights up to the span and get them attached.

After a few hours in the sun, a quick nap since it was 90 degrees out, and waiting until the shade started coming to the back yard, I got the all up and wired.

My goal is the (with some help) get the original signal that was with the 2 on the ends back in the middle of this span. It was a setup from my childhood near my house. That 4 way signal is hanging in the basement. I cant get that down by myself and up onto the span without some help. So version 3.0 of the backyard will be a work in progress.

Crouse Hinds Porthole Signal

Picked up another new signal. Been a few months. This one joined the gang in May 2019. This one was on my bucket list for a long time. It’s a Crouse Hinds Type T or Porthole Signal. It was being sold by someone less than 30 minutes away so that was a great plus.

A little bit of a description of the signal:
Crouse-Hinds’ first known signal design, the Type T used porthole doors, where instead of the hinges seen today, each door was actually a round lens frame with a visor screwed on and tabs for thumb screws. The thumb screws could be loosened, and the frame would come away from the signal body to allow access to the bulb, reflector, and lens tabs. The earlier signal bodies were solid housings instead of sections used in later models. This meant the amount of indications couldn’t be changed after production. Later Type T models used sectioned sides.

The signal it’s self is in pretty amazing shape. Produced probably in the mid to late 1920’s to early 1930’s. I always ask the seller if there was any history of it they can tell me about.

The seller got it from someone in Forestport, NY. Thats not too far from Utica/Rome where I am. The original owner had it for 30+ years in storage and was going to hang it up at some point and never did.

From the was the visors are on this with the long tunnel yellows, I really think it could be from Utica, NY. Utica had a thing for doing this on their signals. Many of them had or still have the different configuration on the yellows. I do remember at least 6 or so Porthole signals installed in Utica up until the late 1990’s. I’d rattle off the intersections they were at, but that would make me look a bit odd I guess lol.

Crouse Hinds Porthole Signal

This Porthole above was at the corner of Genesee Street and Emerson Ave in Utica. Notice the light has the same look with the visors as the light I got.

Overall the signal is in pretty amazing shape. I have a feeling it was stored for more than the 30 years. The wiring inside is original and looks to be in wonderful shape.

The glass reflectors aren’t pitted and really aren’t dirty either. Wherever this thing was stored it must have been a dry cool place for the shape it’s in.

The Command Lenses are in pretty good shape also. They are called “command” lenses since the have either STOP, CAUTION or GO embossed into them. These were on most of the early Crouse Hinds signals. 1 of the GO is missing and 1 is cracked. 1 of the STOP lenses is cracked and half of it is missing. I do have some in another signal that can fill the void.

Just like the other signals, I’ll end up keeping it as is. For it’s age, it is in amazing condition. I’ll have to test the wiring and replace what is needed. Once I figure out how it was wired also. There’s 8 wires coming out of it. Normally for a 12 light signal there is 7. The 6 hot wires and 1 common ground. So I figure i’ll blow a few fuses and maybe get a small shock or 2 while I figure it out.

I’ve got another old Crouse Hinds GS controller from downtown Utica, NY that was from this intersection that I can get running and it would look great with this old beauty of a signal.

After a few weeks of it sitting around, I decided to get to work on it. Took all the lenses and visors off. It wasn’t too much effort

Another traffic light in the kitchen. Good thing I removed the island a few years ago

It really didn’t take much work. I had to cut off about 10″ of the existing wiring that was visible outside the hanger. It was frayed from age. On the indide, you’d never know they light was born around 90 years or so ago. The wiring is in great shape.

Frayed wires in the hanger
Inside wiring

I ended up hooking it up to the PCN Controller from Utica, NY I got last year. Amazingly I didnt get shocked and hooked it up correctly the first time.

All wired up and back functioning once again.

The Utica M Cluster

This monster was actually the very first cluster I got a long time ago. It was actually in 2014. That’s 5 years, but in signal years, it’s really only like 1 year.

I had met up with some guys through a Facebook group. I went on a signal pickup with them and spotted this light. It made it’s way back with a bunch of other stuff far far away from me. But I spotted it when I went to a signal group meetup. Remember, I’ve told you about these. Guys like me get together and talk about signals and trade stories and swap parts and stuff. It’s a real thing!

There it sat all by itself. This place it what I would call heaven. The ultimate signal junky’s special place. Full of a little of everything. So a little talking and next thing you know……………….


This is another signal from Utica, NY’s past. I thought I knew where it was from. Pretty sure I passed under this light 1000’s of times in my lifetime at the corner of Genesee Street and Higby Rd. in Utica NY.

Here is the Street View shot of the intersection in 2008

This signal came down shortly after this photo, I believe in 2010 or so when the intersection was “modernized” and the M and 2 single face Crouse Hinds Art Deco signals were replaced by 1 ultra spiffy yellow plastic 4 was cluster. BLEH. What became of the 2 Deco’s is not known by me. They were probably at that intersection from sometime in the early 1950’s best I can figure.

So back to present day. The M is pretty much as I got it. All 4 yellow lights are glass with aluminum reflectors. All the greens and reds have been replaced by LED’s just like all the other signals in Utica. I didnt replace anything, wired in a controller board and that was that.



Other than that, it’s all as I found it on the street. It sat in the garage for about a year, I got it in and put the controller in it. Got that all working. It sat on the back deck for a while, I made a stand for it and it sat in the yard for a year or so. Got knocked off the stand, the dogs peed on it, so I somehow dragged it inside again. Got it down the cellar with the rest of the crew. Took me a few days of figuring on how to lift this thing high enough to attach it to the mounting hardware I’ve got.

After some struggles, and 3 or 4 times trying, I got it hung. I actually dig hug it when I was trying to lift it up onto the stand so I could hang it. Maybe just really was a bear hug since it weighs probably around 75 lbs or so, and maybe even more when I grabbed it to hang.

So this was the first cluster I got but it is the 10th 4 way signal I’ve got. Do you think I like 4 ways? Yeah I guess so.