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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Highway Lighthouse: 1926

Highway Lighthouse: 1926

Rockville, Maryland, circa 1926. "Montgomery County Motor Co." What caught my eye is the "Highway Lighthouse" on the left, emblazoned with an ad for Studebakers. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

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The showroom of the dealership can be seen here.

Seiberling Tires

Henrietta Seiberling was married into the Akron, Ohio rubber industry dynasty. Mrs. Seiberling was active in society and social reform. She created an "alcoholic squad" within her Christian fellowship to address the tragedy of chronic, untreated alcoholism. In 1933, Mrs Seiberling introduced an Easterner, Bill Wilson, to Dr. Bob Smith in Akron, Ohio. The three, and others, continued meeting regularly under the auspices of the Oxford Groups, a broadly defined ministry association, to help alleviate the effects of alcoholism. By 1937, Wilson and Smith had split from the Oxford Groups to form their own fellowship: Alcoholics Anonymous.

No telegram necessary

The telephone number is provided: Elizabeth 2900. The call would go to the local operator who would call the operator closest to Elizabeth, New Jersey. The connection would be made, or a call back would be made back to the Rockville operator, who would then pass the phone to the caller. The telegraph would probably be cheaper.

Having grown up in Rockville,albeit many, many years after this photo, it is a treat to see. Rockville maintained that ambiance into the sixties.


The Lighthouse Comes Inland

As precursors to the electric traffic signal, these were a fascinating technological dead end -- a terrestrial version of the acetylene-lamp buoys that were used as channel markers. Also interesting as a study in advertising -- the sponsored traffic light.

I wonder what happened when a car ran into one at 50 mph -- kaboom?

The developer of the highway lighthouse, Nobel laureate Gustav Dalen (inventor of the sun valve), was blind, having lost his vision when one of his experiments exploded.

Click to enlarge.

Watch out - but watch this

From the Ruston (LA) Leader, July 27, 1931:


A hundred flashing safety lights are being installed in dangerous places on the highways of the state, it is announced from-the offices of the Louisiana Highway Commission, which has just entered into a contract with the Highway Lighthouse Co., New York, for the installation. The company agrees to "Install and maintain the lights In return for the privilege of selling advertising on one side of the base."

[Below: Ad from 1922. - Dave]

Take a telegram quick!

Once somebody collided with the lighthouse "Signal" (which seems inevitable), I wonder how they were going to notify the company, 200 miles away and with no telephone number and only the city given.

Gas pumps

I love those old gravity gas dispensers. When I was a kid in the 50's there was one small gas station that still used them.

Gasoline was pumped into the chamber at the top with a crank until the level indicator reached the desired gallons, then you emptied the contents into your tank. Hopefully it didn't run over before the chamber was empty.


Four different brands of gasoline within 50 feet, three of them at one business on the right.

Self Portrait

Gotcha, Self portrait of the photographer or at least his camera, 2nd window from the left, right side, just about center. Some type of twin lens view camera, on top of or behind a car parked across the street.

[I think you're imagining things. It would be impossible to see the camera's reflection unless the windows were perpendicular to its line of sight. - Dave]

Highway Lighthouse

They're road hazard signs with room for an ad, apparently; owned by American Gas Accumulator Co.

[At this location at least, it seems to have offered free air for your tires. Another photo shows an air hose at the base. - Dave]

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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