Guy Wires

As traffic volume and average speed increased in the ’20s and ’30s, it became more and more common to suspend traffic signals above the road for better visibility.  Steel (and later, aluminum) mast arms, stabilized by guy wires, were the main choice in New Jersey until truss rod masts were introduced in the mid ’50s.  Signal heads could be mounted from mast arms, either vertically or horizontally, with red on the left in the latter case.  A number of these old masts are still scattered around the state, although nearly all of these survivors have newer signals attached to them.


The Hoboken Horni

photos by Kevin Mueller

The most well-known traffic light in New Jersey among vintage signal fans might be this 4-way signal in Hoboken, made by Horni Signal Mfg. Corp. in the mid 1930s.  Most signal collectors are familiar with the Crouse-Hinds “Art Deco” and Eagle “Eaglelux” signals that were designed with end plates and tie rods.  The Horni adaptation of this design was much less commonly seen, but here is a beautiful example of one.  The Horni design used three tie rods per head, unlike the two used by CH and Eagle.  I assume these tie-rod Hornis were made for only a few years before the “flat-top” model was introduced in 1938

This signal had, by itself,  controlled the corner of Washington Ave and 1st Street without any apparent alteration for over eighty years.  The pole is said to have been a trolley line pole.

UPDATE:  In October 2018, three fellow collectors and I had the privilege of installing this light in the Hoboken Historical Museum!


Atlantic City Guy-Wire Oldies

Below are some of the amazing photos of guy-wire masts in Atlantic City from the  online RC Maxwell Digital Collection from Duke University.

You can check out the AC span wire photos I have from the RC Maxwell collection here.

For all the images that open up in “slider” mode, I recommend using the “view full size” button (in the lower right corner in full desktop layout) to see these images best.

The photos above show a mast-hung American Gas Accumulator adjustable 4-way.  All of these photos also include at least one square-lens GE 4-way in the background!

Take a close look at the AGA, and you’ll notice the bottom indication is lit in all directions.  The signal  seems to have the red on the bottom in one direction and green on the bottom in the other.  My only guess is that this corner may have previously had a 3-bulb signal that was replaced by the AGA, and the engineers decided to keep the old color configuration because local drivers were used to it at that corner.

It is almost impossible to imagine signals like these controlling traffic now.

The photo set above features more of the truly rare GE signals that used square lenses.  I would love to find out that at least one of these was saved from the scrap pile.

Crouse-Hinds 4-ways… The first three photos show 3-bulb heads (with reversed colors for side street versus main street) and the last shows a more “modern” 12-bulb Type D.

Lastly,  paired 3-way signals on very short masts…which appear to be Crouse-Hinds 3-bulbers.


Some Guys from Trenton

Still more from the RC Maxwell collection; here are a few guy wire mast signals in Trenton and nearby Ewing Township.

The above signals are from Trenton proper.  The first photo shows an AGA cluster in 1949 with very cool hardware, and at least two signals with what appear to be louvered attachments. Note also the decorative seashell covers on the pole base. The next photos show an early (March 1939) installation of Horni Flat-Top signal clusters along with what appears to be the same intersection depicted in an illustration published by Horni Signal in the 1941 Municipal Index (image courtesy of Mike Natale).

The above view are from the same Ewing Township intersection in 1946 and in 1949.  The originally silver or white Horni signals at this location were repainted dark green in the interim.  However, the controller got the opposite treatment.


Westwood GE Streamlines

photos by David Prince

GE 1950s streamlined signal heads, the favorite of jugglers everywhere…  These are always cool to find, and this Bergen County installation on guy wire masts is the best left in the state.  Signal and rail fan David Prince captured these on a 2017 trip to Jersey from his home in the Heart of Dixie.

Here are Youtube links to David’s videos of this intersection:


Rutherford Marbelites

photos by David Prince

Another stop on David’s trip was this beautiful set of Marbelites, looking unscathed since the early ’50s.  This setup, with twin 3-way clusters and auxiliary heads on each pole, was once common.  I remember seeing several corners set up this way years ago.  This is the last survivor I know of.

Here are Youtube links to David’s videos of this intersection:


Cinnaminson Police Photos

This set of photographs from roughly the 1950s into the ’70s from in and around Cinnaminson (mostly along US Route 130) gives a good idea of what the signals in New Jersey looked like, especially on the state highways, when I was a kid fascinated by them.  They are not all on guy wire masts, but enough of them are that I put this photo set here.  What is more sad to me than these old signals being gone is the loss of the rural feel of so much of New Jersey since those days.

As a little challenge to the vintage signal collectors out there, while most of the lights in these photos are Marbelite signals, at least a couple of them are Crouse-Hinds models. Can you spot them? Each photo view has a “View Full size” option.