North Carolina Roads - State Transp. Museum

State Transportation Museum, Spencer

All photos are courtesy Lou Corsaro. I'm only presenting those with historic value, though I'd say there are very few exceptions.

All good museums (or parks) start with an outdoor truss bridge.

Your reward for heading deep enough into the museum (in a large hangar), dating well into the first half of the last century.

Diving into signs now, here is the regulatory series. The last sign is an R+R style cast railroad crossing sign from the 1910s or 1920s, looking like it's been restored but is in search of an exhibit.

Admit it, you were looking at the cats' eyes. It's okay, you're only human. (Save this URL for use in Internet arguments.)

I'd stop for this sign. I might even take the bus.

How about some warning signs? Construction signs used to be the same yellow as curves, stops, and yields. The use of colors to separate messages by general meaning did not arise until the 1920s-1930s, and took into the 1970s to fully implement. (Even now, the FHWA continues to innovate, using fluorescent yellow-green for pedestrians, purple for E-ZPass, and pink for emergencies, and coming up with uses for light blue and coral.) The STOP and FIRE signs are nestled by the One Way sign of "NOT" fame.

The first four construction signs are in a ceiling-mounted progression from front to back, and then the other signs are scattered elsewhere. These signs are not faded orange; these are actual yellow Road Construction Ahead diamonds.

Finally, there are a bunch of signs arranged in a mobile. I've done my best to break them apart into high-resolution pieces. Notice that of the five signs, one has different messages on either side - "Broken Pavement" vs. "Road Closed."

My favorite part of any sign collection is the shields, so I saved the guide signs for last. That's NC's original diamond, similar to Michigan's style with the state logo on top. Click on each corner of the first photo to see a closeup of those three shields and pay attention to the shape of the US shields - the points are wider than the jowls, which is the original specification. (They still looked okay even after the width was evened from top to bottom until the curves were puffed out in 1970, ruining the classic shape.)

US 29
US 70
NC 27
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