email: roadarch@outlook.com

Welcome Arch Signs

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The photos and links at this page are meant to accompany an article that I wrote for the SCA (Society for Commercial Archeology) Journal. It will be out in Spring 2021.

Welcome Arch
Modesto, CA
This Welcome Arch was built in 1912. It is 75 feet wide and spans I Street. It was designed by San Francisco architect, Bernard Joseph, for $2,500. The Modesto Arch is sometimes referred to as the Prosperity Arch. The slogan "Water Wealth Contentment Health" came from a contest. The winner was actually "Nobody's Got Modesto's Goat" but the City chose the second-place winner. Critics at the time developed their own slogan based on sign: "The land gets the water, the bankers get the wealth, the cows get contentment, and the farmers get the health."

The sign was lit with 348 incandescent bulbs on each side. There was originally a panel suspended beneath the sign which read "Welcome." But that was gone by the following year. In 1934, the arch was moved slightly for road widening. In the 1960s, there was a failed effort to remove the sign. It was restored in 2012 to celebrate its centennial. At that time, it was repainted the original green color and LED bulbs were installed. Flagpoles that were part of the original design were added. Those had been missing since the early 1950s. By the 1980s, two cypress trees were planted next to the sign to simulate those vertical elements. The trees were removed to create the original appearance during the restoration. It cost over $100,000 and was funded entirely through private donations. For more, see this website. [map]

Welcome Arch
Redwood City, CA
Welcome sign
Monte Rio, CA
This Welcome Arch in Redwood City was originally installed in 1926. It was built by the Electric Products Company of San Francisco. The sign is 60 feet wide. The "Redwood City" letters were originally lit with bulbs. The "Climate Best By Government Test" came from a slogan contest in 1925. Around the same time, there was another nearly identical arch sign installed at the southern entrance to the city. Around 1940, both signs were modernized with neon. In the late 1940s, El Camino Real was widened and the signs were moved. In 1963, a new sign ordinance was passed and the southern arch was scrapped. In 1970, the northern arch was moved into storage and eventually scrapped as well. This replica sign was installed in the mid-1990s. For more, see this website. [map]

This Welcome sign in Monte Rio was installed in the late 1940s. It reads "Monte Rio Awaits Your Return" on the other side. There is no neon on that panel. For more, see this website. [map]

Welcome Arch
Fresno, CA
Welcome sign
Fairfield, CA
The original Welcome Arch in Fresno was built in 1917. It read "Entrance to Fresno Van Ness Boulevard." The letters were spotlit. There was a flagpole on top of each pillar. In 1925, that arch was damaged in a fire and demolished. This arch replaced it around 1929. Each column has a lit globe on top. It spans Van Ness Street which used to be the main route into town from the south. The sign was restored in 1980 and the panel reading "Best Little City in the U.S.A." added at that time. For more, see this website. [map]

This Fairfield Welcome sign spans the main street downtown. The first sign was a Federal Electric sectional bulb sign, installed in 1925. It was replaced with a neon sign in the early 1930s. The sign was removed in 1986 for restoration. The red light that had originally hung above the sign was located in storage and installed. That light was to signal police to call headquarters. The paint on the sign was not lasting. In 1989, the sign was removed again and the steel panels were replaced with aluminum versions. The sign was reinstalled in 1990. For more, see this website. [map]

Welcome sign
Pleasanton, CA

This Welcome sign was installed in 1932. In 1935, a siren and lights were added to the top of the sign for police use. They were used to notify the police and community about local emergencies. The siren was also used during World War II as an air raid warning system. For more, see this website. [map]

Bakersfield Arch
Bakersfield, CA
The Bakersfield Arch sign was originally built in 1949. It served as a footbridge between the Bakersfield Inn's main building and its new addition. By the late 1990s, the sign was in bad shape and the motel had closed. The sign was rebuilt in 1999 at its current location next to the Buck Owens Crystal Palace. Only the original letters could be saved. The project was funded by Buck Owens. For more, see these websites: 1 and 2. [map]

Broadway-Burlingame Arch
Burlingame, CA
This Broadway-Burlingame Arch was built in 1922 for the Pacific City amusement park in San Mateo, CA. The bulb letters originally read: "To Pacific City." The park closed in 1923. In 1927, the sign was moved to its present location and the lettering was changed. Around 1937, the sign was restored and updated with neon. The sign was restored again in 1988. [map]

Welcome sign
Clovis, CA
The first Clovis Welcome sign was built from wood and installed in 1930. In 1946, it was replaced with a steel sign. That sign was replaced with the current one in 1951. It was restored in 1992. For more, see this website. [map]

Lodi Arch
Lodi, CA
The Lodi Arch was built in 1907 as an entrance for the Tokay Carnival. It is the oldest welcome sign in the country. In 2010, the Lodi sign and a California Golden Bear were added. The bear was originally made of papier mache. It was rebuilt in the 1940s. The arch was restored in 1956. [map]

Welcome Sign
Encinitas, CA
This Welcome Sign was built in 2000. It is a close replica of the sign which was installed at this location in the late 1920s but had been missing for decades. This sign is bigger and required a much larger support structure. The road has been widened over time. For more, see this website. [map]

Welcome Arch
Golden, CO
This Welcome Arch was built for $7,500 and installed in 1949. Originally, the 58-foot-wide panels were lit with neon and the lower panel read "Where the West Remains." In the early 1970s, there was a panel installed at the sign's center which read "Howdy Folks." It featured a clock and a painted scene of a stream, a miner panning for gold, and cattle. That panel disappeared around 1975 when the sign's neon was removed. Individual, backlit letters were installed instead. In 1979, the lower panel's text was changed to "Where the West Lives." In 2009, the sign's steel panels were replaced with aluminum versions. Since it was first installed, painted panels of Santa in a sleigh being pulled by four reindeer have been installed above the sign during the holidays. [map]

Welcome Arch
Reno, NV
Welcome Arch
Reno, NV
Reno's Welcome Arch has been rebuilt and remodeled many times. The first one shown in the first two rows above, was built in 1926 to celebrate the completion of the Lincoln Highway. The letters on the sign read "Reno, Nevada's Transcontinental Highways Exposition, June 25 - Aug 1 1927." The freestanding letters were installed on the curved steel scaffold and lit with white bulbs. The sign was topped with two multi-colored bulb-lit torches. After the Exposition, a contest was held to come up with a slogan for the sign. The letters were changed to read "Reno, The Biggest Little City in the World."

Around 1935, the sign on the scaffold was replaced with a neon version. Larger "RENO" letters were installed along with a horizontal porcelain enamel slogan panel. When this sign was replaced in 1963, it was moved to a couple of different locations until it was moved into storage. It came out of hiding during the filming of "Cobb" in 1994 and was then installed permanently on Lake Street. [map]

The 1963 welcome arch featured two overlapping arcs, backlit plastic letters, and a revolving sputnik. When this sign was replaced in 1987, the steel support structure was moved to Willits, CA (see below). New panels were added to create a welcome arch there.

The 1987 welcome arch sign shown in the bottom row above was built by YESCO (Young Electric Sign Company). The sign was updated in 2018, replacing the neon with LED. The colors of the sign and supports were changed from red and gold to blue and silver. For more, see these websites: 1, 2, and 3. [map]

Welcome Arch
Willits, CA
This Welcome Arch support structure came from the welcome arch in Reno, NV. That sign was built in 1963. When Reno replaced that sign with another one in 1987, this sign was donated to Willits. It was reworked and installed in 1995. The spear-like sign poles also came from Reno. The sign now reads "Gateway to the Redwoods" on one side and "Heart of Mendocino County" on the other. [map]

It's the Climate
Grants Pass, OR
The It's the Climate was preceded in the early 1900s by some short-lived versions which read "Orchards Vineyards - Josephine County Oregon," "Mines Timber," and "Finest Climate." When John Hampshire moved to town in 1917, he came up with "It's the Climate" slogan based on the city's mild winters with little snow and dry summers with cool evenings. He promoted the slogan to the city and even donated the sign in 1920. It was built by the Novelty Electric Sign Company. The sign was strung over Sixth Street with wire. The letters were originally backlit opal glass. The sign may have been painted green originally with red letters. The two torch panels at the sides continue to have internally lit globes on top. The two pennant panels at the top were not part of the original design. They had been added by 1931. In 1941, the sign was moved to a nearby park. It was neglected and disappeared in 1958. This replica sign was built in 1976 and installed the following year at the original location. The glass letters were replaced with backlit plastic versions. In 2007, the panels were refurbished and the electronics were replaced. In 2017, city councilors were considering adding "Welcome to Grants Pass - Established 1887" panels to the top of the sign. However, nothing had changed by the sign's centennial in 2020. For more, see this website. [map]

Welcome sign
North Bend, OR
This Welcome sign was installed in 1936. It reads "Come Back to North Bend" on the other side. It originally read "Entering North Bend" on one side and "Come Again" on the other. The original sign had white neon. The sign was rebuilt in 1990 and again in 2011. The current sign cost about $50,000 and has red neon. The photo above is from 2015. For more, see these websites: 1 and 2. [map]

Welcome Arch
Brigham City, UT
This Welcome Arch was built by YESCO in 1928. The arch spanning the street is 66 feet wide while the sign panels are 33 feet wide. It was the largest sign in Utah at the time. The "Welcome to" letters were originally made of backlit opal glass and "Brigham" was lit with bulbs. The wording was slightly different with "Game Bird Sanctuary" instead of "Wild Bird Refuge". The other letters were lit with neon. A replica of the sign was installed in 1984. The same colors and wording were used. [map]

Welcome Arch
Ogden, UT
This Welcome Arch, usually referred to as the "Ogden River Bridge Sign," was built in 1936 by YESCO. The sign has always been lit with white neon. The wording on the sign has changed a little over the years. Originally, it read "It Pays to Live in - Ogden - America's Fastest Growing City." On the other side, it read "We Welcome You to - Ogden - Pioneer Days Week, July 24." In 1939, the text on the right read "Utah's Fastest Growing City." In the 1950s, that text became "Home of Weber College" and, later, "Home of Weber State College." In 1992, the sign was moved 30 feet to the north and the text was changed to "Home of Weber State University." For more, see these websites: 1 and 2. [map]

More Welcome Signs, Welcome Arches, and Directional Civic Signs:
Welcome Arch: 1, 2 (Ketchikan, AK)
Welcome sign (Ben Lomond, CA)
Welcome Arch (Castroville, CA)
directional sign (Fowler, CA)
Welcome Arch (Orland, CA)
Welcome sign (San Gabriel, CA)
Welcome sign (Santa Monica, CA)
Welcome Arch (Twain Harte, CA)
Welcome Arch: 1, 2 (Weed, CA)
Welcome Arch (Williams, CA)
Yreka Arch (Yreka, CA)
Welcome sign (Canon City, CO)
Welcome Arch (Denver, CO) [gone]
Welcome sign (Manitou Springs, CO)
Pensacola Beach directional sign (Pensacola, FL)
Welcome sign (Lone Tree, IA)
Welcome Arch (Dixon, IL)
Welcome Arch (Linton, IN)
Welcome Arch (Marshall, IN)
Welcome Arch (Camden/Rockport, ME)
Welcome sign (Lubeck, ME)
Welcome sign (Calumet, MI) [vintage; gone]
Welcome Arch: 1, 2, 3 (Frankfort, MI)
Welcome sign (L'anse, MI) [vintage; gone]
Welcome sign (Saugatuck, MI)
Welcome sign (Eldorado Springs, MO)
Welcome Arch (Biloxi, MS)
Brookhaven Arch (Brookhaven, MS)
directional sign (Tupelo, MS)
Welcome Arch (Cozad, NE)
Welcome sign (Friend, NE)
Welcome sign (York, NE)
Welcome sign (Las Vegas, NV)
Welcome Arch (Brocton, NY)
Welcome Arch (Clayton, NY)
Welcome Arch (Endicott, NY)
Welcome to Our City (New Philadelphia, OH)
Welcome Arch (Bandon, OR)
Welcome sign (Granite, OR)
Welcome signs (Lakeview, OR)
Welcome Arch (Ipswich, SD)
Bristol Slogan Sign (Bristol, TN and Bristol, VA)
Welcome sign (Goldendale, WA)
Welcome Arch (Long Beach, WA)
Welcome sign (Ritzville, WA)
Welcome sign (Beaver Dam, WI)
Elkhorn Arch (Afton, WY)
Rock Springs Coal Arch (Rock Springs, WY) [map]
Welcome sign (Fort Frances, ON) [vintage; gone]
Welcome Arch: 1, 2, 3 (Port Arthur, ON) [vintage; gone]
Welcome sign (White River, ON)

If you know of any others, I'd love to hear from you.

BOOK: Arch Rivals, 90 Years of Welcome Arches in Small-Town America, Bernard C. Winn, 1993, Incline Press.

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