Attica Traffic Signal

My Attica traffic light

I love the internet. The ability to type anything into a Google search and find out all kinds of information from people all over the world is a very powerful thing. I’ve gotten used to being able to do that. So when I acquired a traffic light by the Attica Traffic Signal Company, I was looking forward to finding out all kinds of information about it. I wanted to learn about the history of the company, find out when these signals were made, and see photos of them in others’ collections. So what did I find out?

Almost nothing.

Scranton, PA's Report of Controller from 1920 referencing Attica

Scranton, PA’s 1920 Report of Controller

First, I’ll talk about the company history (or lack thereof). Attica Traffic Signal Company was headquartered at 330 Paxtang Avenue in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I wasn’t able to find any incorporation dates, which doesn’t surprise me since there’s no mention of “incorporated” in the name, but it would have been nice to find them registered as a company somewhere.

Any other references are few and far between. Interestingly, it appears that they were around as far back as 1920. The Scranton, Pennsylvania “Report of City Controller” references a countersigned warrant of $190 to Attica Traffic Signal Co. in that year’s Municipal Improvement Loan.

Attica traffic light in the 1927 Municipal Index (courtesy of Willis Lamm)

Attica traffic light in the 1927 Municipal Index (courtesy of Willis Lamm)

Attica in the 1925 Municipal Index (courtesy of Willis Lamm)

Attica in the 1925 Municipal Index (courtesy of Willis Lamm)

In 1925 and 1927, Attica were advertising in the Municipal Index, a trade catalog of everything a typical town or city would need as far as infrastructure and equipment. The images of the signals appear to be illustrations, especially in the 1925 ad, so I’m not feeling any luck finding something that accurately represents what I have. Both illustrations could potentially be it. Sort of. Based on the fact that these are the only dated images of these signals, I can only conclude that my Attica was likely made in the mid to late 1920s. If I had to put an exact year, I’d go with 1927, making my signal 90 years old this year.

As for photos from others’ collections, that was an almost dead end, too, which I’m relatively OK with. The gentleman I bought this one from said he was selling it because he had two of them. I’m told that a fellow collector has one, although I didn’t see it when I was visiting him with a group of enthusiasts. My visit was couple of months before I got mine so I had no reason to ask about it. And I know of one other, but is in need of a few key parts.

So it turns out that this Attica traffic light is rare. Really rare. I have one of four currently-known Attica traffic signals in the world. If you have one or know someone who has one, I’d love to hear about it. If you come across one yourself, buy it and cherish it. These signals are beyond “few and far between” and should be on the Endangered Species list. I’m keeping mine.

scroll to top3-bulb W. S. Darley traffic signal with built-in controller, circa 1938The green lens looks blue when not illuminated by an incandescent light bulb.