Vintage Railroad Lanterns, Lamps & Lenses

In the early days of railroads, operating after dark was a difficult and dangerous proposition. The lights they had available to use as locomotive headlights, switch signal lights, to direct and inspect the trains, and to direct and sort passengers, luggage, and cargo in train yards were generally "dead flame" whale oil lamps and lanterns. Dead flame lanterns rely on convection to bring fresh air inside the lantern globe around the bottom, and the globes and air intakes are shaped to guide airflow around the flame. This design helps to prevent the wind from blowing out the flame, as it is sitting in the middle in "dead" air, but it does not cast a bright light. The glass globes on these early railroad lanterns were fixed to the fuel font, making access to the burner and wick area difficult.


Subcategories:
Auctions Buy It Now All
Enter Zip or Post Code for shipping:
3,665 itemsPriceShippingTotalTime Left
 VINTAGE C T HAM No.2 COLD BLAST KEROSENE   LANTERN with brass tank Bid Now »

VINTAGE C T HAM No.2 COLD BLAST KEROSENE LANTERN with brass tank

Bid: $69.99
Ships:
Based on Zip
$69.99
Plus shipping
27 mins
Rock Island Railroad Lantern Adams & Westlake Co Adlake 1920's Dietz Red Globe Buy Now »

Rock Island Railroad Lantern Adams & Westlake Co Adlake 1920's Dietz Red Globe

Buy: $110.00 Ships:
Based on Zip
$110.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
1 hr
20 mins
Globe Brand Lantern Buy Now »

Globe Brand Lantern

Buy: $35.00 Ships:
$5.00
$40.00
Buy now
1 hr
55 mins
Dressel Red Globe Rail Road Lantern Kerosene Bid Now »

Dressel Red Globe Rail Road Lantern Kerosene

Bid: $68.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$68.00
Plus shipping
1 hr
56 mins
A DRESSEL ARLINTON N.J. RAILROAD LANTERN RED GLOBE    96-U Buy Now »

A DRESSEL ARLINTON N.J. RAILROAD LANTERN RED GLOBE 96-U

Buy: $119.00 Ships:
Based on Zip
$119.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
2 hrs
16 mins
Vintage Adlake No 31-F Railroad Lantern Battery holder Buy Now »
Free Shipping

Vintage Adlake No 31-F Railroad Lantern Battery holder

Buy: $15.00 Ships:
Free
$15.00
Buy now
2 hrs
54 mins
Vintage Adlake No 31-F Railroad Lantern Light bulb holder Buy Now »
Free Shipping

Vintage Adlake No 31-F Railroad Lantern Light bulb holder

Buy: $15.00 Ships:
Free
$15.00
Buy now
2 hrs
54 mins
Vintage Adlake No 31-F Railroad Lantern handle bolts Buy Now »
Free Shipping

Vintage Adlake No 31-F Railroad Lantern handle bolts

Buy: $12.00 Ships:
Free
$12.00
Buy now
2 hrs
54 mins
Vintage Adlake No 31-F Railroad Lantern top Buy Now »
Free Shipping

Vintage Adlake No 31-F Railroad Lantern top

Buy: $15.00 Ships:
Free
$15.00
Buy now
2 hrs
54 mins
Antique Railroad Caboose Lamp Bid Now » Buy Now »

Antique Railroad Caboose Lamp

Bid: $75.00
Buy: $100.00
Ships:
$15.99
$90.99
Buy now
2 hrs
56 mins
Vintage Antique Star Headlight & Lantern Co. Railroad Lamp Lantern Flashlight Bid Now » Buy Now »

Vintage Antique Star Headlight & Lantern Co. Railroad Lamp Lantern Flashlight

Bid: $10.00
Buy: $20.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$10.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
2 hrs
56 mins
Dietz #40 Traffic Gard Lantern Bid Now »
Free Shipping

Dietz #40 Traffic Gard Lantern

Bid: $35.00
Ships:
Free
$35.00
2 hrs
57 mins
VERY RARE TOLEDO & OHIO CENTRAL RAILROAD T. & O.C. Lantern Dated & Stamped Buy Now »

VERY RARE TOLEDO & OHIO CENTRAL RAILROAD T. & O.C. Lantern Dated & Stamped

Buy: $85.00 Ships:
Based on Zip
$85.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
2 hrs
59 mins
Kopp AP3519 Vintage Red Glass Globe Lamp Cover Lens AN2541 *FREE SHIPPING* Buy Now »
Free Shipping

Kopp AP3519 Vintage Red Glass Globe Lamp Cover Lens AN2541 *FREE SHIPPING*

Buy: $24.49 Ships:
Free
$24.49
Buy now
3 hrs
2 mins
Dietz Monarch lantern Bid Now »

Dietz Monarch lantern

Bid: $20.99
Ships:
$15.99
$36.98
3 hrs
7 mins
Older Penn Central Railroad Lantern With Red Globe No 300 Burner Bid Now »

Older Penn Central Railroad Lantern With Red Globe No 300 Burner

Bid: $75.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$75.00
Plus shipping
3 hrs
42 mins
Vtg Conger Lantern Co Portland Oregon Ore Railroad Railway Lantern Vintage Buy Now »

Vtg Conger Lantern Co Portland Oregon Ore Railroad Railway Lantern Vintage

Buy: $38.99 Ships:
$9.75
$48.74
Buy now
3 hrs
43 mins
OLD VINTAGE WINGEDWHEEL NO. 500 LANTERN KEROSENE OIL LAMP RAILROAD JAPAN RED 12" Bid Now »

OLD VINTAGE WINGEDWHEEL NO. 500 LANTERN KEROSENE OIL LAMP RAILROAD JAPAN RED 12"

Bid: $17.99
Ships:
Based on Zip
$17.99
Plus shipping
3 hrs
52 mins
I.C.R.R. railroad signal kerosene switch light Bid Now »
Free Shipping

I.C.R.R. railroad signal kerosene switch light

Bid: $205.00
Ships:
Free
$205.00
4 hrs
5 mins
Embury Defiance Vintage Railroad/Barn Lantern w/Red Globe Bid Now »

Embury Defiance Vintage Railroad/Barn Lantern w/Red Globe

Bid: $69.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$69.00
Plus shipping
4 hrs
12 mins
Handlan Vintage Railroad Lantern Bid Now »

Handlan Vintage Railroad Lantern

Bid: $69.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$69.00
Plus shipping
4 hrs
12 mins
Beautiful blue glass hub railroad lantern lens made Chicago, Illinois 5 5/8" Bid Now »

Beautiful blue glass hub railroad lantern lens made Chicago, Illinois 5 5/8"

Bid: $9.00
Ships:
$6.50
$15.50
4 hrs
20 mins
Vintage Dietz NYC INSPECTOR lantern with Dietz fitall Globe. RAILROAD! Bid Now »

Vintage Dietz NYC INSPECTOR lantern with Dietz fitall Globe. RAILROAD!

Bid: $32.00
Ships:
$19.99
$51.99
4 hrs
20 mins
 Santa Fe Bell Bottom Lantern with Unmarked Red Cast Globe Bid Now »

Santa Fe Bell Bottom Lantern with Unmarked Red Cast Globe

Bid: $90.00
Ships:
$20.00
$110.00
4 hrs
51 mins
VINTAGE NY NH & H DRESSEL RAILROAD LANTERN Bid Now »

VINTAGE NY NH & H DRESSEL RAILROAD LANTERN

Bid: $129.95
Ships:
$16.95
$146.90
4 hrs
57 mins
Vintage Erie Railroad Lantern with Red Etched Globe - Adams Bid Now »

Vintage Erie Railroad Lantern with Red Etched Globe - Adams

Bid: $39.99
Ships:
$12.00
$51.99
5 hrs
1 min
Vintage NYCS New York Central System Railroad Lantern with Red Globe - Dressel Bid Now »

Vintage NYCS New York Central System Railroad Lantern with Red Globe - Dressel

Bid: $43.01
Ships:
$12.00
$55.01
5 hrs
2 mins
VINTAGE RARE DIETZ NIGHT WATCH R.R. LANTERN CITY OF L.A. Buy Now »
Free Shipping

VINTAGE RARE DIETZ NIGHT WATCH R.R. LANTERN CITY OF L.A.

Buy: $68.00 Ships:
Free
$68.00
Buy now
5 hrs
6 mins
ROCK ISLAND RAILROAD LANTERN Bid Now »

ROCK ISLAND RAILROAD LANTERN

Bid: $129.95
Ships:
$16.95
$146.90
5 hrs
6 mins
Lake N trail vintgage 4 way latern,Hong Kong, MTA 501, vg cond. uses 6 D cells Buy Now »

Lake N trail vintgage 4 way latern,Hong Kong, MTA 501, vg cond. uses 6 D cells

Buy: $19.99 Ships:
Based on Zip
$19.99
Plus shipping
Buy now
5 hrs
28 mins
VGT DIETZ LITTLE WIZARD N.Y.U.S.A. BLUE BUBBLE LENSE DECOR ONLY RAILROAD BARN Buy Now »
Free Shipping

VGT DIETZ LITTLE WIZARD N.Y.U.S.A. BLUE BUBBLE LENSE DECOR ONLY RAILROAD BARN

Buy: $66.70 Ships:
Free
$66.70
Buy now
5 hrs
33 mins
Pyle National Locomotive Headlight Horizontal Mount Norfolk Southern Railroad Buy Now »

Pyle National Locomotive Headlight Horizontal Mount Norfolk Southern Railroad

Buy: $150.00 Ships:
Based on Zip
$150.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
5 hrs
34 mins
Vintage MOPAC Dressel Railroad Switch 4 way Lantern Arlington N. J. Buy Now »

Vintage MOPAC Dressel Railroad Switch 4 way Lantern Arlington N. J.

Buy: $195.00 Ships:
$50.00
$245.00
Buy now
5 hrs
34 mins
Vintage KOPP Amber Smooth Domed Glass Railroad Lantern Signal Lens 5" Buy Now »

Vintage KOPP Amber Smooth Domed Glass Railroad Lantern Signal Lens 5"

Buy: $39.99 Ships:
$5.00
$44.99
Buy now
5 hrs
51 mins
ANTIQUE ADLAKE RAILROAD LANTERN LAMP LIGHT GLOBE PART NEW OLD STOCK Buy Now »

ANTIQUE ADLAKE RAILROAD LANTERN LAMP LIGHT GLOBE PART NEW OLD STOCK

Buy: $25.00 Ships:
$8.95
$33.95
Buy now
5 hrs
52 mins
Vintage KOPP NOS Red Smooth Domed Glass Railroad Lantern Signal Lens w/Decal 5" Buy Now »

Vintage KOPP NOS Red Smooth Domed Glass Railroad Lantern Signal Lens w/Decal 5"

Buy: $49.99 Ships:
$5.00
$54.99
Buy now
5 hrs
52 mins
Vintage Dietz Little Wizard Red Globe Ohio Highway Dept. Lantern Buy Now »

Vintage Dietz Little Wizard Red Globe Ohio Highway Dept. Lantern

Buy: $49.95 Ships:
Based on Zip
$49.95
Plus shipping
Buy now
5 hrs
56 mins
Set Kopp NOS Amber Red Blue Glass Railroad Lantern Signal Lens Flat Bulls Eye Buy Now »

Set Kopp NOS Amber Red Blue Glass Railroad Lantern Signal Lens Flat Bulls Eye

Buy: $179.99 Ships:
$10.00
$189.99
Buy now
5 hrs
57 mins
Adlake Caboose Markers / Lanterns Bid Now »

Adlake Caboose Markers / Lanterns

Bid: $299.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$299.00
Plus shipping
5 hrs
58 mins
Kopp NOS Amber Glass Railroad Lantern Signal Lens 5-3/8" Flat Bulls Eye C Buy Now »

Kopp NOS Amber Glass Railroad Lantern Signal Lens 5-3/8" Flat Bulls Eye C

Buy: $49.99 Ships:
$5.00
$54.99
Buy now
5 hrs
58 mins
RARE EARLY 1900'S NEW YORK CENTRAL RAILROAD DIETZ ACME INSPECTOR LAMP LANTERN!!! Buy Now »

RARE EARLY 1900'S NEW YORK CENTRAL RAILROAD DIETZ ACME INSPECTOR LAMP LANTERN!!!

Buy: $250.00 Ships:
$19.00
$269.00
Buy now
5 hrs
59 mins
Antique Adams & Westlake Co.N.P.R.Y. Kerosene Lantern with Red Glass Globes 1921 Buy Now »

Antique Adams & Westlake Co.N.P.R.Y. Kerosene Lantern with Red Glass Globes 1921

Buy: $125.00 Ships:
Based on Zip
$125.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
6 hrs
Kopp NOS Amber Glass Railroad Lantern Signal Lens 5-3/8" Flat Bulls Eye A Buy Now »

Kopp NOS Amber Glass Railroad Lantern Signal Lens 5-3/8" Flat Bulls Eye A

Buy: $49.99 Ships:
$5.00
$54.99
Buy now
6 hrs
Antique Old Metal Clear Glass Bell Bottom Railroad Oil Lantern Lamp Parts Buy Now »
Free Shipping

Antique Old Metal Clear Glass Bell Bottom Railroad Oil Lantern Lamp Parts

Buy: $239.99 Ships:
Free
$239.99
Buy now
6 hrs
4 mins
Antique Black Metal Dietz Vesta N.Y.C.S. NYCS Train Railroad Lantern Lamp Parts Buy Now »
Free Shipping

Antique Black Metal Dietz Vesta N.Y.C.S. NYCS Train Railroad Lantern Lamp Parts

Buy: $49.99 Ships:
Free
$49.99
Buy now
6 hrs
4 mins
Antique Old Used Dietz Vulcan NY USA Railroad Train Lantern Lamp Body Cage Parts Buy Now »
Free Shipping

Antique Old Used Dietz Vulcan NY USA Railroad Train Lantern Lamp Body Cage Parts

Buy: $109.99 Ships:
Free
$109.99
Buy now
6 hrs
4 mins
Antique Old Metal Black Buckeye Glass Bell Bottom Railroad Train Lantern Lamp Buy Now »
Free Shipping

Antique Old Metal Black Buckeye Glass Bell Bottom Railroad Train Lantern Lamp

Buy: $259.99 Ships:
Free
$259.99
Buy now
6 hrs
4 mins
gem carriage lantern Bid Now »

gem carriage lantern

Bid: $21.50
Ships:
Based on Zip
$21.50
Plus shipping
6 hrs
6 mins
Clear Glass Lantern Globe Bid Now »

Clear Glass Lantern Globe

Bid: $1.99
Ships:
$12.99
$14.98
6 hrs
6 mins
Antique 1915 Howes & Burley Birmingham Small Conductors Hand Lantern Body Parts Buy Now »
Free Shipping

Antique 1915 Howes & Burley Birmingham Small Conductors Hand Lantern Body Parts

Buy: $89.99 Ships:
Free
$89.99
Buy now
6 hrs
7 mins
In the middle of the 19th century, several innovations took place in lighting technology. Dietz and Company patented a flat wick lantern burner designed to burn kerosene in 1859. Although the railroad industry continued to use lamps and lanterns burning signal oil for some time afterward, the arrival of kerosene presaged future use of the fuel in later railroad lanterns. In 1868, John Irwin received the patent for his "hot blast" type lantern, a design that diverted exhaust gas back down tubes on the sides of the lantern to direct a mix of fresh and hot air at the flame, making it burn brighter. That same year, Dietz & Smith began producing their first hot blast lanterns. In 1874, Irwin patented a similar "cold blast" type lantern, which was designed to force cold, fresh air at the flame, making it burn even brighter than the previous "hot blast" design. By that time, a number of companies were producing lanterns and signal lamps for the railroad industry, including the Buffalo Steam Gauge and Lantern Company and Adams and Westlake, commonly known as Adlake.

Because there were a large number of lantern manufacturers serving the diverse needs of the railroad companies, many different types of lanterns and lamps were produced over the years. An early innovation was to make the globe removable, allowing easier access to service the burner and wick, and allowing for easy replacement of broken globes. The fixed globe lanterns were replaced by tall globe lanterns with red, cobalt blue, green, amber, and clear globes. The different colors were used for signaling and to mark the end of a train, or a train that was stopped because it was being worked on. Different arm motions and color combinations could allow a switch operator or ground man to tell the engineer of a train to stop, slow down, proceed with caution, or could alert him that the train had parted. Track switches and train yards had signal lamps that were designed with lenses to direct different colors of light in different directions, analogous to modern day automobile traffic lights.

Some lanterns were designed for very specific roles in the railroad industry. Conductor's lanterns were generally larger and more ornate than the ones used by engineers and brakemen. The traveling public expected a dignified and well dressed conductor, and a dented and rusty old lantern would not fit the image as well as a shiny brass conductor's lantern throwing a bright light. Particularly fancy ones, called presentation lanterns, were handed out on special occasions and to particularly valued employees.

Railroad inspectors, sometimes called trackwalkers, had bright lanterns designed with a reflective case and lens, made to focus as much light as possible in a small area. They had to check the trains for cracked wheels or axles, damaged couplers, and ensure proper lubrication and maintenance activities were performed on locomotives and rolling stock. The bright light of the Dietz Acme hot blast lantern and the Dietz Ideal cold blast lantern served railroad inspectors for decades.

These signal oil lanterns gave way to kerosene lanterns, and lamp design changed again to accommodate the new fuel. Short globe railroad lanterns of the early 20th century continued in production and use until late in the 20th century, so many fine examples can be found. Though they were shorter, the brighter kerosene flame, sometimes focused using a fresnel lens, was still as useful as long globe lanterns, and for the rail industry represented a far cheaper and more reliable source of portable lighting than electric lights. The same basic designs are still sold and used today to provide lighting in areas with no electricity and in emergencies such as hurricanes.

Collectors looking for antique and vintage railroad lanterns with markings from railroad and traction companies can find new opportunities to buy these historic marker lanterns, semaphore lanterns and switch lamps here daily. For more collectible RR lanterns, visit Vintage Railroad Lanterns, where you can find lamps from Embury, Dressel, Handlan, C.T. Ham and S.G. & L. Co. appear for sale regularly, along with many other railroad lanterns from turn of the century metal shops.

For more information on the various types of lamps and lanterns used on trains and around railroad yards, visit the Railroad Lamps Web Page and the Railroad Lanterns Web Page at Railroadiana Online, where they also have a special section devoted to railroad Inspector's Lanterns. For definitions of the terms used in describing vintage lantern and lamp parts, visit the Lamp Guild. Collectors interested in other antique lanterns and lamps click here!

 Search eBay 
Search For In Category Min.
Price
Max.
Price
# Items
Per Page