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:
3,012 itemsPriceShippingTotalTime Left
Vintage Railroad BATTERY POWER LANTERN Light VolKano MODEL 475 Bid Now »

Vintage Railroad BATTERY POWER LANTERN Light VolKano MODEL 475

Bid: $9.95
Ships:
Based on Zip
$9.95
Plus shipping
33 mins
Vintage GTRM railroad oil lamp Bid Now »

Vintage GTRM railroad oil lamp

Bid: $50.00
Ships:
$10.00
$60.00
34 mins
Vintage Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Lantern  Red Globe   Bid Now »

Vintage Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad Lantern Red Globe

Bid: $129.00
Ships:
$15.99
$144.99
1 hr
15 mins
Vintage Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad Lantern  Red Globe   Bid Now »

Vintage Indiana Harbor Belt Railroad Lantern Red Globe

Bid: $205.00
Ships:
$15.99
$220.99
1 hr
16 mins
Rare 1940's Antique # 5000 Sun Kerosene Lantern Made in Japan Bid Now » Buy Now »

Rare 1940's Antique # 5000 Sun Kerosene Lantern Made in Japan

Bid: $12.99
Buy: $16.89
Ships:
Based on Zip
$12.99
Plus shipping
Buy now
2 hrs
22 mins
Ex Large CH CONVEX LENS Train Ship HEAD Light STOP SPOT Industrial Traffic Farm Buy Now »

Ex Large CH CONVEX LENS Train Ship HEAD Light STOP SPOT Industrial Traffic Farm

Buy: $37.80 Ships:
Based on Zip
$37.80
Plus shipping
Buy now
2 hrs
23 mins
Vintage Boston & Maine Railroad Lantern  Clear Globe   Bid Now »

Vintage Boston & Maine Railroad Lantern Clear Globe

Bid: $72.00
Ships:
$15.99
$87.99
2 hrs
51 mins
DIETZ JUNIOR BURNER  RAIL ROAD / HORSE /AUTO Bid Now » Buy Now »

DIETZ JUNIOR BURNER RAIL ROAD / HORSE /AUTO

Bid: $70.00
Buy: $91.50
Ships:
Based on Zip
$70.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
2 hrs
58 mins
Vintage Dietz No. 8 Air Pilot Oil Lantern Blue with Gold Trim Bid Now »

Vintage Dietz No. 8 Air Pilot Oil Lantern Blue with Gold Trim

Bid: $17.95
Ships:
Based on Zip
$17.95
Plus shipping
3 hrs
11 mins
Vintage Dietz Blizzard No.2 Lantern..missing handle Bid Now »

Vintage Dietz Blizzard No.2 Lantern..missing handle

Bid: $22.50
Ships:
$17.75
$40.25
3 hrs
13 mins
Dietz Little Wizard Red Railroad Lattern Bid Now »

Dietz Little Wizard Red Railroad Lattern

Bid: $14.99
Ships:
Based on Zip
$14.99
Plus shipping
3 hrs
15 mins
Vintage oil lantern Bid Now »

Vintage oil lantern

Bid: $10.00
Ships:
$10.00
$20.00
3 hrs
21 mins
DIETZ LITTLE WIZARD, VINTAGE N.Y. USA, ORIGINAL, RED GLOBE OWNER "W.S.S.C." Buy Now »

DIETZ LITTLE WIZARD, VINTAGE N.Y. USA, ORIGINAL, RED GLOBE OWNER "W.S.S.C."

Buy: $20.00 Ships:
Based on Zip
$20.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
3 hrs
25 mins
DIETZ LITTLE WIZARD, VINTAGE N.Y. USA, RED GLOBE Buy Now »

DIETZ LITTLE WIZARD, VINTAGE N.Y. USA, RED GLOBE

Buy: $24.00 Ships:
Based on Zip
$24.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
3 hrs
25 mins
Vintage Dietz Buckeye Dash w/Bullseye lens Buy Now »

Vintage Dietz Buckeye Dash w/Bullseye lens

Buy: $75.00 Ships:
Based on Zip
$75.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
3 hrs
27 mins
Vintage Lantern Die T2 7 "The Original" Bid Now » Buy Now »

Vintage Lantern Die T2 7 "The Original"

Bid: $8.00
Buy: $35.00
Ships:
$8.00
$16.00
Buy now
3 hrs
50 mins
Vintage Aluminum Miners Rail Road Light Lantern Bid Now » Buy Now »

Vintage Aluminum Miners Rail Road Light Lantern

Bid: $16.99
Buy: $22.09
Ships:
$8.00
$24.99
Buy now
3 hrs
56 mins
Blue Dietz Air Pilot No. 8 Lantern, Clear Glass, Train, Transportation, Vintage Bid Now »

Blue Dietz Air Pilot No. 8 Lantern, Clear Glass, Train, Transportation, Vintage

Bid: $18.89
Ships:
$12.99
$31.88
4 hrs
4 mins
Blue Dietz Air Pilot No. 8 Lantern, Dark Glass, Train, Transportation, Vintage Bid Now »

Blue Dietz Air Pilot No. 8 Lantern, Dark Glass, Train, Transportation, Vintage

Bid: $27.99
Ships:
$12.99
$40.98
4 hrs
4 mins
Pair of 2 Dietz Little Wizard Barn Railroad Lanterns Lamps Blue No Globes Bid Now » Buy Now »

Pair of 2 Dietz Little Wizard Barn Railroad Lanterns Lamps Blue No Globes

Bid: $39.00
Buy: $50.70
Ships:
Based on Zip
$39.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
4 hrs
4 mins
Congern Lantern Co. Brakeman Lantern Buy Now »

Congern Lantern Co. Brakeman Lantern

Buy: $13.99 Ships:
Based on Zip
$13.99
Plus shipping
Buy now
4 hrs
12 mins
Pennsylvania Railroad caboose light Bid Now »

Pennsylvania Railroad caboose light

Bid: $300.00
Ships:
$35.00
$335.00
4 hrs
29 mins
Antique Adams & Westlake Adlake Kerosene Signal Lamp With Pyrex Chimney. Buy Now »
Free Shipping

Antique Adams & Westlake Adlake Kerosene Signal Lamp With Pyrex Chimney.

Buy: $89.00 Ships:
Free
$89.00
Buy now
4 hrs
31 mins
Antique Vintage EMBURY AIRPILOT No 2 Rail Road Train Lantern Buy Now »
Free Shipping

Antique Vintage EMBURY AIRPILOT No 2 Rail Road Train Lantern

Buy: $49.99 Ships:
Free
$49.99
Buy now
4 hrs
31 mins
PRR Dayton Railroad Train lantern Malleable Iron CO H88 antique lantern Bid Now »

PRR Dayton Railroad Train lantern Malleable Iron CO H88 antique lantern

Bid: $89.99
Ships:
Based on Zip
$89.99
Plus shipping
4 hrs
33 mins
6-1/2" tall Dietz Red Lantern Globe - FITZALL N.Y. U.S.A. 24H LOC-NOB Bid Now » Buy Now »

6-1/2" tall Dietz Red Lantern Globe - FITZALL N.Y. U.S.A. 24H LOC-NOB

Bid: $9.99
Buy: $19.95
Ships:
$7.95
$17.94
Buy now
4 hrs
44 mins
                         A Vintage DIETZ No 80- TORCH made in U.S.A. Bid Now »

A Vintage DIETZ No 80- TORCH made in U.S.A.

Bid: $24.35
Ships:
$12.65
$37.00
4 hrs
45 mins
Rare Vtg Antique  Railroad Kerosene switch Heater Bid Now »

Rare Vtg Antique Railroad Kerosene switch Heater

Bid: $75.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$75.00
Plus shipping
4 hrs
57 mins
Antique Brass Railroad Caboose Passenger Car Lantern / Lamp Pullmen Car Ect. Bid Now »

Antique Brass Railroad Caboose Passenger Car Lantern / Lamp Pullmen Car Ect.

Bid: $21.95
Ships:
$17.95
$39.90
5 hrs
12 mins
Adlake Lantern Lens Bid Now »

Adlake Lantern Lens

Bid: $10.99
Ships:
$12.85
$23.84
5 hrs
13 mins
Antique Dietz NO 2 D-LITE LANTERN WITH CLEAR GLOBE Bid Now »
Free Shipping

Antique Dietz NO 2 D-LITE LANTERN WITH CLEAR GLOBE

Bid: $39.99
Ships:
Free
$39.99
5 hrs
15 mins
Vintage Dietz No. 8 Air Pilot Railroad? Lantern Bid Now »

Vintage Dietz No. 8 Air Pilot Railroad? Lantern

Bid: $28.00
Ships:
$11.00
$39.00
5 hrs
17 mins
VINTAGE ADLAKE RAILROAD LANTERN Bid Now » Buy Now »

VINTAGE ADLAKE RAILROAD LANTERN

Bid: $129.99
Buy: $176.99
Ships:
Based on Zip
$129.99
Plus shipping
Buy now
5 hrs
19 mins
Old all original Dietz Little Wizard Blue Kerosene Lantern Bid Now » Buy Now »

Old all original Dietz Little Wizard Blue Kerosene Lantern

Bid: $39.75
Buy: $73.00
Ships:
$12.95
$52.70
Buy now
5 hrs
20 mins
ANTIQUE ADLAKE RAILROAD PADLOCK Bid Now » Buy Now »

ANTIQUE ADLAKE RAILROAD PADLOCK

Bid: $15.00
Buy: $25.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$15.00
Plus shipping
Buy now
5 hrs
22 mins
Handlan Kerosene Lantern Red Globe Nice Light Rust, Great Look, Galveston, USA Bid Now »

Handlan Kerosene Lantern Red Globe Nice Light Rust, Great Look, Galveston, USA

Bid: $49.99
Ships:
Based on Zip
$49.99
Plus shipping
5 hrs
22 mins
Vintage Red Winged Wheel No. 400 Oil Railroad lantern lamp Buy Now »

Vintage Red Winged Wheel No. 400 Oil Railroad lantern lamp

Buy: $22.95 Ships:
Based on Zip
$22.95
Plus shipping
Buy now
5 hrs
22 mins
VINTAGE ADLAKE NO. 31-F BRAKEMAN RAILROAD LANTERN Bid Now »

VINTAGE ADLAKE NO. 31-F BRAKEMAN RAILROAD LANTERN

Bid: $30.00
Ships:
$11.00
$41.00
5 hrs
23 mins
Adams and West Lake Co. RARE Railroad LAMP lantern old unique vintage kerosene Bid Now »
Free Shipping

Adams and West Lake Co. RARE Railroad LAMP lantern old unique vintage kerosene

Bid: $139.00
Ships:
Free
$139.00
5 hrs
23 mins
Dietz Railroad Lantren  No. 40 Ruby Red Globe Bid Now » Buy Now »

Dietz Railroad Lantren No. 40 Ruby Red Globe

Bid: $49.99
Buy: $64.99
Ships:
$12.95
$62.94
Buy now
5 hrs
26 mins
VINTAGE RAILROAD STAR HEADLIGHT LANTERN Bid Now » Buy Now »

VINTAGE RAILROAD STAR HEADLIGHT LANTERN

Bid: $14.99
Buy: $22.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$14.99
Plus shipping
Buy now
5 hrs
37 mins
Antique Dietz Monarch New York ELECTRIFIED Oil Lamp Railroad Red Glass Lantern Bid Now »

Antique Dietz Monarch New York ELECTRIFIED Oil Lamp Railroad Red Glass Lantern

Bid: $80.00
Ships:
Based on Zip
$80.00
Plus shipping
6 hrs
16 mins
Vintage Handlan St Louis USA Wabash RY Galvanized Can Buy Now »

Vintage Handlan St Louis USA Wabash RY Galvanized Can

Buy: $149.00 Ships:
$25.00
$174.00
Buy now
6 hrs
19 mins
Antique railroad lantern - Union Pacific Bid Now »

Antique railroad lantern - Union Pacific

Bid: $99.00
Ships:
$15.00
$114.00
6 hrs
26 mins
ANTIQUE KEROSENE LANTERN PART PATENT Sv 66893 ENG No.282360 No. No 52423. grill Buy Now »

ANTIQUE KEROSENE LANTERN PART PATENT Sv 66893 ENG No.282360 No. No 52423. grill

Buy: $129.00 Ships:
$39.00
$168.00
Buy now
6 hrs
27 mins
Antique Oxweld Railroad lamp Bid Now »

Antique Oxweld Railroad lamp

Bid: $95.00
Ships:
$15.00
$110.00
6 hrs
28 mins
Antique railroad lantern - Adams & Westlake Bid Now »

Antique railroad lantern - Adams & Westlake

Bid: $99.00
Ships:
$15.00
$114.00
6 hrs
30 mins
Original 1920's Boston & Maine RAILROAD Eye Examination Lamp for Color Blindness Buy Now »

Original 1920's Boston & Maine RAILROAD Eye Examination Lamp for Color Blindness

Comes with original wood case & colored lenses ! RARE !
Buy: $295.00 Ships:
$40.00
$335.00
Buy now
6 hrs
37 mins
Vintage Dietz No 32 Smudge Pot Made in the USA ORIGINAL CONDITION NOT REPAINTED Bid Now »

Vintage Dietz No 32 Smudge Pot Made in the USA ORIGINAL CONDITION NOT REPAINTED

Bid: $15.99
Ships:
$8.99
$24.98
6 hrs
40 mins
Vintage antique DRESSEL railroad caboose cast iron wall-mount oil lamp lantern* Buy Now »

Vintage antique DRESSEL railroad caboose cast iron wall-mount oil lamp lantern*

Buy: $99.99 Ships:
Based on Zip
$99.99
Plus shipping
Buy now
6 hrs
52 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