Ephemera - Signs, Signboards


Riverside Motel Gallipolis OHIO

"Folk art" style generic towboat model of "RIVERSIDE" above sign for the Riverside Motel along the Ohio River at "Gallup-Police" (as it's pronounced locally) during my drive down river from Marietta on the way back to Cincinnati in Sept. 1990. Current Google maps photo shows the sign is still there in 2017.

1066 1st Avenue
Gallipolis, OHIO 45631
(740) 446-2702


Jack & Jolene Hiland's Sky Ride INN - CATFISH CARP

Neon sign with patina that I photographed in the 1990's: "Jack & Jolene Hiland's Sky Ride INN - CATFISH CARP Lunches" used to be located on 236 North Front Street at the corner of Vermont facing the Mississippi River in Quincy, Illinois which is about 15 miles as the crow flies north of Sam Clemens' hometown, Hannibal, Missori. I never dined at Jack & Jolene's but it sure had genuine rivertown amibance from the outside.

The restaurant "Chick's on the River" is now at this location.

This could go with the photo of signage at Canton, Missouri. Maybe a "roadside (or 'riverside') attractions" page would be a good fit for signage and other quaint vintage "stuff."




"REFLECTIONS" of Mark Twain Tourist pageant

The outdoor set for "Reflections of Mark Twain" off of Highway 61 south of Hannibal was where the local "pageant" revisiting Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn was performed for tourists. I never attended a performance but visited the sets which included mock ups of the home of Becky Thatcher (visible to the left of the riverboat across the man-made lake that I photographed in the early 1980's). The boyhood home of Sam Clemens a.k.a. Tom Sawyer home and the Justice of the Peace of office of Sam's father were also replicated next to Becky's and there was this modest little sternwheeler on the lake in the foreground that Jim Waddell describes below. On the website for nearby Injun Joe Campground site there's a photo showing that the replica structures have all vanished and the bleachers where the audience sat haven't been painted in a long time.

In response to this photo Jim Waddell shared some memories of his involvement with "Reflections":

"You included a photo of the only steamboat I ever piloted. Actually, it was a 50-foot pontoon boat with a 35 horse power outboard motor that occasionally performed its duty. I managed that facility and it is indeed nothing more than a memory now. The cast list called for 22 actors and, since payment was a pittance and we relied heavily on youngsters, there were times when I had to go into the audience and draft warm bodies from the ranks of the paying clientele. It was not really a problem since the whole production was sound-synced and it created a memory for the volunteers that I'm sure they still cherish."


In addition here is a photo I just took of an original 16 x 21 inch sign painted on pine by Jeri Stotler dated April 27, 1983 promoting Reflections of Mark Twain in an American primitive/Grandma Moses sort of style. Forgot I had it until I spotted it on the wall behind an old photo of the late Jim White taken at a Hannibal eatery that looks like it was named "Laickrs" and whose motto was "Bester Bestest." According to the internet Jeri is 56 now and has lived in the Missouri cities of Columbia and Vandalia.


"REFLECTIONS" of Mark Twain Tourist pageant

Scan of the pictorial portion of "sign on pine" in an American primitive/Grandma Moses sort of style hand painted by Jeri Stotler, dated April 27, 1983 promoting the local Hannibal, Missouri "pageant" - Reflections of Mark Twain . Forgot I had it until I spotted it on the wall behind an old photo in a tribute to the late Jim White at a Hannibal eatery that appeared to have been named "Laickrs" and whose motto was "Bester Bestest."


Photo I took in the 90s of one of my favorite signs (the one on the bottom that says MISSISSIPPI RIVER DOCKS & RAMP) which was on the river's edge at Canton, Missouri which is 37 miles north of Hannibal. I usually took the old 2 lane stretch of 61 so I could see the river and the small communities of La Grange and Canton during my drives north to Keokuk, Iowa where the towboat GEO. M. VERITY is on display.

Finally some years back when I made my pilgrimage the small River sign under the Phillips 66 sign had vanished, probably "harvested" by someone as a coveted piece of vintage highway and river ephemera.

Short history of Canton below from the Santa Fe Trail research site:

Here on the Mississippi River, where wooded hills rise above the plains along the river, Edward White, Robert Sinclair, and Isaac Bland founded Canton, probably named for Canton, Ohio, in February of 1830. On the pioneer Salt River Trail, the town by 1860 was a thriving river port and trade center for the upper Salt River Country. A rival town, Tully, laid out adjacent to Canton, 1834, declined after the flood of 1851 and disappeared when Federal Lock and Dam No. 20 were built in the 1930's. During the Civil War, the countryside suffered from raids and recruiting sorties by Confederate and Union troops.

In the period after the war, Canton recovered its economic standing with the coming of the St. Louis, Keokuk, and Northwestern R.R. (now Burlington) in 1871.

Culver-Stockton College, founded by the Disciples of Christ here, 1853, as Christian University, is famed for having the first college charter in Missouri to assure equal education to men and women.

The present name, adopted, 1917, honors Mary E. Culver and R.H. Stockton, school benefactors.

Canton is the first town founded in the fertile Mississippi River county organized in 1833 and named for Meriwether Lewis.

Settled by Southern pioneers as early as 1819, Lewis County lies in territory ceded the U.S. by Iowa, Sac, and Fox tribes, 1824.

Westward is Montcello, the seat of Lewis County, laid out on the North Fabius, 1833. La Grange, south on the Mississippi, early river port and meat packing town, was laid out in April, 1830, near the mouth of the Wyaconda where Godfrey Le Seur is said to have had a trading post by 1795. Baptist Hannibal-La Grange College was chartered there as La Grange College, 1859.


MISSISSIPPI RIVER DOCKS & RAMP signs at Canton, MO from 1988

Another photo I took of a pair of favorite signs (the one on the bottom says MISSISSIPPI RIVER DOCKS & RAMP) on the edge of the river at Canton, Missouri this time in October 1988 while driving north from Hannibal, MO to Keokuk, IOWA.


"No Gambling" Aboard on Sundays" sign

8 x 12 inch "Faux" sign silk screened on heavy sheet metal in gold and white on black background which came out a dark navy blue in the attached scan.

(COMMISSION was misspelled with only one "S" so I corrected here in Photoshop, makes a better presentation).

Possibly this was sold as souvenir or as home décor for bars and "man caves" Must have been made after 1975 since the steamboat graphic is derived from a photo of the modern NATCHEZ at New Orleans which was launched in '75.


With the exception of images credited to public institutions,
everything on this page is from a private collection.
Please contact for permission for commercial use.*

All captions provided by Dave Thomson, primary contributor and historian.