The Signpost Forest: A massive, one-of-a-kind collection of relocated signage from around the world

David Goran
Featured image

Sign Post Forest is a collection of signs near the town of Watson Lake, in Yukon Territory, Canada and is one of the most famous of the landmarks along the Alaska Highway.

This “forest” full of signs of various shapes and sizes was started by U.S. soldier Carl K. Lindley in 1942, at a time when the Alaska Highway was being built. While working on the Alcan Highway near Lower Post, BC, Carl K. Lindley was injured and taken to the Army Aid Station in Watson Lake to recuperate.

During that time he was asked to paint and repair directional signposts. In those times, it was common practice for the US Army Engineers to put up directional posts at their camps.

Sign Post Forest, 2005. By Jadecolour CC BY-SA 3.0

Sign Post Forest, 2005. By Jadecolour CC BY-SA 3.0

 

Watson Lake’s most famous attraction. By Eli Duke Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Watson Lake’s most famous attraction. By Eli Duke/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

 

A tradition that dates back to 1942. By Eli Duke Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

A tradition that dates back to 1942. By Eli Duke/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

A commanding officer asked him to repair and erect the directional signposts, and while completing the job, he decided to personalize the and added a sign that indicated the direction and mileage to his hometown of Danville, Illinois.

Over the years, the single signpost grew to a forest a couple of acres in size with signs added by people from all over the world.

Others followed his lead, and the tradition has never slowed down. By Eli Duke Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Others followed his lead, and the tradition has never slowed down. By Eli Duke/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

 

The Sign Post Forest currently sprawls across more than two acres. By Eli Duke Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

The Sign Post Forest currently sprawls across more than two acres. By Eli Duke/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

 

There are street signs, welcome signs, signatures on dinner plates, and license plates from around the world. By Eli Duke Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

There are street signs, welcome signs, signatures on dinner plates, and license plates from around the world. By Eli Duke/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Carl was aware of the tradition that he started and what is now known as the World Famous Signpost Forest. In 1992, Carl K. Lindley and his wife Elinor visited the site, 50 years after his first post was erected.

Unfortunately, the original sign was lost, but a replica of the directional post was created, and Carl replaced his missing sign of Danville, Illinois. The replica Danville, Illinois sign is posted in the Visitor Center along with pictures of Carl taken in 1942 and 1992.

People today carry on this tradition of posting their hometown signs. By Eli Duke Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

People today carry on this tradition of posting their hometown signs. By Eli Duke/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

 

Visitors may add their own signs to the 100,000 already present. By Eli Duke Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Visitors may add their own signs to the 100,000 already present. By Eli Duke/Flickr /CC BY-SA 2.0

 

People are inspired to be part of the evolution of the site by adding signs that represent a piece of their life and joining the longstanding tradition of ‘leaving your mark’. By Eli Duke Flickr CC BY

People are inspired to be part of the evolution of the site by adding signs that represent a piece of their life and joining the longstanding tradition of ‘leaving your mark.’ By Eli Duke/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Today, there are over 100,000 signs in the Forest, and the number grows each year as travelers from around the world contribute signs and continue the tradition.