I absolutely adore the charming town of Beacon, NY. And since its just over an hour from me, I visit when I can. One of the things I’ve been oddly fascinated by is this stoplight that is literally in the middle of an intersection. The first time I saw it, it was dark and it was after a few cocktails at the Roundhouse restaurant and I was really confused. (Side note: if you are in Beacon, definitely visit The Roundhouse, great food and drinks plus stunning views of the waterfall). Anyway, seeing this odd stoplight and trying to figure out how to best navigate crossing this street made me curious why on earth this stoplight was placed at such an odd and seemingly precarious spot.
The term dummy light just means a light that is mounted in the midst of the intersection. These early traffic lights were likely less dangerous when there were less cars and tourists driving around in towns like Beacon.
Beacon’s stoplight is at the intersection of Main Street and East Main Street. And it’s been there since the 1920s. The intersection connects two busy roads, but instead of being overhead and making it clear which sign is for which direction, there are a lot of street signs affixed to the road, and if you aren’t from Beacon, or relying on Google Maps, can be super confusing. And kind of dangerous, as it is literally in the middle of the road and stuck in a large piece of concrete. If there’s ice or you don’t see the light sneaking up on you… it can definitely pose a hazard.
That being said, if you know that it is there, and how to navigate around the potential hazard, its kind of cool that this has been here and still operating all these years. According to Croton Friends of History, there are still a few of these dummy light’s around the Hudson Valley, and they are among a very few that are remaining and operational around the country. And there has been talking of removing this potential traffic hazard, but for nostalgia and historical reasons it remains in operation. It makes sense that the town loves it, it definitely adds to the quaint old-fashioned feel of Beacon, and makes it more unique that some other neighboring towns.
Have you seen a dummy light before?