Located deep within the Yukon, one of the most densely wooded areas of Canada, sits a patch of land sporting tens of thousands of signposts haphazardly perched, one on top of the other willy-nilly, from locales near and far. They’re all part of the largest collection of signs from places around the world, the Signpost Forest.

At last count, the Signpost Forest in Watson Lake, located about 10 miles north of the U.S.-Canadian border, contains 91,000 signs from spots near and far, including Berlin, Moscow, Dublin and Hawaii. While many of the locations are easily recognizable, there are others that are lesser known, such as Uettligen, Switzerland; Guemes Island, Washington (never heard of it); and Cool, California. So how did all these signs get there in the first place? Moreover, how exactly do travelers fit some of the larger highway signs into their carry-on bags?

Getty Images
Getty Images

According to the Watson Lake Visitors Center, which helps maintain the collection, a U.S. soldier named Carl K. Lindley was the first person to place a sign there in 1942 while he was helping to construct the Alaska Highway, a strategic roadway project built by the U.S. government during World War II. The sign was made from planks that he nailed together and in painted red and white, proclaimed “Danville, Illinois, 2,835 miles,” accurately depicting the distance that the homesick GI was from his hometown. (The original sign has since been lost to time, however, 50 years later, in 1992, Lindley and his wife Elinor made the pilgrimage back to Watson Lake to place a replica sign, which is still there.) Little did Lindley know that years later travelers from near and far would follow in his footsteps and place signposts from their own hometowns.

To help accommodate anyone interested in creating a sign, the visitor center, which is located on the Signpost Forest property, has wood and paints on hand for decorating. However, many people opt to bring their own signs, albeit illegally, by snatching a metal sign from their hometown and nailing it to one of the wood posts. Of course illegal activity is not encouraged, but the entire area could be considered the largest collection of stolen property never prosecuted.


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