Boss of the Road Roadside Gallery Blog

Boss of the Road – Rare Vintage Ghost Sign

In Vintage Signs by Debbi Fadli0 Comments

‘Boss of the Road’ is a very rare vintage ghost sign found on the side of a building in the Sacramento area. At one time ‘BOSS OF THE ROAD’ was a high quality brand for denims, made specifically for the miners during the days of the famous Gold Rush. The miners needed pants of a durable fabric that would hold up while digging through rock and dirt. The denim had to be sturdy enough to hold up while the miners sloshed their gold pans in rushing rivers. ‘Boss of the Road’ denims were the perfect design with deep pockets and hammer holds so that the miners could carry their tools where ever they went.

It is amazing that this classic brand has completely disappeared from existence, except for only two known BOSS OF THE ROAD ghost signs in Sacramento and one found recently in the Bay view area near San Francisco. The signs often indicated that these denims were Union Made, which meant the workers were paid a fare wage. Their tag line was “The Watchdog of Quality.” But the mystery is, why did they simply disappear if the quality was so outstanding?

Yes, they did have one serious competitor who found that ‘Boss of the Road’ needed to vanish off the face of the earth, if they were to gain a monopoly on the denim industry. As the Gold Rush days came to a close and all of the gold that could be extracted from the earth in Northern California was done, the factory of ‘Boss of the Road’ began to slow also. It is always about the ‘timing’ and Levi Strauss saw the opportunity to become the denim giant it is today. So they bought out ‘Boss of the Road’ for a song and hunted down every sign advertising ‘Boss of the Road’ then painted over those signs remaining on the old building in the Sacramento and Bay Area. All in all Levi Strauss did a remarkable job.

Luckily, one photographer was able to find this ‘Boss of the Road’ and saved it from eradication. This fine art photo was taken by Martin Garfinkel, who considers himself the boss of the road having driven his Harley Davidson Motorcycle across the entire America capturing images that are gone but not forgotten. He has a great eye and finds things that must be filmed immediately. Where most of us see something and think ‘one day I should take a picture of that’ and when we return it’s gone’ Garfinkel has learned there is a very good chance that the wrecking ball comes right after you pass that great photo by, so he is the one who stops.