A ghost sighting on a mural in downtown Altoona can be a bit of a shock. But, imagine being the artist painting the mural and noticing a ghost sitting in the streetcar you just finished painting!
It took Pam Snyder all summer and most of the fall of 2005 to finish the beautiful historic mural on the side of the Scheimberg building.
Pam quickly became a celebrity through the community. Many people would travel downtown to see her progress, some would stop and chat with her, offer suggestions, and admire her work. She was never too busy to stop and chat with her admirers.
After the dedication on November 10, 2005, the mural artist had mixed feelings. She said, "While working on the mural she couldn't wait to get it done. When the work was finally done she wished it wasn't. She would miss chatting with the many friends she made in Altoona"
A Ghostly Street Car Passanger
After following the artist's progress along 11th Avenue I decided one evening to stop and introduce myself. While there I thought it would be fun to get some digital pictures of the beautiful historic mural, even though the mural wasn't done yet I knew it would be interesting to watch the progress through photos.
We quickly found we had a lot to talk about. Especially, after I explained to her about my website and writing about the many ghost sightings in the area.
It was a real surprise when she decided to share her story of her ghost sighting with me.
Pam pointed out the street car section on the mural and mentioned getting the prospective right was especially challenging for her. She went on to explain that she made a habit of taking digital pictures after a section was finished and downloaded them to her computer in the evening. Since her project was so large it helped her see if she needed to go back and edit anything before moving on.
As you can see from the picture above, she didn't have any of the people painted in the streetcar yet.
Pam explained, "When I got home and downloaded the pictures from my camera to my computer, I noticed a white transparent figure sitting inside the streetcar."
Pam was quick to point out to me. "It couldn't have been a glare or shadow on the mural because the lighting was a bit cloudy that day. It was just sitting there as if waiting to take a ride."
"It was just sitting there." Pam said. "It was sitting on one of the seats, in the middle of the streetcar. As if I painted it into the mural."
Ghost Sightings Are Mysterious
If you visit the historic downtown Altoona I'm sure you'll notice all the beautiful murals painted by several local talented artists. They all tell a story about the history of the area.
Pam's mural blends well the other historic murals in the area. Now being restored by artists, John Rita, Alan Capriotti and Albert Michaels.
You'll also see murals painted by Joe Servello sprinkled through the downtown and around the Altoona area. Joe's art gallery is located on 11th Avenue in downtown Altoona.
Pam's ghost sighting couldn't have been more unique. I'm sure the ghostly spirit had it's own history and story. One thing we know for sure, it must have loved Altoona and, without a doubt, missed those street car rides. Sometimes I wonder if Pam shouldn't have painted the eager traveling ghost into the streetcar. If nothing else it would have made a great conversation piece.
Since that time I heard rumor that Pam has painted several more murals through the Allegheny Mountains. Hmm, I can't help but wonder if we might have another ghost sighting in the future.
The picture above is the finished streetcar with people dressed from that era. The scenes and characters represent Altoona's 150 year history.
I'd like to personally thank Pam for sharing her story with me and a big thank you from the community of Altoona to leave such a beautiful masterpiece of history for us all to enjoy.