Top Ghostly Happenings in Central PA
Updated: Aug 23, 2021
It’s that time of year when every one wants to experience a good ghost story. Some just want to hear about them while others want to immerse themselves in the horror of it all.
Here’s a list of a few of the places we’ve found “ghosts” when we’ve gone looking. But remember you have to open your mind and be ready to hear them to garner the full experience...Bwahahahahaha.
We live in Central Pennsylvania. A lot of our area has been inhabited since before the Revolutionary War. It would stand to reason that there could be a few spirits still hanging around. One place we’ve heard a lot of ghost stories about is Altoona and it’s surrounding towns.
Starting with the World Famous Horseshoe Curve.
This area is home to many an apparition. The tunnel below the curve that leads drivers up a two lane country road is said to be home to a spirit that will show itself to drivers when they least expect it. It is said that the best way to entice the spirit to show itself is to go into the tunnel at exactly 9:47 p.m. on any given night and turn your lights off on your car. Then you will hear the knocking on the window because the spirit needs a ride. Now, this really doesn’t sound like a good idea because if you go into the tunnel and turn your lights off, since it’s only one lane, another car may not see you, and then you could be the next ghost hanging out in the Horseshoe Curve tunnel.
Assuming you didn’t die or pick up any passengers in the tunnel, follow the road to the top of mountain, turn right and start heading back to Altoona on Route 36. There is a section of highway called Devil’s Elbow where many, many traffic crashes have occurred. Some say the people wreck because they’ve seen the White Lady of Wopsy. The White Lady walks along the roadway in search of her beloved who was killed at the Devil’s Elbow on their wedding night. Beware that she doesn’t cause the same fate for you.
Once you’ve made it back to Altoona, head over to #TheAltoonaRailroadersMuseum. This is said to be one of the most haunted places in the area. I spent a lot of time at the museum in the early 2000’s. I have had an encounter or two with one ghost specifically named Frank. This specter loves hanging out at the entrance of the museum around the big train engine. There is an exhibit in the museum called Kelly’s Bar made to signify life in the 1920’s and 30’s. I‘ve walked through this area many times and have always heard big band music playing. I once said to the media contact at the museum that I thought it was a great touch to have the music on and how I loved Glenn Miller music. She looked stunned and asked where I heard it? I said “in the Kelly’s exhibit.” She shook her head and said, “No you didn’t, we have no music playing - never do.” Needless to say, that sent chills up my spine. Just for the record, I ALWAYS hear the music in that exhibit. Kinda creepy.
Another stop you need to make while in Altoona is Baker‘s Mansion. This amazing house is now home to the Blair County Historical Society but a hundred or so years ago, Elias Baker and his family called it home. Old Elias was an Iron Man - he owned the furnaces (one of which is just down the lane from the mansion) and he owned the company store. You could say that Elias was a Barron of his time and he was rich. Some say that Elias still hangs out in the home he built as does his daughter.
I’ve been there on many occasions, and on at least two, I’ve been pinched...in the butt, going up the stairs. But my story pales in comparison to some of the caretakers of the mansion. One lady told me that shortly after they put the security system in the mansion (early 1980’s) that she was in her office near the back door. Across the hall from her office sits the Lincoln room. This room contains furniture that was used by Abraham Lincoln when he came to Altoona in the 1860’s, Then said she heard a “click-click” and a light turned on - on the panel indicating someone was in the Lincoln room. She new that a tour had just finished and she thought someone stayed behind, so she got up to look. There across the hall was a woman in 1860’s apparel standing next to the fireplace, staring at her. The caretaker asked, “Who are you and why are you still here? We’re closed you know?” The apparition smiled and then disappeared. There are many other stories just like this one, #BakersMansion gives ghosts tours during October. Be sure to check out their website at www.Blairhistory.org.
Time to head on over to Hollidaysburg which was home to the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal in it’s very early days. Irish immigrants dug the canal from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg. The biggest feat was how to get those canal boats over the Allegheny Mountains. While the engineers were figuring that part of the puzzle out in 1826, many an Irish worker stayed in a place called the U.S. Hotel that sat next to the canal in what is now Hollidaysburg.
The hotel housed the Irish workers and was always a great place to get a meal and a cold brew. Nearly 200 years later and it’s still a great place to get a great meal and a cold brew. Needless to say with this much history, it’s hard not to keep a few spirits who fell in love with the hospitality. A few years back we went there for a ghost and dinner tour. I had the most amazing Chicken Parm. of my life. After the 25 of us were through eating we got to go on a ghost tour through the upstairs of the hotel, in the dark. As if that wasn’t scary enough, being in the dark, we had a tour guide telling us what we might expect. I had my kids with me, all in their early to late teens. My youngest son was all in. I’ll never forget he walked into this one bedroom, and turned right around and walked back to me and said - “mom, there is a guy hanging in the corner.” I walked in and said, “Buddy there is nothing here except dark.” The tour guide then informed me and the other guests that one of those Irish workers hanged himself in this room many years ago and that he still inhabits the room. We had a couple more experiences like this throughout the rest of the tour, ending with one of my sons friends and I getting touched. Yep - happens a lot! Check out their website. www.ushoteltavern.com and by all means stay for dinner. Great food and a fantastic historical atmosphere!
One more stop before you leave the area is on Route 26 at the base of Martinsburg Mountain. #CaptainPhillipsRangers memorial. Our first hand knowledge is that this memorial is downright spooky - day or night, it feels like someone is always watching you.
In the summer of 1780, Captain Phillips, who led the Bedford Militia was summoned by Colonel John Piper to gather his men and warn the settlers of the Woodcock Valley of potential Indian attacks. This is the area that is now considered Saxton to Hesston - or Raystown Country. They crossed over Tussey Mountain from Morrisson’s Cove (now Martinsburg) to the foot of the mountain where a log cabin sat that was the home of F. Heater. He had abandoned his home under the Indian threat. Phillips and his men took shelter in the home, and the next morning found over 50 Seneca Indians looking through the windows. Needless to say, it did not end well for the Captain and his boys. Today there is a monument to the white settlers, but no monument to the Native Americans who also perished in the skirmish. When you visit be sure to pay homage to the Seneca and they will probably leave you alone, otherwise, you probably shouldn’t go after dark.
My oldest son and his friends went there one night with a digital recorder in hand. They started speaking to whomever would listen and apparently someone did. On his recorder he heard three voices, but he says only two made sense. Voice one said, “what are they doing here?” Voice two said, “they want to find us.” The third voice was muffled and sounded like chanting. Made a believer out of him and his friends.
These are just a few of the spooky places in my area. Do you have A ghost story to tell? Shoot us an email and we will include it in one of our future blogs.
In the meantime, check out our local haunts, www.blairhistory.org, www.railroadcity.org or www.motherbedford.com
When you stop by, be sure to tell them the Fun Chasers sent you. Cheers!