Internet Solves 45-Year-Old Mystery of 'Ghost Truck' in Grandparents' Photo

Richie Bart says an apparent "ghost truck" in a more than 45-year-old photo of his grandparents' West Virginia home has been bugging him for years. Thanks to the internet, he's managed to solve the mystery.

Bart told Newsweek that the photo has been hanging in his grandparents' room for as long as he can remember. Years ago, he noticed something strange in the corner of the photo: the ghost-like outline of a truck on the grass.

"I've asked so many questions about it," he said. "I remember a couple years ago I was staring at it for some reason and I noticed the weird 'ghost truck.' I asked them about it and they said they've never seen it."

Ghost truck
The "ghost truck" can be seen in the bottom right of the photo. Richie Bart

The "ghost truck" is hard to spot: it's a blurred, transparent shape on the grass which shows the outline of a truck, including the wheels and windows.

"While I was visiting with my two girls the other day, I walked by it again and thought to myself 'let me see if anyone on Reddit would know why it's like this.' I expected maybe three to five answers, not for it to blow up the way it did," said Bart.

The photo was shared to Subreddit "Mildly Interesting" where it gained over 26,000 votes and earned the name "ghost truck," but users found it more than just mildly interesting. Despite Bart's grandparents having no rhyme or reason for the ghost truck, various Reddit users did, at long last scratching Bart's years-long itch.

"Apparently there was 'Photoshop' before photoshop, and the photographer saw the truck as an eyesore, and had it airbrushed out," he said.

Editing images might be quick and simple with the introduction of apps and editing programs, but before the days of Photoshop and FaceTune, it involved manually removing objects.

In Bart's family photo, the outline of a person can also be seen in the doorway of a shed, though it's unclear if this was a result of another editing attempt.

Ghost truck close up
A close-up look at the "ghost truck." Before there was Photoshop there was the airbrush. Richie Bart

Airbrushing, along with using paintbrush and dyes, was a skilled technique that artists would use to make an image more appealing or remove unwanted objects. Arguably, one of the most famous instances of this was during the Stalin regime.

According to History.com, Stalin had a large group of retouchers who would work to cut his enemies out of photographs of them together. Party officials would be removed out of photos once they became a political enemy. Reportedly, some photos were known to have people removed one-by-one over the years, leaving just Stalin in the image as each deputy fell out of his favor.

Thanks to the internet, Bart's years-long mystery has been solved and it's something he said he is thankful for.

"It was a rewarding and interesting answer to a question I've had for years for a 45-plus year old photograph that's been in my family for so long," he said.