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Thaddeus Lowe: Daredevil Balloonist

May 31, 2015

balloon-over-vienna-virginia-2Thaddeus didn’t just do things, he was a “daredevil.” His actions or “derring-do” were called bold and brave “exploits.”

These descriptions of Thaddeus Sobieski Constantine Lowe and his actions formed as a result of his role as a civilian aeronaut, a balloonist for the Union Army, engaged in aerial surveillance during the Civil War.

Curator Michael Patris summarizes Thaddeus Sobieski Constantine Lowe’s life in these words:

“With little more than a grammar school education and an unquenchable thirst for science, he built what was for many years the world’s largest balloon to attempt a trans-Atlantic flight. Eventually he held more than 200 patents, heated and illuminated nearly two-thirds of all the homes in the United States with his “Lowe Gas Process,” developed ice-making machinery, and built a railway in Southern California’s Sierra Madre (now San Gabriel) Mountains called the Mount Lowe Railway.”

 

Lowe-Handbill

Handbill from 1860; from the Michael Patris Collection, currently on display at PMH

 

On June 4th, Patris will present an illustrated lecture and in-depth discussion at the Pasadena Museum of History “exploring Lowe’s escapades.” Doors open at 6:00 pm for a wine and cheese reception and viewing of the Thaddeus Lowe exhibition, as well as of the surrounding displays in the exhibit “When Johnny Came Marching Home: How the Civil War Shaped Pasadena.”

 

Lowe ascends in the balloon Intrepid, Seven Pines, 1862; photo by Matthew Brady, public domain

Lowe ascends in the balloon Intrepid, 1862; photo by Matthew Brady, public domain

 

Thaddeus Lowe: Daredevil Balloonist
Thursday, June 4th, 6 p.m.
PMH, 470 W. Walnut St. (corner Orange Grove Blvd. and Walnut St.), Pasadena 91103
Tickets (price includes lecture, exhibits, and reception): $15, PMH members; $20, general are Purchase tickets online at BrownPaperTickets
Advance tickets recommended; seating limited
Free parking is available in the Museum lot (entrance on Walnut St.) and on Walnut St
For additional information, visit PasadenaHistory.org
Or call 626.577.1660

 

433px-View_of_balloon_ascension_-_NARA_-_525086

Photo by M. B. Brady, 1862

 

Lowe's balloon gas generators, Washington D.C., circa 1861; U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Lowe’s balloon gas generators, Washington D.C., circa 1861; U.S. National Archives and Records Administration [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 




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