Thaddeus Lowe: Chief Aeronaut of the Union Army

Willis Stork Gallery

April 22 through September 20, 2015

Thaddeus Lowe as a young man (Courtesy of Michael Patris and the Mount Lowe Preservation Society Collection)

Thaddeus Lowe as a young man (Courtesy of Michael Patris and the Mount Lowe Preservation Society Collection)

Curated by Michael Patris of the Mount Lowe Preservation Society Collection, Thaddeus Lowe: Chief Aeronaut of the Union Army focused on the life of entrepreneur Thaddeus S. C. Lowe (1832-1913) during and after the Civil War.

Lowe is well known in Southern California for his gas manufacturing plants and electric incline railway, but he also had an amazing career as a civilian aeronaut fighting for the Union Army. In 1859, Lowe built the largest balloon ever made at that time, and his trial flights led to Lowe creating and holding an air-speed record that would stand for decades. This single feat brought the courageous balloonist to the attention of Abraham Lincoln, resulting in an overnight stay at the White House and a balloon ascension on the White House lawn. Thaddeus Lowe’s personal gloves, worn at a dinner party at the White House and preserved by the Lowe family, as well as other personal Lowe mementos on loan from the Mount Lowe Preservation Society Collection, were part of this display.

Want to learn more about Thaddeus Lowe and other Civil War veterans in Pasadena? Check out the Curator’s Blog.

Thaddeus Lowe was an accompanying exhibition to When Johnny Came Marching West: How the Civil War Shaped Pasadena.