Jonesville History: Civil War Hot Air Balloon

Posted on Posted in Notes & Doodles

Another Jonesville History lesson from the much too thin folder at Pineapple Hill…

There’s an unusual roadside marker in the Pea Ridge area of Union County near Jonesville. It tells the story of a Civil War Hot Air Balloon…

Just a week after Confederate troops fired on Fort Sumter, Thaddeus Lowe took off from Ohio in a hot air balloon to prove that he could fly eastward on upper air currents.

Nine hours later his balloon landed in the Pea Ridge area of Jonesville.

Lowe was arrested as a Northern spy but managed to persuade his “hosts” he was on a scientific mission.

There’s a roadside marker in Pea Ridge sign marking the spot where Lowe’s hot air balloon landed.

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Have your picture taken beside this roadside marker in Union County –holding a balloon of course.


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From what I’ve seen so far, there’s some real talented moonshine makers in Pea Ridge. I assume they started drinking when they saw that balloon. A UFO for sure.

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Lawrence Richard Walters, nicknamed “Lawnchair Larry” or the “Lawn Chair Pilot”, (April 19, 1949 – October 6, 1993) was an American truck driver who took flight on July 2, 1982, in a homemade airship. Dubbed Inspiration I, the “flying machine” consisted of an ordinary patio chair with 45 helium-filled weather balloons attached to it. Here’s the Wikipedia entry. 

Don’t be so dumb as to try this.

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–Tim Bryant
Surf Director at Pineapple Hill