Viewing page 30 of 182

This transcription has been completed. Contact us with corrections.

[[Newspaper Clipping 1]]

the inflation. This will show the practicability of stopping and supplying on the way. It will also show that we can occupy the daylight alone if we choose, by holding up for the night.

I do not say positively that I shall succeed in this, the first trial, but "I will try." You will have the same patience with it that you would with a child that is learning to walk. Give it but a little time and a little experience, and it will learn, and after a while go on special errands too. So will the balloon, as soon as it gets fairly out of its swaddling clothes; only have partience with me while I am weaning it. Others will soon spring up upon these demonstations to take the youth by the hand, who will be much better masters than any of us now are.

Should I succeed in reaching Indianapolis, or any of the other two places named, thence the extreme upper currents would serve to sail to Cincinnati or Columbus.

St. Louis is the point best of all Western cities to make these experiments from, because it is far west and has so many cities between it and the Atlantic seaboard Eastern cities. Nothing can be more cheering to the systematic aeronaut than the perusal of the map between these two great extremities. Some twenty large cities, with three or four score villages, all lying underneath the great balloon route from St. Louis to New-York. 

I think this thing can easily be established, and at a cost that may be supplied by mere small outlay of entrance fee to such demonstrations. At all events I shall make the effort in good faith, and if I do not succeed fully, I may partially, and in that particular success make the way easier for my successors.

The time seems to have come to do something in this great element-the atmosphere. Nature has cast it before us, and we should be remiss of our true destiny were we to let it go by without a trial. America is the country peculiarly adapted to its development, and St. Louis a good depot to start from.

I will leave here a few days after my son, and hope to be in your city next week, to leave it once more on the great Balloon Route.

Yours truly,

[[/Newspaper Clipping 1]]

[[Newspaper Clipping 2]]


Mr. Wise, before he started on his balloon excursion, wrote the following letter to The St. Louis Evening News:

MR. EDITOR: In accordance with your request, I will give you an outline of my propositions.

Aerial navigation with balloons must necessarily depend upon the air currents. Nature has provided these currents, and if we study them by investigation we shall soon be able to do much with balloons that has hardly been dreamed of. The trade winds move from east to west in the equatorial regions. As the hot air of the torrid zone rushes westward it ascends and seeks its equillibrium in moving toward the polar regions in curves toward the northwest. By the time it reaches the north temperate zone it deflects toward the east from the southwest. Higher up it comes from the west; and above this stratum it comes from the northwest. Hence, then, in our zone, these return currents go, first from southwest to northeast: at a greater altitude, from west to east: and at a still greater altitude, from northwest to southeast.

Here, then, we have before us the natural elements of establishing a uniform system of air travel from St. Louis, or San Francisco if you please, to any given point in the east, between Charleston, S. C., and Portland, in the State of Maine.

My object in pursuit is to find the barometrical altitudes of these currents, and to prepare charts for them, so the aeronaut may know beforehand where to find them with the same facility that mariners can find their water currents and tidal waves. Somebody must do these things in order to make ballooning useful. Having already practiced ballooning for twenty-four years, I feel as though the balance of my life must be devoted to this object. I know that it will be tedious and laborious, often unfruitful, and perhaps sometimes received with incredulity and condemnation, but still the voice of the winds sings sweetly, "Go on, go on, "the world was not made in a day."

I intend to go on, and that is my mission now. As long as there is faith enough in this system, and patronage to sustain it, I am willing to work and strive for its perfection. I feel confident that, with a capital of ten thousand dollars, a balloon line could be established to make regular trips from St. Louis to Philadelphia, New-York and Boston, that would pay a fine interest on the investment, by its carrying letters and passengers.

On Saturday morning next I will make an experimental trip from this city, with a barometer expressly provided for the purpose. The voyage will be made eastward, and with a view of touching at a city some hundreds of miles east of St. Louis. The amount is now being subscribed to defray the expenses of the inflation; and whatever is contributed to these purposes is always devoted to the improvement of the art.

In a short time hereafter I hope to be provided with better-adapted balloons for these purposes, and I will only add that the success, crude as it may appear with these ill-conditioned balloons, is one of the most cheerful encouragements to its ultimate perfection. If we can do so much with very inferior machines, what can we not do with properly and well-constructed balloons?

You may say, "Why have you not good balloons now?" Answer-They are good enough for local ascents, but no more adapted to the great end of aerial navigation, than is a pleasure yacht to the navigation of the Pacific Ocean. The right kind of balloons will shortly be brought into use. Yours truly
Everett House, July 28, 1859.

[[/Newspaper Clipping 2]]

[[Newspaper Clipping 3]]


THE ASCENT OF THE BALLOON "JUPITER." - According to the announcement, Prof. John Wise and his son Charles, (a young man of about twenty-one years,) made their balloon ascent yesterday morning, from Washington Square. The day was quite unfavorable, the heavens being overhung with clouds and the atmosphere usually dense. At 9 o'clock there was a slight sprinkle of rain, which did not, however, deter the inflation, which at that hour had already commenced. By ten o'clock the weather appeared less inauspicious, and there was some prospect of sunshine. A very large crowd, perhaps not less than five thousand, had assembled on the grounds and taken places in the neighborhood.  The Mayor had detailed a strong police force to preserve decorum, and keep the crowd from pressing too close upon the spot where the preparations for the ascension were to be made.  There was not, however, any need for their services; for all who were present behaved as orderly as could have been hoped for, and seemed willing to afford the aeronauts every facility they required.

The balloon, which is called "Jupiter," and bears the motto, "astra castra lumen numen," is thirty-six feet in diameter, constructed of a peculiar cotton cloth, tightly sewed in segments, and coated over on both sides with a drying varnish.  It has a surface of nearly four thousand square feet, and is capable of holding twenty thousand cubic feet of carburetted [[carbureted]] hydrogen or coal gas; having an ascensive power of nearly one thousand pounds.  In the particulars of shape, construction, net-work, &c., the 'Jupiter" may compare favorably with any air-vessel ever built, presenting an appearance of great symetry, and being in every way excellently adapted to mounting the invisible couriers of the skies.

At a quarter before eleven o'clock, the car, (a willow basket about four feet square, or somewhat larger than that Prof. Wise occupied in the "Atlantic,") having been adjusted to the netting and the concentric hoop, and the two voyageurs having taken their places therein, all was in readiness for the launch.- Every necessary article has been provided, such as ballast, (two hundred pounds) barometer, (a splendid one, furnished by Prof. Henry, of the Smithsonian Institute) compass, refreshments, index paper, etc., etc. The Jupiter was now allowed to rise until the car or basket came immediately above the heads of the crowd, where it was held by means of rope, one end of which rested in the hand of Prof. Wise, who took advantage of the prominence thus given him to make a few remarks.  He thanked those present for their orderly demeanor and kind assistance, and returned acknowledgements to the gas company for favors.  Prof. W. then explained that the present ascension was not made to demonstrate that long voyages could be made, for that had already been proved, but was intended to be instrumental in ascertaining the barometrical heights of the different air-currents, so as to render ballooning more systematic and certain.  He spoke for several minutes, and put the crowd in the best of humor with him.  At five minutes to 11 o'clock he released the rope, and the balloon rose with a dignified and graceful motion, to pursue its journey through the latitudes of a shoreless sea.  As the winged ship parted from the "firm set earth" and glided into the depths of space, Prof. Wise displayed a silk flag of the stripes and stars, which was the signal for a general shout of farewell encouragement from the crowd.

The barometer at the earth, on starting, indicated nearly 29 1/2 inches, showing the atmosphere to be very humid and dense.  For this reason, combined with the unusual stillness of the air, the flight of the balloon was not rapid, and it was found necessary to discharge ballast almost immediately.  Nevertheless the ascension proved to be a very fine one indeed, giving great delight to every one who beheld it.

The direction taken by the "Jupiter" was northeast, though considerably more northerly than that of "Atlantic," from the city.  We watched it until the car with its inmates was no longer visible- till the great globe diminished to the size of the rising moon- till it looked no bigger than a dime- till a film enveloped it and it seemed the merest fleck on the sky- and when we looked again, a moment after, it had vanished from our sight.  The "Jupiter" had been just an hour on its way. By this time the clouds had gathered again and rain was falling.

As has been stated heretofore, it was a part of the design of Prof. Wise to get no further from Lafayette, Ind., then it might be possible to avoid, the Professor having an engagement to make an ascension from that point this week.  It was, indeed, announced that he intended to land within a few miles of that city, which, doubtless, he would like very well to accomplish.  It is not improbable, however, that unless the "Jupiter" reached a height out of the way of the rain, that the condensing state of the atmosphere and the additional weight which the water would give to the balloon and netting, may have made a descent necessary long before the State of Illinois had been traversed.  The balloon being very nearly full of gas on starting, must have "blown off" on getting into the rarified regions, and, it seems to us, it would have required the discharge of more ballast than the amount taken to make up for this loss. On the other hand, there may not have been rain in the section traveled by the "Jupiter," and if so, there is no reason why, while the reader is perusing this, Prof. Wise and his son may not be taking breakfast in Lafayette or Indianapolis.

[[/Newspaper Clipping 3]]

[[Newspaper Clipping 4]] 

(From the Lafayette Daily Journal.)

Made from St. Louis, Mo., July 30th, 1859, accompanied by his son, Chas E. Wise.

We started from Washington Square at 11 A.M., the place being granted us by Mayor Filley, who also furnished us a gentlemanly police corps to assist and preserve order and decorum during the preparations for the voyage.  There was during the morning a drizzling symptom of rain, and had the experiment not been purely a scientific one, we should have postponed it on account of the weather.

As we ascended, Saint Louis presented a bold and handsome curve into the river front, with its broad and busy levee, and its hundreds of steamboats moored in echelon along the shore.  The city has a characteristic commercial aspect.  The various finished and unfinished public buildings, with a rather dingy hue, gives it the appearance of an old city, notwithstanding I saw it thirty years ago with only six thousand inhabitants, while it numbers now not less than one hundred and sixty thousand.

The Mississippi, under the atmosphere of the day, looked like a muddy frog pond after a heavy shower, and steamers plying on its mud-saturated bosom seemed to travel about as fast as a water spaniel in the same element, and showed no larger than a common yawl, though some of them were belching up volumes upon volumes of the blackest smoke I ever saw, and creating at the same time a resounding clangor with their bells.  (Bells always sound full and strong to the ears of the aeronaut; even cow bells have a loud sonorous clang when, heard high above them.) The city is composed of five distinct clusters of houses, giving an appearance of five consolidated villages into one municipality.

After we had crossed the river in a curved direction starting towards the northwest, then north, and then northeast as we rose higher, we passed over the lagoons along the Illinois shore.  These marshes send up their miasmatic effluvia three thousand feet high.  The highlands to the west of Saint Louis swelled up in healthy contrast to the narrow flats below. Bellefontaine cemetery would have been taken for a gentleman's park, studded with groups of exquisitely white statuary, and serpentine gravel walks, had I not been acquainted with its particular locality, five miles north of the city. The loud "toot" of the locomotive turned our heads to the south, where we saw a train of cars "snaking" along through the prairie grass, like a huge serpent with a black upturned head, making headway for East Saint Louis. This inland depot is the very picture of a "death pot" of pestilential morass, and it makes one wonder how such a miserable looking place could be the terminus of so great a thoroughfare as the railroads that traverse the States a thousand miles from east to west. True it was, the nature of the day made gloom itself look more gloomy.

Having now scanned the city and its environs, we took a look over the great prairies that unfolded themselves to the east. Like a vast ocean with here and there an island full of trees, does this prairie country look from above. My son remarked that the people along there must have mighty big farms, considering the distances the houses were apart. The impression that this vast domain made upon me at the time, was, that bountiful nature was extending an invitation to the double-condensed inhabitants of the crowded cities of the world to come and partake of its stores. It is a refuge and a paradise for all who wish to be supplied with food and comforts.

Having now reached an altitude in which we sailed due east, we saw, with compass and chart before us, that Lafayette could not be reached by that current. Our next voyage being posted to take place from that city, we had determined before starting to make a point as near to it as we could. We lowered again, but we plainly saw that the south-east wind below, which drove us a little to

[[/Newspaper Clipping 4]]