In the spring of 1861, in Cincinnati, when the weather was exactly right, Professor Thaddeus Sobieski Coulincourt Lowe cut loose from his moorings at 4:00 a.m. on the morning of April 21st and took off on what was to be the longest and fastest balloon flight up to that time.
Professor Lowe, originally of New Hampshire, later Ohio, and finally California, theorized that there was an upper stream of air that continually flowed in an easterly direction and that if he made a balloon large enough, he could take off and fly to Europe non-stop. He made a few trial flights over Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Ottawa, Canada, in small balloons before moving to Cincinnati in 1860 to construct a large, home-made gas bag that was designed to lift several hundred pounds. He named it the “Enterprise.”
The account in the Cincinnati Enquirer reveals that the big ball was inflated with hydrogen gas supplied by the Cincinnati city gas works. When the balloon was full and started up and away, she headed for California, but when the huge sphere got away from the surface currents at about 7,000 feet, she reversed her course and headed east.