History Nebraska Blog

Throwback Thursday Photo, Balloon Ascension 1910

Balloon ascension in Polk, NE, 1910 (RG2407.PH000002-000009)

Up, up, and away with today’s Throwback Thursday photograph. On September 1910, the city of Polk held a three day celebration for the fourth anniversary of their town founding. A balloon ascension was one of the highlights of the festivities. This set of three postcards tell the story that things might not have gone as planned. In the first two postcards, the balloon is being filled with hot air. In the final postcard, the crowd looks on as the balloon appears to explode mid-flight. But don’t worry, the balloon appears to have been unmanned as did not have a basket.

Balloon ascensions became a popular attraction after the Civil War. Hot air "barnstormers" traveled around the country, demonstrating their aerial prowess at local fairs and celebrations. Some even jumped from balloons using parachutes, as one daredevil did at Cushman Park (Lincoln, NE) in 1890.

During World War I, Fort Omaha became the nation’s center for war balloon training. For more information about the Balloon School, check out this article in Nebraska History Magazine.

Balloon ascension in Polk, NE, 1910 (RG2407.PH000002-000008)

Balloon ascension in Polk, NE, 1910 (RG2407.PH000002-000007)

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