by Michael Boss
Painting for James. W. Raab's book America's Daredevil Balloonist
Alkyd on Panel
28" X 21"
From the Collection of James W. Raab, St. Augustine, Florida
In the early 1860s, Washington Harrison Donaldson, began his daredevil career as a tight rope walker. Becoming weary of that entertainment venue he became a hot air balloonist in 1871.
Piloting for P.T. Barnum in 1874, he carried an employee wedding group over Cincinnati. The couple, one an Italian and the other American, launched from old Lincoln Park. Lincoln Park was located where Cincinnati Union Terminal is today and they eventually landed on the east side of downtown near present day Mt. Adams.
On July 15th, 1975, Donaldson and reporter Newton M. Grimwood ascended from Chicago's Barnum Hippodrome in an ill-fated attempt to cross Lake Michigan. The balloon, Donaldson and Grimwood were not seen again. The balloon which Donaldson was piloting was the Barnum balloon shown in the painting.