November 18, 2003


Provided by: Mike Barondeau
Summary authors & editors: Mike Barondeau

The Stratobowl pictured above is located about 1.5 miles (2.4 km) off Highway 16 between Rapid City, South Dakota and Mt. Rushmore. It was used many times during the 1930’s to launch balloons for scientific research. From the floor of the Stratobowl on November 11, 1935 the Stratosphere balloon, Explorer II, rose to the world record altitude of 72,395 feet (22,066 m). The ascent was made for scientific research under the joint auspices of the U.S. Army Air Corps and the National Geographic Society. Captain Albert W. Stevens was the Air Corps Commander and scientific observer with Captain Orvil A. Anderson the Air Corps pilot. During the 1950’s, 60’s, & 70’s the observation location where this picture was taken was a well-marked area with parking and picnic tables for tourists. After a tourist fell to his death, followed the next week by another fatality in the same spot, the signs were removed and a locked gate placed across the entrance. You can still walk into the area where the plaque is located if you can find the access road with the locked gate.

This picture was taken with Nikon 885 digital camera.

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