Canadian-born shipbuilder Donald McKay of Boston built Flying Cloud out of American white oak for Grinnell, Mintum & Co. of New York City in 1851 for the California Gold Rush trade, his seventh out of 38 clipper ships. She had a particularly high bow, intended to punch through the giant waves off Cape Horn. In 1862, during the American Civil War, she was sold to James Baines and the Black Ball Line of Liverpool for the Australia trade, so she sported a large black ball painted in the middle of her fore topsail, but later she was owned by the rival Swallowtail Line, which flew a distinctive swallowtail flag. For all her owners, she established some new record passages, including some where her navigator was a woman, Eleanor Creesy. As the ship was getting older, she was placed in the Canadian timber trade, but she was wrecked near Saint John, New Brunswick in 1874 at 23 years old (probably meaning that she had had one major rebuild already). She was one of the first clippers to have a rounded stern with rounded rail, most of her predecessors having had square transom sterns. Her hull was all black. She was 221 feet long on deck and 41 feet beam, and she measured 1100 tons.