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-V ^ 

THE ^*l« 


Frederic J. Haski 


The 5 Points of 

Authority in 

this Book 


1. All of the chapters in this book pertaining to the 
actual construction of the Canal were read and corrected 
by Colonel George W. Goethals, Chairman and Chief 
Engineer of the Isthmian Canal Commission. 

2. All of the illustrations were made from photographs 
taken by Mr. Ernest Hallen, the oflBcial photographer of 
the Commission. 

3. The book contains the beautiful, colored Bird's-eye 
View of the Canal Zone, made under the direction of the 
National Geographic Society, as well as the black-and- 
white official map of the Canal. 

4. The extensive index was prepared by Mr. G. Thomas 
Ritchie, of the staff of the Library of Congress. 

5. The final proofs were revised by Mr. Howard E, 
Sherman, of the Government Printing Office, to conform 
with the typographical style of the United States Govern- 

"The American Government," 

by the same author, was read by milhons of 
Americans, and still holds the record as the 
world's best seller among all works of its 







lUustraled from photographs taken hy 


Official Photographer of the Isthmian Canal Commission 

Garden City New York 



Copyright, 1913, dy 


All rights reserved, including that of 

translation into foreign languages, 

including the Scandinavian 

Press of 

J. J. Little 4 Ives Co. 

New York 


The primary purpose of this book is to tell the 
layman the story of the Panama Canal. It is 
written, therefore, m tlie simplest manner possible, 
considering the technical character of the great 
engineering feat itself, and the involved complex- 
ities of the diplomatic history attaching to its 
inception and undertaking. The temptation to 
turn aside into the pleasant paths of the romantic 
history of ancient Panama has been resisted; 
there is no attempt to dispose of political problems 
that incidentally concern the canal; in short, the 
book is confined to the story of the canal itself, 
and the things that are directly and vitally con- 
nected with it. 

Colonel Goethals was good enough to read and 
correct the chapters relating to the construction 
of the canal, and, when shown a list of the chapters 
proposed, he asked that the one headed "The 
Man at the Helm" be omitted. The author felt 
that to bow to his wishes in that matter would be 
to fail to tell the whole story of the canal, and so 
Colonel Goethals did not read that chapter. 

Every American is proud of the great national 
achievement at Panama. If, in the case of the 
individual, this book is able to supplement that 
pride by an ample fund of knowledge and in- 
formation, its object and purpose will have been 


The grateful acknowledgments of the author are 
due to Mr. William Joseph Showalter for his valu- 
able aid in gathering and preparing the material for 
this book. Acknowledgments are also due to Colonel 
George W. Goethals, chairman and chief engineer 
of the Isthmian Canal Commission, for reading 
and correcting those chapters in the book pertain- 
ing to the engineering phases of the work; to Mr. 
Ernest Hallen, the official photographer of the 
Commission, for the photographs with which the 
book is illustrated; to Mr. Gilbert H. Grosvenor, 
editor of the National Geographic Magazine, for 
permission to use the bird's-eye view map of the 
canal; to Mr. G. Thomas Ritchie, of the Library of 
Congress, for assistance in preparing the index; 
and to Mr. Howard E. Sherman, of the Govern- 
ment Printing Office, for revising the proofs to 
conform with the typographical style of the United 
States Government. 



I. The Land Divided— The World United .... 3 

II. Greatest Engineering Project 23 

III. Gatun Dam S2 

IV. The Locks 45 

V. The Lock Machinery 57 

VI. Culebra Cut . 70 

VII. Ends of the Canal 83 

VIII. The Panama Railroad 93 

IX. Sanitation 105 

X. The Man at the Helm 118 

XI. The Organization 133 

XII. The American Workers 145 

XIII. The Negro Workers 154 

XIV. The Commissary 164 

XV. Life on the Zone 176 

XVI. Past Isthmian Projects 194 

XVII. The French Failure 206 

XVIII. Choosing the Panama Route 221 

XIX. Controversy with Colombia . . .^ 233 

XX. Relations with Panama .,:.,. 246 

XXI. Canal Zone Government 256 

XXII. Congress and the Canal ...,....,;«*; 268 

XXIII. Sea Level Canal Impossible 277 

XXIV. Fortifications 283 

XXV. Fixing the Tolls 295 

XXVI. The Operating Force .,.;*«.,.... 309 

XXVII. Handling the Traffic 317 

XXVIII. The Republic of Panama 326 

XXIX. Other Great Canals 335 

XXX. A New Commercial Map 347 

XXXI. American Trade Opportunities 358 

XXXII. The Panama-Pacific Exposition 368 


Birdseye View of the Panama Canal Zone .... Color insert 


George W. Goethals, Chairman and Chief Engineer .... 10 

A Street in the City of Panama . 11 

Theodore Roosevelt 18 

William Howard Taft 18 

Woodrow Wilson 18 

Vendors in tiie Streets of Panama 19 

A Native Boy Marketing 19 

Lieut. Col. W. L. Sibert 43 

The Upper Locks at Gatun 42 

Toro Point Breakwater 43 

Concrete Mixers, Gatun 50 

A Center Wall Culvert, Gatun Locks 50 

The Machinery for Moving a Lock Gate 51 

Steam Shovels INIceting at Bottom of Culebra Cut .... 74 

L. K. Rourke 74 

The Man-made Canyon at Culebra 75 

The Disastrous Effects of Slides in Culebra Cut 83 

U. S. Ladder Dredge "Corozal" 83 

A Mud Bucket of the "Corozal" 83 

W\ G. Comber 83 

Col. William C. Gorgas 106 

The Hospital Grounds, Ancon 106 

Lieut. Frederic Mears 107 

The Old Panama Railroad 107 

Sanitary Drinking Cup 114 

Mosquito Oil Drip Barrel . 114 

Spraying Mosquito Oil 114 

Typical Quarters of the Married Laborer 115 

A Native Hut . 115 

Maj. Gen. George W. Davis 138 

Rear Admiral J. G. Walker 138 

Theodore P. Shonts > . . 138 

John F. Wallace , . 138 




John F. Stevens 138 

Charles E. Magoon 138 

Richard Lee Metcalfe 139 

Emory R. Johnson 139 

Maurice H. Thatcher 139 

Joseph Bucklin Bishop 139 

H. A. Gudger 139 

Joseph C. S. Blackburn 139 

Brig. Gen. Carroll A. Devol 14-6 

American Living Quarters at Cristobal 146 

Harry H. Rousseau 147 

Lowering a Caisson Section . 147 

John Burke 170 

Meal Time at an I. C. C. Kitchen 170 

Washington Hotel, Colon 171 

Major Eugene T. Wilson 171 

The Tivoli Hotel, Ancon 171 

Floyd C. Freeman 178 

I. C. C. Club House at Culebra 178 

A. Bruce Minear 179 

Reading Room in the I. C. C. Club House, Culebra .... 179 

Col. Chester L. Harding 202 

The Gatun Upper Locks 203 

Lieut. Col. David D. Gaillard 203 

Culebra Cut, Showing Cucaracha Slide in Left Center . . . 203 

The Man of Brawn 210 

Ferdinand de Lesseps 211 

An Old French Excavator Near Tabernilla 211 

Philippe Bunau-Varilla 211 

S. B. WilUamson 234 

The Lower Gates, Miraflores Locks 234 

Middle Gates, Miraflores Locks 235 

H. O. Cole 235 

The Pay Car at Culebra 242 

Edward J. Williams 242 

Uncle Sam's Laundry at Cristobal 243 

Smoke from Heated Rocks in Culebra Cut 266- 

Tom M. Cooke 267 

The Post Office, Ancon 267 

A Negro Girl 274 

A Martinique Woman 274 



San Bias Chief 374 

An Indian Girl ........ .^ 274 

An Italian 274 

A Timekeeper 274 

A Spaniard 274 

A Negro Boy 274 

Testing the Emergency Dam, Gatun Locks . 275 

Col. Harry F. Hodges 275 

The Ancon Baseball Park 298 

Caleb M. Saville 299 

Gatun Spillway from Above and Below . . . ... . 299 

An Electric Towing Locomotive in Action 306 

Blowing Up the Second Dike South of Miraflores Locks . . . 307 


A Graphic Illustration of the Material Handled at Panama . 25 

A Cross Section of the Gatun Dam 35 

Plan of the Gatun Dam and Locks 36 

A Profile Section of the Canal 40 

From a Model of Pedro Miguel Lock 48 

A Cross-section of Locks, Giving an Idea of Their Size . . 49 

One of the 92 Gate-leaf Master Wheels 64 

A Mauritania in the Locks 67 

The Effect of Slides 72 

Average Shape and Dimensions of Culebra Cut 75 

The Corozal and Its Method of Attack 85 

International Shipping Routes 351 

A Map Showing Isthmus with the Completed Canal . . . 379 

The Panama Canal 

"/ have read the chapters in ^The Panama CanaV 
dealing with the engineering features of the Canal 
and have found them an accurate and dependable 
account of the undertaking,'' 

Geo. W. Goethals. 




THE Panama Canal is a waterway connect- 
ing the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, cut 
through the narrow neck of land con- 
necting the continents of North and South America. 
It is the solution of the problem of international 
commerce that became acute in 1452 when the 
Eastern Roman Empire fell before the assaults 
of the Turks, and the land routes to India were 
closed to Western and Christian Europe. 

Forty years after the Crescent supplanted the 
Cross on the dome of St. Sophia in Constantinople, 
Columbus set sail to seek a western route to the 
Indies. He did not find it, but it was his fortune 
to set foot on the Isthmus of Panama, where, 
more than four centuries later, the goal of his 
ambition was to be achieved; not by discovery, 
but by virtue of the strength and wealth of a new 
nation of which he did not dream, although its 
existence is due to his own intrepid courage. 

Columbus died not knowing that he had mul- 
tiplied the world by two, and many voyagers after 
him also vainly sought the longed-for western pas- 


sage. Magellan sought it thousands of leagues to 
the southward in the cold and stormy seas that 
encircle the Antarctic Continent. Scores of mar- 
iners sought it to the northward, but only one, 
Amundsen, in the twentieth century, was able to 
take a ship through the frozen passages of the 
American north seas. . 

Down the western coast of the new continent 
from the eternal ice of Alaska through the Tropics 
to the southern snows of Tierra del Fuego, the 
mighty Cordilleras stretch a mountain barrier thou- 
sands and thousands and thousands of miles. 

Where that mountain chain is narrowest, and 
where its peaks are lowest, ships may now go 
through the Panama Canal. The canal is cut 
through the narrowest part of the Isthmus but 
one, and through the Culebra Mountain, the 
lowest pass but one, in all that longest, mightiest 
range of mountains. There is a lower place in 
Nicaragua, and a narrower place on the Isthmus 
east of the canal, but the engineers agreed that 
the route from Colon on the Atlantic to Panama 
on the Pacific through Culebra Mountain was the 
most practicable. 

The canal is 50 miles long. Fifteen miles of 
it is level with the oceans, the rest is higher. Ships 
are lifted up in giant locks, three steps, to sail 
for more than 30 miles across the continental 
divide, 85 feet above the surface of the ocean, then 
let down by three other locks to sea level again. 
The channel is 300 feet wide at its narrowest place, 
and the locks which form the two gigantic water 
stairways are capable of lifting and lowering the 
largest ships now afloat. A great part of the 


higher level of the canal is the largest artificial 
lake in the world, made by impounding the waters 
of the Chagres River, thus filling with water the 
lower levels of the section. Another part of the 
higher level is Culebra Cut, the channel cut through 
the backbone of the continent. 

Almost before Columbus died plans were made 
for cutting such a channel. With the beginning 
of the nineteenth century and the introduction of 
steam navigation, the demand for the canal began 
to be insistent. 

Many plans were made, but it remained for the 
French, on New Year's Day of 1880, actually to 
begin the work. They failed, but not before they 
had accomplished much toward the reduction of 
Culebra Cut. They expended between 1880 and 
1904 no less than $300,000,000 in their ill-fated 

In 1904 the United States of America undertook 
the task. In a decade it was completed and the 
Americans had spent, all told, $375,000,000 in the 

Because the Atlantic lies east and the Pacific 
west of the United States, one is likely to imagine 
the canal as a huge ditch cut straight across a 
neck of land from east to west. But it must be 
remembered that South America lies eastward 
from North America, and that the Isthmus con- 
necting the two has its axis east and west. The 
canal, therefore, is cut from the Atlantic south- 
eastward to the Pacific. It lies directly south of 
Pittsburgh, Pa., and it brings Peru and Chile 
closer to New York than California and Oregon. 
The first 7 miles of the canal, beginning at the 


Atlantic end, run directly south and from thence 
to the Pacific it pursues a serpentine course in a 
southeasterly direction. 

At the northern, or Atlantic, terminus are the 
twin cities of Colon and Cristobal, Colon dating 
from the middle of the nineteenth century when 
the railroad was built across the Isthmus, and 
Cristobal having its beginnings with the French 
attempt in 1880. At the southern, or Pacific, 
terminus are the twin cities of Panama and Balboa. 
Panama was founded in 1673 after the destruction 
by Morgan, the buccaneer, of an elder city estab- 
lished in 1519. The ruins of the old city stand 
5 miles east of the new, and, since their story is 
one, it may be said that Panama is the oldest city 
of the Western World. Balboa is yet in its swad- 
dling clothes, for it is the new American town des- 
tined to be the capital of the American territory 
encompassing the canal. 

The waterway is cut through a strip of terri- 
tory called the Canal Zone, which to all intents 
and purposes is a territory of the United States. 
This zone is 10 miles wide and follows the irregular 
line of the canal, extending 5 miles on either side 
from the axis of the channel. This Canal Zone 
traverses and separates the territory of the Re- 
public of Panama, which includes the whole of 
the Isthmus, and has an area about equal 
to that of Indiana and a population of 350,000 
or about that of Washington City. The two chief 
Panaman cities, Panama and Colon, lie within 
the limits of the Canal Zone, but, by the treaty, 
they are excepted from its government and are an 
integral part of the Republic of Panama, of which 


the city of Panama is the capital. Cristobal and 
Balboa, although immediately contiguous to Colon 
and Panama, are American towns under the Amer- 
ican flag. 

The Canal Zone historically and commercially 
has a record of interest and importance longer and 
more continuous than any other part of the New 
World. Columbus himself founded a settlement 
here at Nombre de Dios; Balboa here discovered 
the Pacific Ocean; across this narrow neck was 
transported the spoil of the devastated Empire 
of the Incas; here were the ports of call for the 
Spanish gold-carrying galleons; and here cen- 
tered the activities of the pirates and buccaneers 
that were wont to prey on the commerce of the 
Spanish Main. 

Over this route, on the shoulders of slaves and 
the back of mules, w^ere transported the wares 
in trade of Spain with its colonies not only on the 
west coasts of the Americas, but with the Philip- 

Not far from Colon was the site of the colony 
of New Caledonia, the disastrous undertaking of 
the Scotchman, Patterson, who founded the Bank 
of England, to duplicate in America the enormous 
financial success of the East India Company in 

Here in the ancient city of Panama in the early 
part of the nineteenth century assembled the first 
Pan American conference that gave life to the 
Monroe doctrine and ended the era of European 
colonization in America. 

Here was built with infinite labor and terrific 
toll of life the first railroad connecting the Atlantic 


and the Pacific Oceans — a railroad less than 50 
miles in length, but with perhaps the most in- 
teresting story in the annals of railroading. 

Across this barrier in '49 clambered the American 
argonauts, seeking the newly discovered golden 
fleeces of California. 

This was the theater of the failure of Count de 
Lesseps, the most stupendous financial fiasco in 
the history of the world. 

And this, now, is the site of the most expensive 
and most successful engineering project ever under- 
taken by human beings. 

It cost the French $300,000,000 to fail at Panama 
where the Americans, at the expenditure of $375,- 
000,000, succeeded. And, of the excavation done 
by the French, only $30,000,000 worth was avail- 
able for the purpose of the Americans. That 
the Americans succeeded where the French had 
failed is not to be assigned to the superiority of 
the American over the French nation. The 
reasons are to be sought, rather, in the underlying 
purposes of the two undertakings, and in the 
scientific and engineering progress made in the 
double decade intervening between the time when 
the French failure became apparent and the 
Americans began their work. 

In the first place, the French undertook to build 
the canal as a money-making proposition. People 
in every grade of social and industrial life in France 
contributed from their surpluses and from their 
hard-earned savings money to buy shares in the 
canal company in the hope that it would yield 
a fabulously rich return. Estimates of the costs 
of the undertaking, made by the engineers, were 


arbitrarily cut down by financiers, with the result 
that repeated calls were made for more money 
and the shareholders soon found to their dismay 
that they must contribute more and yet more before 
they could hope for any return whatever. From 
the beginning to the end, the French Canal Com- 
pany was concerned more with problems of pro- 
motion and finance than with engineering and 
excavation. As a natural result of this spirit at 
the head of the undertaking the whole course 
of the project was marred by an orgy of graft and 
corruption such as never had been known. Every 
bit of work was let out by contract, and the con- 
tractors uniformly paid corrupt tribute to high 
officers in the company. No watch was set on 
expenditures; everything bought for the canal 
was bought at prices too high; everything it had to 
sell was practically given away. 

In the next place, the French were pitiably at 
the mercy of the diseases of the Tropics. The 
science of preventive medicine had not been suf- 
ficiently developed to enable the French to know 
that mosquitoes and filth were enemies that must 
be conquered and controlled before it would be 
possible successfully to attack the land barrier. 
Yellow fever and malaria killed engineers and 
common laborers alike. The very hospitals, which 
the French provided for the care of the sick, were 
turned into centers of infection for yellow fever, 
because the beds were set in pans of water which 
served as ideal breeding places for the death-bear- 
ing stegomyia. 

In this atmosphere of lavish extravagance caused 
by the financial corruption, and in the continual 


fear of quick and awful death, the morals of the 
French force were broken; there was no determined 
spirit of conquest; interest centered in champagne 
and women; the canal was neglected. 

Yet, in spite of this waste, this corruption of 
money and morals, much of the work done by the 
French was of permanent value to the Americans; 
and without the lessons learned from their bitter 
experience it would have been impossible for the 
Americans or any other people to have completed 
the canal so quickly and so cheaply. 

The Americans brought to the task another 
spirit. The canal was to be constructed not in 
the hope of making money, but, rather, as a great 
national and popular undertaking, designed to 
bring the two coasts of the great Republic in 
closer communication for purposes of commerce 
and defense. 

The early estimates made by the American 
engineers were far too low, but the French ex- 
perience had taught the United States to expect 
such an outcome. Indeed, it is doubtful if any- 
body believed that the first estimates would not 
be doubled or quadrupled before the canal was 

The journey of the U. S. S. Oregon around the 
Horn from Pacific waters to the theater of the War 
with Spain in the Caribbean, in 1898, impressed 
upon the American public the necessity of building 
the canal as a measure of national defense. Com- 
mercial interests long had been convinced of its 
necessity as a factor in both national and inter- 
national trade, and, when it was realized that 
the Oregon would have saved 8,000 miles if there 


Chairman arid Chief Engineer 



had been a canal at Panama, the American mind 
was made up. It determined that the canal 
should be built, whatever the cost. 

From the very first there was never any question 
that the necessary money would be forthcoming. 
It is a fact unprecedented in all parliamentary 
history that all of the appropriations necessary 
for the construction and completion of the Isth- 
mian waterway were made by Congress without 
a word of serious protest. 

During the same War with Spain that convinced 
the United States that the canal must be built, 
a long forward step was taken in the science of 
medicine as concerned with the prevention and 
control of tropical diseases. The theory that 
yellow fever was transmitted by mosquitoes had 
been proved by a Cuban physician, Dr. Carlos 
Finley, a score of years earlier. An Englishman, 
Sir Patrick Manson, had first shown that disease 
might be transmitted by the bites of insects, and 
another Englishman, Maj. Roland Ross, had 
shown that malaria was conveyed by mosquitoes. 
It remained, however, for American army surgeons 
to demonstrate, as they did in Cuba, that yellow 
fever was transmissible only by mosquitoes of 
the stegomyia variety and by no other means 

With this knowledge in their possession the 
Americans were able to do what the French were 
not — to control the chief enemy of mankind in 
torrid climes. In the first years of the work the 
public, and Congress, reflecting its views, were not 
sufficiently convinced of the efficacy of the new 
scientific discoveries to afford the means for put- 


ting them into effect. The Isthmian Canal Com- 
mission refused to honor requisitions for wire 
screens, believing that they were demanded to 
add to the comfort and luxury of quarters on the 
Zone, rather than for protection against disease. 
But the outbreak of yellow fever in 1905 was the 
occasion for furnishing the Sanitary Department, 
under Col. W. C. Gorgas, with the necessary 
funds, and thus provided, he speedily and com- 
pletely stamped out the epidemic. From that time 
on, no one questioned the part that sanitation 
played in the success of the project. The cities 
of Panama and Colon were cleaned up as never were 
tropical cities cleaned before. All the time, every 
day, men fought mosquitoes that the workers in 
the ditch might not be struck down at their labors. 

The Americans, too, made mistakes. In the 
beginning they attempted to build the canal under 
the direction of a commission with headquarters 
in Washington. This commission, at long dis- 
tance and by methods hopelessly involved in red 
tape, sought to direct the activities of the 
engineer in charge on the Isthmus. The public 
also was impatient with the long time required 
for preparation and insistently demanded that 
''the dirt begin to fly." 

The work was begun in 1904. It proceeded so 
slowly that two years later the chairman of the 
Isthmian Canal Commission asserted that it must 
be let out to a private contractor, this being, in 
his opinion, the only way possible to escape the 
toils of governmental red tape. The then chief 
engineer, the second man who had held that position 
while fretting under these methods, was opposed 


to the contract system. Bids were asked for, 
however, but all of them were rejected. 

Fortunately, Congress from the beginning had 
left the President a practically free hand in di- 
recting the course of the project. Mr. Roosevelt 
reorganized the commission, made Col. George 
W. Goethals, an Army engineer, chairman of the 
commission and chief engineer of the canal. 
The constitution of the commission was so changed 
as to leave all the power in the hands of the chair- 
man and to lay all of the responsibility upon his 

It was a master stroke of policy, and the event 
proved the choice of the man to be admirable in 
every way. From the day the Army engineers 
took charge there was never any more delay, never 
any halt in progress, and the only difficulties 
encountered were those of resistant Nature (such 
as the slides in Culebra Cut) and those of misin- 
formed public opinion (such as the absurd criticism 
of the Gatun Dam) . 

The Americans, too, in the early stages of the 
work were hampered by reason of the fact that 
the final decision as to whether to build a sea- 
level canal or a lock canal was so long delayed 
by the conflicting views of the partisans of each 
type in Congress, in the executive branches of 
the Government, and among the engineers. This 
problem, too, was solved by Mr. Roosevelt. He 
boldly set aside the opinion of the majority of the 
engineers who had been called in consultation on 
the problem, and directed the construction of a 
lock canal. The wisdom of this decision has been 
so overwhelmingly demonstrated that the con- 


troversy that once raged so furiously now seems 
to have been but a tiny tempest in an insignificant 

One other feature of the course of events under 
the American regime at Panama must be considered. 
Graft and corruption had ruined the French; the 
Americans were determined that whether they 
succeeded or not, there should be no scandal. 
This, indeed, in part explains why there was so 
much apparently useless circumlocution in the 
early stages of the project. Congress, the President, 
the engineers, all who were in responsible position, 
were determined that there should be no graft. 
There was none. 

Not only were the Americans determined that 
the money voted for the canal should be honestly 
and economically expended, but they were deter- 
mined, also, that the workers on the canal should 
be well paid and well cared for. To this end they 
paid not only higher wages than were current at 
home for the same work, but they effectively 
shielded the workers from the exactions and extor- 
tions of Latin and Oriental merchants by estab- 
lishing a commissary through which the employees 
were furnished wholesome food at reasonable 
prices — prices lower, indeed, than those pre- 
vailing at home. 

As a result of these things the spirit of the Ameri- 
cans on the Canal Zone, from the chairman and 
chief engineer down to the actual diggers, was 
that of a determination to lay the barrier low, 
and to complete the job well within the limit of 
time and at the lowest possible cost. In this 
spirit all Americans should rejoice, for it is the 


highest expression of the nearest approach we have 
made to the ideals upon which the Fathers founded 
our Repubhc. 

It is impossible to leave out of the reckoning, 
in telling the story of the canal, the checkered 
history of the diplomatic engagements on the 
part of the United States, that have served both 
to help and to hinder the undertaking. What is 
now the Republic of Panama has been, for the 
greater part of the time since continental Latin 
America threw off the yoke of Spain, a part of 
that Republic having its capital at Bogota, now 
under the name of Colombia, sometimes under 
the name of New Granada, sometimes a part of 
a federation including Venezuela and Ecuador. 
The United States, by virtue of the Monroe 
doctrine, always asserted a vague and undefined 
interest in the local affairs of the Isthmus. This 
was translated into a concrete interest when, in 
1846, a treaty was made, covering the construction 
of the railroad across the Isthmus, the United 
States engaging always to keep the transit free and 
open. Great Britain, by virtue of small terri- 
torial holdings in Central America and of larger 
claims there, also had a concrete interest, which 
was acknowledged by the United States, in the 
Clayton-Bulwer treaty of 1850, under which a pro- 
jected canal should be neutral under the guarantee 
of the Governments of the United States and 
Great Britain. 

For years the United States was inclined to 
favor a canal cut through Nicaragua, rather than 
one at Panama, and, after 1898, when the American 
nation had made up its mind to build a canal some- 


where, the partisans of the Panama and Nicaragua 
routes waged a bitter controversy. 

Congress finally decided the issue by giving 
the President authority to construct a canal at 
Panama, with the proviso that should he be 
unable to negotiate a satisfactory treaty with 
Colombia, which then owned the Isthmus, he 
should proceed to construct the canal through 
Nicaragua. Under this threat of having the 
scepter of commercial power depart forever from 
Panama, Colombia negotiated a treaty, known 
as the Hay-Herran treaty, giving the United 
States the right to construct the canal. This 
treaty, however, failed of ratification by the 
Colombian Congress, with the connivance of the 
very Colombian President who had negotiated it. 

But President Roosevelt was most unwilling 
to accept the alternative given him by Congress — 
that of undertaking the canal at Nicaragua — 
and this unwillingness, to say the least, encour- 
aged a revolution in Panama. This revolution 
separated the Isthmus from the Republic of Co- 
lombia, and set up the new Republic of Panama. 
As a matter of fact, Panama had had but the 
slenderest relations with the Bogota Government, 
had been for years in the past an independent 
State, had never ceased to assert its own sov- 
ereignty, and had been, indeed, the theater of 
innumerable revolutions. 

The part the United States played in encourag- 
ing this revolution, the fact that the United States 
authorities prevented the transit of Colombian 
troops over the Panama Railway, and that Ameri- 
can marines were landed at the time, has led to 


no end of hostile criticism, not to speak of the 
still pending and unsettled claims made by Colom- 
bia against the United States. Mr. Roosevelt 
himself, years after the event and in a moment of 
frankness, declared: '*I took Panama, and left 
Congress to debate it later." 

Whatever may be the jSnal outcome of our 
controversy with Colombia, it may be confidently 
predicted that history will justify the coup d' 
etat on the theory that Panama was the best 
possible site for the interoceanic canal, and that 
the rupture of relations between the territory 
of the Isthmus and the Colombian Republic was 
the best possible solution of a confused and tangled 

These diplomatic entanglements, however, as 
the canal is completed, leave two international 
disputes unsettled — the one with Colombia about 
the genesis of the canal undertaking, and the 
other with Great Britain about the terms of its 

Congress, in its wisdom, saw fit to exempt 
American vessels engaged exclusively in coastwise 
trade — that is to say, in trade solely between 
ports of the United States — from payment of 
tolls in transit through the canal. This exemption 
was protested by Great Britain on the ground 
that the Hay-Pauncefote treaty, which took the 
place of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, provided 
that the canal should be open to all nations on 
exact and equal terms. The future holds the 
termination of both these disputes. 

Congress, that never begrudged an appropria- 
tion, indulged in many disputes concerning the 


building and operation of the canal. First, there 
was the controversy as to site, between Nicaragua 
and Panama. Next, came the question as to 
whether the canal should be at sea level or of a 
lock type. Then there was the question of tolls, 
and the exemption of American coastwise traffic. 
But, perhaps the most acrimonious debates were 
on the question as to whether or not the canal 
should be fortified. Those who favored forti- 
fication won their victory, and the canal was made, 
from a military standpoint, a very Gibraltar 
for the American defense of, and control over, 
the Caribbean. That this was inevitable was 
assured by two facts: One that the trip of the 
Oregon in 1898 crystallized public sentiment in 
favor of constructing the canal; and the other 
that the canal itself was wrought by Army engineers 
under the direction of Colonel Goethals. Colonel 
Goethals never for a moment considered the 
possibility that Congress would vote against forti- 
fications, and the whole undertaking was carried 
forward on that basis. 

If the military idea, the notion of its necessity 
as a feature of the national defense, was the 
determining factor in initiating the canal project, it 
remains a fact that its chief use will be commercial, 
and that its money return, whether small or large, 
nearly all will be derived from tolls assessed upon 
merchant vessels passing through it. 

The question of the probable traffic the canal 
will be called upon to handle was studied as 
perhaps no other world-wide problem of trans- 
portation ever was. Prof. Emory R. Johnson 
was the student of this phase of the question from 





the beginning to the end. He estimates that the 
canal in the first few years of its operation will have 
a traffic of 10,000,000 tons of shipping each year, 
and that by 1975 this wall have increased to 80,000,- 
000 tons, the full capacity of the canal in its 
present form. Provision has been made against 
this contingency by the engineers who have so 
constructed the canal that a third set of locks at 
each end may be constructed at a cost of about 
$25,000,000, and these will be sufficient almost 
to double the present ultimate capacity, and to 
take care of a larger volume of traffic than now 
can be foreseen. 

Americans are interested, first of all, in what 
the canal will do for their own domestic trade. 
It brings Seattle 7,800 miles nearer to New York; 
San Francisco, 8,800 miles nearer to New Orleans; 
Honolulu 6,600 miles nearer to New York than 
by the Strait of Magellan. Such saving in 
distance for water-borne freight w^orks a great 
economy, and inevitably must have a tremendous 

. eflfect upon transcontinental American commerce. 
In foreign commerce, also, some of the distances 

•saved are tremendous. For instance, Guayaquil, 
in Ecuador, is 7,400 miles nearer to New York by 
the canal than by the Strait of Magellan; Yoko- 
hama is nearly 4,000 miles nearer to New York 
by Panama than by Suez; and Melbourne is 
1,300 miles closer to Liverpool by Panama than 
by either Suez or the Cape of Good Hope. Curi- 
ously enough, the distance from Manila to New 
York, by way of Suez and Panama, is almost the 
same, the difference in favor of Panama being 
only 41 miles out of a total of 11,548 miles. The 


diflference in distance from Hongkong to New York 
by the two canals is even less, being only 18 miles, 
this slight advantage favoring Suez. 

^But it is not by measure of distances that 
the effect of the canal on international commerce 
may be measured. It spells the development of 
the all but untouched western coast of South 
America and Mexico. It means a tremendous 
up-building of foreign commerce in our own Mis- 
sissippi Valley and Gulf States. It means an 
unprecedented commercial and industrial awaken- 
ing in the States of our Pacific coast and the 
Provinces of Western Canada. 

While it was not projected as a money-making 
proposition, it will pay for its maintenance and a 
slight return upon the money invested from the 
beginning, and in a score of years will be not only 
self-supporting, but will yield a sufficient income 
to provide for the amortization of its capital in a 
hundred years. 

The story of how this titanic work was under- 
taken, of how it progressed, and of how it was 
crowned with success, is a story without a parallel 
in the annals of man. The canal itself, as Am- 
bassador Bryce has said, is the greatest liberty 
man has ever taken with nature. 

Its digging was a steady and progressive vic- 
tory over sullen and resistant nature. The ditch 
through Culel3ra Mountain was eaten out by 
huge steam shovels of such mechanical perfection 
that they seemed almost to be alive, almost to 
know what they were doing. The rocks and 
earth they bit out of the mountain side were 
carried away by trains operating in a system of 


such skill that it is the admiration of all the trans- 
portation world, for the problem of disposing of 
the excavated material was even greater than 
that of taking it out. 

The control of the torrential Chagres River 
by the Gatun Dam, changing the river from the 
chief menace of the canal to its essential and salient 
feature, was no less an undertaking. And, long 
after Gatun Dam and Culebra Cut cease to be 
marvels, long after the Panama Canal becomes as 
much a matter of course as the Suez Canal, men 
still will be thrilled and impressed by the wonderful 
machinery of the locks — those great water stair- 
ways, operated by machinery as ingenious as 
gigantic, and holding in check with their mighty 
gates such floods as never elsewhere have been 

It is a wonderful story that this book is under- 
taking to tell. There will be much in it of engi- 
neering feats and accomplishments, because its 
subject is the greatest of all engineering accomplish- 
ments. There will be much in it of the things 
that were done at Panama during the period of 
construction, for never were such things done 
before. There will be much in it of the history 
of how and why the American Government came 
to undertake the work, for nothing is of greater 
importance. There will be something in it of 
the future, looking with conservatism and care 
as far ahead as may be, to outline what the com- 
pletion of this canal will mean not only for the 
people of the United States, but for the people of 
all the world. 

Much that might be written of the romantic 


history of the Isthmian territory — tales of dis- 
coverers and conquistadores, \vild tales of pirates 
and buccaneers, serio-comic narratives of intrigue 
and revolution — is left out of this book, because, 
while it is interesting, it now belongs to that 
antiquity which boasts of many, many books; 
and this volume is to tell not of Panama, but of 
the Panama Canal — on the threshold of its 
story, fitted by a noble birth for a noble destiny. 



THE Panama Canal is the greatest engineer-- 
ing project of all history. There is more 
than the patriotic prejudice of a people 
proud of their own achievements behind this 
assertion. Men of all nations concede it without 
question, and felicitate the United States upon 
the remarkable success with which it has been 
carried out. So distinguished an authority as 
the Rt. Hon. James Bryce, late British ambassador 
to Washington, and a man not less famous in 
the world of letters than successful in the field 
of diplomacy, declared before the National Geo- 
graphic Society that not only is the Panama Canal 
the greatest undertaking of the past or the present 
but that even the future seems destined never to 
offer any land-dividing, world-uniting project com- 
parable to it in magnitude or consequence. 

We are told that the excavations total 232,000,- 
000 cubic yards; that the Gatun Dam contains 
21,000,000 cubic yards of material; and that the 
locks and spillways required the laying of some 
4,500,1)00 cubic yards of concrete. But if one 
is to realize the meaning of this he must get out 
of the realm of cubic yards and into the region of 
concrete comparisons. Every one is familiar 
with the size and shape of the Washington Monu- 



ment. With its base of 55 feet square and its 
height of 555 feet, it is one of the most imposing 
of all the hand reared structures of the earth. 
Yet the material excavated from the big water- 
way at Panama represents 5,840 such solid-built 
shafts. Placed in a row with base touching base they 
would traverse the entire Isthmus and reach 10 miles 
beyond deep water in the two oceans at Panama. 
Placed in a square with base touching base they 
would cover an area of 475 acres. If all the material 
were placed in one solid shaft with a base as 
large as the average city block, it would tower 
nearly 100,000 feet in the air. 

Another illustration of the magnitude of the 
quantity of material excavated at Panama may 
be had from a comparison with the pyramid of 
Cheops, of which noble pile some one has said 
that "AH things fear Time, but Time fears only 
Cheops." We are told that it required a hundred 
thousand men 10 years to make ready for the 
building of that great structure, and 20 years more 
to build it. There were times at Panama when, in 
26 working days, more material was removed from 
the canal than was required to build Cheops, and 
from first to last the Americans removed mate- 
rial enough to build sixty-odd pyramids such as 
Cheops. Were it all placed in one such structure, 
with a base as large as that of Cheops, the apex 
would tower higher into the sky than the loftiest 
mountain on the face of the earth. 

Still another way of arriving at a true con- 
ception of the work of digging the big water- 
way is to consider that enough material had to 
be removed by the Americans to make a tunnel 


through the earth at the equator more than 12 feet 

But perhaps the comparison that will best il- 
lustrate the immensity of the task of digging 
the ditch is that of the big Lidgerwood dirt car, 


on which so much of the spoil has been hauled 
away. Each car holds about 20 cubic yards of 
dirt, and 21 cars make a train. The material 
removed from the canal would fill a string of these 
ears reaching about three and a half times around 
the earth, and it would take a string of Panama 
Railroad engines reaching almost from New York 
to Honolulu to move them. 

Yet all these comparisons have taken account 
of the excavations only. The construction of 
the Panama Canal represents much besides dig- 
ging a ditch, for there were some immense struc- 
tures to erect. Principal among these, so far as 
magnitude is concerned, was the Gatun Dam, 
that big ridge of earth a mile and a half long, 
half a mile thick at the base, and 105 feet high. 
It contains some 21,000,000 cubic yards of mate- 
rial, enough to build more than 500 solid shafts 
like the Washington Monument. Then there 
was the dam at Pedro Miguel — "Peter Magill," 


as the irreverent boys of Panama christened it — 
and another at Miraflores, each of them small in 
comparison with the great embankment at Gatun, 
but together containing as much material as 70 
solid shafts like our Washington Monument. 

Besides these structures there still remain the 
locks and spillways, with their four and a half 
million cubic yards of concrete and their hundreds 
and thousands of tons of steel. 

With all these astonishing comparisons in 
mind, is it strange that the digging of the Panama 
Canal is the world's greatest engineering project? 
Are they not enough to stamp it as the greatest 
single achievement in human history .^^ Yet even 
they, pregnant of meaning as they are, fail to 
reveal the full and true proportions of the work 
of our illustrious army of canal diggers. They tell 
nothing of the difficulties which were overcome — 
difficulties before which the bravest spirit might 
have quailed. 

When the engineers laid out the present proj- 
ect, they calculated that 103,000,000 cubic yards 
of material would have to be excavated, and pre- 
dicted that the canal diggers would remove' that 
much in nine years. Since that time the amount 
of material to be taken out has increased from one 
cause or another until it now stands at more than 
double the original estimate. At one time there 
was an increase for widening the Culebra Cut 
by 50 per cent. At another time there was an 
increase to take care of the 225 acres of slides 
that vv^ere pouring into the big ditch like glaciers. 
At still another time there was an increase for 
the creation of a small lake between the locks at 


Pedro Miguel and Miraflores. At yet another 
time it was found that the Chagres River and the 
currents of the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans 
were depositing large quantities of silt and mud 
in the canal, and this again raised the total amount 
of material to be excavated. But none of these 
unforeseen obstacles and additional burdens dis- 
mayed the engineers. They simply attacked their 
problem with renewed zeal and quickened en- 
ergy, with the result that they excavated in 
seven yeafcrs of actual operations more than twice 
as muchmiaterial as they were expected to excavate 
in nine years. In other words, the material to 
be removed was increased 125 per cent and yet 
the canal was opened at least 12 months ahead 
of the time predicted. 

How this unprecedented efficiency was developed 
forms in itself a remarkable story of achievement. 
The engineers met with insistent demands that 
they "make the dirt fly." The people had seen 
many months of preparation, but they had no 
patience with that; they wanted to see the ditch 
begin to deepen. It was a critical stage in the 
history of the project. If the dirt should fail to 
fly public sentiment would turn away from the 

So John F. Stevens addressed himself to making 
it fly. Before he left he had brought the monthly 
output almost up to the million yard mark. 
When that mark was passed the President of the 
United States, on behalf of himself and the nation, 
sent a congratulatory message to the canal army. 
Many people asserted that it was nothing but a 
burst of speed; but the canal diggers squared 


themselves for a still higherviecord. They forced 
up the mark to two million a month, and straight- 
way used that as a rallying point from which to 
charge the heights three million. Once again 
the standard was raised; ''four million" became 
the slogan. Wherever that slogan was flashed 
upon a Y. M. C. A. stereoptican screen there was 
cheering — cheering that expressed a determined 
purpose. Finally, when March, 1909, came around 
all hands went to work with set jaws, and for 
the only time in the history of the world there 
was excavated on a single project, 4,000,000 
cubic yards of material in one month. 

With the dirt moving, came the question of 
the cost of making it fly. By eliminating a bit 
of lost motion here and taking up a bit of waste 
there, even with the price of skilled labor fully 
50 per cent higher on the Isthmus than in the 
States, unit costs were sent down to surprisingly 
low levels. For instance, in 1908 it was costing 
11| cents a cubic yard to operate a steam shovel; 
in 1911 this had been forced down to 8 J cents a 
yard. In 1908 more than 18 J cents were expended 
to haul a cubic yard of spoil 8 miles; in 1911 a 
cubic yard was hauled 12 miles for a little more 
than 15| cents. 

Some of the efficiency results were astonishing. 
To illustrate: One would think that the working 
power of a ton of dynamite would be as great 
at one time as another; and yet the average 
ton of dynamite in 1911 did just twice as much 
work as in 1908. No less than $50,000 a month 
was saved by shaking out cement bags. 

It was this wonderful efficiency that enabled 


the United States to build the canal for $375,- 
000,000 when without it the cost might have 
reached $600,000,000. In 1908, after the army 
had been going at regulation double-quick for a 
year, a board was appointed to estimate just how 
much material would have to be taken out, and 
how much it would cost. That board estimated 
that the project as then planned would require 
the excavation of 135,000,000 cubic yards of 
material, and that the total cost of the canal as 
then contemplated would be $375,000,000. Also 
it was estimated that the canal would be completed 
by January 1, 1915. After that time the amount 
of material to be excavated was increased by 
97,000,000 cubic yards, and yet so great was the 
efficiency developed that the savings effected 
permitted that great excess of material to be 
removed without the additional expense of a single 
penny above the estimates of 1908, and in less 
time than was forecast. 

Although the difficulties that beset the canal 
diggers were such as engineers never before en- 
countered, they were met and brushed aside, and 
all the world's engineering records were smashed 
into smithereens. It required 20 years to build 
the Suez Canal, through a comparatively dry and 
sandy region. When the w^ork at Panama was 
at its height the United States was excavating 
the equivalent of a Suez Canal every 15 months. 
Likewise it required many years to complete 
the Manchester Ship Canal between Liverpool and 
Manchester, a distance of 35 miles. This canal 
cost so much more than was estimated that money 
was raised for its completion only with the greatest 


difficulty. Yet at Panama the Americans dug 
four duplicates of the Msfenchester Ship Canal 
in five years. All of this was done in spite of 
the fact that they had to work in a moist, hot, 
enervating climate where for nine months in a 
year the air seems filled with moisture to the 
point of saturation, and where, for more than half 
the length of the great ditch, the annual rainfall 
often amounts to as much as 10 feet — all of 
this falling in the nine months of the wet season. 

A few comparisons outside of the construction 
itseK will serve to illustrate the tremendous pro- 
portions of the work. Paper money was not 
handled at all in paying off the canal army. It 
took three days to pay off the force with American 
gold and Panaman silver. When pay day was 
over there had been given into the hands of the 
Americans, and thrown into the hats of the Span- 
iards and West Indian negroes, 1,600 pounds of 
gold and 24 tons of silver. When it is remembered 
that this performance was repeated every month 
for seven years, one may imagine the enormous 
outlay of money for labor. 

The commissary also illustrates 'the magnitude 
of the work. Five million loaves of bread, a 
hundred thousand pounds of cheese, more than 
9,000,000 pounds of meat, half a million pounds 
of poultry, more than a thousand carloads of ice, 
more than a million pounds of onions, half a mil- 
lion pounds of butter — these are some of the 
items handled in a single year. 

Wherever one turns he finds things which fur- 
nish collateral evidence of the magnitude of the 
work. The Sanitary Department used each year 


150,000 gallons of mosquito oil, distributed 
thousands of pounds of quinine, cut and burned 
millions of square yards of brush, and spent half 
a million dollars for hospital maintenance. 

No other great engineering project has allowed 
such a remarkable "margin of safety" — the 
engineering term for doing things better than they 
need to be done. The engineers who dug the 
canal took nothing for granted. No rule of 
physics was so plain or so obvious as to escape 
actual physical proof before its acceptance, when 
such proof was possible. No one who knows how 
the engineers approached the subject, how they 
resolved every doubt on the side of safety, and 
how they kept so far away from the danger line 
as actually to make their precaution seem excessive 
can doubt that the Panama Canal will go down 
in history as the most thorough as well as the 
most extensive piece of engineering in the world. 



THE key to the whole Panama Canal is 
Gatun Dam, that great mass of earth that 
impounds the waters of the Chagres 
River, makes of the central portion of the canal 
a great navigable lake with its surface 85 feet 
above the level of the sea, and, in short, renders 
practicable the operation of a lock type of canal 
across the Isthmus. 

Around no other structure in the history of 
engineering did the fires of controversy rage so 
furiously and so persistently as they raged for sev- 
eral years around Gatun Dam. It was attacked 
on this side and that; its foundations were pro- 
nounced bad and its superstructure not watertight. 
Doubt as to the stability of such a structure 
led some of the members of the Board of Con- 
sidting Engineers to recommend a sea-level canal. 
Further examination of the site and experimen- 
tation with the materials of which it was proposed 
to construct it, showed the engineers that it was 
safe as to site and satisfactory as to superstructure. 
The country had about accepted their conclusions, 
when, in the fall of 1908, there was a very heavy 
rain on the Isthmus, and some stone which had 
been deposited on the soil on the upstream toe of 
the dam, sank out of sight — just as the engineers 


expected it to do. A story thereupon was sent 
to the States announcing that the Gatun Dam had 
given way and that the Chagres River was rush- 
ing unrestrained through it to the sea. The public 
never stopped to recall that the dam was not yet 
there to give way, or to inquire exactly what had 
happened, and a wave of public distrust swept over 
the country. 

To make absolutely certain that everything was 
all right, and to restore the confidence of the people 
in the big project. President Roosevelt selected the 
best board of engineers he could find and sent them 
to the Isthmus in company with President-elect 
Taf t to see exactly what was the situation at Gatun. 

They examined the site, they examined the 
material, they examined the evidence in Colonel 
Goethal's hands. When they got through they 
announced that they had only one serious criti- 
cism to make of the dam as proposed. "It is not 
necessary to tie a horse with a log chain to make 
sure he can not break away," observed one of 
them, "a smaller chain would serve just as well." 
And so they recommended that the crest of the 
dam be lowered from 135 feet to 115 ^eet. Still 
later this was cut to 105 feet. They found that 
the underground river whose existence was urged 
by all who opposed a lock canal, flowed nowhere 
save in the fertile valleys of imagination. The 
engineers had known this a long time, but out of 
deference to the doubters they had decided to 
drive a lot of interlocking sheet piling across the 
Chagres Valley. "What's the use trying to stop 
a river that does not exist?" queried the engineers, 
and so the sheet piling was omitted. 


As a matter of fact, Ga^un Dam proved the 
happiest surprise of the whole waterway. In 
every particular it more than fulfilled the most 
optimistic prophecies of the engineers. They said 
that what little seepage there would be would not 
hurt anything; the dam answered by showing no 
seepage at all. They said that the hydraulic core 
would be practically impervious; it proved abso- 
lutely so. Where it was once believed that Gatun 
Dam would be the hardest task on the Isthmus it 
proved to be the easiest. Culebra Cut exchanged 
places with it in that regard. 

Gatun Dam contains nearly 22,000,000 cubic 
yards of material. Assuming that it takes two 
horses to pull a cubic yard of material it would re- 
quire twice as many horses as there are in the 
United States to move the dam were it put on 
wheels. Loaded into ordinary two-horse dirt 
wagons it would make a procession of them some 
80,000 miles long. The dam is a mile and a half 
long, a half mile thick at the base, 300 feet thick 
at the water line, and 100 feet thick at the crest. 
Its height is 105 feet. 

Yet in spite of its vast dimensions it is the most 
inconspicuous object in the landscape. Grown 
over with dense tropical vegetation it looks little 
more conspicuous than a gradual rise in the sur- 
face of the earth. Passengers passing Gatun on 
the Panama Railroad scarcely recognize the dam 
as such when they see it, so gradual are its slopes. 
An excellent idea of the gentle incline of the dam 
may be had by referring to the accompanying 
figure, which shows the outlines of a cross section 
of the dam. 


The materials of which it is constructed are 
also shown there. Starting on the upstream side 
there is a section made of solid material from 
Culebra Cut. Beyond this is the upstream toe of 
the dam, which is made of the best rock in the 


Culebra Cut. After this comes the hydraulic 
filL This material is a mixture of sand and clay 
which, when it dries out thoroughly, is compact 
and absolutely impervious to water. It was 
secured from the river channel and pumped with 
great 20-inch centrifugal pumps into the central 
portion of the dam, where a veritable pond was 
formed; the heavier materials settled to the bot- 
tom, forming layer after layer of the core, while 
the lighter particles, together with the water, 
passed oflf through drain pipes. In this way the 
water was not only the hod carrier of the dam 
construction, but the stone mason as well. Where 
there was the tiniest open space, even between two 
grains of sand, the water found it and slipped in as 
many small particles as were necessary to stop it up. 
Above the hydraulic fill on the upstream side is 
a layer of solid material, while that part of the 
face of the dam exposed to wave action is covered 
with heavy rock. The same is true of the crest. 
On the downstream half of the dam there is 
approximately 400 feet of hydraulic fill, then 400 
feet of solid fill, then a 30-foot toe, and then 
ordinary excavated material. 


The Chagres Valley is a wide one until it reaches 
Gatun. Here it narrows do^n to a mile and a half. 
It is across this valley that the Gatun Dam is 
thrown in opposition to the seaward journey of the 
Chagres waters. At the haKway point across 
the valley there was a little hill almost entirely of 
sohd rock. It happened to be planted exactly at 
the place the engineers needed it. Here they could 
erect their spillway for the control of the water in 
the lake above. 



The regulation of the water level in Gatun Lake 
is no small task, for the Chagres is one of the 
world's moodiest streams. At times it is a peace- 
ful, leisurely stream of some 2 feet in depth, while 
at other times it becomes a wild, roaring, torrential 
river of magnificent proportions. Sometimes it 
reaches such high stages that it sends a million 
gallons of water to the sea between the ticks of a 

In controlling the Chagres, the engineers again 


took what on any private work would have been 
regarded as absurd precaution. In the first place, 
Gatun Lake will be so big that the Chagres can 
break every record it heretofore has set, both for 
momentary high water and for sustained high 
water, and still, with no water being let out of the 
lake, it can continue to flow that way for a day and 
a half without disturbing things at all. It could 
flow for two days before any serious damage could 
be done. Thus the canal force might be off duty 
for some 45 hours, with the outlet closed, before 
any really serious damage could be done by the 
rampage of the river. 

But of course no one supposes that it would be 
humanly possible that two such contingencies 
as the highest water ever known, and everybody 
asleep at their posts for two days, could happen 
together. WTien the water in the lake reached its 
normal level of 87 feet the spillway gates would be 
opened, and, if necessary, it would begin to dis- 
charge 145,000 feet of water a second. This is 
17,000 feet more than the record for sustained flow 
heretofore set by the Chagres. But if it were 
found that even this was inadequate the culverts 
in the locks could be brought into play, and with 
them the full discharge would be brought up to 
194,000 feet a second, or 57,000 more than the 
Chagres has ever brought down. But suppose 
even this would not suflBce to take care of the 
floods of the Chagres? The spillway is so ar- 
ranged that as the level of the water in the lake 
rises the discharging capacity increases. With the 
spillway open, even if the Chagres were to double 
its record for continued high water, it would take 


many days to bring tlie lake level up to the danger 
point — 92 feet. When if reached that height 
the spillway would have a capacity of 222,000 
feet, which, with the aid of the big lock culverts, 
would bring the total discharge up to 262,000 feet 
a second — only 12,000 cubic feet less than 
double the highest known flow of the Chagres. 

But this is only characteristic of what one sees 
everywhere. Whether it be in making a spillway 
that would accommodate two rivers like the Chagres 
instead of one, or in building dams with 63 pounds 
of weight for every pound of pressure against it, 
or yet in building lock gates which will bear several 
times the maximum weight that can ever be brought 
against them, the work at Panama was done with 
the intent to provide against every possible con- 

The spillway through which the surplus waters 
of Gatun Lake will be let down to the sea level, 
is a large semicircular concrete dam structure 
with the outside curve upstream and the inside 
curve downstream. Projecting above the dam 
are 13 piers and 2 abutments, which divide it into 
14 openings, each of them 45 feet wide. These 
openings are closed by huge steel gates, 45 feet 
wide, 20 feet high, and weighing 42 tons each. 
They are mounted on roller bearings, suspended 
from above, and are operated by electricity. They 
work in huge frames just as a window slides up and 
down in its frame. Each gate is independent of 
the others, and the amount of water permitted to 
go over the spillway dam thus can be regulated 
at will. 

When a huge volume of water like a million 


gallons a second is to be let down a distatice of 
about 60 feet, it may be imagined that unless some 
means are found to hold it back and let it descend 
easily, by the time it would reach the bottom it 
would be transformed into a thousand furies of 
energy. Therefore, the spillway dam has been 
made semicircular, with the outside lines pointing 
up into the lake and the inside lines downstream, 
so that as the water runs through the openings it 
will converge all the currents and cause them to 
collide on the apron below. This largely over- 
comes the madness of the water. But still fur- 
ther to neutralize its force and to make it harmless 
as it flows on its downward course, there are two 
rows of baffle piers on the apron of the spillway. 
They are about 10 feet high and are built of rein- 
forced concrete, with huge cast-iron blocks upon 
their upstream faces. When the water gets 
through them it has been tamed and robbed of all 
its dangerous force. The spillway is so con- 
structed that when the water flowing over it 
becomes more than 6 feet deep it adheres to the 
downstream face of the dam as it glides down, 
instead of rushing out and falling perpendicularly. 
The locks are situated against the high hills at 
the east side of the valley, after which comes the 
east wing of the dam, then the spillway, then the 
west wing of the dam, which terminates on the 
side of the low mountain that skirts the western 
side of the valley. With the hills bordering the 
valley and the dam across it, the engineers have 
been able to inclose a gigantic reservoir which has 
a superficial surface of 164 square miles. It is 
irregular in shape and might remind one of a 


pressed chrysanthemum, the flower representing 
the lake and the stem Ciriebra Cut. The surface 
of the water in this lake is normally 85 feet higher 
than the surface of the water seaward from Gatun 
and Miraflores. The lake is entirely fresh water 
supplied by the Chagres River. The accompany- 
ing figure shows the profile of the canal. 



or Oatom Lake (1 n|l/\r) ; V, f I 


The Chagres River approaches the canal at 
approximately right angles at Gamboa, some 21 
miles above Gatun. The lake will be so large 
that the river currents will all be absorbed, the 
water backing far up into the Chagres, the river 
depositing its silt before it reaches the canal proper. 

With the currents thus checked, the Chagres 
will lose all power to interfere with the navigation 
of the canal, although upon the bosom of its water 
will travel for a distance of 35 miles all the ships 
that pass through the big waterway from Gatun 
to Miraflores. This fresh water will serve a useful 
purpose besides carrying ships over the backbone 
of the continent. Barnacles lose their clinging 
power in fresh water, and when a ship passes up 
through the locks from sea level to lake level and 
from salt water to fresh, the barnacles that have 
clung to the sides and bottom of the vessel through 
many a thousand mile of "sky-hooting through 


the brine" will have their grip broken and they 
will drop off helplessly and fall to the bed of the 
lake, which, in the course of years, will become 
barnacle-paved. How many times in dry-dock 
this will save can only be surmised, but the ship 
that goes through the canal regularly will not 
have much bother with barnacles. 

The engineer who worked out the details of the 
engineering examination of the dam in 1908 was 
Caleb M. Saville, who had had experience on some 
of the greatest dams in the world. In the first 
place, the whole foundation was honeycombed 
with test borings, and several shafts were sunk 
so that the engineers could go down and see for 
themselves exactly what was the nature of the 
material below. There are some problems in en- 
gineering where a decision is so close between 
safety and danger that none but an engineer can 
decide them. But Gatun Dam could speak for 
itself and in the layman's tongue. 

After investigating the site and getting such 
conclusive evidence that the proverbial wayfaring 
man might understand it the engineers next 
conducted a series of experiments to determine 
whether or not the material of which they pro- 
posed to build the dam would be watertight. 
They wanted to make sure whether enough water 
would seep through to carry any of the dam 
material along with it. The maximum normal 
depth of the water is 85 feet. The material it 
would have to seep through is nearly a half mile 
thick. In order to determine how the water 
would behave they took some 3 feet of the material 
and put it in a strong iron cylinder with water 


above it and subjected it to a pressure equivalent 
to a head of 185 feet of watfer. Only an occasional 
drop came through. If only an occasional drop 
of clear water gets through 3 feet of material 
under a pressure of 185 feet of water, it does not 
require a great engineer to determine that there 
will not be any seepage through more than a 
thousand feet of the same material under a head of 
only 85 feet. 

And that is only a sample of their seeking after 
the truth. When they had gone thus far it was 
then decided to build a little dam a few yards long 
identical in cross section with Gatun Dam. It 
was built on the scale of an inch to the foot, by 
the identical processes with which it was intended 
to build the big dam. The result only added 
confirmation to the other experiments. With a 
proportionate head of water against it, it behaved 
exactly as they had concluded the big dam would 
when completed. Every engineer who has read 
Saville's report pronounces it a masterpiece of 
engineering investigation. It proved conclu- 
sively that the site of the dam is stable, and the 
dam itself impervious to seepage. The engineers 
who visited the Isthmus at the time with President- 
elect Taft unanimously agreed that those investi- 
gations removed every trace of doubt. 

The Gatun Dam covers about 288 acres. The 
material in it weighs nearly 30,000,000 tons. 
The pressure of the highest part of the dam on the 
foundations beneath amounts to many tons per 
square foot. The old bugaboo about earthquakes 
throwing it down is a danger that exists only in 
the minds of those who see ghosts. Some of the 



biggest earth dams in the world are located in 
California. The Contra Costa Water Com- 
pany's dam at San Leandro is 120 feet high and 
not nearly so immense in its proportions as Gatun 
Dam, yet it weathered the San Francisco earth- 
quake without difficulty. In Panama City there 
is an old flat arch that once was a part of a church. 
It looks as though one might throw it down with 
a golf stick, and yet it has stood there for several 
centuries. As a matter of fact, Panama is out 
of the line of earthquakes and volcanoes, but even 
if shocks much worse than those at San Fran- 
cisco were to come, there is no reason to fear for 
the safety of the big structure. 

The lack of knowledge of some of those who in 
years past criticized the Gatun Dam was illus- 
trated by an amusing incident that occurred at a 
senatorial hearing on the Isthmus. Philander C. 
Knox, afterwards Secretary of State, was then a 
Senator and a member of the committee which 
went to the Isthmus. Another Senator in the 
party had grave doubts about the stability of 
Gatun Dam, and asked Colonel Goethals to ex- 
plain how a dam could hold in check such an 
immense body of water. Colonel Goethals, in 
his usual lucid way, explained that it was because 
of that well-known principle of physics that the 
outward pressure of water is determined by its 
depth and not by its volume — that a column of 
water 10 feet high and a foot thick would have 
just as much outward pressure as a lake 200 square 
miles in extent and 10 feet deep. Still uncon- 
vinced, the Senator pressed his examination fur- 
ther. At this juncture Senator Knox, who is a 


past master at the art of answering a question 
with a question, interposed, and asked his col- 
league: "Senator, if your theory holds good, 
how is it that the dikes of Holland hold in check 
the Atlantic Ocean?" 



SHIPS that pass Panama way will climb up 
and down a titanic marine stairway, three 
steps up into Gatun Lake and three steps 
down again. These steps are the 12 huge locks in 
w^hich will center the operating features of the 
Isthmian waterway. The building of these locks 
represents the greatest use of concrete ever under- 
taken. The amount used would be sufficient to 
build of concrete a row of six-room houses, reach- 
ing from New York to Norfolk, via Philadelphia, 
Baltimore, Washington and Richmond — houses 
enough to provide homes for a population as large 
as that of IndianapoHs. 

The total length of the locks and their acces- 
sories, including the guide walls, approximates 2 
miles. The length of the six locks through which 
a ship passes on its voyage from one ocean to the 
other is a httle less than 7,000 feet. 

If one who has never seen a lock canal is to get a 
proper idea of what part the locks play in the 
Panama Canal, he must follow attentively while 
we make an imaginary journey through the canal 
on a ship that has just come down from New York. 
Approaching the Atlantic entrance from the north, 
we pass the end of the great man-made peninsula, 
jutting out 11,000 feet into the bay known as 



Toro Point Breakwater, It was built to protect 
the entrance of the canal, the harbor, and anchor- 
ages from the violent storms that sweep down 
from the north over that region. Omitting our 
stops for the payment of tolls, the securing of 
supphes, etc., we steam directly in through a great 
ditch 500 feet wide and 41 feet deep, which simply 
permits the ocean to come inland 7 miles to Gatun. 
( When we arrive there we find that our chance to go 
farther is at an end unless we have some means of 
getting up into the beautiful lake whose surface is 
85 feet above us. Here is where the locks come 
to our rescue. They will not only give us one lift, 
but three. 

When we approach the locks we find a great 
central pier jutting out into the sea-level channel. 
If our navigating officers know their duty they will 
run up alongside of this guide wall and tie up to 
it. If they do not they will run the ship's nose 
into a giant chain, with Unks made of 3-inch iron, 
that is guaranteed to bring a 1,000-ton ship, 
going at the rate of 5 knots per hour, to a dead 
standstill in 70 feet. When we are once safely 
alongside the guide wall, four quiet, but powerful 
locomotives, run by electricity, come out and take 
charge of our ship. Two of them get before it to 
pull us forward, and two behind it to hold us back. 
Then the great chain, which effectively would 
have barred us from going into the locks under our 
own steam, or from colhding with the lock gates, 
is let down and we begin to move into the first 

Starting at the sea-level channel, the first, 
second, and third gates are opened and our ship 


towed into the first lock. Then the second and 
third gates are closed again, and the lock filled 
with water, by gravity, raising the ship at the 
rate of about 2 feet a minute, although, if there is 
a great rush of business, it may be filled at the 
rate of 3 feet a minute. WTien the water in this 
lock reaches the level of the water in the lock 
above, gates four and five are opened, and we are 
towed in. Then gate four is closed again, and 
water is let into this lock until it reaches the level 
of the third one. Gates six, seven, and eight are 
next opened, and we are towed into the upper lock. 
Gates six and seven are now closed, and the water 
allowed to fill the third lock until we are up to the 
level of Gatun Lake. Then gates nine and ten are 
opened, the emergency dam is swung from athwart 
the channel, if it happens to be in that position, 
the fender chain hke the one encountered when 
we entered the first lock, and like the ones which 
protect gates seven and eight, is let down, the 
towing engines turn us loose, and we resume our 
journey, with 32 miles of clear sailing, until we 
reach Pedro Miguel. Here, by a reverse process, 
we are dropped down 30J feet. Then we go on to 
Miraflores, a mile and a half away, where we are 
lifted down 54f feet in two more lifts. This 
brings us back to sea level again, where we meet 
the waters of the Pacific, and steam out upon it 
through a channel 500 feet wide and 8 miles long. 
Having learned something of the part the locks 
play in getting us across the Isthmus, by helping 
us up out of one ocean into Gatun Lake and then 
dropping down into the other ocean, it will be inter- 
esting to note something of the mechanism. A 



very good idea of how a lock looks may be gathered 
from the accompanying bird's-eye view of the 
model of Pedro Miguel Lock. 


It will be seen that there are two of them side 
by side — twin locks, they are called, making 
them like a double-track railway. The lock on the 
right is nearly filled for an upward passage. The 
ship will be seen in it, held in position by the four 
towing engines, which appear only as tiny specks 
hitched to hawsers from the stem and stern. 
Behind the ship are the downstream gates. They 
were first opened to admit the ship, and then closed 
to impound the water that flows up through the 
bottom of the lock. Ahead are the upstream 
gates, closed also until the water in the lock 
is brought up to the level of the water in the 
lake. Then the gates will be opened, the big 



chain fender will be dropped down, and the ship 
will be towed out into the lake and turned loose. 
On the side wall of the right lock there is a big 
bridge set on a pivot so that it can be swung 
around across the lock and girders let down from 
it to serve as a foundation upon which to lay a 
steel dam if anything happens to the locks or 
gates. On the other lock the bridge has been 
swung into position, and the steel girders let 
down. Great steel sheets will be let down on Hve 
roller bearings on these girders, and when all are 
in place they will form a watertight dam of steel. 
Between this bridge and the reader is a huge float- 
ing tank of steel, which may be used to dam all the 
water out of the locks when that is desired. 

Referring to the next figure we see a cross sec- 
tion of the twin locks. The side walls are from 
45 to 50 feet thick at the floor. At a point 24|- 
feet above the floor they begin to narrow by a 
series of 6-foot steps until they are 8 feet wide at 
the top. The middle wall is 60 feet wide all the 
way up, although at a point 42| feet above the 
lock floor room is made for a filling of earth and 
for a three-story tunnel, the top story being used 
as a passageway for the operators, the second 
story as a conduit for electric wires, and the lower 
story as a drainage system. 



In this figure D and G^ are the big 18-foot cul- 
verts through which water is admitted from the 
lake to the locks. Each of these three big culverts, 
which are nearly 7,000 feet long, is large enough 
to accommodate a modern express train, and is 
about the size of the Pennsylvania tubes under the 
Hudson and Ea^t Rivers. H represents the cul- 
verts extending across the lock from the big ones. 
Each of them is big enough to accommodate a two- 
horse wagon, and there are 14 in each lock. 
Every alternate one leads from the side wall cul- 
vert and the others from the center wall culvert. 
F represents the wells that lead up through the 
floor into the lock, each larger in diameter than 
a sugar barrel in girth. There are five wells 
on each cross culvert, or 70 in the floor of each 

The flow of the water into the locks and out 
again is controlled by great valves. The ones 
which control the great wall tunnels or culverts 
are called Stoney Gate valves, and operate some- 
thing like giant windows in frames. They are 
mounted on roller bearings to make them work 
without friction. The others are ordinary cylin- 
drical valves, but, having to close a culvert large 
enough to permit a two-horse team to be driven 
through it, they must be of great size. When a 
ship is passing from Gatun Lake down to the 
Atlantic Ocean, the water in the upper lock is 
brought up to the level of that in the lake, being 
admitted through the big wall culverts, whence it 
passes out through the 14 cross culverts and up 
into the locks through the 70 wells in the floor. 
Then the ship is towed in, the gates are shut behind 




it, the valves are closed against the water in the 
lake, the ones permitting the escape of this water 
into the lock below are opened, and it continues 
to flow out of the upper lock into the lower one 
until the water in the two has the same level. 
Then the gates between the two locks are opened, 
the ship is towed into the second one and the 
operation is repeated for the last lock in the same 

The gates of the locks are an interesting feature. 
Their total weight is about 58,000 tons. There 
are 46 of them, each having two leaves. Their 
weight varies from 300 to 600 tons per leaf, 
dependent upon the varying height of the dif- 
ferent gates. The lowest ones are 47 feet high 
and the highest ones 82 feet, their height depend- 
ing upon the place where they are used. Some 
of these are known as intermediate gates, and are 
used for short ships, when it is desired to economize 
on both water and time. They divide each lock 
chamber into two smaller chambers of 350 and 
550 feet, respectively. Perhaps 90 per cent of 
all the ships that pass Panama will not need to 
use the full length lock — 1,000 feet. Duplicate 
gates will always be kept on the ground as a pre- 
caution against accident. Each leaf is 65 feet 
wide and 7 feet thick. The heaviest single piece 
of steel in each one of them is the lower sill, weigh- 
ing 18 tons. It requires 6,000,000 rivets to put 
them together. In the lower part of each gate is a 
huge tank. When it is desired that the gate shall 
have buoyancy, as when operating it, this tank 
will be filled with air. • When closed it is filled with 
water. The gates are opened and closed by a 


huge arm, or strut, one end of which is connected 
to the gate and the other to a huge wheel in the 
manner of the connecting rod to the driver of a 
locomotive. Leakage through the space between 
the gate and the miter sill on the floor of the lock 
is prevented by a seal which consists of heavy 
timbers with flaps of rubber 4 inches wide and 
half an inch thick. A special sealing device brings 
the edges of the two leaves of a gate together and 
holds them firmly while the gates are closed. 

Remembering that these gates are nothing more 
than Brobdingnagian double doors which close 
in the shape of a flattened V, it follows that they 
must have hinges. And these hinges are worth 
going miles to see. That part which fastens to the 
wall of the lock weighs 36,752 pounds in the case 
of the operating gates, and 38,476 pounds in the 
protection gates. These latter are placed in pairs 
with the operating gates at all danger points — 
so that if one set of gates are rammed down, an- 
other pair will still be in position. The part of the 
hinge attached to the gate was made according to 
specifications which required that it should stand 
a strain of 40,000 pounds before stretching at all, 
and 70,000 pounds before breaking. Put into a 
huge testing machine, it actually stood a strain of 
3,300,000 pounds before breaking — seven times 
as great as any stress it will ever be called upon to 
bear. The gates are all painted a lead gray, to 
match the ships of the American Navy. Those 
which come into contact with sea water will be 
treated with a barnacle-proof preparation. 

Now that we have described the locks, we may 
go back and see them in course of construction. 


The first task was getting the lock building plant 
designed and built. At Gatun the plant con- 
sisted of a series of immense cable ways, an electric 
railroad, and enormous concrete mixers. Great 
towers were erected on either side of the area 
excavated for the locks, with giant cables connect- 
ing them. These towers were 85 feet high, and 
were mounted on tracks like steam shovels, so 
that they could be moved forward as the work pro- 
gressed. The cables connecting them were of 
2j-inch lock steel wire covered with interlocking 
strands. They were guaranteed to carry 6 tons 
at a trip, 20 trips an hour, and to carry 60,000 
loads before giving way. They actually did better 
than the specifications called for as far as endur- 
ance was concerned. 

The sand for making the concrete for Gatun 
came from Nombre de Dios (Spanish for Name of 
God), and the gravel from Porto Bello. The sand 
and gravel were towed in great barges, first through 
the old French Canal, and later through the 
Atlantic entrance of the present canal. Great 
clamshell buckets on the Lidgerwood cableways 
would swoop down upon the barges, get 2 cubic 
yards of material at a mouthful, lift it up to the 
cable, carry it across to the storage piles and there 
dump it. In this way more than 2,000,000 
wagon loads of sand and gravel were handled. 

A special equipment was required to haul the 
sand, gravel, and cement from the storage piles 
to the concrete mixers. There were two circular 
railroads of 24-inch gauge, carrying little electric 
cars that ran without motormen. Each car was 
stopped, started, or reversed by a switch attached 


to the car. Their speed never varied more than 
10 per cent whether they were going empty or 
loaded, up hill or down. When a car w^as going 
down hill its motor was reversed into a generator 
so that it helped make electricity to pull some 
other car up the hill. The cars ran into a little 
tunnel, where each was given its proper load of. 
one part cement, three parts sand, and six parts 
gravel — 2 cubic yards, in all — and was then 
hurried on to the big concrete mixers. These were 
so arranged in a series that it was not necessary 
to stop them to receive the sand, gravel, and 
cement, or to dump out the concrete. 

On the emptying sides of the concrete mixers 
there were other little electric railway tracks. 
Here there were little trains of a motor and two 
cars each, with a motorman. The train, with two 
big 2-cubic-yard buckets, drew up alongside two 
concrete mixers. Without stopping their endless 
revolutions the mixers tilted and poured out their 
contents into the two buckets, 2 yards in each. 
Then the little train hurried away, stopping under 
a great cable. Across from above the lock walls 
came two empty buckets, carried on pulleys 
on the cableway. When they reached a point over 
the train they descended and were set on the cars, 
behind the full buckets. The full buckets were 
then attached to the lifting hooks, and were car- 
ried up to the cable and then across to the lock 
walls, where they were dumped and the concrete 
spread out by a force of men. Meanwhile the 
train hustled off with its two empty buckets, 
ready to be loaded again. 
" ^On the Pacific side the concrete handling plant 


was somewhat different. Instead of cableways 
there were great cantilever cranes built of struc- 
tural steel. Some of these were in the shape of a 
giant T, while others looked like two T's fastened 
together. Here the clamshell dippers were run 
out on the arms of the cranes to the storage piles, 
where they picked up their loads of material. 
This was put in hoppers large enough to store 
material for 10 cubic yards. The sand and stone 
then passed through measuring hoppers and to the 
mixers with cement and water added. After it 
was mixed it was dumped into big buckets on little 
cars drawn by baby steam locomotives, which 
looked like overgrown toy engines. These little 
fellows reminded one of a lot of busy bees as they 
dashed about here and there with their loads of 
concrete, choo-chooing as majestically as the great 
dirt train engines which passed back and forth 
hard by. The cranes would take their filled 
buckets and leave empty ones in exchange, and 
this was kept up day in and day out until the locks 
were completed. When the plant was removed 
from Pedro Miguel to Miraflores, a large part of 
the concrete was handled directly from the mixers 
to the walls by the cranes without the intermediary 
locomotive service. 

The cost of the construction of the locks was 
estimated in 1908 at upward of $57,000,000. But 
economy in the handling of the material and 
efficiency on the part of the lock builders cut the 
actual cost far below that figure. On the Atlantic 
side about a dollar was saved on every yard of 
concrete laid — about $2,000,000. On the Pacific 
side more than twice as much was saved. 


Before the locks could be built it became nec- 
essary to excavate down to bed rock. This re- 
quired the removal of nearly 5,000,000 cubic yards 
of material at Gatun. Then extensive tests 
were made to make certain that the floor of 
the locks could be anchored safely to the rock. 
These tests demonstrated that by using the old 
steel rails that were left on the Isthmus by the 
French, the concrete and rock could be tied to- 
gether so firmly as to defy the ravages of water 
and time. A huge apron of concrete was built 
out into Gatun Lake from the upper locks at that 
place, effectively preventing any water from 
getting between the rocks and the concrete lying 
upon them. 



ONE of the problems that had to be solved 
before the Panama Canal could be pre- 
sented to the American people as a finished 
waterway, was that of equipping it with adequate 
and dependable machinery for its operation. 
Panama canals are not built every year, so it was 
not a matter of ordering equipment from stock; 
everything had to be invented and designed for 
the particular requirement it was necessary to 
meet. And the first and foremost requirement was 
safety. When we look over the canal machinery 
we see that word "safety" written in every bolt, 
in every wheel, in every casting, in every machine. 
We see it in the devices designed for protection 
and in those designed for operation as well. We 
see it in the giant chain that will stop a vessel 
before it can ram a gate; we see it in the great 
cantilever pivot bridges that support the emer- 
gency dams; we see it in the double lock gates at 
all exposed points; we see it in the electric towing 
apparatus, in the Hmit switches that will auto- 
matically stop a machine when the operator is not 
attending to his business, in the friction clutches 
that will slip before the breaking point is reached. 
Safety, safety, safety, the word is written every- 



The first thing a ship encounters when it ap- 
proaches the locks is the giant chain stretched 
across its path. That chain is made of hnks of 
3 inches in diameter. When in normal position 
it is stretched across the locks, and the vessel 
which does not stop as soon as it should will ram 
its nose into the chain. There is a hydrauHc 
paying-out arrangement at both ends of the chain, 
and when the pressure against it reaches a hundred 
gross tons the chain will begin to pay out and 
gradually bring the offending vessel to a stop. 
After a ship strikes the chain its momentum will 
be gradually reduced, its energy being absorbed 
by the chain mechanism. While the pressure at 
which the chain will begin to yield is fixed at 100 
gross tons, the pressure required to break it is 
262 tons. Thus the actual stress it can bear is 
two and a half times what it will be called upon 
to meet. The mechanism by which the paying- 
out of the chain is accomplished is exceedingly 
ingenious. The principle is practically the re- 
verse of that of a hydraulic jack. The two ends 
of the 428-foot chain are attached to big plungers 
in the two walls of the locks. These plungers 
fit in large cylinders, which contain broad surfaces 
of water. They are connected with very small 
openings, which are kept closed until a pressure of 
750 pounds to the square inch is exerted against 
them. By means of a resistance valve these open- 
ings are then made available, the water shooting 
out as through a nozzle under high pressure. This 
permits the chain plunger to rise gradually, while 
keeping the tension at 750 pounds to the inch, 
and the paying-out of the chain proceeds accord- 



ingly. Of course not all ships will strike the chain 
at the same speed, and in some cases the paying- 
out process will have to be more rapid than in 
others. This is provided for by the automatic 
enlargement of the hole through which the water 
is discharged, the size of the hole again becoming 
smaller as the tension of the chain decreases. This 
chain fender will stop the Olympic with full load, 
when going a mile and a half an hour, bringing 
it to a dead standstill within 70 feet, or it will stop 
an ordinary 10,000-ton ship in the same distance 
even if it have a speed of 5 miles. The function 
of the resistance valve is to prevent the chain from 
beginning to pay out until the stress against it 
goes up to 100 tons, and to regulate the paying-out 
so as to keep it constant at that point, so long as 
there is necessity for paying-out. Any pressure 
of less than a hundred tons will not put the paying- 
out mechanism into operation. 

When a ship is to be put through the locks the 
chain will be let down into great grooves in the 
floor of the lock. There is a fixed plunger operat- 
ing within a cylinder, which, in turn, operates 
within another cylinder, the resulting movement, 
by a system of pulleys, being made to pay out or 
pull in 4 feet of chain for every foot the plunger 
travels. The chain must be raised or lowered in 
one minute, and always will have to be lowered 
to permit the passage of a ship. The fender 
machines are situated in pits in the lock walls. 
These pits are hkely to get filled with water from 
drippings, leakages, wave action, and drainage, 
so they are protected with automatic pumps. 
Float valves are hf ted when the water rises in the 


pits. This automatically moves the switch con- 
trolling an electric motor, which starts a pump to 
working whenever the water gets within 1 inch of 
the top of the sump beneath the floor of the pit. 
Twenty-four of these chain fenders are required 
for the protection of the locks, and each requires 
two such tension machines. 

No ship will be allowed to go through the canal 
except under the control of a canal pilot. He will 
certainly bring it to a stop at the approach wall. 
But if he does not, there is the chain fender. 
There is not a chance in a thousand for a collision 
with it, and not a chance in a hundred thousand 
that the ship will not be stopped when there is 
such a collision. 

But if the pilot should fail to stop the ship, and 
it should collide with the fender chain, and then 
if the fender chain should fail to stop it, there would 
be the double gates at the head of the lock. There 
is not one chance in a hundred that a ship, checked 
as it inevitably would be by the fender chain, 
could ram down the first, or safety gate. But if 
it did, there would still be another set of gates 
some 70 feet away. The chances here might be 
one in a hundred of the second set being rammed 
down. From all this it will be seen that the 
chances of the second pair of gates being rammed 
is so remote as to be almost without the realm of 
possibiHty. But suppose all these precautions 
should fail, and suddenly the way should be opened 
for the water of Gatun Lake to rush through the 
locks at the destructive speed of 20 miles an hour.?^ 
Even that day has been provided against by the 
construction of the big emergency dams. The 


emergency dams, like the fender chains, are de- 
signed only for protection, and have no other use 
in the operation of the locks. There will be six 
of these dams, one across each of the head locks 
at Gatun, Pedro Miguel, and Miraflores. 

These emergency dams will be mounted on 
pivots on the side walls of the locks about 200 feet 
above the upper gates. When not in use they 
will rest on the side wall and parallel with it. 
When in use they will be swung across the locks, 
by electric machinery or by hand, and there rigidly 
wedged in. It will require two minutes to get them 
in position by electricity and 30 minutes by hand. 
There is a motor for driving the wedges which will 
hold the dam securely in position, and limit switches 
to prevent the dams being moved too far. 

When a bridge is put into position across the 
lock, a series of wicket girders which are attached 
to the upstream side of the floor of the bridge are 
let down into the water, the connection between 
the bridge and one end of each girder being made 
by an elbow joint. The other end goes down into 
the water, its motion being controlled by a cable 
attached some distance from the free end of the 
girder and paid out or drawn in over an electrically 
operated drum. This free end passes down until 
it engages a big iron casting embedded in the con- 
crete of the lock floor. This makes a sort of in- 
clined railway at an angle of about 30 degrees 
from the perpendicular, over which huge steel 
plates are let down into the water. There are 
six of these girders, and they are all made of the 
finest nickel steel. When they are all in position, 
a row of six plates are let down, and they make the 


stream going through the locks several feet shal- 
lower. Then another row of plates is let down on 
these, and the stream becomes that much shal- 
lower. Another row of plates is added, and then 
another, until there is a solid sheet of steel plates 
resting on the six girders, and they make a com- 
plete steel dam which effectively arrests the mad 
impulse of the water in Gatun Lake to rush down 
into the sea. The plates are moved up and down 
by electrical machinery, and are mounted on 
roller-bearing wheels, so that the tremendous 
friction caused by their being pressed against the 
girders by the great force of the water may be 
overcome. That the emergency dams will be 
effective is shown by the experience at the "Soo" 
locks, on the canal connecting Lakes Superior and 
Huron. There, a vessel operating under its own 
power, rammed a lock gate. Although the emer- 
gency dam had grown so rusty by disuse that it 
could be operated only by hand, it was swung 
across the lock and effectively fulfilled its mission 
of checking the maddened flow of the water. 

Another protective device for the locks is the 
big caisson gates that will be floated across the 
head and tail bays when it is desired to remove all 
the water from the locks for the purpose of per- 
mitting the lower guard gates to be examined, 
cleaned, painted, or repaired, and for allowing the 
sills of the emergency dams to be examined in the 
dry. The caisson gates are 112| feet long, 36 
feet beam, and have a light draft of 32 feet and a 
heavy draft of 61 feet. When one is floated into 
position to close the lock, water will be admitted 
to make it sink to the proper depth. Then its 


large centrifugal pumps, driven by electric motors, 
will pump the water out of the lock. When the 
work on the lock is completed these pumps will 
pump the water out of the caisson itself until it 
becomes buoyant enough to resume its light draft, 
after which it will be floated away. 

The machinery for opening and closing the lock 
gates called for unusual care in its designing. The 
existing types of gate-operating machinery were 
all studied, and it was found that none of them 
could be depended on to prove satisfactory, so 
special machines had to be designed. 

A great wheel, resembling a drive wheel of a 
locomotive, except that a Uttle over half of the 
rim is cog-geared, is mounted in a horizontal 
position on a big plate, planted firmly in the con- 
crete of the wall and bolted there with huge bolts 
11 feet long and 2j inches in diameter. This 
plate weighs over 13,000 pounds, and the wheel, 
cast in two pieces, weighs 34,000 pounds. As 
the weight of the rim of the wheel on the eight 
spokes probably would tax their strength too much 
when the wheel is under stress, this is obviated by 
four bearing wheels, perpendicular to the big 
wheel, which support the rim. Between the 
crank pin and the point of attachment on the gate 
leaf there is a long arm, or strut, designed to bear 
an operating strain of nearly a hundred tons. 
The wheel will be revolved by a motor geared to 
the cogged part of the rim. 

An ingenious arrangement of electric switches 
is that used to protect the gate-moving machines 
from harm. The big connecting rod between the 
master wheel and the gate leaf is attached to the 



gate leaf by a nest of springs capable of sustaining 
a pressure of 184,000 pounds, in addition to the 
fixed pressure of 60,000 pounds. Should any 
obstruction interfere with the closing of the gate 
and threaten a dangerous pressure on the con- 
necting rod, the springs, as soon as they reach 
their full compression, estabhsh an electrical 
contact and thus stop the motor. Likewise, 
should any obstruction come against the gate as 
the connecting rod is pulling it open, the springs 
again permit the establishment of an electrical 
contact and stop the motor. All of these pre- 
cautions are entirely independent of and supple- 
mental to the limit switches, which cut off the 
power from the gate-moving machine should the 
strain reach the danger line. These big machines 
move the huge gate leaves without the slightest 
noise or vibration. Such a machine is required 
for each of the 92 leaves used in the 46 gates with 
which the locks are equipped. The operator can 
open or close one of these big gates in two minutes. 





*rhe control of the water in the culverts of the 
locks is taken care of by an ingeniously designed 
series of valves. The big wall culverts, 18 feet 
in diameter, are divided into two sections at the 
points where the valves are installed, by the con- 
struction of a perpendicular pier. This makes two 
openings 8 by 18 feet. The big gates of steel are 
placed in frames to close these openings just as 
a window sash is placed in its frame. They are 
mounted on roller bearings, so as to overcome the 
friction caused by the pressure of water against 
the valve gates. They must be mounted so that 
there is not more than a fourth of an inch play in 
any direction. The big wall culvert gates will 
weigh about 10 tons each, and must be capable 
of operating under a head of more than 60 feet of 
water. They will be raised and lowered by 

The electric locomotives which will be used to 
tow ships through the locks are one of the inter- 
esting features of the equipment. There will be 
40 of them on the 3 sets of locks. The average 
ship will require four of them, two at the bow and 
two at the stern, to draw it through the locks. 
They will run on tracks on the lock walls, and will 
have two sets of wheels. One set will be cogged, 
and will be used when the locomotives are engaged 
in towing. The other set will be pressed into 
service when they are running hght. When a 
vessel is in one lock waiting for the water to be 
equalized with that in the next one and the gates 
opened to permit passage, the forward locomotives 
will run free up the incline to the lock wall above, 
paying out hawser as they go. When they get 


to the next higher level they are ready to exert 
their maximum pull. Each locomotive consists 
of three parts: two motors hitched together, and 
the tandem may be operated from either end. The 
third part is a big winding drum around which 
the great hawsers are wound. This towing wind- 
lass permits the line to be paid out or pulled in and 
the distance between the ship and the locomotives 
varied at will. The locomotive may thus exert 
its pull or relax it while standing still on the track, 
a provision especially valuable in bringing ships 
to rest. In the main, however, the pull of the 
locomotive is exercised by its running on the semi- 
suppressed rack track anchored in the coping of 
the lock walls. Each flight of locks will be pro- 
vided with two towing tracks, one on the side and 
one on the center wall. Each wall will be equipped 
with a return track of ordinary rails, so that when 
a set of locomotives has finished towing a ship 
through the locks they can be switched over from 
these tracks and hustled back for another job. 
When they reach the incUnes from one lock to the 
next above the rack track will be pressed into 
service again until they reach the next level stretch. 
Here again one meets the famihar safeguard 
against accident. Some engineer of one of these 
towing locomotives might sometime overload it, 
so the power of doing so has been taken out of his 
hands. On the windlass or drum that holds the 
towing hawser there is a friction coupling. If the 
engineer should attempt to overload his engine, 
or if for any other reason there should suddenly 
come upon the locomotive a greater strain than it 
could bear, or upon the track, or upon the hawser. 



the friction clutch would let loose at its appointed 
tension of 25,000 pounds, and all danger would be 

When the locomotives are towing a ship from 
the walls it is natural that there should be a side 
pull on the hawser. This is overcome by wheels 
that run against the side of the track and are 
mounted horizontally. All of the towing tracks 
extend out on the approach walls of the locks so 
that the locomotives can get out far enough to take 
charge of a ship before it gets close enough to do 
the locks any damage. 

A Mauretania in the locks 

From the foregoing it will be seen that a great 
deal of electric current will be required in the 
operation of the locks. This will be generated at 
a big station at Gatun, with a smaller one at 
Miraflores, and they will be connected. The 
overflow water will be used for generating the 
required current, and in addition to the operation 
of the lock machinery it will operate the spillway 
gates, furnish the necessary lighting current, and 


eventually it may furnish v the power for an elec- 
trified Panama Railroad. 

In passing a ship through the canal it will be 
necessary to open and close £3 lock gates, of an 
aggregate weight of more than 25,000 tons, to 
lower and raise 12 fender chains, each weighing 
24,000 pounds, and to shut and open dozens of 
great valves, each of which weighs tons. All 
these operations at each set of locks will be con- 
trolled by one man, at a central switchboard. In 
addition to these operations there is the towing 
apparatus. The arrangement at Gatun is typical; 
there 4 fender chains must be operated, 6 pairs of 
miter gates, and 46 valves. In all not less than 
98 motors will be set in motion twice, and some- 
times this number may be increased to 143. Some 
of them are more than half a mile away from the 
operator, and half of them are nearly a quarter of 
a mile away. 

The operator in his control house will be high 
enough to have an uninterrupted view of the 
whole flight of locks over which he has command. 
His control board will consist of a representation 
of the locks his switches control. On his model he 
will see the rise and fall of the fender chains as he 
operates them, the movement of the big lock gates 
as they swing open or shut, the opening and closing 
of the valves which regulate the water in the cul- 
verts, and the rise and fall of the water in the 

A system of interlocked levers will prevent him 
from doing the wrong thing in handling his 
switches. Before he can open the valves at one 
end of a lock he must close those at the other end. 


Before he can open the lock gates, the valves in 
the culverts must be set so that no harm can 
result. Before he can start to open a lock gate, 
he must first have released the miter-forcing 
machine that latches the gates. Before he can 
close the gates protected by a fender chain, he 
must first have thrown the switch to bring the 
fender chain back to its protecting position, and 
he can not throw the switch to lower the chain 
until he first has provided for the opening of the 
gate it protects. All of this interlocking system 
makes it next to impossible to err, and taking into 
consideration the additional safeguard of limit 
switches, which automatically cut off the power 
when anything goes wrong, it will be seen that the 
personal equation is all but removed from the 



CULEBRA CUT! Here the barrier of the 
continental divide resisted to the utmost 
the attacks of the canal army; here dis- 
turbed and outraged Nature conspired with gross 
mountain mass to make the defense stronger and 
stronger; here was the mountain that must be 
moved. Here came the French, jauntily con- 
fident, to dig a narrow channel that would let 
their ships go through. The mountain was the 
victor. And then here came the Americans, 
confident but not jaunty. They weighed that 
mass, laid out the lines of a wider ditch, arranged 
complicated transportation systems to take away 
the half hundred milhon cubic yards of earth and 
rocks that they had measured. Nature came to 
the aid of the beleaguered mountain. The vol- 
canic rocks were piled helter-skelter and when 
the ditch deepened the softer strata underneath 
refused to bear the burden and the shdes, slowly 
and like glaciers, crept out into the ditch, burying 
shovels and sweeping aside the railway tracks. 
Even the bottom of the canal bulged up under the 
added stress of the heavier strata above. 

Grim, now, but still confident, the attackers 
fought on. The mountain was defeated. 

Now stretches a man-made canyon across the 



backbone of the continent; now lies a channel 
for ships through the barrier; now is found what 
Columbus sought in vain — the gate through the 
west to the east. Men call it Culebra Cut. 

Nine miles long, its average depth is 120 feet. 
At places its sides tower nearly 500 feet above its 
channel bottom, which is nowhere narrower than 
300 feet. 

It is the greatest single trophy of the triumph 
of man over the terrestrial arrangement of his 
world. Compared to it, the scooping out of the 
sand levels of Suez seems but child's play — the 
tunnels of Hoosac and Simplon but the sport of 
boys. It is majestic. It is awful. It is the 

When estimates for digging the canal were 
made, it was calculated that 53,000,000 cubie 
yards of material would have to be removed from 
the cut, and that under the most favorable con- 
ditions it would require eight and a half years to 
complete the work. But at that time no one had 
the remotest idea of the actual difficulties that 
would beset the canal builders; no one dreamed 
of the avalanches of material that would slide into 
the cut. 

One can in no way get a better idea of the mean- 
ing of the slides and breaks in Culebra Cut than 
to refer to the accompanying figure. There it will 
be seen that whereas it was originally planned 
that the top width of the cut at one point should 
■ be 670 feet, it has grown wider, because of slides 
and breaks, to as much as 1,800 feet at one place. 
In all, some 25,000,000 cubic yards of material 
which should have remained outside the canal 



prism slipped into it and had to be removed by the 
steam shovels. 

V.i<K A» Com»l»»« «t 


No less than 26 shdes and breaks were encount- 
ered in the construction of Culebra Cut, their 
total area being 225 acres. The largest covered 
75, and another 47 acres. When the slides, which 
were more hke earthen glaciers than avalanches, 
began to flow into the big ditch, sometimes steam 
shovels were buried, sometimes railroad tracks 
were caught beneath the debris, and sometimes 
even the bottom of the cut itself began to bulge and 
disarrange the entire transportation system, at 
the same time interfering with the compressed air 
and water supphes. But with all these trials and 
tribulations, the army that was trying to conquer 
the eternal hills that had refused passage to the 
ships of the world for so many centuries, kept up 
its courage and renewed its attack. The result 
is that ships sail through Culebra and that engi- 
neers everywhere have new records of efficiency 
to inspire them. 

These efficiency records are told in the cost- 
keeping reports based upon one of the most care- 
ful and thorough cost-accounting systems ever 
devised. This system was instituted for the 
purpose of keeping a check upon all expenditures 


by reducing everything to a unit basis and then 
comparing the cost of doing the same thing at 
different places. For instance, if it were found 
that it cost more to excavate a cubic yard of 
material at one place than at another, under 
identical conditions, this fact was brought to the 
attention of the men responsible and an intimation 
given that there seemed to be room for taking 
up a little lost motion. The lost motion usually 
was recovered or else someone had to be satisfied 
that conditions were not identical after all. 

In no other part of the canal work do these 
cost-keeping reports tell such a graphic story as 
in Culebra Cut. In spite of the fact that as the 
cut became deeper it became narrower, and the 
slides and breaks became more troublesome, to 
say nothing of the extra effort required to get the 
excavated material out of the cut, every unit cost 
was forced down notch by notch and year by year 
until the bottom in costs was reached only a httle 
before the actual bottom of the cut was exposed 
to view. 

For instance, in 1908 it cost 11| cents a yard to 
load material with steam shovels, while in 1912 it 
cost less than 7 cents. In 1908 it cost more than 
14 cents a yard for drilling and blasting; in 1912 
it cost less than 12 cents. In 1908 it cost $18.54 
to haul away a hundred yards of spoil; in 1912 
it required only $13.31 to perform the same opera- 
tion, although the average distance it had to be 
hauled had increased 50 per cent. In 1908 it 
cost more than 13 cents a yard to dump the ma- 
terial as compared with less than 5 cents in 1912. 
The whole operation of excavating and removing 


the material, including overhead charges and 
depreciation, fell from $1.03 a cubic yard in 1908 
to less than 55 cents a yard in 1912. And that 
is why 232,000,000 cubic yards of material were 
removed for less than it was estimated 135,000,000 
cubic yards would cost. 

To remove the 105,000,000 cubic yards of 
earth from the backbone of the Americas required 
about 6,000,000 pounds of high-grade dynamite 
each year to break up the material, so that it 
might be successfully attacked by the steam 
shovels. To prepare the holes for placing the 
explosives required the services of 150 well drills, 
230 tripod rock di^ills, and a large corps of hand 
drillers. Altogether they drilled nearly a thousand 
miles of holes annually. During every working 
day in the year about 600 holes were fired. They 
had an average depth of about 19 feet. In ad- 
dition to this a hundred toe holes were fired each 
day, and as many more ''dobe" blasts placed on 
top of large boulders to break them up into load- 
able sizes. So carefully was the dynamite handled 
that during a period of three years, in which time 
some 19,000,000 pounds were exploded in Culebra 
Cut, only eight men were killed. 

The transportation of the spoil from Culebra 
Cut was a tremendous job. A large percentage 
of it was hauled out in Lidgerwood flat cars. 
Twenty-one cars made up the average Lidgerwood 
train. It required about 140 locomotives to take 
care of the spoil, and the average day saw nearly 
3,700 cars loaded and hauled out of the cut. In 
a single year 1,116,286 carloads of material were 
hauled out. There were 75 trains in constant 





operation, one for each 2^ miles of track in the 
Central Division, which was approximately 32 
miles long. A huge steam shovel, taking up 5 


yards of material at a mouthful, would load one 
of these trains in less than an hour with some 400 
yards of material. Then the powerful locomotive 
attached to it, assisted by a helper engine, would 
pull the train out of the cut, and then, unassisted, 
would haul it to the dumping ground some 12 
miles or more away. 

Arriving near the scene of the dump, another 
engine, having in front of it a huge horizontal 
steam windlass mounted on a flat car, was hooked 
on the rear end of the train. Then the locomo- 
tive which had brought the train to the dump was 
uncoupled and moved away, and in its stead there 
was attached an empty flat car, on which there 
was a huge plow. A long wire cable was stretched 
from the big windlass at the other end of the train 


and attached to this plow. As the drum of the 
windlass began to turn it gradually drew the plow 
forward over the 21 cars, plowing the material 
off as it went forward. The cars were equipped 
with a high sideboard on one side and had none 
at all on the other. A flat surface over which 
the plow could pass from car to car was made by 
hinging a heavy piece of sheet steel to the front 
end of each car and allowing it to cover the break 
between that car and the next, thus affording a 
practically continuous car floor over 800 feet long. 
The operation of unloading 400 yards of material 
with this plow seldom required more than 10 

After the plow had finished its work it left a 
long string of spoil on one side of the track which 
must be cleared away. So another plow, pushed 
by an engine, attacked the spoil and forced it 
down the embankment. This process of unload- 
ing and spreading the material was kept up until 
the embankment became wide enough to permit 
the track to be shifted over. Here another espe- 
cially designed machine, the track shifter, was 
brought into play. It was a sort of derrick 
mounted on a flat car, and with it the track shifters 
were able to pick up a piece of track and lift it 
over to the desired position. With this machine 
a score of men could do the work that without it 
would have required a gang of 600 men. 

In addition to the Lidgerwood dirt trains there 
were a large number of trains made up of steel dump 
cars which were dumped by compressed air, and 
still other trains made up of small hand-dumped 
cars, and each class found its own peculiar uses. 


As has been said, the problem of digging the 
big ditch has been one of the transportation of the 
spoil, and this has involved numerous difficulties. 
In Culebra Cut no little difficulty was experienced 
in keeping open enough tracks to afford the 
necessary room for dirt trains. Slides came down 
and forced track after track out of alignment, 
burying some of them beyond the hope of usable 
recovery; often the very bottom of the cut itself 
heaved up under the stress of the heavy weight 
of faulty strata on the sides of the mountain; 
and sometimes the slides and breaks threatened 
entirely to shut up one end of the cut. 

In hauling away the spoil one improvement 
after another was made in the interest of efficiency. 
It was found at first that the capacity of a big 
Lidgerwood flat car was only about 16 cubic 
yards, and that with a sideboard on only one side 
of the car, the load did not center well on the car, 
thus placing an undue strain on the wheels on one 
side. The transportation department, therefore, 
extended the bed of the car further out over the 
wheels on the open side, and this served a triple 
purpose — it permitted the steam shovels to load 
the cars so that the load rested in the center, 
increased the capacity of each car by about 3 
yards, and permitted the unloader plow to throw 
the spoil further from the track, thus adding to the 
efficiency of the dumping apparatus. 

Frequent breaks in the trains were caused by 
worn couplers. These accidents were almost 
entirely overcome by equipping each train with a 
sort of "bridle" which prevented the separation 
of the cars in the event of the parting of a defective 



coupler. In the operation of the unloader plows 
it was found that the big cables frequently broke 
when a plow would strike an obstruction on the 
car, and this caused no end of annoyance and fre- 
quent delays. Then someone thought of putting 
between the cable and the plow a link whose break- 
ing point was lower than that of the cable. After 
that when a plow struck an obstruction the cable 
did not part — the link simply gave way, and 
another wa^ always at hand. On the big spread- 
ers no less than 51 improvements were made, each 
the answer of the engineers to some challenge 
from the stubborn material with which they had 
to contend. 

The major portion of the material excavated 
from the canal had to be hauled out and dumped 
where it was of no further use. From the Central 
Division alone, which includes Culebra Cut, up- 
ward of a hundred million cubic yards of material 
was hauled away and dumped as useless. At 
Tabernilla one dump contained nearly 17,000,000 
cubic yards. A great deal of spoil, however, was 
used to excellent advantage. Wherever there 
was swampy ground contiguous to the permanent 
settlements it was covered over with material 
from the cut and brought up above the water 
level. Many hundreds of acres were thus con- 
verted from malaria-breeding grounds into high 
and dry lands. 

During the last stages of the work in Culebra 
Cut it was found that some of the slides were so 
bad that they were breaking back of the crest of 
the hills that border the cut. Therefore it was 
found to be feasible to attack the problem by 


sluicing the material down the side of the hills 
into the valley beyond. To this end a big hy- 
draulic plant which had been used on the Pacific 
end of the canal was brought up and installed 
beyond the east bank of the cut. A reservoir of 
water was impounded and tremendous pumps in- 
stalled. They pumped a stream of water 40 inches 
in diameter. This was gradually tapered down to 
a number of 4-inch nozzles, and out of these 
spouted streams of water with a pressure of 80 
pounds to the square inch. These streams ate 
away the dirt at ^ rapid rate. 

The slides did not hold up the completion of the 
canal a minute, at least to the point of usability. 
The day that the lock gates vv^ere ready there was 
water enough in the canal to carry the entire 
American navy from ocean to ocean. That day 
the big dredges from the Atlantic and the Pacific 
were brought into the cut, and with them putting 
the finishing touches on the slides at the bottom, 
and the hydraulic excavators attacking them at 
the top, the problem of the slides was solved. 

Viewing Culebra Cut in retrospect, it proved an 
immensely less difficult task than some prophesied, 
and a much more serious one than others pre- 
dicted. There were those who opposed the build- 
ing of the Panama Canal because of the belief 
that Culebra Cut could not be dug, that Culebra 
Mountain was an effective barrier to human 
ambition. Also, there were those who asserted 
that Gold Hill and Contractor's Hill were in danger 
of sliding into the big ditch and that they were 
mountains which neither the faith nor the pocket- 
books of the Americans could remove. Others 


saw the handwriting of Failure on the wall in 
the heaving up of the bottom of the cut, inter- 
preting this as a movement from the very depths 
of the earth. Still others saw it in the smoke that 
issued from fissures in the cut, which spoke to 
them of volcanoes being unearthed and told them 
that the Babel of American ambitions must totter 
to the ground. They did not know that these 
were only little splotches of decomposing metals 
suddenly exposed to the air, any more than their 
fellow pessimists knew that the heaving up of the 
bottom of the cut was due to the pressure of the 
earth on the adjacent banks. 

To-day Culebra Mountain bows its lofty head 
to the genius of the American engineer and to the 
courage of the canal army. Through its vitals 
there runs a great artificial canyon nearly 9 miles 
long, 300 feet wide at its bottom, in places as 
much as a half mile wide at its top and nearly 
500 feet deep at the deepest point. Out of it 
there was taken 105,000,000 cubic yards of ma- 
terial, and at places it cost as much as $15,000,000 
a mile to make the excavations. Through it now 
extends a great ribbon of water broad enough to 
permit the largest vessels afloat to pass one another 
under their own power, and deep enough to carry 
a ship with a draft beyond anything in the minds 
of naval constructors to-day. With towering 
hills lining it on either side, with banks that are 
precipitous here and farflung there, with great 
and deep recesses at one place and another telling 
of the gigantic breaks and slides with which the 
men who built it had to contend, going through 
Culebra Cut gives to the human heart a thrill 


such as the sight of no other work of the human 
hand can give. Its magnitude, its awe-inspiring 
aspect as one navigates the channel between the 
two great hills which stand like sentinels above it, 
and the memory of the thousands of tons of dyna- 
mite, the hundreds of millions of money and the 
vast investment of brain and brawn required in 
its digging, all conspire to make the wonder 
greater. It is the mightiest deed the hand of 
man has done. 



WHILE the completed Panama Canal does 
not wed the two oceans, or permit their 
waters to mingle in Gatun Lake, it does 
bring them a little closer together. On the 
Atlantic side a sea-level channel has been dug from 
deep water due south to Gatun, a distance of 7 
miles. On the Pacific side a similar channel has 
been dug from deep water in a northwesterly direc- 
tion to Miraflores, a distance of 8 miles. It 
follows that 15 of the 50 miles of the canal will be 
filled with salt water. The remaining 35 miles will 
be filled with fresh water supplied by the Chagres 
and the lesser rivers of Panama. The task of dig- 
ging these sea-level sections was a considerable 
one and almost every method of ditch digging 
that human ingenuity has been able to devise 
was employed. Steam shovels, dipper dredges, 
ladder dredges, stationary suction dredges, and 
sea-going suction dredges, all contributed their 
share toward bringing the waters of the Atlantic 
to Gatun and those of the Pacific to Miraflores. 
In addition to these methods, on the Pacific side 
use was made of the hydraulic process of exca- 
vating soft material, washing it loose with power- 
ful streams of water and pumping it out with 
giant pumps. 



As one travels along the Pacific end of the canal 
he is reminded of the words of Isaiah: 

"Every valley shall be exalted, and 
every mountain and hill shall be made 
low; and the uneven shall be made level, 
and the rough places a plain." 

Hundreds of acres of low, marshy land have 
been filled up, either with mud from the suction 
dredges and the hydraulic excavators, or with 
spoil from Culebra Cut. Much of this made land 
will be valuable for tropical agriculture, while 
other parts will never serve any purpose other 
than to keep down the marshes. But they 
afforded a dumping ground for material taken out 
of the canal prism, and added something to the 
improvement of health and living conditions on 
the Isthmus. 

Probably the most interesting process of exca- 
vation in the sea-level channels was that of the 
sea-going suction dredges. These dredges took 
out material more cheaply than any other kind of 
excavating machinery used on the Isthmus. Two 
of them were put to work in 1908, about the time 
the operations reached full-blast and have been 
kept in commission ever since. While it cost as 
much as $70,000 a year to keep each one in com- 
mission, they were able to maintain an annual 
average of about 5,000,000 cubic yards of material 
excavated at a cost per yard of 5 cents and even 
less. With steam shovels it ranged from 10 to 20 
times as much per yard. These big dredges were 
built with great bins in their holds and equipped 


with powerful 20-iiich centrifugal pumps. When at 
work they steamed up and down the channel, suck- 
ing up the mud, and carrying it out to sea. 

Another interesting dredge used was the big 
ladder dredge Corozal. It is a great floating dock, 
as it were, with a huge endless chain carrying 52 
immense, 35-cubic-foot buckets. On the center 
line amidships there is a large opening down to the 
Avater. The big elevator framework carrying the 
endless chain goes down through this and into the 
water at a considerable angle. The buckets pass 
around this, and as they round the end of it their 
great steel lips dig down into the material until 
filled, then they come up at the rate of three every 
five seconds and deposit their burden in a huge 
hopper which conveys it to the barge at the side 
of the dredge. The dredge is anchored fast at a 
given place, and keeps on attacking the material 
beneath it until the desired level is reached. This 
dredge, with the sea-going suction dredges, will 
be retained as the permanent dredging fleet. The 
stationary suction dredges at the two ends of the 
canal were used to pump up the soft material and 
to force it out through long pipe lines into the 
swamps or into the hydraulic cores of the earth 

Several old French ladder dredges were rescued 
from the jungle and put into commission at the 
beginning of the work, and they held out faith- 
fully to the end, dividing honors with the newer 
equipment in hastening the day when the oceans 
might go inland to Gatun and Miraflores. While 
they looked like toys beside such giant excavators 
as the Corozal, they probably showed more 



efficiency than any other class of excavators of 
their period of construction. They were attended 
by large self-propelling scows built by the French. 
When these were filled they steamed out to sea 
and dumped their burden and then steamed back 
again for another load. Some of the dredges were 
attended by ordinary barges which were towed out 
to sea by tugs and dumped. 

Another interesting machine used on the Pacific 
end of the canal was the Lobnitz rock breaker. 
This consists of a sort of pile driver mounted on a 
large barge. Instead of a pile driving weight 
there is a big battering ram made of round steel, 
pointed at one end. It is lifted up perhaps 10 feet 
and allowed to drop suddenly. As some of these 
rams weigh as much as 25 tons their striking force 
may be imagined. When the ram struck the 
rock the top would shake back and forth like a 
bamboo pole, in spite of the fact that it was made 
of the best steel and more than 15 inches in 
diameter. Sooner or later the rams would break 
off at the water line, this being due to the fact that 
the constant flexion at that point set the molecules 
injthe steel and took away all its elasticity. 

It was found desirable to excavate a part of the 
sea-level channel before the water was let into it. 
To accomplish this a big dam, or dike, was built 
across the channel several miles inland, and steam 
shovels were used behind this dike. As the work 
neared completion, however, it was found advis- 
able to let the water come further inland, so that 
the dredges could extend the field of their activi- 
ties. To do this another dike was thrown across 
the channel about a mile north of the first one. 


and water was admitted to the section of the big 
ditch between these two dikes. The engineers 
were afraid to cut a small ditch in the top of the 
first dike, and allow the water to eat the dam away 
as it flowed in, for fear that it would rush in so 
rapidly it would destroy the second dike. There- 
fore they filled the basin between the two dikes 
by siphon and by pumping, a process which re- 
quired the drawing in of billions of gallons of 
water. This was accomplished in due time, how- 
ever, and then 16 tons of dynamite was placed in 
the no longer useful dike. An electric spark did 
the rest. 

The distinguishing features of the ends of the 
canal are the big breakwaters at Toro Point, at 
the Atlantic end, and Naos Island, at the Pacific 
end. The former extends from the shore out into 
the sea for a distance of 2 miles and has a large 
lighthouse at the seaward end. It was built by 
dumping stone from the shore out into the sea, 
this process being followed by driving piles into 
the dumped stone and building a railroad on 
the crest, over which the stone was hauled for 
its further extension. The top of the breakwater 
is covered with huge stones weighing from 8 to 20 
tons each, these to make sure that it will stand 
agaijist the pounding of the waves. Two minor 
breakwaters were also built at the Atlantic end to 
protect the terminal basin. 

The big dike at Naos Island in the Pacific is 
more than 17,000 feet long and transforms the 
island into the cape of a small peninsula. There 
was a threefold purpose in its construction — to 
cut out the cross currents that brought thousands 


of yards of sand and silt into the canal channel, to 
afford a dumping place for a large quantity of the 
spoil from Culebra Cut, and to make a connection 
with the mainland for the fortifications on Naos, 
Flamenco, and Perico Islands. In building it the 
engineers were under the necessity of first building 
a trestle on which the spoil trains could be backed 
and dumped. The piles had to be driven in soft, 
blue mud, and as the rock was dumped, it sank 
down and down until, at places, ten times as much 
stone was required as would have been necessary 
if the ocean bottom had been firm. In addition 
to this thousands of trainloads of material were 
dumped in the landward end of the dike, some 
20,000,000 cubic yards of material being thus dis- 
posed of. 

The last part of the canal work to be completed 
will be the terminal facilities at the ends of the big 
waterway. At the time this book went to press 
they were something more than a year from com- 
pletion, but the indications were that they would 
be finished within the time limit originally set for 
the completion of the canal itself. These ter- 
minal facilities consist of dry docks, wharfage 
space, storehouses, and everything else necessary 
to perform any service that might ordinarily be 
required for passing ships, whether they be those 
of commerce or of war. The main coaling station 
is to be established at the Atlantic end. The 
storehouses, the laundry, the bakery, and the 
other equipment of the Isthmian Canal Com- 
mission and the Panama Railroad also will be 
made a part of the permanent terminal plant on 
that side of the Isthmus. 


A large dry dock is being built at the Pacific 
end having the same usable dimensions as the 
canal locks, capable of accommodating any vessel 
that can pass through the canal. The principal 
machine shops will also be erected there, and a coal- 
ing plant of half the capacity of the one at the 
Atlantic end will be provided. A little to the east 
of the Pacific terminal works will be stationed the 
capital of the Canal Zone, where the adminis- 
trative offices, the governor's residence, and two 
new towns will be built. The administration 
building, which is to be a three-story structure of 
concrete, hollow tile, and structural steel, is to 
occupy an eminence on the side of Ancon Hill, 
which will ajOFord a splendid view of the Pacific 
fortifications, the entrance to the canal channel, a 
part of the port works, and of the canal itself 
from the great continental divide to the Pacific. 

There one may sit and see ships coming into the 
canal, tying up at the docks, sailing up the big 
ditch, and passing through the locks at Mira- 
flores and Pedro Miguel. Near by will be the 
permanent home of the marines who will be sta- 
tioned on the Isthmus, their barracks and grounds 
occupying the broad plateau on the side of Ancon 
Hill made by taking out the millions of cubic yards 
of stone required for the concrete works on the 
Pacific side of the Isthmus. Two permanent towns 
will be built at Balboa, one for the Americans 
and the other for the common laborers. The 
American town will be built under the capitol hill 
on a broad plain that was made by pumping hy- 
draulic material into a swamp and by dumping 
spoil from Culebra Cut. 


When the terminal plant at Balboa is completed 
it will represent probably the most extensive and 
adequate port works in the New World. In 
addition to the main dry dock it will have a second 
one which will be smaller, but which will be large 
enough to accommodate a majority of the ships 
that will pass through the canal. The existing 
dry dock at the Atlantic end will be continued in 

It is certain that none of these port works will 
ever fail by reason of insecure foundations. Wher- 
ever unusual loads were to be carried great piers 
of reinforced concrete were sent down to solid 
rock, often a distance of 60 feet below the surface. 
They consisted of a hollow shell of reinforced con- 
crete which was allowed to sink to hardpan of its 
own accord or under heavy weight. These shells 
were built in sections 6 feet high. The bottom 
section was 10 feet in diameter, and the lower 
end was equipped with a sharp steel shoe. As the 
section cut down into the earth of its own weight 
and that above it, laborers on the inside removed 
the material under the shoe and as they did so 
it sank further down. The sections above were 
only 8 feet in diameter, and did not quite fill up 
the hole made by the bottom of the section, thus 
overcoming all skin friction, and permitting the 
full weight of the series of sections to fall on the 
lower one. A jet of water was forced around the 
sinking pier all the time it was going down, and 
this made its progress the more easy. At times 
the weight of the superimposed sections was 
sufficient to force the pier down through the soft 
mud, while at other times the material became so 


heavy that even a 25-ton weight on top of the 
pier scarcely moved it. At one place a stratum 
of material was struck about 25 feet below the 
surface which yielded sulphuretted hydrogen gas. 
This affected the laborers' eyes, and some of them 
had to go to the hospital for treatment. The work 
of digging out the material was continued until 
the lower section reached bed rock, where it was 
anchored. The sections themselves were tied 
together with heavy iron rods. After they were 
firmly in place the interior was filled up with con- 
crete, itself reinforced, so that the foundations 
became, in reality, a series of huge concrete piles, 
8 feet in diameter, anchored to bed rock. 

The coaling plants at the two terminals will be 
the crowning features of the terminal facilities. 
With an immense storage capacity, and with 
every possible facility for the rapid handling of 
coal, both in shipping and unshipping it, no other 
canal in the world will be so well equipped. The coal 
storage basin at the Atlantic end will hold nearly 
300,000 tons. This basin will be built of rein- 
forced concrete, and will permit the flooding of the 
coal pile so that one-half of it will be stored under 
water for war purposes. It is said that deteriora- 
tion in coal is not as great in subaqueous storage, 
and at the same time the pile is less subject to fire. 
The plant will be able to discharge a thousand 
tons of coal an hour and to load 2,000 tons an 
hour. Ships will not go alongside the wharves 
to be coaled, but will lie out in the ship basin and 
be coaled from barges with reloader outfits. Spe- 
cial efforts have been made to provide for the 
quick loading of colliers in case of war. The coal 


handling plant at the Pacific entrance will have 
a normal capacity of 135,000 tons and will be able 
to handle half as much coal in a given time as the 
one at the Atlantic end. 

There will be big supply depots where ships 
can get any kind of stores they need from a few 
buckets of white lead to an anchor or a hawser; 
a laundry in which a ship's wash can be accepted 
at the hour it begins its transit of the canal, for 
delivery by railroad at the other end before it is 
ready to resume its ocean journey; an ice plant 
which will replenish the cold storage compart- 
ments of ships lacking such facilities. In short, 
it is proposed to attempt to do everything that 
may be done to make more attractive the bid 
of the canal for its share of business. 



WHEN the United States acquired the prop- 
erties of the new French Canal Company 
it found itseK in the possession of a rail- 
road for which it had allowed the canal company 
$7,000,000. This road, in the high tide of its 
history, had proved a bonanza for its stockholders, 
and during the 43 years between 1855 and 1898 it 
showed net profits five times as great as the original 
cost of its construction. 

When the United States took over the road 
someone described it as being merely '*two streaks 
of rust and a right of way." While the Panama 
road as acquired by the United States in its pur- 
chase of the assets of the new French Canal Com- 
pany might have been all that this phrase implies, it 
was none the less as great a bargain as was ever 
bought by any Government, and probably the 
greatest bargain ever sold in the shape of a rail- 
road. It was not the rolling stock that was 
valuable, nor yet the road itself; the real value 
was to be found in the possibilities of the conces- 
sion. Not only was this road destined to render 
to the United States a service in the building of 
the Panama Canal, worth to Uncle Sam a great 
many times more than its cost, but it was also 
destined to yield a net profit from its commercial 



operations which in 10 yeWrs would amount to 
double the price paid for it. Since the Americans 
took it over it has been yielding net returns ranging 
from a million and a quarter to a million and three- 
quarters dollars a year. In these 10 years it has 
brought an aggregate profit of some $15,000,000 
into the coffers of the United States. 

While $7,000,000 may have been a high price, 
judged from the standpoint of the physical value 
of the road, it was a very reasonable one, indeed, as 
compared with the price paid for it by the new 
French Canal Company. This company, which 
sold it to the United States for $7,000,000, paid 
the Panama Railroad Company $18,000,000 for it 
23 years before. When the French Canal Com- 
pany decided to undertake the building of the 
canal, it found that the Panama Railroad Com- 
pany held concessions that were absolutely nec- 
essary to the construction of the canal. The 
Colombian Government had granted the company 
the concession to complete the road in 1849, and 
had agreed that no other interoceanic communica- 
tion should be opened without the consetit of the 
railroad. This gave to the railroad company the 
whip hand in trading with the canal company and 
it was able to name its own price. 

When the United States wanted to buy the 
rights and properties of the new French Canal 
Company the shoe was on the other foot. There 
was only one buyer — the United States; and it 
could choose between the Panama and Nicaragua 
routes. If the United States did not buy the 
property its principal value would have been what 
it was worth as an uncertain prospect that at 


some future time a second Isthmian canal might 
be built. That is why the United States was 
able to buy from the French for $7,000,000 
property that they had bought for $18,000,000. 

After the United States acquired possession of 
the railroad, one change after another took place 
— now in the location, now in the rolling stock, 
now in directorate, and again in location — until 
almost all that remained of the original road was 
its name. It is now built almost every foot of the 
distance on a new location and the permanent 
Panama Railroad is a thoroughly modern, well- 
ballasted, heavy-railed, block-signal operated line 
of railway, built along the east bank of the Panama 
Canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Nearly 
half of the old right of way lies on the bottom of 
Lake Gatun, while the new line skirts that 
artificial body of water along its eastern shore, at 
places crossing its outlying arms over big bridges 
and heavy trestles. The construction of this 
new line was attended with much difficulty and 
probably no other road in the world has such a 
great percentage of fills and embankments in 
proportion to its length. One embankment, a 
mile and a quarter long and 82 feet high, required 
upward of 2,500,000 yards of material for its con- 
struction. The road is built about 10 feet above 
the water's edge, and more than 12,000,000 cubic 
yards of material was required to make the fills 
necessary to carry the road bed at this elevation. 

When the United States took over the French 
property it was decided that the canal work and 
the railroad operations should be maintained as 
distinct activities. It was agreed that the Canal 


Commission should have the right to haul its 
dirt trains over the Panama Railroad, and in 
compensation therefor the commission undertook 
to build a new road to take the place of the old 
line, which was in the way of the completion of 
the canal. 

The work of relocating the road was undertaken 
early in the construction of the canal in order that 
it might be completed by the time the old road 
had to be abandoned. It was built at a cost of 
approximately $9,000,000, or close to $170,000 
a mile. It is interesting to note that the cost of 
this thoroughly modern railroad was only about a 
million dollars more than the cost of the first 
Panama road which has been built with rather less 
than usual attention to grades, and with small rails 
and light bridges. The relocated Panama Rail- 
road was turned over to the railroad company in 

How good a bargain the United States secured 
when it acquired the Panama Railroad is shown 
by the fact that during the 10 years of canal work 
the net earnings of the railroad company have 
reimbursed the United States for the cost of the 
old road and the construction of the new one, to 
say nothing of the invaluable aid rendered in the 
building of the canal. 

The relations existing between the Isthmian 
Canal Commission and the Panama Railroad 
Company during the years of the construction of 
the canal were somewhat peculiar. The Panama 
Railroad Company is as much the property of the 
United States as the canal itself, yet the books of 
the two organizations were kept as carefully sep- 


arate and distinct as though they were under 
entirely different ownership. The Panama Rail- 
road Company, being a chartered corporation, 
under the terms of its ownership could engage in 
commercial business with all of the facility of a 
private corporation. Money received by the 
Isthmian Canal Commission from outside sources 
had to be covered into the treasury and reappro- 
priated for distinct and special purposes. On the 
other hand, the railroad company could use its 
money over and over again without turning it 
back into the treasury. This advantage of opera- 
tion was a useful one in conducting the road itself, 
and also in the construction of the canal. 

There was another reason which led tibe canal 
authorities to advocate the maintenance of the 
two organizations as separate entities. This 
had to do with the concession rights. Under the 
terms of the concession of the railroad company 
the property was to revert to the Republic of 
Colombia in 1967, or at any earlier date should 
the company cease to exist as such. While most 
authorities agree that with the secession of Panama 
and the setting up of the new Government all of 
Colombia's rights in the railroad company passed 
with the territory, and while the treaty between 
the United States and the Republic of Panama 
expressly provides that the United States shall 
have "absolute title — free from every present 
or reversionary interest or claim" in the railroad, 
the Republic of Colombia contends that it pos- 
sesses some rights with reference to the railroad 
and, not desiring to complicate matters, the canal 
authorities thought it best to live up to the letter 



of the treaty, in spite of Panama's express grant 
of title free from reversionary interest or claim. 

While it was deemed desirable to have the 
Panama Railroad operated as a separate organi- 
zation, it was equally important that it should be 
operated in a way that its interests always would 
be subordinate to those of the canal. It was 
decided that the best way to accomplish this was 
to make the chairman and chief engineer of the 
Canal Commission the president of the railroad 
company, and the members of the commission 
its directors. The stock of the company is held 
in the name of the Secretary of War, with the 
exception of a few shares held by the directors to 
entitle them to membership on the board. There 
are also a few directors chosen from other parts 
of the Government serVice, but their activities 
are purely perfunctory. 

In addition to the railroad, the Panama Railroad 
Company also operates a steamship line between 
New York and Colon. This line was acquired 
with other properties of the new French Canal 
Company as a part of the Panama Railroad's 
holdings. There were only a few years during the 
construction period when this steamship line did 
not show a loss. But the advantages of having a 
steamship line for carrying the supplies of the 
canal were so great, because of the special facilities 
that could be provided, that the loss was more 
than compensated by them. During the year 
1912 the cost of operating this steamship line was 
$305,000 greater than the revenues derived from 
its operation. But, at the same time there was 
a retl^rn of net earnings by the Panama Railroad 


of over $2,000,000, at least a part of which was 
made possible by the operation of the steamship 
line. Even after deducting the losses sustained 
in the operation of the steamship company there 
was a net profit of more than $1,700,000, which for 
a railroad of less than 50 miles in length is no 
small item. 

As a matter of fact, Government ownership of 
railways as applied at Panama is remarkably 
successful from the standpoint of the Government, 
and partially so to the patrons of the railroad. 
Probably no railroad in the United States could 
show net earnings per mile of line anywhere com- 
parable with those of the Panama Railroad. 

The rates for passengers and baggage across the 
Isthmus were rather high for first-class passengers, 
the fare for the 48-mile trip being $2.40, or 5 
cents a mile. The second-class rate was only 
half as much. On the handling of freight the 
railroad had to divide the through rate with the 
steamship companies of the Atlantic and the 
Pacific, but, while the rates were high, judged by 
American standards, and the percentages of 
profits very large, the service maintained was so 
superior to that encountered on the privately 
owned railroads of the Tropics that no one ever 
seriously complained of the charges. 

One of the most important services rendered by 
the Panama Railroad Company in the construction 
of the canal was in connection with the commis- 
sary. It had more to do with the maintenance of a 
reasonable standard of living cost on the Isthmus 
than anything else. 

When the canal was nearing completion it be- 


came advisable to determine what role the Panama 
Railroad should play after the permanent organi- 
zation went into effect. Should it be continued 
as a separate entity distinct from the canal but 
controlled by the canal authorities? Or should it 
be merged into the Canal Government and oper- 
ated purely as an auxiliary of the canal with no 
separate existence? This matter was carefully 
weighed by the canal authorities and the Govern- 
ment at Washington, and it was finally decided 
that the best plan would be to operate them as 
separate entities, but to have all the work done 
by single organization. Another question that 
arose was whether the Panama Railroad Steam- 
ship Line should be operated as a Government 
line after the completion of the canal. Recalling 
the fact that the line never had been a profitable 
one, and that there was no further reason why it 
should be continued in operation with an annual 
deficit, the recommendation was made by the 
chairman and the chief engineer that the ships 
should be disposed of and the line discontinued. 

As the tide of tourist travel set toward Panama, 
the serious problem of taking care of thousands of 
visitors confronted the canal authorities. There 
were times when every available facility for taking 
care of lodgers was called into requisition, and still 
hundreds of American tourists had to find quar- 
ters in cheap, vermin-infested native hotels at 
Colon. Believing that the situation demanded 
a modern hotel at the Atlantic side of the Isthmus, 
and having in mind the success of the Government 
in the construction and maintenance of the Tivoli 
Hotel at the Pacific side, it was decided by the 


Secretary of War that the Panama Railroad Com- 
pany should build a new hotel at Colon, to be 
operated by that company for the Government. 
The result was the beautiful Washington Hotel, 
in whose architecture one finds the world's best 
example of northern standards of hotel construc- 
tion adapted to tropical needs. 

Built of concrete and cement blocks, it is con- 
structed in a modified Spanish Mission style that 
makes it cool and comfortable at all times. Its 
public rooms, from the main lobby to the dining- 
rooms, from the ladies' parlor to the telephone and 
cable rooms, from the barber shop to the billiard 
room, are large, airy, and most attractively fur- 
nished. Its ball room, opening on three sides to 
the breezes borne in from the Caribbean is a delight 
to the disciples of Terpsichore, while its open-air 
swimming pool, said to be the largest hotel swim- 
ming pool in the world, affords ideal facilities 
for those .^ho otherwise would sigh for the surf. 
Persons who have visited every leading hotel in 
the New World, from the Rio Grande southward 
to the Strait of Magellan, say that it is without 
a superior in all that region and, perhaps, without 
an equal except for one in Buenos Aires. 

Here one may find accommodations to suit his 
taste and largely to meet the necessities of his 
pocketbook. The best rooms with bath cost $5 
a day for one, or $6 for two. Table d'hote meals 
are served at $1 each, while those who prefer 
it may secure club breakfasts and a la carte serv- 
ice. Anyone who has visited the Hotel Washing- 
ton, situated as it is on Colon Beach, where the 
breakers sweep in from the Caribbean Sea, feels 


that Uncle Sam is no less * successful as a hotel 
keeper than as a builder of canals. 

The Panama Railroad, under the American 
regime, has always looked well after the comfort 
of its patrons. The coaches are of the standard 
American type, and enough of them are run oh 
every train to make it certain that no patron 
need stand for lack of a seat. The most popular 
trains carry from 8 to 12 cars. These trains are 
run on convenient schedules, permitting a person 
to go and come from any point on the road in any 
forenoon or afternoon. All coaches are supplied 
with hygienic drinking cups, and in every way 
the Panama Railroad shows that Uncle Sam is 
solicitous for the welfare of his patrons. 

All the rolling stock on the Isthmus is built on a 
5-foot gauge, this having been the gauge of the 
original Panama Railroad. As the rolling stock 
of the Canal Commission had to run over the lines 
of the Panama Railroad, it also was built on the 
gauge. When this rolling stock is disposed of it 
will be necessary to readjust the gauge to meet the 
ordinary American standard which is 2 J inches 
narrower. It has been estimated that the engine 
axles can be shortened for $750 per locomotive 
and those of cars at prices ranging from $27 to 
$31 per car. 

The first attempt to build the Panama Railroad 
was made in 1847, when a French company se- 
cured a charter from the Government of Colombia 
for a building of a road across the Isthmus. This 
company was unable to finance the project and 
the concession lapsed. 

In 1849 William H. Aspinwall, John L. Stevens, 


and Henry Chauncey, New York capitalists, 
undertook the construction of the road. The 
terms of the concession provided that the road 
would be purchased by the Government at the 
expiration of 20 years after its completion for 
$5,000,000. The loss of life in the construction 
of this road, serious as it was, has been monumen- 
tally exaggerated. It is an oft-repeated statement 
that a man died for every tie laid on the road. 
This would mean that there were 150,000 deaths 
in its construction. As a matter of fact, the total 
number of persons employed during the six years 
the line was being built did not exceed 6,000. 
But among these the death rate was very high. 
Several thousand Chinese were brought over and 
they died almost like flies. Malaria and yellow 
fever were the great scourges they had to encoun- 
ter, although smallpox and other diseases carried 
away hundreds. 

The road was completed in January, 1855. 
Before the last rail was laid more than $2,000,000 
had been taken in for hauling passengers as far 
as the road extended. The way in which the 
original 50-cent per mile rate across the Isthmus 
was established is interesting. The chief engineer 
encountered much trouble from people who wanted 
to use the road as far inland as it went from Colon, 
so he suggested that a 50-cent rate be established, 
thinking to make it prohibitory. But the people 
who wanted to cross the Isthmus were willing 
to pay even 50 cents a mile. Hence for years 
after the completion of the road the passenger rate 
continued at $25 for the one-way trip across the 


The railroad proved to be such an unexpectedly 
good investment that the Republic of Colombia 
began to establish its claim to acquire ownership 
of the road at the expiration of the 2-year term, 
which would take place in 1875. It was necessary 
therefore, that the railroad company should take 
steps to save the railroad from a forced sale with 
$5,000,000 as the consideration. Representatives 
were dispatched to Bogota with instructions to get 
an extension of the concession under the most 
favorable terms possible. As it was realized that 
the Republic of Colombia held the whip hand in 
the negotiations, the railroad company understood 
that if it wished to escape selling its great revenue 
producing road for $5,000,000 it would have to 
meet any terms Colombia might dictate. The 
result of this mission was an agreement by the 
railroad that in consideration of an extension of 
the concession for a term of 99 years it would pay 
to the Colombian Government $1,000,000 spot 
cash and $250,000 a year during the life of the 
concession. That annual payment was continued 
as long as the Isthmus remained a part of the 
Republic of Colombia. Under the terms of the 
treaty between the United States and the Repub- 
lic of Panama it was resumed again in 1913, to be 
paid by the United States to the Republic of 
Panama throughout all the years that the United 
States maintains and operates the Panama Canal. 



PRIMARILY, the conquest of the Isthmian 
barrier was the conquest of the mosquito. 
Not mountains to be leveled, nor wild 
rivers to be tamed, nor yet titanic machinery to 
be installed, presented the gravest obstacles to 
the canal builders. Their most feared enemies 
were none of these, but the swarms of mosquitoes 
that bred in myriads in every lake, in every tiny 
pool, in every clump of weeds on the rain-soaked, 
steaming, tropical land. For these mosquitoes 
were the bearers of the dread germs of yellow 
fever and of malaria; and the conditions that 
encouraged their multiplication bred also typhoid 
and all manner of filthy disease. Each mos- 
quito was a potential messenger of death. The 
buzzing, biting pests had defeated the French in 
Panama without the French ever having recog- 
nized the source of the attack. It was because 
the Americans, thanks to Great Britain and to 
Cuba, knew the deadly qualities of the mosquitoes 
that they were able to plan, under the leadership 
of Col. W. C. Gorgas, a sanitary campaign of 
unprecedented success. It achieved two vic- 
tories. One was that it made of the Canal Zone 
the most healthful strip of land under tropic skies. 
The other is the Panama Canal. 




When one looks about in an effort to place the 
credit for these great sanitary achievements he 
must go back to Cuba, where the yellow fever 
commission, consisting of Reed, Carroll, Lazear, 
and Agrimonte, made the remarkable investiga- 
tions proving that yellow fever is transmissible 
only through the bite of a mosquito. He must 
go still further back to Maj. Roland Ross of the 
British Army, and his epoch-making discovery 
that malaria is conveyed only by the bite of 
another kind of mosquito. And, if he is just to 
all who have contributed to the establishment of 
the insect-bearing theory of disease, he must not 
forget Sir Patrick Manson who first proved 
that any disease could be transmitted by insect 
bites. It was he who discovered that filariasis 
is transmissible by this method alone. It was 
from him that Ross gathered the inspiration that is 
releasing humanity from one of the most insidious 
of all the diseases to which mortal flesh is heir. 
And it was from Ross's malaria discoveries, 
in turn, that Reed carried forward to successful 
proof the theory which had persisted in some quar- 
ters for generations that yellow fever was trans- 
missible through mosquitoes; a theory already 
partially proved by Dr. Carlos Finley, of Havana, 
20 years earlier. 

But all of the surmises and theories came short 
of the truth until Reed, Carroll, Lazear, and 
Agrimonte (Lazear at the cost of his life and Carrol] 
at the cost of a nearly fatal attack of yellow 
fever) took up the work of proving that there was 
only one way in which yellow fever could be 
transmitted; namely, by the bite of the mosquito. 



Sleeping with patients who had yellow fever, 
wearing the clothes of those who had died from 
it, eating from utensils from which yellow fever 
victims had eaten — in short, putting to the most 
rigid test every other possible method of infection, 
they proved by every negative test that yellow 
fever could not be produced in any way other than 
by the bite of a mosquito. 

The next step was to give aflSrmative proof 
that yellow fever was caused by the bite of the 
female "stegomyia" — she of the striped stock- 
ings and the shrill song. This meant that someone 
had to have enough love for humanity to risk 
his life by inviting one of the worst forms of 
death to which human flesh is heir. Those doc- 
tors knew that they could not as brave men ask 
others to undergo the risks that they themselves 
might not accept, so in a httle council chamber in 
Havana the three Americans — Reed, Carroll, 
and Lazear — entered into a compact that they 
themselves would permit infected mosquitoes to 
bite them. Reed was called home, but Carroll 
and Lazear stood with the keen and cold eyes of 
scientists and saw the mosquitoes inject the fateful 
poison into their blood. Later, after Lazear 
had died and Carroll had stood in the jaws of 
death, soldiers of the American army in Cuba 
volunteered in the interest of humanity to undergo 
these same risks. And it was thus, at this price, 
that the world came to know how yellow fever is 
caused, and that the United States was to be able 
to build the Panama Canal. 

After the guilt of the female "stegomyia'* 
mosquito was firmly established the next problem 


was to find a method of combating her work. 
Dr. Reed and his associates thought that it 
might be done through a process of immunization, 
using the mosquito to bite patients with very 
mild cases and, after the necessary period of 
incubation, to transmit the disease to those who 
were to be rendered immune. It was soon found, 
however, that there was no method of transmit- 
ting a mild infection, and the next problem was 
to combat the work of the mosquito by isolation 
of yellow fever patients, and by the extermina- 
tion of the mosquitoes themselves. 

In Havana at this time there was another army 
surgeon who was destined to write his name high 
upon the pages of medical achievement. He 
was Dr. William C. Gorgas. Under the patronage 
of Gen. Leonard Wood, himself a physician and 
alive to the lessons of the yellow fever com- 
mission's investigations, Maj. Gorgas undertook 
to apply the doctrine of yellow fever prevention 
promulgated by the commission, and his efforts 
were attended with brilliant success. The result 
was that Havana, in particular, and Cuba, in 
general, were freed from this great terror of 
the Tropics. When President Roosevelt came 
to provide for the building of the Panama 
Canal one of his early acts was to appoint Dr. 
Gorgas the chief sanitary officer of the Canal 

At first there was difficulty in establishing 
practical sanitation at Panama. The chief sani- 
tary officer was then a subordinate of the com- 
mission, and, along with all of the other men who 
were trying to do things on the Isthmus, he found 


himself hindered by unsatisfactory conditions 
both as to supphes and as to force; consequently, 
his work was no more satisfactory to himself 
than it was to the commission or to the American 
people. Under these conditions an epidemic of 
yellow fever broke out in Panama in 1905, and 
it was not long before the yellow fever mosquito 
had seemingly established an alibi and had secured 
a reopening of her case before the jury of public 
sentiment. People, to emphasize their disbelief 
in the mosquito theory of the transmission of the 
disease, tore the screens from their doors and win- 
dows, and otherwise proclaimed their contempt 
for the doctors and their doctrines. This matter 
went so far that the Isthmian Canal Commission 
proposed not only a change in method but a 
change in personnel as well. 

At this juncture Charles E. Magoon became 
governor of the Canal Zone, and he declared that 
Dr. Gorgas should have adequate financial and 
moral support. He was determined that the panic 
which the yellow fever outbreak had engendered 
should be halted — and a panic it was, for men 
rushed madly to Colon and defied the efforts of the 
commission, and of the captains and crews of the 
Panama Railroad steamships, to prevent them 
from returning to the States without other trans- 
portation arrangements than a determination 
to get aboard and stay there until the Statue 
of Liberty had been passed in New York Harbor. 
So great was this panic that Chief Engineer Stevens 
declared that there were three diseases at Panama: 
Yellow fever, malaria, and cold feet; and that 
the greatest of these was. cold feet. The news- 



papers of the United States at that time quoted 
the poetry of such writers as Gilbert, who said: 

"Beyond the Chagres River 

'Tis said (the story's old) 
Are paths that lead to mountains 
Of purest virgin gold; 
But 'tis my firm conviction 
What e'er the tales they tell. 
That beyond the Chagres River 
All paths lead straight to hell." 

It did not matter that in four months there 
were only 47 deaths on the Isthmus from yellow 
fever as compared with 108 from malaria in 
the same period — men do not stop to study 
mortality tables and to compare the relative fatali- 
ties of diseases when yellow fever stares them in 
the face. 

But after all, the yellow fever panic of 1905 
served a good purpose, for if the mosquito thereby 
secured a reopening of its case, it stirred the United 
States Government to give to the sanitary oflScers 
of the Canal Zone the powers they needed, and 
the means required to prove finally and forever 
in the court of last resort, the guilt of the mosquito, 
and to establish for once and all the method of 
combating its stealthy work. 

The whole world recognizes the remarkable 
results in sanitary work that have been achieved 
at Panama. While it must be remembered that 
the population of the Canal Zone is made up largely 
of able-bodied men, and that, therefore, the death 
rate naturally would be lower than under like 


conditions with a normal population of infancy 
and old age, the fact remains that sanitary science 
has converted the Zone from a mosquito paradise 
of swamp and jungle into a region where mosquitoes 
have all but disappeared, and w^here men are as 
free from danger of epidemic diseases as in the 
United States itself. 

The sanitary statistics of the Canal Zone, and 
of the cities of Panama and Colon, were based 
for several years upon an erroneous assumption 
of population. The Department of Sanitation 
estimated the population of the Canal Zone by 
deducting the recorded emigrants from the re- 
corded immigrants and assumed that the difference 
represented a permanent addition to the Zone's 
population. Under this method of estimating 
population a serious error crept in, since hundreds 
of people came into Panama from the Panaman 
outports and were recorded as arrivals, but who, 
departing in small sailing vessels and launches 
at night after the port officers had gone home, were 
not recorded as having departed. In this way 
the sanitary department estimates of population 
in the Canal Zone reached a total of 93,000 in 
1912. The census taken that year showed only 
62,000 population in the Zone. This served to 
make the death rate given out by the Department 
of Sanitation 50 per cent lower than was justified 
by actual population conditions. 

But one does not need to consider figures to 
realize what has been accomplished at Panama. 
Anyone who goes there and sees the remarkable 
evidence of the success of the efforts to conquer 
the disease of the tropical jungles, finds a lesson 



taught that is too impressive to need the confirma- 
tion of medical statistics. 

The United States, after the yellow fever out- 
break of 1905, never counted the cost when the 
health of the canal army was at stake. Not only 
was Uncle Sam successful in his efforts to make 
the Canal Zone and the terminal cities of Panama 
and Colon healthful places of abode, but no 
worker on the canal was denied the privilege of the 
best medical care. An average of $2,000,000 a year 
was expended in the prevention of sickness and 
the care of those who were sick. At Ancon and 
at Colon large hospitals were maintained where 
the white American and the West Indian negro 
had their respective wards. At Taboga a large 
sanitarium w as maintained to assist the recupera- 
tion of those who had recovered sufficiently to 
leave the hospital. Besides this there were rest 
camps along the line for those not ill enough to be 
removed to the hospitals, and dispensaries w^here 
those who felt they were not in need of other 
medical attention could consult with the physicians 
and get the necessary medicines. All medical 
services to the employees of the Canal Commission 
and the Panama Railroad were free, and only 
nominal charges were made for members of their 
families. No passenger train crossed the Isth- 
mus of Panama without carrying a hospital car 
for taking patients to or from the hospitals. No 
way station was without its waiting shed bearing 
the inscription: ''For Hospital Patients Only." 
Each community had its dispensary, its doctor, 
and its sanitary inspector. 

During the year 1912 there were 48,000 cases 


of sickness in the Canal Zone, of which 26,000 
were white and 22^000 colored. During the same 
year 633,000 trips to the dispensaries were made 
by employees and nonemployees, divided almost 
evenly between white and colored. The average 
number of employees constantly sick in Ancon 
Hospital was 712; in Colon Hospital 209; and in 
Taboga Sanitarium 54. An average of 119 were 
in the sick camps all the time and 50 in the quar- 
ters. The average number of days' treatment 
per employee in the hospitals was a little over 
14; in the sick camps a little under 3; and in 
quarters 2|. It cost $160,000 a year to feed the 
patients in the hospitals and $739,000 a year to 
operate the hospitals. 

The work of sanitation proper cost some $400,- 
000 a year. This includes many items. During 
one year about 16,000,000 square yards of brush 
were cut and burned; a million square yards of 
swamp were drained; 30,000,000 square yards of 
grass were cut; 250,000 feet of ditches were dug; 
and some 2,000,000 linear feet of old ditches were 
cleaned. During the same year nearly a million 
garbage cans and over 300,000 refuse cans were 
emptied. In addition to looking after the health of 
the Canal Zone itself, it was necessary to care for 
that of the cities of Panama and Colon. In the 
city of Panama 11,000 loads of sweepings and 25,000 
loads of garbage were removed in one year; 3,000,000 
gallons of water were sprinkled on the streets and 
as much more distributed to the poor of the city. 

During one year the quarantine service, which 
keeps a strict lookout for yellow fever, bubonic 
plague, and other epidemic diseases, inspected 


over 100,000 passengers coming into the Zone. 
It required about 150,000 gallons of mosquito 
oil a year to keep down the mosquitoes. There 
are 50 known breeds of these insects on the Isthmus 
and perhaps some 20 species more which have not 
been identified. Of the 50 or more species of 
mosquitoes 11 belonged to the malaria-producing 
family — anopheles. Their cousins of the yellow- 
fever-producing family — the stegomyias — boast 
of only two species. What the other 40 or 
more kinds are doing besides annoying suffering 
humanity has not been determined. The mos- 
quito is comparatively easy to exterminate. Its 
life habits are such that a terrific mortality may 
be produced among them during infancy. The 
average young mosquito, during its "wriggler" 
state of development, lives under the water and 
has to make about 8,000 trips to the surface for 
air before it can spread its wings and fly. If oil 
is poured upon the water it can get no air and 
death by asphyxiation follows. Two classes of 
larvaecide are used on the waters to exterminate 
the baby mosquitoes: One is an oil used to make 
a scum over the surface; the other a carbolic 
solution which poisons the water. At the head 
of every little rivulet and tiny, trickling stream 
one sees a barrel out of which comes an endless 
drip! drip! drip! These drops of oil or poison 
are carried down the stream and make inhospit- 
able all of the mosquito nurseries of the marshes 
through which the waters flow. In addition 
to these barrels, men go about with tanks on their 
backs, spraying the marshy ground and the small, 
isolated pools of water with larvaecides. 




This method of treatment has not exterminated 
all mosquitoes on the Isthmus, but it has so 
materially reduced their number that one may 
stay in the Zone for weeks without seeing a single 
one. This is a freedom, however, that must be 
paid for by vigilance of the most painstaking and 
unremitting sort. The moment the work is re- 
laxed the mosquitoes again spread over the terri- 

The United States Government will have to 
continue with the utmost care its work of sani- 
tation and quarantine at Panama, If, after the 
canal is completed, an epidemic of bubonic plague 
or yellow fever should break out, it might very 
seriously interfere with the operation of the canal 
in several ways. To begin with, it would de- 
moralize the operating force. Further than this, 
India and China are afraid of yellow fever because 
in both of these countries the stegomyia mosquito 
abounds. If the disease should obtain a foothold 
there it would be difficult to exterminate. Europe, 
also, might be expected to quarantine against 
Panama under such conditions. A 10,000-ton 
freighter carrying cargo through the canal would 
lose at least a thousand dollars for every day it 
was detained in quarantine by reason of having 
visited the canal. 

A shrewd observer has said that the successful 
sanitation of the Isthmus of Panama is a triumph 
at once of medical science and of despotic govern- 
ment. Probably this does not overstate the 
case. The methods employed at Panama were 
arbitrary, and had to be. They probably could 
not be enforced at all in a democratic community 


in ordinary times. The people would rebel against 
the severity of the regulations and against the 
incidental invasion of their privacy. But strike 
any community, however free, with the fear of a 
swift and deadly disease and it will submit — 
as witness the shot-gun quarantines that used to 
demark the northern limits of the yellow fever 
zone in our own Southern States, or the despotism 
that governed New Orleans in the terror of 1905. 
At Panama this fear is ever present, so there is 
little danger that a responsible majority there 
ever would resist the sanitary work on the grounds 
of outraged democracy. It may be that a popular 
government would become careless, or inefficient, 
but it would not renounce the pretension. This 
has been proved in Cuba. 

The sanitarians at Panama gave to the workers 
there a sense of security that contributed no 
little to the spirit of determination so universally 
remarked and commended by visitors to the Zone 
during the era of construction. While there was no 
immunity from sickness and death, yet there was 
no panic, no constant dread, such as destroyed 
the morale of the French force. The Isthmus 
of Panama still remained hot, its inhabitants still 
were forced to take the precautions that aliens 
must take in the Tropics; but they were inspired 
with a confidence that if these precautions were 
taken they would not be in any greater danger 
than if they had remained in their northern homes. 

Pestilence, the scourge of the on-sweeping 
epidemic, the plague of swift death that is only a 
Uttle worse than the panic of fear it inspires — 
this was the thing that was stamped out. 


Not since the Science of Healing opened its 
doors to the Science of Prevention have physicians 
scored a greater victory in their fight against 
disease and death than on the Isthmus of Panama. 
Not only did they help to build the canal; they 
demonstrated that tropical diseases are capable 
of human control and thereby opened up a vista 
of hope undreamed of to all that sweltering and 
suffering mass of humanity that inhabits the 
Torrid Zone. 



IN 1905, William H. Taft, then Secretary of 
War, made a trip to the Isthmus of Panama 
to look over the preparations for the construc- 
tion of the Panama Canal, and at the same time 
to consider the question of the fortification of the 
big waterway. On that trip a member of the 
General Staff of the Army, who at that time was 
but Httle known outside of Army circles, went with 
him. He was a tall, broad-shouldered, bronze- 
faced, gray-haired man, 47 years old. He came 
and went unheralded. Few people knew of the 
engineering record he had made, and no one on the 
Isthmus dreamed that he was destined to become 
the commander in chief of the army that would 
conquer the Isthmian barrier. 

He returned to the United States and wrote his 
report — a report which, from the deep mastery 
of the subject it revealed, attracted the favorable 
attention of the Secretary of War. Later when 
the board of consulting engineers came to make 
its report upon the type of canal which should be 
built — whether it should be a sea level or a lock 
canal — the Secretary of War asked this officer 
to prepare a draft of his report to the President 
recommending the lock canal. 

Soon after New Year's Day, 1907, the chief 



engineer of the canal, John F. Stevens, dissatis- 
fied with the relations that existed between the 
Government and himself, came to the conclusion 
that he could not build the canal hampered as 
he was by red tape at Washington. It then became 
a question of whether or not the canal should be 
built by contract or by the Army. President 
Roosevelt asked for a preliminary report upon 
this proposition and the unheralded Army engineer 
who had visited the Canal Zone in 1905, made it. 
A few days later there was a conference between 
President Roosevelt, Gen. Alexander MacKenzie, 
Chief of Engineers of the United States Army, and 
the Secretary of War. After this conference Maj. 
George Washington Goethals was summoned to 
the White House and informed by the President 
that it had been determined to build the Panama 
Canal under the auspices of the Army, and that 
he was appointed chairman and chief engineer 
of the Isthmian Canal Commission. He was 
requested to keep the fact of his appointment a 
secret and to prepare immediately to go to Panama. 
A ship sailed for the Isthmus three days thereafter, 
and he was ready to sail when the President 
advised him that he might wait over and arrange 
affairs in Washington, leaving in time to get to 
the Isthmus to take charge on the first of April. 

When the announcement was made to the coun- 
try that the work of building the canal was to be 
put in the hands of the Army, the whole country 
began to inquire: Who is Major Goethals? 
that inquiry revealed the fact that he was a man 
who had accomplished much in his 49 years. 
Born in 1858, of Dutch parents, whose ancestors 


had settled in New York when it was still New 
Amsterdam, he was appointed to the United States 
Military Academy at West Point where he was 
graduated in the class of 1880 with such honors 
that he was entitled to enter the Engineer Corps 
of the Regular Army. 

In 1891 he rose to the rank of captain, and in 
1898 became lieutenant colonel and chief engineer 
of the First Volunteer Army Corps in Cuba. 
On the last day of that year he was honorably 
discharged from the volunteer service, and, in 
1900, became a major in the Engineer Corps of 
the Regular Army. For a number of years prior 
to 1898 he had been instructor in civil and military 
engineering at West Point. He had been in charge 
of the Mussel Shoals canal construction on the 
Tennessee River, a work which won praise from 
engineers both in civil and in military life. It was 
in a measure his record made on the Tennessee 
River work that led to his appointment as chairman 
and chief engineer of the Isthmian Canal. 

When he took charge of the work at Panama 
he was promoted to lieutenant colonel. Arriv- 
ing there he immediately informed all hands that 
while the work of building the canal had been 
placed under Army engineers, no man who was 
then on the job and faithfully executing his work 
need fear anything from that administration. 
From that time down to the last stages of the work 
that statement held good. Trained at West 
Point, brought up in the atmosphere of the Army, 
a lover of its traditions and in full sympathy 
with its spirit, he laid aside everything that might 
handicap the success of the undertaking and sought 


at once to get the full benefit of all that was best 
in the Army and in civil life as well. He put his 
uniform in moth balls when he started to the 
Isthmus, and from that day to this no man has 
ever seen him on the Canal Zone wearing an Army 

When he took charge of the big job, the founda- 
tions upon which he was to build the superstruc- 
ture of his success had been laid by his predecessors, 
but there were many weak points in these founda- 
tions as well as many strong ones. With a spirit 
of utilizing to the fullest extent every advantage 
that the administrations of the former chief 
engineers had left on the Isthmus, he undertook 
to make only such changes as time demonstrated 
were necessary to the success of the project. 
At that time 6,000,000 cubic yards of material 
had been removed from the big waterway. Con- 
fronting him was the task of removing some 215,- 
000,000 yards the while building a great dam 
containing 21,000,000 cubic yards, constructing a 
series of gigantic locks containing four and a half 
million cubic yards of concrete, and providing 
for the happiness and welfare of the sixty-odd 
thousand people who constituted the canal army 
and its camp followers. 

In the years that followed his appointment he 
proved himself in every way worthy of his as- 
signment as the managing director of the most 
stupendous piece of work ever undertaken by 
man. Furthermore, he established a claim to 
the title of the "Great Digger." No other man 
in the history of the world has ever superintended 
the excavation of an amount of earth half as 


great as that which has been taken out of the 
Panama Canal during his administration. Since 
he went to the canal to "make the dirt fly" the 
material excavated under his command, together 
with that placed in the locks and dams, equals the 
amount necessary to take out to cut a tunnel 13 
feet square through the earth at the Equator. 

No man ever carried to a great position less 
fuss and feathers than Colonel Goethals took to 
his work as chairman and chief engineer of the 
Panama Canal. When, during the construction 
period, one visited his office at Culebra, on almost 
any afternoon, he would find there an unpreten- 
tious little room in the corner of the administra- 
tion building, about 18 feet square, containing 
four windows, overlooking the cut from two sides, 
its painted walls hung with maps, its floors un- 
carpeted, and in the center a large double-sided, 
flat-top desk covered with papers. A swivel 
chair at the desk and two or three other chairs 
constituted the furnishings of this room. The 
visitor walked directly into the office of his 
private secretary and the chief clerk, and if he 
had anything worth while about which to see the 
chairman and chief engineer he was detained only 
long enough for the man ahead of him to get out. 
With "'no time like the present" as his motto in 
handling the business of his office, he, the busiest 
man on the Isthmus, and one of the busiest 
in the world for that matter, always seemed to 
have more time than many men of lesser re- 
sponsibilities and far fewer burdens. He once 
declared that he had a contempt for the man who 
always tried to make it appear that he was too 


busy to see his callers, because his callers were 
frequently as busy as he himself. 

The fact is that he is a man with a very unusual 
gift in the dispatch of work. System has been the 
key-note of his success. With thousands of 
details every day to look after, he has always 
kept his work so well in hand that to the casual 
observer he seemed to be the most leisurely man 
on the Isthmus. He maintained a well-established 
routine all through his career on the canal. His 
mornings usually were spent going over the work. 
When the morning trains passed Culebra at 7 
o'clock they found him up, breakfasted, and at the 

Although these trains carried parlor cars, one 
would seldom see the chairman and chief engineer 
riding in them. Rather, he consistently chose to 
ride in the ordinary day coaches with his sub- 
engineers, with the steam-shovel men, and with 
the rank and file of the Americans who made 
possible the success of the work at Panama. 
There were few of these Americans whom he did 
not know by name, and with whom he did not pass 
a pleasant word whenever he chanced to meet them. 

A morning trip over the work with this pre- 
siding genius of the big ditch reveals perhaps better 
than anything else the makeup of the man and 
the secret of his success. 

"Meet me on the early train to-morrow morning 
at Miraflores," said he to one of his visitors in 
the early summer of 1913, "and we will go over 
the Pacific end of the work." 

This meant that both the chief engineer and 
the visitor had to leave comfortable beds at 5 


o'clock in the morning to keep the appointment. 
At 7 o'clock they met at Miraflores. "We will 
walk through the tunnel if you don't mind," said 
he, "as I don't want to hold up a dirt train if it 
can be avoided." 

At the other end of the railroad tunnel, the 
only one on the Isthmus, a railway motor car stood 
on the siding ready to pick up the distinguished 
engineer and carry him to the Miraflores Locks. 
This motor car is something like a limousine on 
railroad trucks, and was affectionately known by 
the people on the Isthmus, as "the yellow peril" 
and "the brain wagon." The first stop was at 
the concrete work on the spillway dam at Mira- 

"How soon do you expect to have this dam up 
to its full height.^ " he asked of the division engineer 
who joined him there. "Can't you find room 
to operate another temporary concrete mixer 
down there.?" he queried further. "Is there 
anything else you need to keep the work moving 
forward so as to be certain to complete the dam 
by the time you promised .^^ " 

Going a little farther he came to a place where 
one division was doing some work for another 
division. "Don't you think it would be more 
satisfactory to keep both parts of that work^under 
one division.? Why don't you allow it all to be 
done by the other people.?" 

Walking across the locks on the temporary 
bridge the chief engineer and his assistant came 
to a point where the concrete lamp posts for 
lighting the locks were being set up. "Don't 
you think that it would better avoid any settling 


if you were to place beams of railroad iron across 
those spaces and rest the posts on them?" he 

A little farther on he met the engineer in charge 
of the work of the company erecting the gates. 
"When do you think you will have the gates in 
the west chambers completed so that we can 
put the dredge through?" he inquired of Mr. 

"Well, sir," replied Mr. Wright, "if we have 
good luck I hope to have them done by the first 
of September; if we have fair luck we ought to 
have them completed by the middle of September; 
but at the lowest calculation I can promise them 
to you by the first of October." 

"But have you taken into consideration all 
of the time you are likely to lose as the result of 
heavy rains?" queried the chief engineer. 

"I have made full allowance therefor, I think," 
responded Mr. Wright. 

Walking on, the watchful eye of the chief 
engineer fell upon a new baby railway track which 
was being laid through the eastern lock chambers. 
"What are you planning to do there?" he asked 
of the division engineer. 

"We wanted to get some additional material 
through the locks and Mr. Wright informed us 
that if we would furnish the timbers, he would 
make it so that we could run these little engines 
through there," responded the engineer. 

"But did you have a definite understanding 
with him that this should aiBEord no excuse for any 
further delay in completing the gates?" queried 
Colonel Goethals. 



"We did, sir," responded the division engineer. 

"All right then, go ahead." 

At this point the party boarded the motor car 
again and was taken to the big dike which was to 
hold the Pacific Ocean from flooding the locks 
after a dike a mile farther down had been blown 
out. " How much water do you have in the stretch 
between the two dikes?" he asked of the division 
engineer. He next wanted to know how many 
million cubic feet they were able to pump and 
siphon in, and how much the Rio Grande was 
bringing in per day. Then he wanted to know if 
every possible precaution had been taken to insure 
the watertightness of the new dike; how many 
thousand pounds of dynamite had been placed 
under the one to be blown up; how many holes 
this dynamite was placed in; and a large number 
of other bits of information which would tell 
him whether every safeguard had been thrown 
around the plan to insure its success. 

Going up on the other side of the canal the 
party came to the earth dam joining the west 
lock walls with the hills, so as to impound 58 
feet of water in Miraflores Lake. "How soon do 
you expect to get that connection made between 
the lock walls and the dam proper?" he queried 
of the engineer in immediate charge. 

"In four weeks, sir." 

"All right," answered Colonel Goethals, "you 
can't get that done any too soon to suit me." 

And so he went over the work around Miraflores 
from beginning to end, talking now with an Irish- 
man in charge of dumping the material on the 
inside of the dam, now with a man in charge of some 


concrete work, and now with the division engineer 
himself. By 11 o'clock he had inspected every 
part of this division and was ready to take his 
car back to Culebra. In four hours he had seen 
every man responsible for any important work 
around Miraflores; had offered a suggestion there, 
a word of encouragement here, and had obtained 
a bit of information at another place. 

Each day's morning program was like this one 
except as to the place he visited and the people 
with whom he talked. One morning he might be 
tramping over Cucaracha Slide, studying the 
prospects of its future. Another morning he 
might be down at Gatun watching an official 
test of an emergency dam. On these trips he 
usually wore either a most unmilitary-looking 
blue serge or gray cheviot, with a somewhat 
weather-beaten sailor straw hat, and carried a 
cheap dollar umbrella. 

When Colonel Goethals went to the Isthmus 
he promised that every man with a grievance 
should have a hearing. Each Sunday morning 
he had at his ofiice at Culebra what he termed his 
Sunday "at homes," the best attended functions 
on the Isthmus, where the blackest Jamaica 
negro on the job found as much of a welcome as 
the highest oflScial. These functions were for 
the purpose of hearing the canal employees who 
had grievances. Once a visitor was congratulat- 
ing him upon the smooth manner in which the 
canal-building machine seemed to be working. 
"You ought to attend one of my Sunday 'at 
homes,'" he replied. "You would think that 
there was no smoothness at all to its running." 


Here is the wife of one of the engineers: She 
wants to find out why it is that she cannot get 
bread from the Ancon Hospital bakery. She 
informs Colonel Goethals that Joseph B. Bishop, 
secretary of the commission, gets bread from the 
hospital bakery and wants to know why she can- 
not. "I will look into the matter for you," says the 
chief engineer, and a note of this complaint is made. 
Later the telephone bell rings and Mr. Bishop is 
asked if he gets bread at the hospital bakery. He 
replies in the affirmative, explaining that about 
three years ago he had breakfasted with Colonel 
Gorgas who arranged for him to buy his bread 
there instead of at the commissary, this bread being 
more to his liking. "Can't any other employee 
of the Canal Commission get bread there under 
the same terms?" queries the chief engineer. 
"I will see, sir," responds the secretary of the 
commission. "If they can not," answers the 
chief engineer, "you must have your bread stopped 
at once." And it was stopped. 

The next person received is the representative 
of the Kangaroos, a fraternal order. " The Spanish 
American War veterans get free transportation on 
a special train on Memorial Day," he is informed, 
"and the fraternal orders on the Zone are crowded 
out," "Let a committee of all the fraternal orders 
appear next Sunday and talk it over with me and we 
will see what we can do," responds the chief engineer. 

Here comes a negro who says that his boss is a 
tyrant and abuses his men: "I will look into 
that," responds the presiding genius of the canal, 
and the Jamaican goes away with an expansive 
smile on his face. 


And so it went. Small affairs, big affairs, and 
indifferent ones were brought to his attention. 
In perhaps 80 per cent of them he could not do 
what was requested, but when able he did it so 
promptly, and in such a positive, straightforward 
manner, that his "at homes" have been compared, 
by the French ambassador to the United States, 
to the court of justice held by Saint Louis be- 
neath the oak at Vincennes. 

A railroad engineer on one of the dirt trains got 
drunk and ran over a negro. He was sent to the 
penitentiary. The railroad men issued an ulti- 
matum saying that if he were not released by a cer- 
tain hour on a certain day, every dirt train on the 
canal would stop. A committee conveyed this 
ultimatum to Colonel Goethals and asked his 
decision. "You will get it at the penitentiary," 
he replied. "This man will remain in prison and 
every man who quits work on that account will 
be dropped from the rolls. There was no strike 
of engineers. 

At another time the waiters at the Tivoli Hotel 
went on strike. The whole force was promptly 
discharged, and the official paper of the Canal 
Commission carried their names with the announce- 
ment that thereafter they would not be eligible 
to employment in any capacity on the Canal Zone. 

If the chairman and chief engineer of the canal 
is just and firm in his relations with his men, he is 
no less generous in giving credit where credit be- 
longs. Upon one occasion he was talking about 
the success of the canal project with a friend, and 
declared that the world would never give to John 
F. Stevens the credit that was due him in the 


construction of the canal. "You know," said he, 
"the real problem of building this canal has been 
that of removing the spoil; that problem was 
preeminently the problem of a railroad man and 
to solve it demanded the services of one of the 
best men in the railroad business. We have 
extended the facilities laid out by IVIr. Stevens, 
and have modified them as experience and condi- 
tions have demanded, but they have been operated 
from that day to this under the general plan of 
transportation laid out by Mr. Stevens. I do not 
think that any Army engineer in the United States 
could have laid out such excellent transportation 

At another time, in discussing this same matter, 
he declared that it was his firm opinion that the 
canal could have been built by either of the former 
chief engineers, John F. Wallace or John F. 
Stevens, if they had been allowed a free hand. 
"You see," said he, "they were men who were 
accustomed to handling big construction jobs. 
They would outline their project and the cost of 
executing it to a board of directors who would 
pass upon it and then leave them absolutely 
unhampered in the matter of personnel and method, 
with results as the only criterion of their success. 
When they came to the Isthmus they found their 
hands tied by red tape. They had never dealt 
with a President, a Secretary of War, a Congress, 
and the public at large. Naturally, they grew 
restive under the conditions which confronted them 
and resigned. 

"The whole difiference is largely that of training. 
The Army officer knows from the time he leaves 


West Point that he has to work in harmony with 
his superiors, with the President, the Secretary 
of War, and Congress. That is why we have been 
able to stay where men from civil life have thrown 
up the job." 

Another remarkable characteristic of the Great 
Digger is his desire to do his work economically 
as well as to do it promptly. \\Tien he went to 
the Isthmus there was an insistent demand that 
the dirt be made to fly. Along with the adminis- 
tration in Washington he realized that the only 
way to gain the faith and confidence of the people 
in the work, a faith and confidence essential to 
its full success, was to measure up to their desire 
that the dirt begin to fly. It was not a time to 
consider economies then. But, as soon as those 
demands had been met and the people had been 
shown that the Army could make good, a cost- 
keeping system was introduced. Men doing iden- 
tical work were pitted against one another; Army 
engineers were placed in command of one task here 
and civilian engineers in command of another task 
there; and thus a healthy rivalry was established. 

As Colonel Gaillard, member of the commission, 
and engineer of the Central Division, testified 
before a congressional committee, his early work 
in Culebra Cut was to get out as much dirt as 
possible, while his later work was given over largely 
to a study and comparison of cost sheets with a 
view to cutting down the expense of removing a 
yard of material, with the result that he was able to 
show a saving of $17,000,000 in a 9-mile section 
of the Panama Canal as compared with the esti- 
mates of 1908. 


In other words. Colonel Goethals took that 
golden rule of all great soldiers, "get there first 
with the most men," and adapted it to read "dig 
the most dirt with the least money." He had 
ever in mind three things : Safe construction, 
rapid progress, and low costs. On these three 
foundation stones in his mind was reared the 
structure that stands as the highest example of 
engineering science, and as the proudest construct- 
ive accomplishment of the American Republic. 

At the northern entrance to the Suez Canal 
stands a statue of de Lesseps, a beckoning hand 
inviting the shipping of the world to go through. 
Perhaps no such statue of Goethals ever will stand 
at Panama, but there is no need. The canal 
itself is his monument and its story will ever endure. 



WHEN the United States finally decided to 
build the Panama Canal, the next ques- 
tion of gravity which pressed for consid- 
eration was the creation of the organization by 
which it was to be built. Many problems were en- 
countered, and after repeated changes in personnel 
and rearrangements of duties, the situation finally 
resolved into an organization headed by one man, 
clothed with the necessary powers, and held re- 
sponsible for the consequent results. 

The completion of the preliminaries for the 
acquisition of title to the Canal Zone and to the 
property and rights of the New Panama Canal 
Company took place when Congress, on April 
28, 1904, made an appropriation of $10,000,000, 
which was to be paid to the Republic of Panama. 
Six days later the United States formally took 
possession of the Canal Zone and of the property 
of the Panama Canal Company, when at 7:30 
o'clock in the morning, Lieut. Mark Brooke, of the 
United States Army, took over the keys and raised 
the American flag. The following day President 
Roosevelt announced the appointment of John 
Findley Wallace, of Massachusetts, as chief engi- 
neer of the canal at a salary of $25,000 a year, the 
appointment to be effective on the 1st day of June. 



The jBrst ship to arrive ^t Panama carried Maj. 
Gen. George W. Davis, who was to govern the 
Canal Zone; Col. William C, Gorgas, who was to 
make it sanitary; and George R. Shanton, who 
was to drive out the criminal element. Governor 
Davis was a member of the Isthmian Canal 
Commission, Colonel Gorgas had proved his worth 
in the sanitation of Cuba, and Shanton had been 
a "rough rider" with Colonel Roosevelt in the 
Cuban campaign. 

When Chief Engineer Wallace arrived on the 
scene he found there an all but abandoned proj- 
ect. There were hundreds of French houses, 
but nearly all of them were in the jungle and prac- 
tically unfit for human habitation. He found 
millions of dollars' worth of French machinery, 
but almost none of it in condition to be put into 
service immediately. He knew in a general way 
the line of the canal, but surveys were lacking to 
determine its exact location at every point. With 
this situation in front of him, he found it necessary 
to concentrate his efforts upon the problem of 
getting ready for the work. While he was doing 
this the people at home began to demand that the 
dirt fly. Colonel Gorgas also found conditions 
which challenged his best efforts. Colon was a 
paradise of disease, Panama was no better. It 
was only by making both of these cities over again, 
from a sanitary standpoint, that any hope could 
be held out for reasonably healthy conditions. 

During his stay on the Isthmus Mr. Wallace 
found himself handicapped at every turn by red 
tape, a new thing in his experience as a construc- 
tion engineer. He could buy nothing without 


asking for bids; every id,ea he sought to put into 
execution had to be submitted to Washington, 
and he found himseK so harassed and handicapped 
that he wanted a new plan of organization. 

Acting in accordance with his recommendations, 
President Roosevelt decided to accept the resigna- 
tion of the existing Canal Commission, and to 
appoint a new one, in which, instead of having 
independent departments, with the governor inde- 
pendent of the chief engineer, and the chief sani- 
tary officer independent of both the governor and 
the chief engineer, there should be a more united 
relation, in which all questions were to be decided 
by the commission as a whole, the final authority 
being vested in an executive committee composed 
of the chairman, the governor of the Canal Zone, 
and the chief engineer. 

Under this plan, the second Isthmian Canal 
Commission was organized. It consisted of Theo- 
dore P. Shonts, chairman; Charley E. Magoon, 
Governor of the Canal Zone; John F. Wallace, 
chief engineer; Mordecai T. Endicott; Peter C. 
Hains; Oswald H. Ernst; and Benjamin A. 
Harrod. Following the suggestion of Chief En- 
gineer Wallace, the control of the Panama Rail- 
road was also vested in the new commission. 

While these changes were being made Chief 
Engineer Wallace was in Washington. There was 
dissatisfaction on the Isthmus with an accompany- 
ing spirit of unrest, and, to make matters worse, a 
yellow-fever epidemic broke out. Only a few 
days after Mr. Wallace reached the Isthmus, he 
cabled the Secretary of War that he wished to 
return to Washington, hinting that he might re- 


sign. Secretary Taft cabled to Governor Magoon 
for an opinion as to the motives which were behind 
this step on the part of Mr. Wallace, and was 
advised that it was brought about by the offer of 
a better salary and the fear of the yellow-fever 
epidemic. When Mr. Wallace reached New York ' 
he had a stormy interview with Secretary Taft, 
who roundly denounced him for quitting at such a 
critical time. Mr. Wallace declared his lack of 
confidence in the ability of Colonel Gorgas to 
control the yellow-fever epidemic, and asserted 
that the continual interference of red tape was so 
distracting to him as to make new employment 
attractive. President Roosevelt upheld his Secre- 
tary of War in his denunciation of Mr. Wallace, 
and promptly appointed John F. Stevens chief 
engineer at a salary of $30,000. 

John F. Stevens arrived on the Isthmus on July 
27, 1905. He found the Panama Railroad al- 
most in a state of collapse. He declared that the 
only claim heard for it was that there had been 
no collisions for some time. "A collision has its 
good points as well as its bad ones," he observed, 
"'for it indicates that there is something moving 
on the railroad." 

Mr. Stevens immediately set to work to build 
up the road, and to provide the means for housing 
and feeding the canal army. But like his pred- 
ecessor he found Government red tape hamper- 
ing, and in his first annual report begged for ''a 
thorough business administration unhampered by 
any tendency to technicalities, into which our 
public work sometimes drifts." He protested 
against civil-service requirements on the Isthmus, 


and against the eight-hour working day; and 
President Roosevelt met his protests by exempt- 
ing all employees except clerks from the operations 
of civil-service rules, and by abrogating the eight- 
hour day. 

It was under the regime of Mr. Stevens that the 
question arose as to whether the canal should be 
built as a sea-level channel through the Isthmus, 
or as a lock canal with the water in the middle 
section 85 feet above the level of the sea. Presi- 
dent Roosevelt thereupon appointed a board of 
consulting engineers, made up of 14 members, to 
visit the Isthmus and determine what type of 
canal should be built. Five members of this 
board of consulting engineers were foreigners 
appointed by their respective Governments at 
the request of President Roosevelt. They in- 
cluded the inspector general of Public Works of 
France, the consulting engineer of the Suez Canal, 
the chief engineer of the Manchester Canal, the 
chief engineer of the Kiel Canal, and the chief 
engineer of the Dutch dike system. Three of the 
American engineers and all five of the foreign 
engineers voted in favor of a sea-level canal. 
Chief Engineer Stevens and all but one member of 
the Isthmian Canal Commission concurred in the 
vote of the minority, made up wholly of American 
engineers in favor of the lock canal. President 
Roosevelt sustained the minority report, and 
Congress sustained him in the law of June 29, 1906. 

In the fall of 1906 Chairman Shonts came out 
in advocacy of a plan to build the canal by con- 
tract. Here arose a difference between Mr. 
Shonts and Mr. Stevens, and Chairman Shonts 


shortly thereafter resigned. A few months later 
Chief Engineer Stevens also resigned. It is said 
that his resignation was mainly due to his objection 
to the appointment of Army engineers as members 
of the Canal Commission, and to a letter he wrote 
the President in which he scored the limitations 
of red tape and Government methods generally. 
When Mr. Stevens quitted the Isthmus he left 
behind him the nucleus of the general organization 
for building of the canal. He saw housing con- 
ditions brought up to the required standard, 
established the necessary commissary where canal 
employees could supply their needs at reasonable 
prices, and aided Colonel Gorgas in his fight to 
make the Isthmus healthful. 

At this juncture the organization destined to 
build the canal was put into effect, with Colonel 
George W. Goethals at its head. Colonel Gorgas, 
the chief sanitary oflBcer, was the only important 
oflScial of the old regime held over. The other 
members of the commission were Maj. D. D. 
Gaillard and Maj. William L. Sibert, of the United 
States Engineer Corps; Civil Engineer H. H. 
Rousseau, of the United States Navy; and Messrs. 
J. C. S. Blackburn and Jackson Smith. 

Under former commissions the Governor of the 
Canal Zone had ranked above the chief engineer, 
and the chairman, the chief engineer, and the 
governor had had rival powers, which resulted in a 
great deal of friction. Under the new order the 
offices of chairman and chief engineer were con- 
solidated, and the governor was reduced to the 
title of "head of the Department of Civil Adminis- 
tration," reporting to the chairman, as did the 













chief sanitary oflScer and all of the division en- 

This commission, in personnel, remained intact 
during the long period of construction, except for 
the resignation in 1908 of Jackson Smith, who was 
succeeded by Lieut. Col. Harry F. Hodges; and for 
the resignation in 1910 of Mr. Blackburn, who was 
succeeded by Morris H. Thatcher. Mr. Thatcher, 
in turn, was succeeded in 1913 by Richard L. 
Metcalfe as head of the Department of Civil Ad- 

During the construction period there were 
several rearrangements of the duties of the Army 
engineers associated with Colonel Goethals. From 
June, 1908, Major Gaillard, afterwards promoted 
to a lieutenant-colonelcy, was in charge of the 
ditch-digging work between Gatun and Pedro 
Miguel, which included the entire Gatun Lake 
and Culebra Cut sections. It is everywhere 
admitted that so far as difficulties were concerned, 
he had the hardest job on the Isthmus, next to 
the chief engineer. Colonel Gaillard entered the 
United States Military Academy in 1884 and was 
graduated with honors entitling him to appoint- 
ment in the Corps of Engineers. Before being 
selected as a member of the Canal Commission, 
he had had much experience in important work. 
For two years he was in charge of all river and 
harbor improvement in the Lake Superior region. 
When he first went to the Isthmus he was assigned 
as the supervising engineer in charge of harbors, 
the building of breakwaters, etc. 

Lieut. Col. William L. Sibert, another of the 
Army engineers who was made a member of the 


Canal Commission, was gi^aduated from West 
Point in 1884 and was made a lieutenant of 
engineers. From 1892 to 1894 he was assistant 
engineer in charge of the construction of the ship 
channel connecting the Great Lakes. The four 
years following he was in charge of the river and 
harbor work in Arkansas, and following that, 
spent one year teaching civil engineering in the 
Engineering School of Apphcation. He then 
went to the Philippines as chief engineer of the 
Eighth Army Corps and became chief engineer 
and general manager of the Manila & Dagupan 
Railroad. From 1900 to 1907 he was in charge of 
the Ohio River improvements between Pittsburgh 
and Louisville. As division engineer of the At- 
lantic division of the Panama Canal he was in 
charge of the construction of the Gatun locks, 
Gatun Dam, and the breakwaters at the Atlantic 
entrance to the canal. 

Civil Engineer Harry H. Rousseau, of the 
United States Navy, was appointed a member of 
the Isthmian Canal Commission at the same time 
that Chief Engineer Goethals was selected to head 
the organization. He had had much experience 
in engineering work prior to the appointment and 
was a personal appointee of President Roosevelt, 
with whom he had come in contact when he was 
serving in the Bureau of Yards and Docks of the 
Navy Department when Mr. Roosevelt was 
assistant secretary of that Department. He en- 
tered the employ of the United States through the 
civil service, having been appointed a civil engi- 
neer in the Navy with the rank of lieutenant, after 
a competitive examination in 1898. For four 


years he was an engineer of the bureau of which he 
afterwards became chief, and for four years follow- 
ing, from 1903 to 1907, he was engineer of the 
improvements of Mare Island Navy Yard, Cali- 
fornia. The duties of Commissioner Rousseau 
were changed from time to time, and he was 
finally given charge of the work of constructing 
the terminals at the ends of the canal. At the 
same time he was made assistant to the chief 
engineer, having charge of all mechanical questions 
arising on the canal. 

When Jackson Smith, one of the two civilian 
members of the Canal Commission, resigned, he 
was succeeded by an Army officer. Col. Harry F. 
Hodges, who would have been a member of the 
commission from the first, upon the request of 
Colonel Goethals, had not the United States 
Engineer Corps required his services. Colonel 
Hodges was graduated from the United States 
Military Academy in 1881, and immediately 
entered upon seven years of duty on river and 
harbor improvements in the United States. This 
was followed by four years' service as assistant 
professor of engineering at West Point, and that 
duty, in turn, by six years of work on rivers and 
harbors and fortifications. During the Spanish 
American War he served in Porto Rico, and then 
returned to river and harbor duty for two years. 
In 1901-02 he was chief engineer of the Department 
of Cuba, from which duty he was transferred to 
the War Department, where he became assistant 
to the chief of engineers. His experience in river 
and harbor work, coupled with his success as the 
designer of the locks of the American Sault Ste. 


Marie Canal, fitted him for the work at Panama. 
He became assistant chief engineer and purchasing 
agent of the canal in 1907, and the following year 
was chosen a member of the commission to suc- 
ceed Mr. Smith. The work of designing the locks 
and the lock machinery fell upon his shoulders. 

When President Roosevelt wanted a man to 
handle the delicate problems arising out of the 
peculiar relations with the Repubhc of Panama 
and the United States, he selected Joseph C. S. 
Blackburn, of Kentucky, who had just finished a 
long term of service in the United States Senate. 
Senator Blackburn was well equipped for such a 
position, combining that suavity indicated by the 
velvet glove with that determination of purpose 
which lies in the iron hand. 

The service of Col. William C. Gorgas, the chief 
sanitary officer on the Isthmus, began earlier than 
that of any of the higher officials. He went to the 
Isthmus immediately after it was taken over by 
the United States. He has been described as a 
man "with a gentle manner, but with a hard 
policy toward the mosquito." He was born in 
Mobile, Ala., in 1854, the son of Gen. Josiah 
Gorgas, of the Confederate Army. He became a 
member of the Medical Corps of the United States 
Army in 1880, and since his work at the head of 
the Cuban health campaign his name has been a 
household word in the United States. 

In establishing the Isthmian Canal Commission, 
which was destined to make the Panama Canal a 
reality. President Roosevelt selected Joseph Buck- 
lin Bishop as its secretary. Mr. Bishop was made 
the editor of the Canal Record, a weekly paper 


which was the official organ of the Canal Com- 
mission. He is a born investigator and when any 
matter arose concerning the work on the canal, 
about which the chief engineer desired an im- 
partial report, he usually referred it to Mr. Bishop. 

When the matter of organizing the work arose 
it was decided to arouse a spirit of emulation and 
rivalry, and S. B. Williamson, a civilian engineer, 
was put in charge of the Pacific end of the canal, 
with duties similar to those of the Army engineer 
on the Atlantic side. Mr. Williamson proved 
to be a master of the art of accomplishing a great 
deal with a given amount of money, and the cost 
sheets of the Pacific end will ever stand as a monu- 
ment to his efficiency. 

The list of engineers and other officials who 
contributed to the success of the work at Panama 
is a long one, but among them may be mentioned : 
Col. Chester Harding, who was the resident engi- 
neer at Gatun; W. G. Comber, who headed the 
dredging work on the Pacific end of the canal dur- 
ing the early days of the American undertaking, 
of the entire canal during the final stages; W. G. 
Rourke, who was resident engineer in Culebra 
Cut for a number of years; Caleb M. Saville, who 
worked out the data for the construction of the 
Gatun Dam; H. O. Cole, who succeeded S. B. 
Williamson on the Pacific end work; Lieut. Fred- 
erick Mears, who relocated the Panama Railroad; 
John Burke, who had charge of the commissary; 
Maj. Eugene T. Wilson, the chief subsistence 
officer; Brig. Gen. C. A. Devol, who was in charge 
of the quartermaster's department; E. J. Wil- 
liams, Jr., the disbursing officer; and Col. Tom 


P. Cook, the picturesque chief of the Division of 
Posts and Customs. 

To all these, and to scores of others who are not 
mentioned here merely because of the hmitations 
of space, the American people owe the great suc- 
cess at Panama. The organization was imbued 
with a spirit of loyalty to the great task, and 
having its accomplishment singly in mind there 
was little room for jealous bickerings and none at 
all for scandal and corruption. 

Every man who had a part in it always will be 
proud of his share, and that pride will be sup- 
ported and justified by all Americans. 



THE directory, supervisory, and mechanical 
work in constructing the canal was done 
by Americans. The engineers, the fore- 
men, the steam shovelers, the operators of spoil 
trains, the concrete mixers, and, in short, the 
skilled workers were American citizens; the com- 
mon and unskilled laborers were West Indians 
and Europeans. It is to the American workers 
therefore that the credit is due, for without their 
direction and aid in every operation the work 
could not have been done. 

Never was there a more loyal, a more earnest, 
a more enthusiastic band of workmen than these 
same Americans. The steam shoveler felt as 
much pride, as much responsibility, in the task 
as did the chief engineer. 

The difficulties under which they labored, the 
enervating climate, the absence from home, the 
lack of diversion and recreation, but served to 
temper the steel in their make-up. The American 
spirit was there, dominating every detail of the 
whole big job. Every man was determined to 
"make good," not for himself alone, but for the 
organization of which he was a part, and for his 

In the beginning conditions were bad. There 



were few conveniences to make life comfortable, 
and innumerable inconveniences harassing those 
who went there. The food was bad and the water 
was not as good as the food. The quarters were 
old French houses rescued from the jungle and 
filled with scorpions. 

The result was that few of those who first went 
to the Isthmus remained, and those who returned 
to the United States spread far and wide reports 
of bad conditions on the Isthmus. 

With this situation in mind the Canal Commis- 
sion decided that two things had to be done. 
Wholesome living conditions had to be created 
for the people who came to the Isthmus, and a 
standard of wages had to be set that would prove 
attractive to good men at home. It was thus 
that the pay for the Americans on the canal came 
to be placed at 50 per cent higher than pay for 
the same character of work in the States. This 
soon proved a strong incentive to men to leave 
the States and go to Panama, and as living con- 
ditions were improved the number of men willing 
to accept work on the Isthmus increased. 

Two classes of x\mericans turned their faces 
toward the Tropics as a result of the inducements 
held out by the Canal Commission. One was made 
up of those who were willing to go and stay a year 
or two, accumulating in that time experience and, 
perhaps, saving some little money; the other was 
made up of men whose desire was to go to the 
Isthmus and stay with the job, utilizing the oppor- 
tunities it afforded for building up a comfortable 
bank account. 

As the work moved forward those of weak pur- 




pose and indifiFerence to opportunity gradually 
dropped out. Their places were taken by others, 
until through a process of years of elimination 
there were approximately 5,000 Americans at 
Panama when the canal was finished; an army 
was made up almost wholly of men with a pur- 
pose in life and consequently of men who could 
be relied upon to do their work to the best of 
their ability. The result was that the last years 
of the task of construction saw every man loyal 
to his work and anxious to see the job move 

American visitors to the Isthmus had occasion 
to be proud of their countrymen there. Every 
tourist from a foreign country has commented 
upon the distinguished courtesy received at the 
hands of these men. One of them, perhaps 
England's most noted travel lecturer, said: 

*'The thing which impressed me more than 
anything else, outside of the gigantic work and the 
masterful way in which it is being done, was the 
exquisite courtesy of every American I met during 
my stay. I found every one of them not only 
ready to give such information as he might have 
but glad to do so. Each man was as proud of the 
work as if it were his own, and as ready to show 
his part of it to a stranger as if that stranger were 
his best friend. It was a delight to me from be- 
ginning to end to see the magnificent type of 
American manhood at work, and the pride taken 
by every worker in the project." 

Every other tourist brought away the same 
impression. A man who went there without any 
other credentials than a desire to see the work was 


shown the same courtesy and consideration as one 
with a pocketful of letters of introduction. 

The Americans on the Ii^hmus did not count 
any hardship too great if it were demanded for 
the successful prosecution of the work. A case 
in point is that of J. A. Loulan, the engineer in 
charge of the rock-crushing plant at Ancon. One 
morning he was introduced to a visitor from the 
States who remarked that everything seemed to be 
running so smoothly that he supposed the work of 
a supervising engineer was no longer a diflBcult 
task. "Well," replied the engineer, "at least it 
does not pay to worry. Last night at 2 o'clock 
I was called out of bed by telephone and informed 
that a Jamaican negro hostler had accidentally 
knocked the chock from under the wheels of an 
engine he was firing up, and that it had run down 
the grade and off the end of the track into about 
two feet of soft earth. We worked from that time 
on until breakfast to get the engine back, and 
were satisfied to know that the accident did not 
delay the operations at the crusher. Not a man 
of the force was late getting back to work after 
four hours of strenuous extra night duty." 

Speaking of the patience of the men Com- 
missioner H. H. Rousseau said "The reason for 
all this is not far to seek; the man who has 
'nerves' would never stick it out on a job like this. 
The climate, the exile from home, and the char- 
acter of the work all conspire against the man who 
can not be patient. He soon finds that the Isth- 
mus is no place for him. The result is that a 
process of elimination has gone on until the men 
who have 'nerves' have all left and their places 


filled with those who are stoical enough to take 
things as they come." 

The Americans on the Isthmus were early 
risers. The first train from Colon for Panama 
leaves about 5 o'clock and the first train from 
Panama for Colon at 6:50. Almost any morning 
during the construction period one might walk 
into the dining room at the Tivoli Hotel and see a 
number of canal engineers breakfasting there who 
had left Colon on the early train. When one of 
them was asked if he did not find it something of 
a hardship to rise so early, he replied: 

^'Well, you see, from the standpoint of a man 
just from the States it would seem rather an 
unheard-of hour for a man to get out and go to 
work; but we have to meet conditions as we find 
them down here, and we soon get reconciled to it. 
There is scarcely a night that I am not called by 
telephone two or three times, and I have to get 
up in time to catch the early train several mornings 
in the week, so I get up at the same hour the other 
mornings as well. We are well paid, and we owe 
it to our country to make whatever sacrifices the 
work demands. And after a month or two we 
get out of the habit of feeling that it is a sacrifice." 

It is this spirit of devotion to the work that 
enabled the canal authorities to press it to a suc- 
cessful completion with such unprecedented rapid- 
ity. These men knew full well that their sacri- 
fices in the interest of progress were appreciated. 
The most rigid spirit of friendly competition was 
maintained from the beginning. 

The spirit of rivalry nowhere counted for more 
than £Mnong the steam-shovel men. In 1907 it 


was decided to publish in the Canal Record the 
best steam-shovel performances from week to 
week. This immediately ptit every steam-shovel 
gang on its mettle, and soon there was a great 
race with nearly a hundred entries, a race that 
continued from that day until the completion of 
the excavation. The result was that records of 
steam-shovel performances were made eclipsing 
everything that had gone before. The average 
daily excavation per shovel rose from year to 
year until it was double in the end what it was in 
the beginning. 

As heretofore pointed out, the process of elimin- 
ation that went on continuously during the con- 
struction work sent large numbers of American 
workers back to the States from the Isthmus. 
During a single year about three-fifths of the 
Americans threw up their jobs and returned home. 
The average stay of Americans during the con- 
struction period was about a year. Bachelors were 
much more given to returning to the States than 
married men. The endless round of working, 
eating, sleeping, with its small chance of diversion, 
made the average bachelor glad to get back to the 
States within two years. On the other hand, the 
married men found home life just about as pleas- 
ant as in the States. They had with them about 
2,000 women, and as many children. Many of 
the latter were born under the American Eagle 
at Panama. 

The boys who were born there may, if they 
choose, become native Panamans. The son of a 
former President of Panama, in talking with Com- 
missioner Rousseau, advised him to make a 


Panaman citizen of little Harry Harwood Rous- 
seau, Jr. "You see," said he, and he spoke in 
all earnestness and seriousness, "he will stand so 
much better chance of becoming President of the 
Republic of Panama than of becoming President 
of the United States." 

The American children on the Zone, brimming 
over with life and health, proved conclusively 
that the Tropics worked no hardship upon them. 

The Canal Commission, from the beginning 
to the end, made the weKare of the army of w^orkers 
one of its first cares. As the days of a completed 
canal approached, every effort was made to enable 
the employees who had to be laid off to find em- 
ployment in the States. Provision was made that 
they could accumulate their leave of absence in 
such a way as to entitle them to 84 days of full 
pay after leaving. This was arranged so as to 
give them sufficient time to establish connections 
in the States again, without being forced to do it 
without pay. 

Close records also were kept of each employee, 
and the official immediately over each man was 
ordered to give him a rating card showing his 
record on the Canal Zone. No higher credentials 
could be carried by anyone seeking employment 
than to have a card from the Canal Commission 
showing a rating of "Excellent." 

Owing to the firmness with which the com- 
mission ruled, there was little trouble in the way 
of strikes. In 1910 a lot of boiler makers who were 
getting 65 cents an hour on the per diem basis, 
struck for 75 cents an hour. Their demands were 
not met and some of them threw up their jobs. 


The commission immediately arranged with its 
Washington office to fill their places, and they had 
no chance whatever to get further employment 
on the Isthmus. 

The commission was given the power, by Presi- 
dent Roosevelt, to order anyone to leave the 
Isthmus whose presence there was regarded as a 
detriment to the work. The result was that as 
soon as any man was found to be fomenting 
trouble, he was advised that a ship was returning 
to the United States on a certain date and that 
it would be expedient for him to take passage 
thereon. This power of deportation was more 
autocratic than any like power in the United 
States, but it proved of immense value in keeping 
things going satisfactorily at Panama. It was a 
power whose exercise was called for but few times, 
since the very fact that the commission had the 
power was usually a sufficient deterrent. 

There are two societies on the Isthmus which 
tell of the efifects of homesickness of the Americans 
in the employ of the Canal Commission — the 
Incas, and the Society of the Chagres. The 
Incas are a group of men who meet annually on 
May 4th for a dinner. The one requirement for 
membership in this dining club is service on the 
canal from the beginning of the American occu- 
pation. In 1913 about 60 men were left on the 
Isthmus of all those Americans who were there at 
the time of the transfer of the canal property to 
the United States in 1904. 

The Society of the Chagres was organized in the 
fall of 1911. It is made up of American white 
employees who have worked six years continuously 


on the canal. When President Roosevelt visited 
the Isthmus in the late fall of 1906 he declared 
that he intended to provide some memorial or 
badge which would always distinguish the man 
who for a certain space of time had done his 
work well on the Isthmus, just as the button of the 
Grand Army distinguishes the man who did his 
work well in the Civil W^ar. Two years later a 
ton of copper, bronze, and tin was taken from old 
French locomotives and excavators and shipped 
to Philadelphia, where it was made into medals 
by the United States Mint. These medals are 
about the size of a dollar and each person who has 
served two years is entitled to one. It is estimated 
that by the time the last work is done on the canal, 
about 6,000 of these medals will have been dis- 
tributed. For each additional two years a man 
worked, the Canal Commission gave a bar of the 
same material. 

The Society of the Chagres, therefore, is made up 
of men who have served at least six years, and who 
have won their medals and two service bars. The 
emblem of the society is a circular button showing 
on a small, black background six horizontal bars 
in gold which are surrounded by a narrow gold 
border. In 1913 only about 400 out of the many 
thousands of Americans at one time or another 
employed in the construction of the Panama Canal 
were entitled to wear the insignia of this society. 



THE West Indian negro contributed about 
60 per cent of the brawn required to build 
the Panama Canal. When the United 
States undertook the work the West Indian 
negro had a bad reputation as a workman. It 
was said that he lacked physical strength; that he 
had little or no pluck; that he was absolutely 
unreliable; that he was unusually susceptible to 
disease; and that in view of these things the canal 
never could be finished if he were to supply the 
greater part of the labor. But he lived down this 
bad reputation in large part, and, although it must 
be admitted that he is shiftless always, inconstant 
frequently, and exasperating as a rule, he developed 
into a good workman. 

The Government paid the West Indian laborer 
90 cents a day, furnished him with free lodgings 
in quarters, and sold him three square meals a 
day for 9 cents each, a total of 27 cents a day for 
board and lodging. On the balance of 63 cents, 
the West Indian negro who saved was able to go 
back home and become a sort of Rockefeller 
among his compatriots. His possible savings, as 
a matter of fact, were about two and a half times 
the total wages he received in his native country. 

But the sanitary quarters, and the necessarily 



strict discipline maintained therein, did not please 
him. He yearned for his thatched hut in the 
"bush," for his family, and the freedom of the 
tropical world. Thus the homesickness of the 
well-quartered, well-fed negro became a greater 
hindrance to the work than the ill-fed condition 
of the '*bush dweller." The result was that the 
commission reached the conclusion that it could 
better maintain a suitable force by allowing the 
negroes to live as they chose. Therefore, permis- 
sion was given them to live in the "bush," and 
about nine-tenths of them promptly exchanged the 
sanitary restrictions of the commission quarters, 
and the wholesome food of the commission mess 
kitchen, for the dolce far niente of the "bush." 
The result of this experiment in larger liberty was 
in part a success and in part a failure. The list 
of names on the roll of workers was largely length- 
ened, but there was no great addition to the 
force of the men at work on any given day. It 
was a common saying in the Zone that if the negro 
were paid twice as much he would work only half 
as long. Most of them worked about four days 
a week and enjoyed themselves the other three. 
It may be that the "bush dweller" was not fed as 
scientifically as the man in the quarters, but he 
had his chickens, his yam and bean patch, his 
family and his fiddle, and he made up in enjoy- 
ment what he lost in scientific care. 

Marriage bonds are loose in the West Indies, 
and common-law marriages are the rule rather 
than the exception. But, as one traveled across 
the Isthmus and saw the hundreds of little thatched 
huts lining the edge of the jungle, he could see 


that the families who lived there seemed to be as 
happy, and the children as numerous, as though 
both civil and religious marriage ceremonies had 
bound man and wife together. 

When the Americans first began work it was an 
accepted dictum that one Spaniard or one Italian 
could do as much work as three negroes. The 
negroes seemed to be weak. It took six of them 
to carry a railroad tie where two Spaniards might 
carry it as well. This belief that the Spaniard 
was more efficient than the negro stirred the West 
Indians to get down to work, and in a year or two 
they were almost as efficient while they were work- 
ing as were the Spaniards, but the Spaniards 
worked six days a week while the negroes worked 
only four. 

Of course there were those who spent practically 
everything as they made it, and they constituted 
no small percentage of the total negro force. But, 
on the other hand, some of the negroes were in- 
dustrious, constant, and thrifty. They saved all 
they could, working steadily for a year or two, 
and then went back to Jamaica or Barbados to 
invest their money in a bit of land and become 
freeholders and consequently better citizens. 

The negro laborers at first were obtained by 
recruiting agents at work in the various West 
Indian Islands, principally Jamaica and Barbados. 
The recruiting service carried about 30,000 to the 
Isthmus, of whom 20,000 were from Barbados 
and 6,000 from Jamaica. It was not more than a 
year or two, however, after the work got under 
way, until there was little occasion for recruiting. 
Every ship that went back to Barbados or to 


Jamaica carried with it some who had made what 
they considered a sufficient fortune. Every com- 
munity possessed those who had gone to Panama 
with only the clothes on their backs, a small tin 
trunk, a dollar canvas steamer chair and, mayhap, 
a few chickens; and who had come back with sav- 
ings enough to set them up for life. This fired 
dozens from each of those same communities 
with the desire to go and do likewise. The result 
was that the canal employment lists were kept 
full by those who came on their own initiative. 

The terms of entrance to the Canal Zone were 
easy, the steerage fares were low, and as a result 
the excess of arrivals over departures sometimes 
amounted to 20,000 in a single year. The steam- 
ship companies had to keep careful and persistent 
watch to prevent stowaways. Even at that there 
were hundreds who sought to reach the Isthmus 
in this way in spite of the fact that they were 
usually carried back without being permitted to 
land at Colon. 

There was little or no friction between the whites 
and the blacks on the Canal Zone. This immunity 
from racial clashes resulted from two causes — one 
was the incomparable courtesy of the West Indian 
negro and the other his knowledge that he could 
expect good treatment only so long as he kept out 
of trouble. Few of them, indeed, were ever in- 
clined to be offensive. They are usually educated 
in the three ''R's," and are also very polite. 
Ask one a question and the answer will be: ''Oh, 
yes, Sir," or *'0h, no. Sir," or if he has not under- 
stood, "Beg pardon. Sir." He would no more 
omit the honorific than a Japanese maiden ad- 


dressing her father would ' forget to call him 

The different types of West Indian negroes 
found on the Canal Zone constituted an endless 
study in human characteristics. They were all 
great lovers of travel, and no regular train ever 
made a trip without from two to half a dozen 
coaches filled with them. After pay day prac- 
tically every negro on the Zone was wont to get 
out and get a glimpse of the country. 

Without exception they are adepts in carrying 
things on their heads; consequently, they usually 
possess an erect carriage and splendid bearing. 
It is said that the first ambition of a West Indian 
negro child is to learn to carry things on its head 
in imitation of its parents. Frequently a negro 
will be seen with nothing in either hand, but 
carrying a closed umbrella balanced horizontally 
on his head. Once in a while one may be seen to 
get a letter from the post office, place it on top of 
his head, weight it down with a stone, and march 
off without any apparent knowledge that he has 
executed a circus stunt. 

Some of the negroes who came to work on the 
canal never saw a wheelbarrow before arriving 
there. Upon one occasion some French negroes 
from Martinique were placed on a job of pick and 
shovel work. Three of them loaded a wheel- 
barrow with earth, then one of them stooped 
down, the other two put the wheelbarrow on his 
head and he walked away with it. But, with all 
of his inexperience, the Martinique negro proved 
to be the best West Indian worker on the canal. 

The Martinique negroes were the most pictur- 


esque of all the West Indians on the job. The 
women wore striking though simple costumes, 
bandana handkerchiefs around their heads, and 
bright-colored calico dresses usually caught up 
on one side or at the back, thus anticipating the 
Parisian fashion of the slit skirt by many years. 

A large number of the negroes lived in small 
tenement houses built by private capital, and 
oftener than not one room served the entire family. 
Nearly every one of the American settlements had 
its West Indian quarter where these buildings 
and the Chinese stores flourished to the exclusion 
of everything else. At the Pacific end of the 
Panama Railroad there was a suburb known as 
Caledonia, which was given over almost entirely 
to West Indian families. One could drive through 
there any day and see half-grown children dressed 
only in Eden's garb. In other parts of the canal 
territory one sav/ very few naked children except 
in the back streets of Colon. 

The Government took the best of care of the 
negroes on the work during the entire construction 
period. There were hospital facilities at both 
ends of the canal and sick camps along the line. 
The commissary protected them against extortion 
by the native merchants and gave them the same 
favorable rates enjoyed by the Americans. The 
color line was kindly but firmly drawn throughout 
the work, the negroes being designated as silver 
employees and the Americans as gold employees. 
The post oflices had signs indicating which en- 
trances were for silver employees and which for 
gold employees. The commissaries had the same 
provisions, and the railroad company made the 



general distinction as much as it could by first 
and second class passenger rates. Very few of 
the negroes ever made any protest against this. 
Once in awhile an American negro would go to 
the post office and be told that he must call at the 
''silver" window. He would protest for awhile, 
but finding it useless, would acquiesce. 

The idea of speaking of "silver and gold em- 
ployees," rather than black and white employees, 
was originated by E. J. Williams, Jr., the dis- 
bursing officer of the Canal Commission. He 
first put this designation on the entrances to the 
pay car and it was immediately adopted as the 
solution of the troubles growing out of the inter- 
mingling of the races. 

One of the most interesting experiences that 
could come to any visitor to the Isthmus was a 
trip across the Zone on the pay car; to see 24 tons 
of silver and 1,600 pounds of gold paid out for a 
single month's work; and to watch the 30,000 
negroes, the 5,000 Americans, and the 3,000 or 
4,000 Europeans on the job file through the pay 
car and get their money. The negroes were 
usually a good-natured, grinning lot of men and 
boys, but they were wont to get impatient, not 
with the amount of money they drew but with its 
weight. Under an agreement with the Panama 
Government the Canal Commission endeavored 
to keep the Panaman silver money at par. Two 
dollars Panaman money was worth one dollar 
American, and the employees were paid in 
Panaman coin. Thus a negro who earned $22 
during the month would get 44 of the "spiggoty" 
dollars. These ''spiggoty" dollars are the same 


size as our own silver dollars and to carry them 
around was something of a task. 

When the negroes were asked what they pro- 
posed to do w ith their money the almost invariable 
reply was: "Put it to a good use, sir." American 
money was always at a premium w4th them and 
the money-changers in the various towns usually 
did a land-office business on pay day. 

Paper money was not used on the pay car at 
all. In the first place, there was always danger 
of its blowing away, and in the second place paper 
money in the hands of negro workmen soon as- 
sumed a most unsanitary condition. The negroes 
were always desirous of getting American paper 
money because they could send it home more 
cheaply than gold. 

Large numbers of West Indian women, the 
majority of them with their relatives, lived on the 
Zone during the construction period . They were for 
the most part industrious and made very good 
household servants. They were nearly always 
polite and deferential, some of them even saying, 
"Please, Ma'am," when saying "Good morning." 

It was a rare experience to travel on a ship 
carrying workers to the Canal Zone from the Is- 
lands of the West Indies. Ships calling at King- 
ston, Jamaica, would usually take on a hundred or 
more passengers. They would be quartered either 
forward or aft on the main deck. They would 
carry aboard with them all kinds of small packages. 
Some would have small boxes of chickens or pig- 
eons, and some little old sawbuck-f ashioned folding 
beds covered with canvas. As soon as inspected 
by the doctor for trachoma each negro would 


select the most favorable spot, gather his furniture 
around him, and settle down in one place, there 
to remain almost without moving during the whole 
of the 40-hour trip across the Caribbean. When 
the water was fine and the sailing smooth the first 
cabin passengers might conclude that they were 
carrying a negro camp meeting. On the other 
hand, if the weather were bad and the sea rough, 
a sicker lot of people nowhere might be found. 
One of the favorite negro preventives of seasick- 
ness is St. Thomas bay rum applied liberally to 
the face, although to the on-looker it never seems 
to prevent or cure a single case. 

Before landing at Colon every one of these 
negroes had to be vaccinated. Almost without 
exception they tried to prevent the virus "taking" 
by rubbing the scarified spot with lime juice or 
with some other preparation. Meals on board 
generally consisted of rice and potatoes, and, 
perhaps, coffee and bread. One might see a dozen 
young girls in a group eating with one hand and 
with the other polishing their complexions with the 
half of a lime. 

With all his faults — and they were not few — 
the West Indian negro laborer probably was the 
best workman that could have been employed for 
the job at Panama. He was usually as irrespon- 
sible, as carefree, and yet as reliable a workman as 
our own American cottonfield hand. He made a 
law-abiding citizen on the Zone, was tractable as 
a workman, and pretty certain always to make a 
fair return to the United States on the money it 
paid him in wages. 

Under the firm but gentle guidance of the 


master American hand, he did his work so well 
that he has forever erased from the record of his 
kind certain charges of inefficiency and laziness 
that had long stood as a black mark against him. 

The Canal Commission so appreciated his good 
work that it made arrangements to return him 
to his native country when his services no longer 
were required, there to take up the life he led be- 
fore he heard the call of the ''spiggoty" dollars 
that took him across the Caribbean. 

He will miss the life on the Isthmus. He was 
worked harder, he was treated better, and he was 
paid higher wages there than he ever will be again 
in his life. Perhaps he has saved; if so, he retires 
to be a nabob. Perhaps he has wasted; if so, he 
must go back to the hand-to-mouth existence that 
he knew in the days before. 

But after all, the experience of the thousands 
of West Indian negroes employed on the canal 
will have a stimulating effect on their home coun- 
tries, and their general level of industrial and 
social conditions will be raised. 

At any rate, the American Republic always must 
stand indebted to these easy-going, care-free 
black men who supplied the brawn to break the 
giant back of Culebra. 



TO BUILD the canal required the labor of 
some fifty thousand men. To induce 
these men to go to Panama, to stay there, 
to work there, and to work there eflSciently, was 
no hght undertaking. Health was promised them 
by the most efficient sanitary organization that 
ever battled with disease. Wealth was promised 
them, relatively speaking, in the form of wages and 
salaries much higher than they could obtain at 
home for the same work. But health and wealth, 
much desired and much prized as they are, can 
not of themselves compensate for transplanting 
a man to an alien shore and an alien atmosphere, 
especially if that shore be tropic and that atmos- 
phere hot. There must also be comfort. 

And comfort was promised to the canal diggers 
by the commissary department. Good food at 
prices cheaper than one pays in the United States, 
and quarters of the best — these things the com- 
missary held out as a part of the rewards at 

Of course this was not the chief object of the 
commissary department — it was the incidental 
factor that in the end almost obscured the main 
issue. The main business was so well done that 
everybody took it for granted, just as no one will 



remark about the sun shining although that is the 
most important fact we know. The main business 
of the commissary was to keep the canal diggers fed 
and housed so that they would have the strength 
for their tasks. How this was done, how fresh 
beef and ice cream were made daily staples in 
tropic Panama, how the canal army was fed, is a 
big story in itself. 

The history of the French regime was such as to 
prejudice the whole world against the canal region 
and to deter any but the most adventurous spirit 
from entering there into a gamble with death. 
The Americans soon found that without extra- 
ordinary inducements it would be next to impos- 
sible to recruit a force able to build the canal. 
Therefore it was determined to make the rewards 
so great that extra dollars to be gained by going 
to Panama would outweigh the fears of those who 
had any desire to go. It was decided to pay the 
employees of the Canal Commission and the 
Panama Railroad Company wages and salaries 
approximately one-half higher than those obtain- 
ing at home for the same work. Furthermore, it 
was decided that the Government should furnish 
free quarters, free medical service, free hght, and 
other items which enter into the expense budget 
of the average family. It was found advisable to 
establish Government hotels, messes, and kitchens, 
where the needs of every employee from the high- 
est officer to the most lowly negro laborer could 
be met, and to operate them at cost. 

Still another problem had to be faced; that 
of providing places where the people employed in 
building the canal could escape from the high 


prices fixed by the merchants of Panama and Colon. 
With this end in view, a great department store, 
carrying upward of 5,000 different articles, was 
built at Cristobal. This store established branches 
in every settlement of canal workers where pa- 
trons could go to ship and receive the benefit of 
prices much lower than those prevailing with 
regular Panaman merchants. 

Anyone who will study carefully the annual 
reports of the operation of the commissary of the 
Panama Railroad Company, will realize what 
great profits are made by the various middlemen 
in the United States who handle food products 
between the producer and the consumer. In 1912 
the commissary had gross sales amounting to 
$6,702,000, with purchases amounting to $5,325,000. 
This represents a gross profit of 26 per cent. The 
cost of transportation from New York and distri- 
bution on the Isthmus, amounted to about 24 per 
cent, leaving a net profit of approximately 2 per 
cent on the sales of goods. When it is remem- 
bered that transportation of commissary products 
from New York amounted approximately to a 
quarter of a million dollars a year, and that wagon 
deliveries on the Isthmus added $50,000 a year 
to this, it will be seen that the expenses of distri- 
bution at Panama were approximately on the 
same footing with those in the United States. 

In the case of dressed beef, one finds a most 
illuminating example of how it is possible to sell 
the ordinary items of a family budget to the con- 
sumer at rates much lower than those obtaining in 
the United States. According to the most authen- 
tic information dressed beef laid down at Panama 


costs more, quality for quality, than it costs the 
ordinary retail butcher in the States. At one time 
in 1912 the commissary was paying $11. 94^ a hun- 
dred pounds for whole dressed beeves laid down in 
New York. This was for the best corn-fed western 
steers, a grade of beef that is found only in the best 
retail butcher shops of any American city. Yet, 
with the expense of ocean-refrigerator carriage 
added, and with other operating costs equal to those 
of the retail butcher in the States, the commissary 
found it possible to sell to the consumer, delivered 
at his kitchen door, porterhouse steaks from this 
beef at 20 cents, sirloin steaks and roasts at 19 cents, 
and round steaks at 13 cents a pound. At this 
same time the average American housewife w^as 
paying from 26 to 30 cents for porterhouse steaks, 
from 22 to 26 cents for sirloin steaks and roasts, 
and from 17 to 22 cents for round steaks; and in 
the butcher shops in the United States where 
grades of meat comparable to those at Panama 
were handled the figures were usually around the 
top quotations. 

One cannot escape asking the question how it 
is that if the Panama Railroad commissary could 
pay approximately 12 cents a pound for dressed 
beef at New York, deliver it in refrigeration at 
Cristobal, thence to the housewife by train and 
wagon, and make a gross profit of some 26 per 
cent by the operation, that the American retail 
butcher can reasonably claim that at the price he 
sells his meat he is making little or no net profit. 

One finds the same scale of prices on other com- 
modities at Panama as meats. Only the very 
best goods are handled in the commissary. Any 


reasonable need of any employee could be sup- 
plied by the commissary at prices probably lower 
than a retail merchant in the United States could 
buy the same commodities. 

A few instances of how the commissary fared 
when its supply ran short will serve to illustrate 
the grasping disposition of the average Panaman 

In one case high w^aters in the Chagres inter- 
rupted traffic on the Panama Railroad, and the 
price of ice in Panama City promptly jumped from 
50 cents to $1 a hundred pounds. At another 
time a ship bringing coffee to the Isthmus ran 
aground and the commissary had to buy coffee in 
the Panama market. It had to pay 6 cents a 
pound more at wholesale for the coffee than it was 
selling for at retail in Panama the day before the 
ship went aground. On another occasion a vessel 
carrying a supply of milk went ashore and the 
wholesale price of that commodity jumped a 
hundred per cent overnight. The Panaman mer- 
chants made a long and persistent fight to get the 
privilege of doing the business which is done by 
the commissary, but the canal officials were too 
wise to allow the working force to be dependent 
upon native business men for family budget needs. 

Although the commissary did an annual busi- 
ness of nearly $7,000,000 a year during the height 
of the construction period, it received compara- 
tively little actual money for the commodities 
it sold. A great deal of this business was with the 
subsistence department of the Canal Commission, 
furnishing supplies for the hotels, European 
laborers' messes, and common laborers' kitchens. 


Practically all of the remainder was with the 
employees of the commission, and was done 
through coupon books. When an individual 
wanted to buy from the commissary he asked that 
a coupon book be issued him. If it were found 
that he had sufficient money coming to him for 
services rendered to cover the cost of the book, it 
was issued to him and the clerk in the commissary 
detached coupons to cover the purchases. When 
the monthly pay roll was made up, the cost of 
the coupon books was deducted from the amount 
due the employee for services. Many employees 
and their families lived too far away from the 
commissaries to make daily visits, so they simply 
deposited their coupon books with the main com- 
missary at Cristobal and sent their orders in by 
mail from day to day. The commissary clerks 
would fill these written orders, sending the goods 
out on the first train. 

In addition to buying and selling products for 
the benefit of the canal workers, the commissary 
operated a number of manufacturing establish- 
ments. It had a bakery using some 20,000 bar- 
rels of flour, baking 6,000,000 loaves of bread 
and other things in proportion annually; an ice- 
cream plant freezing 138,000 gallons of ice-cream 
annually; a laundry washing 4,250,000 pieces a 
year; a coffee-roasting plant; and a large cold- 
storage warehouse. About 70,000 people were 
constantly supplied with commodities from the 

In its efforts to meet the needs of the several 
classes of employees on the Canal Zone the com- 
mission established four different kinds of eating 


places, — a large general hotel, a score of line 
hotels, Spanish messes, and West Indian laborers' 
kitchens. At Ancon it built the large TivoH Hotel 
costing half a million dollars, for the accommoda- 
tion of visitors; and of those high-class employees 
who desired modern hotel facilities. This hotel is 
the social center of the Canal Zone. Here prac- 
tically all of the tourists come and stay while on 
the Isthmus. 

During the year 1912 this hotel cleared $53,000 
in its operations. The cost of the supplies for the 
meals served, of which there were 161,000, was 
approximately 51 cents per meal. The cost of 
services was approximately 19 cents, making a 
total of 70 cents per meal. The rates were $3 
up to $5.50 a day, employees being given special 

The line hotels were, more properly speaking, 
merely dining-rooms where the American em- 
ployees were furnished substantial meals for 30 
cents each. Outsiders paid 50 cents each for these 
meals. They were up to a very high standard. 
Once the late Senator Thomas H. Carter, of Mon- 
tana, was a member of a Senate committee visiting 
the Isthmus and he invited the subsistence officer, 
Maj. Wilson, to come to Washington and show the 
manager of the Senate restaurant how to prepare 
a good meal. A year later, after Senator Albert 
B. Cummins, of Iowa, had eaten one of the lunches 
at Gatun, he renewed the invitation of Senator 
Carter, telling Maj. Wilson he was sure that if he 
were to come Senators would get better meals for 
their money. At one of the Congressional hear- 
ings on the Isthmus Representative T. W. Sims, 

iiRf ■"■•■!!' " * 'siJMiW 

1m ^^^^frl'^'TiHBWiir 



of Tennessee, asked that the menu of a meal he 
had eaten at one of these hotels be inserted in the 
record. Major Wilson inserted the menu for 
several days instead. The following is the menu 
at the Cristobal Hotel for January 20, 1912: 

Breakfast. — Oranges, sliced bananas, oatmeal, 
eggs to order, German potatoes, ham or bacon, hot 
cakes, maple sirup, tea, coffee, cocoa. 

Lunch. — Vegetable soup, fried pork chops, 
apple sauce, boiled potatoes, pork and beans, 
sliced buttered beets, stewed cranberries, creamed 
parsnips, lemon meringue pie, tea, coffee, cocpa. 

Dinner. — Consomme vermicelli, beefsteak, nat- 
ural gravy, lyonnaise potatoes, stewed beans, 
sliced beets, stewed apples, carrots a la Julienne, 
hot biscuits, ice-cream, chocolate cake, tea, coffee, 

The line hotels in 1912, which were operated at 
a loss of $12,000, served over 2,000,000 meals. 
The cost of the supplies per meal amounted to 
$0.2504 and the service to $0.0165, making the 
average meal cost $0.3065, while the employees 
were charged 30 cents. Approximately 2,000 
Americans were continuous patrons of the line 

The messes for European laborers were operated 
in 1912 at a total cost of $405,000. The returns 
from their operations amounted to $443,000, show- 
ing a net profit of $38,000 on 1,108,000 rations. 
The net profit per day's ration approximated 3J 
cents. The supplies entering into the ration cost 
$0.3106 and the service of preparing it $0.0547. 

The national diet for Europeans would appear 
very monotonous to Americans. For the Span- 


iards who constituted the major portion of the 
European employees, it was a "rancho," which is a 
mixture of stewed meat, potatoes, cabbage, toma- 
toes and garbanzos heavily flavored with Spanish 
sweet pepper. Their soups were made very stiff, 
really a meal in themselves, since they were about 
the consistency of Irish stew mashed up. A day's 
ration for Spanish laborers ran about as follows: 

Breakfast. — Roast beef, pork sausage, corned- 
beef, sardines or bacon, one-half loaf of bread, 
chocolate and milk. 

Dinner. — Garbanzos or macaroni, roast beef 
or hamburger steak, fried potatoes, oranges or 
bananas, one-half loaf of bread, coffee. 

Supper. — Rice soup, peas or beans, rancho, 
one-quarter loaf of bread, tea. 

The Government charged the European labor- 
ers 40 cents a day for their meals. Their mess 
halls were large, airy, comfortable and conspicu- 
ously clean. The European laborers nearly all 
patronized these mess halls; about 3,200 of them 
constantly were fed at these places. 

Wherever there was a West Indian negro settle- 
ment along the line of the canal the commission 
operated a mess kitchen. These kitchens were 
kept scrupulously clean and the laborers were 
furnished meals at 9 cents each. Each laborer 
who patronized the kitchen had his little kit into 
which the attendants put his meal, and he could 
carry it anywhere he desired to eat it. In spite of 
the fact that these meals corresponded almost 
exactly to the American Regular Army field rations, 
they were never popular with the West Indian 
negroes. Although there were some 25,000 of 


these laborers on the canal in 1912, only a little 
more than a half million rations were issued to 
them during the year. Less than 15 per cent 
of the negro force patronized the commission 

The following is a specimen day's ration in a 
West Indian kitchen: 

Breakfast. — Cocoa and milk, porridge, bread, 

Dinner. — Pea soup, beef, doughboys, rice, 
bread, bananas. 

Supper. — Stewed beef, boiled potatoes, stewed 
navy beans, bread, tea. 

During the construction period of the canal the 
average American received approximately $150 
a month for his labor. Those who were married 
and remained in the service a reasonable time were 
provided, rent free, with family quarters. Their 
light bills were never rendered, the coal for their 
kitchen stoves cost them nothing, and the iceman 
never came around to collect. The bachelors 
were provided with bachelor quarters with the 
necessary furniture for making them comfort- 
able. The average married quarters cost from 
$1,200 to $1,800 each, and the average quarters 
for a bachelor about $500 to construct. The 
higher officials had separate houses; lesser officials 
were furnished with semi-detached houses. The 
majority of the rank and file of American married 
employees were housed in roomy, four-flat houses. 
The verandas were broad and screened in with 
the best copper netting, and all quarters were pro- 
vided with necessary furniture at Government 



The assignment of quarters and furniture called 
for a great deal of diplomacy on the part of the 
quartermaster's department, since, if Mrs. Jones 
happened to visit Mrs. Smith, and found that 
she had a swell-front dresser in her bedroom, while 
her own was a straight-front dresser, an irate lady 
was very shortly calling on the district quarter- 
master and demanding to know why such dis- 
crimination should be practiced. Perhaps she 
had been on the Canal Zone longer than Mrs. 
Smith, and felt that if anyone were entitled to 
the swell-front dresser she was the one. The 
district quartermaster had to explain with all the 
patience at his command that it was not a case 
of discrimination but merely that the commis- 
sion had bought swell-front dressers at a later 
date for the same price that it formerly had 
paid for the straight-front ones, and that con- 
sequently the people who furnished houses later 
got them. 

On another occasion Mrs. Brown, calling on 
Mrs. White, found that Mrs. White had an electric 
light on her side porch. She immediately fared 
forth to pull the hair of the quartermaster for this 
discrimination, but was somewhat taken back 
when that official calmly informed her that the 
light had been put there for a few days in anticipa- 
tion of a children's party that was to be given by 
Mrs. White one night that week. 

The marvelous success of the commissary, not 
only in afiEording its patrons better service at 
lower prices, but also in making a substantial 
profit on the undertaking, had been referred to 
as the most valuable lesson taught by the whole 


canal digging operation. It has proved the effi- 
ciency of government agencies in fields far removed 
from the ordinary operations of government, and 
it may be that its experience will be used to ad- 
vantage in combating the high cost of living in 
the United States itself. 



TRANSPLANT a man or a woman from a 
home in a temperate climate to an abode 
in the Tropics, and there is bound to be 
trouble. Disturbances in the body are expected 
and, proper precautions being taken, most often 
are warded off. Disturbances in the mind are 
not anticipated, preventive measures are seldom 
taken, and there comes the trouble. That is 
why the Young Men's Christian Association and 
the American Federation of Women's Clubs had 
their part to do in digging the Panama Canal, a 
part second in importance only to the sanitary 
work under Colonel Gorgas. 

It's an odd thing — this transplanting a man 
from the temperate to the torrid zone. It affects 
men of different nations in different ways. It is 
disastrous in inverse ratio to the adaptability 
of the man transplanted. A German or a Dutch- 
man goes to the Tropics and almost without a 
struggle yields to the demands of the new climate 
all his orderly daily habits. Your Dutchman in 
Java will, except on state occasions, wear the 
native dress (or undress); eat the native food; live 
in the native house; and, like as not, take a native 
woman to wife. One thing only — he will retain 
his schnapps. The German is only a little less 



adaptable, clings only a little longer to the routine 
of the Fatherland, but he, too, keeps his beer. 

Your Englishman, on the contrary, defies the 
tropical sun and scorns to make any changes in 
his daily habit that he had not fixed upon as neces- 
sary and proper before he left his right Httle, tight 
little, island. He does, it is true, wear a pith 
helmet. That is due partly, perhaps, to his fear 
of the sim, but it is much more due to the fact 
that he associates it with lands where faces are 
not white; therefore he wears it in Egypt in the 
winter when it is shivery cold with the same relig- 
ious devotion that he wears it in India when the 
mercury is running out of the top of the thermom- 
eter. Your Englishman, it is true, wears white 
duck clothes in the Tropics, but not the fiercest 
heat that old Sol ever produced could induce him 
for one moment to exchange his flannel underwear 
for cotton or to leave off his woolen hose. It is a 
pretty theory and not without much support, 
that it is this British defiance of tropical customs 
that has given him the mastery over Tropic peo- 
ples. And wherever goes the Briton there goes 
also Scotch-and-soda. 

The Americans steer a middle course. They 
dress for the heat and make themselves comfortable 
as possible. They consume even greater quanti- 
ties of ice than they do at home, and the average 
American eats every day in summer enough ice 
to kill a score of Englishmen. At least, that's 
what the Englishmen would think. 

But the American in the Tropics tenaciously 
clings to many of his home habits, despite the 
changed conditions of his place of sojourn. He 


must have his bath, even though he talks less 
about it than the EngHshman. He must have 
his three square meals a day, and breakfast must 
be a real breakfast. He demands screens to 
protect him from pestiferous insects, no less for 
comfort's sake than health's. And then he de- 
mands two other things — a soda fountain and 
a base-ball team. 

It is true that he often will indulge in a British 
peg of Scotch-and-soda, or in a German stein 
of beer, but the native drink that he takes with 
him to the Tropics, and one that he alone con- 
sumes, and the one that he, in season and out of 
season, demands, is the sweet, innocent, and non- 
alcoholic product of the soda fountain. How 
incomprehensible is this to the sons of other nations 
no American may ever understand. 

It may seem to be going far field to discuss even 
in the general way the differing tempers of men of 
different nations transplanted from a temperate 
to a torrid clime. But, as a matter of fact, it has 
a direct bearing on the accomplishment at Panama, 
of which Americans are so proud. 

When the Americans first undertook the task, 
the denizens of the Isthmus prepared for them 
only such entertainment as had been acceptable 
in other days. The only places open to the tired 
worker in the evening were the saloons, selling 
bad whiskey and worse beer; or darker hells of 
sure and quick damnation. There were no thea- 
ters that would appeal to the American taste, 
no sports that the clean American would tolerate. 
In short, when the American in the early days of 
the construction was wearied with that weariness 


that would not respond to resting, there was but 
one thing left. He got home — sick and drunk. 

In those early days there were few women. Most 
of the men who came then were moved rather 
by a spirit of adventure than by a determination 
to share in a tremendous job of work, and such 
men were not married. It was not long until 
the men at the head discovered that the married 
men were more content, that they lost less time 
from the work, and produced more results when 
on the job than did the bachelors. (This, of 
course, must not be taken as an indictment against 
every individual bachelor who worked at Panama, 
but rather as a characterization based on the 
average of that class.) Thus in the very order 
of things it became the policy of the commission 
to encourage unmarried men at work to marry, 
and to bring married men from the States rather 
than bachelors. Inducements were held out, put- 
ting a premium on matrimony. The bachelor 
worker had good quarters, but he perhaps shared 
but a room in a bungalow, whereas the married 
man had a four-room house of his own, with a 
big porch, and free furniture, free light, and the 
problem of the cost of living solved by the paternal 

So matrimony flourished. But when the women 
came in increasing numbers, and with them many 
children, another problem arose. Women born 
in temperate climes suflFer more in the Tropics 
than do men. The dry, dry heat of the dry sea- 
son is succeeded by the wet, wet heat of the rainy 
months. There is never any escape from that 
horrible, hateful, hellish heat. Is it to be baked 


or steamed? The changing seasons offer no 
other alternative. And the Fear! Not for a 
moment may one forget that sickness and death 
stalk in the jungle; that a glass of water or an 
unscreened door may be the end of it all. There 
is no normality, no relaxation, no care free rest 
for the woman in the Tropics. 

At Panama her housekeeping duties were light- 
ened by the excellence of the commissary system, 
so that they were not enough to keep her mind 
occupied. She became homesick and hysterical. 

So, then, it being desirable to have married 
men on the job, it became necessary to do some- 
thing to keep the women at the minimum stage 
of unhappiness. The Y. M. C. A clubhouse, 
with their gymnasiums, their libraries, their games, 
their sports, and their clubiness, had been the 
substitute for home offered to the lonely American 
man at Panama. The Civic Federation was in- 
vited to do what it could for the women. It 
sent an agent of the American Federation of 
Women's Clubs to Panama, who organized women's 
clubs, and these, by putting the women to work, 
made them, in a measure, forget the Heat and 
the Fear. 

Miss Helen Varick Boswell visited the Isthmus 
in the fall of 1907 and assisted the women in form- 
ing their clubs. She found them literally himgry 
for such activities and they responded with a 
will to her suggestion. The result was frequent 
meetings in every town in the Canal Zone and 
innumerable activities on the part of the women 
interested in club work. 

The transformation was most remarkable. 


Where almost every woman on the Isthmus seemed 
to be mihappy, now everyone who needed an 
outlet for her mental and social instincts found 
it in club work. Where once they quarreled 
and disputed about their house furnishings, life 
on the Isthmus, and the general status of things 
on the Canal Zone, now the women seemed to take 
a happy and contented view of things, and became 
as much interested in the work of building the 
canal as were their husbands, their fathers, and 
their brothers. Looking back over the task, and 
realizing how much longer the married men stayed 
on the job, and how much more essential they 
were to the completion of the canal than the 
bachelors, the cares of the canal authorities to 
keep the women satisfied was a master stroke. 

When the club movement was launched one 
of the first steps was to organize classes in Spanish. 
Women from every part of the Zone attended these 
Spanish classes and took up the work of learning 
the language with zeal. Comparatively few of 
them had any opportunity to learn Spanish, 
even in its most rudimentary form, from household 
servants, since the same lethargy that character- 
ized, the native men of Panama, and made them 
totally indifferent to the opportunities for work 
on the Canal Zone, also characterized the Panaman 
women, with the results that most of the Ameri- 
can households at Panama had English-speaking 
Jamaican servants instead of Spanish-speaking 

The servant problem was not as serious as 
it is in the average American city. There was 
always a full supply of Jamaican negro women 


ready for engagement as household servants. They 
were polite and efficient. Almost without ex- 
ception they had a deeply religious turn of mind, 
although they might transgress the Mosaic law 
far enough to substitute plain water for violet 
water on the boudoir table of their mistresses. 
Usually they were very neat of person and very 
careful in the manner of doing their work. The 
wages they commanded were approximately equal 
to those asked in the ordinary American city. 

The greatest social diversion of the Isthmus, 
of course, was dancing. Every two weeks the 
Tivoli Club gave a dance at the Tivoli Hotel. 
Trains to carry visitors were run all the way across 
the Isthmus and no American ever needed to 
miss a dance at the Tivoli Hotel because of un- 
suitable railroad accommodations. 

Each small town had its own dancing clubs 
and in those towns where there were Y. M. C. A. 
buildings, the dances were held in them. The 
new Hotel Washington proved a very popular 
rendezvous for the dancers, and in the future the 
big functions of this kind probably will alternate 
between the Tivoli at one end of the canal and 
the Washington at the other. 

The university men maintained the University 
Club in the city of Panama, directly on the water 
front. This club frequently opened its doors 
to women and its functions were always regarded 
as events in Isthmian social history. In Colon 
there was organized several years ago a club known 
as the Stranger's Club. This club, as did the 
University Club at Panama, welcomed the Ameri- 
can stranger. 


The Isthmian Canal Commission always looked 
carefully after the religious activities of the people 
of the Canal Zone. Its provision of places of 
worship and facilities for getting to them was 
strictly nonsectarian, and directed solely to giv- 
ing every sect and every faith opportunity to 
worship in its own way. Several chaplains were 
maintained at Government expense, and railroad 
and wagonette service for carrying people to their 
places of worship was maintained throughout the 
years of the American occupation. 

The West Indian negroes were provided with 
churches and with homes for the leaders of their 
spiritual flocks. Church buildings were erected 
at every settlement, and in many cases were so 
constructed that the lower story could be used 
for a church and the second story for lodge pur^ 
poses. These buildings were 70 by 36 feet, witt 
lodge rooms 60 by 36 feet. 

The women on the Canal Zone were interested 
in religious work from the beginning of their 
residence there. An Isthmian Sunday School 
Association maintained church extension work. 
When the Women's Federation of Clubs finally 
disbanded, in April, 1913, it presented its library 
to this association and its pictures to the Ancon 
Study Club. There was an art society at Ancon, 
which did much to foster art work on the Zone 
during the days of the canal construction. The 
organization of Camp Fire Girls extended its 
activities to Panama, and many leading women 
there contributed both means and time to help 
the girls on the Isthmus. 

The women of the Zone did not fail to enlist 


themselves in any movement for good in their 
communities. A few years since there was a 
little blind boy on the Isthmus and the Federa- 
tion of Women's Clubs decided that he ought to 
have better educational advantages than could 
be provided at Panama. Therefore, they agreed 
to finance his going to Boston to enter an institu- 
tion for the education of the blind. When the 
Federation disbanded, owing to the gradual de- 
parture of members for the States, it did not do so 
until it had created a committee which was to 
continue indefinitely in charge of the education 
of this blind boy. 

Many secret societies existed on the Isthmus, 
the oldest one made up of Americans being the 
Sojourners Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons, 
organized in Colon in 1898. There were Odd 
Fellows' lodges and lodges of Redmen, Modern 
Woodmen, Knights of Pythias, Elks, Junior 
Order of American Mechanics, and representative 
bodies of many other American secret orders. 
An Isthmian order is that of the Kangaroos, 
whose motto is: "He is best who does best." 
This order was organized in 1907 under the laws 
of Tennessee, and the mother council was organized 
at Empire the same year. The object of the 
Kangaroos is to hold mock sessions of court and 
to extract from them all of the fun and, at the 
same time, all of the good that they will yield. 

The men on the Isthmus, almost completely 
isolated as they were from American political 
concerns, never allowed their interest in political 
affairs at home to become completely atrophied. 
There was a common saying that the Panamans 


were the only people on the Isthmus that could 
vote, but at times the Americans would at least 
simulate politics at home with the resulting 
campaigns and elections. During the presidential 
campaign of 1912 it was decided to hold a mock 
election in several of the American settlements. 
The elections were for national offices and for 
municipal offices as well. There were a number 
of parties, and in the national elections there were 
the usual group of insurgents, progressives, reac- 
tionaries, and the like. 

There were nominations for dog catchers and 
town grouches, while the party platforms abounded 
in all the political claptrap of the ordinary American 
document of like nature. Cartoons w^ere cir- 
culated showing the Panama Railroad to be a 
monopolistic corporation; flaring handbills prov- 
ing that the latest town grouch had not acquitted 
himself properly in office; statistical tables show- 
ing that the dog catcher had allowed more dogs 
to get away from him than he had caught; and 
all sorts of other campaign tricks and dodges were 
brought into play, just as though there were real 
issues at stake and real men to be elected. At 
Colon the presidential returns showed 33 votes 
for Taft, 200 for Wilson and 224 for Roosevelt. 
There were 204 votes in favor of Woman Suffrage, 
both state and national, and 75 votes against 

As has been said, when the American first 
went to Panama the only diversion a man could 
find was to go to a cheap saloon and meet his 
friends. It was a condition that w^as as unsatis- 
factory to the men themselves as it was to the 


moral sentiment of those behind the work, and 
almost as dangerous to the success of the under- 
taking as would have been an outbreak of some 
epidemic disease. This led the commission to 
urge the erection of clubhouses in several of the 
more populous settlements, to be conducted under 
the auspices of the Young Men's Christian As- 
sociation, but to be operated on a basis that would 
bring to the people those rational amusements 
of which they stood so much in need. 

From time to time clubhouses of this type were 
established in seven of the American settlements 
and the work they did in promoting the content- 
ment and happiness of the people can be appre- 
ciated only by those who have witnessed the 
conditions of living in Canal Zone towns where 
there were no such clubhouses. 

Almost the first effect of the construction of a 
clubhouse was a heavy falling off in barroom 
attendance, and simultaneously a decline in the 
receipts from the sales of liquor. It is estimated 
that these receipts fell off 75 per cent within a 
short time after the clubhouses were opened. 
The men who had been buying beer at 25 cents 
a bottle, or whiskey at 15 cents a thimbleful, 
were now frequenting the clubhouses, playing 
billiards, rolling tenpins, writing letters, reading 
their home papers, or engaging in other diversions 
which served to banish homesickness. 

When the Y. M. C. A. clubhouses were opened 
a practical man was put at the head of each. 
While no one would think of card-playing or 
dancing at a Y. M. C. A. in the States, both were 
to be found in the association clubhouses of the 


Isthmus. Bowling alleys, billiard rooms, gym- 
nasiums, and many other features for entertain- 
ment were established in the clubhouses. Bowling 
teams were organized; billiard and pool contests 
were started; gymnastic instruction was given; 
pleasant reading rooms with easy chairs, cool 
breezes, and good lights were provided ; circulating 
libraries were established; good soda fountains 
were put in operation where one could get a glass 
of soda long enough to quench the deepest thirst; 
and in general the clubhouses were made the most 
attractive places in town — places where any 
man, married or single, might spend his leisure 
moments with profit and with pleasure. 

Every effort was put forth to capitalize the 
spirit of rivalry in the interest of the men. The 
result was that in each clubhouse there were 
continuous contests of one kind or another, which 
afforded entertainment for those engaged and 
held the interest of those who were looking on. 
Then the champions of each clubhouse, whether 
individuals or teams, were pitted against the 
stars of other places, and in this way there was 
always "something doing" around each clubhouse. 

In addition to maintaining a supervision over 
the sports of the Isthmus, the clubhouses pro- 
vided night schools for those who desired to 
improve such educational opportunities. These 
night schools were rather well patronized by 
the new arrivals on the Isthmus, but there is 
something in that climate which, after a man has 
been there for a year, makes him want to rest 
whenever he is off duty. Going to night school 
became an intolerable Ijore by that time, so very 


few men kept up their attendance after the first 
year. The study of Spanish was found to be one 
exception to this rule, for, besides the satisfaction 
of being able to talk with native Panamans 
and the Spaniards, there was the hope of financial 
reward. Any employee who could pass an ex- 
amination in Spanish stood a better show of 
getting promotion in the service. Besides, the 
man who had grit enough to carry through a 
course of study on the Isthmus, with its enervating 
climate, was almost certain to climb the ladder 
of success wherever he went. 

A review of the work of the seven Y. M. C. A. 
clubhouses for 1912 gives a good idea of what 
they did during the entire construction period. 
It required a force of 42 Americans and 64 West 
Indians to operate these seven clubhouses. Twelve 
of the Americans were paid out of the funds of 
the Canal Commission and 30 out of the funds 
of the Y. M. C. A. Of the negro employees 43 
were paid by the Canal Commission and 21 by 
the Y. M. C. A. The American force for all 
seven clubhouses consisted of one superintendent, 
four secretaries, four assistant secretaries, one 
clerk, ten night clerks, six bowUng alley night 
attendants, six pool room night attendants, and 
seven barbers. At the end of that year there 
were 2,100 members of the Y. M. C. A., no less 
than 58 per cent of all the American employees 
living in towns having clubhouses being members 
of the association. 

During the year seven companies of players and 
musicians were engaged to provide amusement 
at the clubhouses. They gave 85 entertainments 


which had a total attendance of 21,000. Local 
talent and moving pictures provided 406 enter- 
tainments with a total attendance of 96,000. 
Amateur oratorio societies, operatic troupes, min- 
strel troupes, glee clubs, mixed choruses, vaude- 
ville and black-face sketches were organized 
during the year through the eflForts of the mem- 
bers cooperating with the secretaries. These 
organizations made the whole circuit of the Isth- 
mus. Weekly moving-picture exhibitions were 
given and a man was employed who gave his 
entire attention to them. Carefully chosen films 
were ordered from the United States, special 
attention being given to educational features. 

Special tournaments in bowling, billiards, and 
pool were organized and gold, silver, and bronze 
medals were awarded the winners. Over a hun- 
dred thousand bowUng games and nearly 300,000 
games of pool and billiards were played during 
the year. Trained physical directors were em- 
ployed to direct the gymnastic exercises at the 
clubhouses and there was an attendance of 15,000 
at these classes during the year. A pentathlon 
meet was held at Empire for the purpose of de- 
veloping all-around athletes. Religious meetings 
and song services were held at such times as not 
to interfere with the organized religious work 
on the Zone, the average attendance at 214 meet- 
ings being 50 and the average attendance at Bible 
and discussion clubs 52. The average enrollment 
was 65 in the Spanish class. Forty-two thousand 
books were withdrawn for home reading during 
the year. 

Soft drinks, ice-cream, light lunches, and the 


like were served on the cool verandas of the club- 
houses, the receipts from these sales amounting to 
approximately $50,000. Nearly 4,000 calls on 
hospital patients were made by committees for 
the visitation of the sick. Boys from 10 to 16 
years of age were allowed special privileges 
in the clubhouses, and the secretaries arranged 
several outings during the year. The total boys' 
membership was 146. The disbursements from 
the funds of the Isthmian Canal Commission 
amounted to $50,000 and those from clubhouse 
funds amounted to $114,000. The total receipts 
for the year amounted to $118,000. The affairs 
of the clubhouses were in the hands of the advis- 
ory committee appointed by the chairman and 
chief engineer of the Isthmian Canal Commission. 

In providing amusements the Canal Commission 
overlooked no opportunity in the way of furnishing 
special trains and affording other facilities for 
encouraging play by the canal workers. Each 
town had its ball team and its ball park, and 
there was just as much enthusiasm in watching the 
standing of the several clubs in the Isthmian 
League as in the States in watching the perform- 
ances of the several clubs in the American and 
National leagues. When there was a champion- 
ship series to be played there was just as much 
excitement over it as if it were a post-season con- 
test between the Athletics and the Giants. 

It is probable that better amusements will be 
provided under the permanent regime than were 
during the construction period. With ships con- 
stantly passing through the canal, many opera 
companies, especially those from Spain and Italy, 


will have opportunity to stop for a night or two at 
Panama, while their ships are coahng or shipping 
cargo. In Panama City there is a splendid theater 
built by the Panaman Government largely out of 
funds derived from payments made by the United 
States on account of the canal rights. 

As the major portion of the permanent force will 
be quartered at Ancon and Balboa, they will be 
able to drive to the theater or take the street car. 
A new street-car system has just been established, 
and those who can not afford the luxury of car- 
riages will find in it opportunities for taking airings 
as well as going to the theater. This system runs 
from the permanent settlement at Balboa through 
the city of Panama and down over the savannahs 
towards old Panama. It is the first street-car 
system ever operated on the Isthmus, and will 
probably prove much more satisfactory than the 
little, old, dirty coaches which have afforded the 
only means of transportation on the Zone. 

The building of a number of roads along the 
canal to facilitate the movement of military forces 
has made it possible to get a satisfactory use of 
automobiles. Agencies already have been opened 
for a number of the lower-priced cars in anticipa- 
tion that a large number of the canal employees 
will buy automobiles in order to get the benefit 
of these good roads. There are few places where 
automobiling affords more pleasant diversion than 
at Panama. After the sun goes down the evenings 
are just cool enough and the breezes just strong 
enough to make an automobile ride a delightful 

There are good opportunities for lovers of hunt- 


ing and fishing on the Isthmus. There is wild 
game in plenty — deer abounding in the entire 
region contiguous to the canal and alligators 
being found in all of the principal streams. There 
are both sea and river fishing, and some tapirs and 
other wild animals still are left to attract the 
efforts of the modern huntsman. 

The entertainment headquarters on the Canal 
Zone under the permanent occupation will be the 
big clubhouse at Balboa, which is being built at a 
cost of about $50,000. This clubhouse will not 
only have all of the features of the clubhouses of 
the construction period, but will be equipped with a 
large auditorium, with a complete library and 
w^ith every facility for amusement and entertain- 
ment that experience on the Isthmus has called 

It can not be said that social life on the Isthmus 
during the period of canal construction was ideal. 
Its inspiration was to be found in the desire to make 
the best of a bad situation. Men and w^omen 
all knew that their stay in Panama was but tem- 
porary, none of them looked upon the Canal Zone 
as home, and all of them counted time in two eras 
— Before we came to Panama, and When we leave 

Of course there was dining and dancing, and the 
bridge tables were never idle. But every dinner 
hostess knew that every guest knew exactly what 
every dish on the table cost, and she knew that 
guest knew she knew. The family income was 
fixed and pubhc. All one had to do was to read 
the official bulletins. 

The same paternalistic commissary that reduced 


the cost of living and made housekeeping so easy, 
also tended with sociaHstic frankness to bring 
everybody to a dead level. It was useless to 
attempt any of the Httle deceits that make life 
so interesting at home. 

Although the American is a home-loving animal, 
he managed to get on fairly well in the ahen at- 
mosphere of the Tropic jungle. He brought with 
him his home life, his base ball and his soda foun- 
tain. And, considering how such things go in the 
Tropics, he managed to Uve a clean life while he 
was doing a clean piece of work. 



THE digging of an Isthmian Canal was a 
dream in the minds of many men in 
Europe and America from the day that 
Columbus found two continents stretched across 
his pathway in his endeavor to discover a western 
route to India. On his last voyage, as he beat 
down the coast of Central America, here naming 
one cape ''Gracias a Dios" and there another 
"Nombre de Dios," testifying his thanks to God 
and his reverence for His name, he touched the 
Isthmus near the present Atlantic terminus of 
the Panama Canal. He little dreamed that some 
day ships 500 times as large as his own would pass 
through the barrier of mountains which Nature 
J\iterposed between his ambitions and India. 

The idea of a canal through the American Isth- 
mus was in the mind of Charles V of Spain as 
early as 1520. In that year he ordered surveys to 
ascertain the practicability of a canal connecting 
the Atlantic and the Pacific. His son, Philip 
II did not agree with him about the desirability 
of a trans-Isthmian waterway, holding that a 
shipway through the Isthmus would give to 
other nations easy access to his new possessions, 
and in time of war might be of greater advantage 
to his enemies than to himseK. He invoked the 



Bible to put an end to these propositions to dig a 
canal across the American Isthmus, calling to 
mind that the Good Book declared that ''what 
God hath joined together let no man put asunder." 

The policy of PhiHp was continued for about 
two centuries, although in the reign of his father 
many efforts had been made in the direction of a 
ship waterway across the Isthmus. In fact, ships 
crossed the Isthmus nearly four centuries before 
the completion of the canal. About 1521 Gil 
Gonzales was sent to the New World to seek out 
a strait through the Isthmus. He sailed up 
and down the Central American coast, entering 
this river and that, but failing of course to find a 
natural waterway. Not to be outdone, he de- 
cided to take his two caravels to pieces and to 
transport them across the Isthmus. He carried 
them on the backs of Indians and mules from the 
head of navigation on the Chagres River to the 
ancient city of Panama. There he rebuilt them 
and set out to sea, but they were lost in a storm. 
Still determined to make the most of his opportuni- 
ties, Gonzales built others to take their places and 
with these made his way up the Pacific coast 
through the Gulf of Fonseca to Nicaragua, where 
he discovered Lake Nicaragua. A few years 
later another explorer made a trip across Lake 
Nicaragua and down the San Juan River to the 

Cortez, the conquistador of Mexico, at one time 
was ordered to use every resource at his command 
in a search for the longed-for strait. He did not 
find it, but he did open up a line of communication 
across the Isthmus of Tehauntepec, following prae- 


tically the same line as was afterwards followed 
by Eads with his proposed ship railway. 

From those days to the time when the United 
States decided that the canal should be built at 
Panama and that it should be made a national 
undertaking, one route after another was proposed. 
In 1886, immediately after the French failure, 
the Senate requested the Secretary of the Navy to 
furnish all available information pertaining to the 
subject of a canal across the Isthmus, and Admiral 
Charles H. Davis reported that 19 canal and 7 
railway projects had been proposed, the most 
northerly across the Isthmus of Tehauntepec and 
the most southerly across the Isthmus of Panama 
at the Gulf of Darien, 1,400 miles apart. Eight 
of these projects were located in Nicaragua. 

In 1838 the Republic of New Granada, which 
then had territorial possession of the Isthmus of 
Panama, granted a concession to a French com- 
pany to build a canal across the Isthmus. This 
company claimed to have found a pass through the 
mountains only 37 feet above sea level. In 
1843 the French minister of foreign affairs in- 
structed Napoleon Carella to investigate these 
claims. That engineer found no such pass and 
reported the claims to be worthless. He, in 
turn, advocated a canal along the route followed 
by the present Panama Canal, with a 3-mile 
tunnel through Culebra Mountain and with 18 
locks on the Atlantic slope and 16 locks on the 
Pacific slope. He estimated the cost of such a 
canal at $25,000,000. The first formal surveys 
of the Panama route were made in 1827 by J. A. 
Lloyd. He recommended a combination rail and 


water route, with a canal on the Atlantic side and a 
railroad on the Pacific side. 

The first serious proposition to build a Nicaragua 
Canal was made in 1779 when the King of England 
ordered an investigation into the feasibility of 
connecting the Nicaraguan lakes with the sea. 
A year later Capt. Horatio Nelson, destined to 
become the hero of Trafalgar, headed an expedition 
from Jamaica to possess the Nicaraguan lakes, 
which he considered to be the inland Gibraltar 
of Spanish America, commanding the only water 
pass between the oceans. His expedition was 
successful as far as overcoming Spanish opposi- 
tion was concerned, but a deadlier enemy than 
the Don decimated his ranks. Of the 200 who 
set out with Nelson only 10 survived, and Nelson 
himself narrowly escaped with his life after a long 

In 1825 what now constitute the several coun- 
tries of Central America were embraced in one 
federation — the Central American Republic. It 
asked the cooperation of the American people in 
the construction of a canal through Nicaragua. 
Henry Clay, then Secretary of State, favored the 
proposition, and, in 1826, the Federation entered 
into a contract with Aaron H. Palmer, of New York, 
for the construction of a canal through Nicaragua 
capable of accommodating the largest vessels afloat. 
Palmer was unable to command the necessary 
capital and the concession lapsed. A few years 
later an English corporation sent John Bailey 
to Nicaragua for the purpose of securing a canal 
concession. He failed to get the concession but 
was later employed by the Nicaraguan Govern- 


ment, which again had become independent, to 
determine the most feasible location for a canal 
across Nicaragua. 

The United States Government became deeply 
interested in Isthmian Canal projects during the 
Forties of the last century. The extension of the 
national domain to the Pacific coast made the 
building of an Isthmian Canal a consideration of 
prime importance to the United States, and made 
it a dangerous policy to allow any other country 
to acquire a dominating hand over an Isthmian 
waterway. The result was that the American 
Government advised the British Government that 
it would not tolerate the control of any Isthmian 
Canal by any foreign power. This later brought 
about the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, which made 
neutral the proposed Nicaraguan Canal. 

In 1849 Elijah Hise, representing the United 
States, negotiated a treaty with Nicaragua, by 
the terms of which that country gave to the 
United States, or its citizens, exclusive right to 
construct and operate roads, railways, canals, or 
any other medium of transportation across its 
territory between the two oceans. The con- 
sideration exacted by Nicaragua was that the 
United States should guarantee the independence 
of that country — a consideration that was then 
paramount because of the effort being made by 
Great Britain to gobble up the "Mosquito Coast" 
as far east as the San Juan River. The United 
States was not ready to give such a guarantee — 
although a half century later it did give it to the 
Republic of Panama — and the Hise treaty failed 
of ratification in the Senate. 


A little later Cornelius Vanderbilt became in- 
terested in a canal and road across Nicaragua under 
an exclusive concession running for 85 years. 
Modifications of this concession permitted the 
Vanderbilt Company to exercise exclusive naviga- 
tion rights on the lakes of Nicaragua. As a 
result the Accessory Transit Company established 
a transportation line from the Atlantic through 
the San Juan River and across Lake Nicaragua, 
thence by stage coach over a 13-mile stretch of 
road to San Juan del Sur on the Pacific. 

In 1852 Col. Orville Childs made a report to 
President Fillmore upon the results of his surveys 
for a Nicaraguan Canal; and, if the United 
States, in 1902, had elected to build the Nicaraguan 
Canal, the route laid out by Childs would have 
been followed for all but a few miles of the entire 
distance. In 1858 a French citizen obtained 
from Nicaragua and Costa Rica a joint concession 
for a canal, which contained a provision that the 
French Government should have the right to keep 
two warships on Lake Nicaragua as long as the canal 
was in operation. The United States politely in- 
formed Nicaragua and Costa Rica that it would 
not permit any such agreement — that it would 
be a menace to the United States as long as the 
agreement was in force. Upon these representa- 
tions the concession was canceled. 

In 1876 the first Nicaraguan Canal Commission 
created by the American Congress made a unan- 
imous report in favor of a canal across Nicara- 
gua, after it had investigated all the proposed 
routes from eastern Mexico to western South 
America. It asserted that this route possessed. 


both for the construction and maintenance of the 
canal, greater advantages and fewer difficulties 
from engineering, commercial, and economic points 
of view than any one of the other routes shown to be 
practicable by surveys sufficient in detail to enable 
a judgment to be formed of their respective merits. 
When the first French Panama Canal Company 
began its work all other projects fell by the wayside 
for the time being, just as all other plans for inter- 
oceanic canals were abandoned when the United 
States undertook the construction of the present 
canal. After that company failed, however, the 
Maritime Canal Company of Nicaragua was or- 
ganized in 1889 by A. G. Menocal, under conces- 
sions from the Government of that country and 
Costa Rica. The Atlantic end of this canal, as 
proposed by the Maritime Canal Company, was 
located on the lagoon west of Greytown. The 
Pacific end was located at Brito, a few miles from 
San Juan del Sur. This canal company built 
three-fourths of a mile of canal, constructed a 
temporary railway and a short telegraph line, 
but soon thereafter became involved in financial 
difficulties which led to a suspension of operations. 
Even to this day the visitor to Nicaragua may see 
many evidences of the wrecked hopes of that period 
for whatever town he visits he finds there Americans 
and Europeans who went to Nicaragua at the 
time of the opening of the work of building a canal 
by the Maritime Canal Company. They expected 
to find a land of opportunity. But, with failure 
of the canal project, they found themselves in the 
possession of properties whose value lay only in 
staying there and operating them. 


When the first Isthmian Canal Commission, in 
1899, undertook to investigate all of the proposed 
routes across the connecting link between North 
and South America, it placed on the Nicaraguan 
route alone 20 working parties, made up of 159 
civil engineers, their assistants, and 455 laborers. 
The entire work of exploring the Nicaraguan route 
was done with the greatest care. The depth of 
the canal, as adopted by the commission, was 
35 feet and the minimum width 150 feet. The 
locks were to be 840 feet long and 84 feet wide, 
and of these there were to be eight on the Pacific 
and six on the Atlantic side. This canal was to 
be 184 miles long. At the Atlantic end there was 
to be a 46-mile sea-level section and at the 
Pacific end a 12-mile sea-level section, while the 
water in the middle 126-mile section was to be 145 
feet above the water in the two oceans. It was 
estimated that it would cost $189,000,000 to 
build the Nicaraguan Canal. 

Although the distance between the Atlantic 
and Pacific ports of the United States would have 
been more than 400 miles shorter by the Nicaragua 
Canal than by the Panama Canal, it would have 
taken about 24 hours longer to pass through the 
former than through the latter, so that, as far 
as length of time from Atlantic to Pacific ports 
was concerned, the two routes would have been 
practically on a par. The total amount of material 
it would have been necessary to excavate at 
Nicaragua approximates, according to the esti- 
mates, 228,000,000 cubic yards. This would have 
been increased, perhaps, by half, to make a 
canal large enough to accommodate ships such as 


will be accommodated by the present Panama 

The three great trans-Isthmian projects may 
be said to have been: The Panama Canal, 
the Nicaraguan Canal, and the James B. Eads ship 
railway across the Isthmus of Tehauntepec. 
The latter proposition seems to be the most re- 
markable, in some ways, of them all. In 1881, 
James B. Eads, the great engineer who built the 
Mississippi River bridge at St. Louis, and whose 
work in jetty construction at the mouths of the Mis- 
sissippi proved him to be one of the foremost en- 
gineers of his day, secured a charter from the 
Mexican Government conveying to him authority 
to utilize the Isthmus of Tehauntepec for the 
construction of a ship railway from the Atlantic 
to the Pacific. His plan called for a railway 
134 miles long, with the highest point over 700 
feet above the sea, and designed to carry vessels 
up to 7,000 tons. He calculated that the entire 
cost of the railway would not be more than $50,000,- 
000. His plan was to build a railroad with a large 
number of tracks on which a huge cradle would 
run. This cradle would be placed under a ship, 
and the ship braced in the manner of one in dry 
dock. Heavy coiled springs were to equalize 
all stresses and to prevent shocks to the vessel. 
A number of powerful locomotives would be 
hitched to the cradle and would pull it across the 
Isthmus. Although the proposition was indorsed 
by many authorities, it seems to anyone who has 
crossed the Isthmus of Tehauntepec that it was 
a most visionary scheme. 

If one can imagine a ship railway across the 


Allegheny Mountains between Lewiston Junc- 
tion and Pittsburgh on the Pennsylvania Rail- 
road, or between Washington and Goshen, Va., 
on the Chesapeake & Ohio Railroad, he will have 
a very good idea of the difficulties which would be 
encountered in building such a railway. The 
present Tehauntepec railroad is 188 miles long. 
When crossing the Cordilleras there are numerous 
places on this road where the rear car of the 
train and the engine are traveling in diametri- 
cally opposite directions. The road is well-built, 
and, as one crosses the backbone of the con- 
tinent, and beholds the engineering difficulties 
that were encountered in building an ordinary 
American railroad, he can not help but marvel 
at the confidence of a man who would endeavor to 
build across those mountains a shipway large 
enough and straight enough to carry a 7,000- 
ton ship. Yet Captain Eads estimated that his 
shipway could be constructed in four years at 
one-half the cost of the Nicaraguan Canal; that 
vessels could be transported by rail much more 
quickly than by canal ; that in case of accident the 
railway could be repaired more speedily; and that 
it could be enlarged to carry heavier ships as 
business demanded. 

He declared that he did not think it would be 
as difficult to build a ship railway across the Isth- 
mus of Tehauntepec as to build a harbor at the 
Atlantic entrance of the Nicaraguan Canal. His 
confidence in his project was such that he proposed 
to build a short section of the road to prove its 
practicability before asking the United States 
to commit itself to the project. Commodore 


T. D. Wilson, at that time Chief Constructor of 
the United States Navy, declared in a letter to 
Captain Eads that he did not believe the strains 
upon a ship hauled across the Isthmus, as Eads 
proposed, would be greater than those to which 
ocean steamers are constantly exposed. Gen. 
P. T. G. Beauregard, of Confederate Army fame, 
declared that a loaded ship would incur less 
danger in being transported on a smooth and well- 
built railway than it would encounter in bad 
weather on the ocean. 

A prominent English firm offered to undertake 
the building and completion of the necessary 
works for placing ships with their cargo on the 
railway tracks of the trans-Isthmian line, de- 
claring that they had no hesitation in guarantee- 
ing the lifting of a fully loaded ship of 8,000 or 
10,000 tons on a railway car to the level of the 
railroad in 30 minutes, if the distance to be lifted 
was not over 50 feet. The death of Captain Eads 
ended this picturesque project. 

A proposition once was made to build a canal 
across the Isthmus of Tehauntepec. This would 
have required 30 locks on each side of the Isth- 
mus of ^5 feet each, and these locks alone would 
have cost, on the basis of the locks at Panama, 
perhaps as much as the whole Panama Canal. 

One of the narrowest parts of the Isthmus is 
that lying between the present Panama Canal 
route and the South American border. Three 
routes were proposed in this section, known as the 
Atrato River route, the Caledonia route, and the 
San Bias route. It was found that a canal built 
along any one of these routes would require a 


tunnel. The estimated cost of building a tunnel 
35 feet deep, 100 feet wide at the bottom, and 117 
feet on the waterline, with a height of 115 feet 
from the water surface, the entire tunnel being 
lined with concrete 5 feet thick, would approximate 
$22,500,000 a mile. The cost of building a canal 
along one of these routes would have been greater 
than that of building either the Nicaragua Camil 
or the Panama Canal. 

The question of an Isthmian Canal w^ll probably 
be forever set at rest at no distant date. In an 
effort to forestall for all time any competition in 
the canal business across the American Isthmus, 
negotiations are now under way whereby the United 
States seeks to acquire the exclusive rights for a 
canal through Nicaragua, just as it now possesses 
exclusive rights for a canal through the Republic 
of Panama. The conclusion of the work at 
Panama will end the efforts of four centuries to 
open up a shipway from the Atlantic to the Pacific 
across the American Isthmus. 



ONE writes of ''the French failure" at 
Panama with a consciousness that no 
other word but failure will describe the 
financial and administrative catastrophe that 
humbled France on the Isthmus, but at the same 
time with the knowledge that failure is no fit word 
to apply to the engineering accomplishments of 
the French era. 

The French fiasco ruined thousands of thrifty 
French families who invested their all in the 
shares of the canal company because they had faith 
in de Lesseps, faith in France, and faith in the 
ability of the canal to pay handsome returns 
whatever might be its cost. The failure itself 
was due primarily to the fact that de Lesseps was 
not an engineer, but a promoter. The stock sales, 
the bond lottery, the pomp and circumstance of 
high finance, were more to him than exact surveys 
or frank discussion of actual engineering prob- 

From the first, de Lesseps ignored the engineers. 
The Panama proposition was undertaken in spite 
of their advice, and at every turn he hampered 
them by impossible demands, and by making grave 
decisions with a debonair turn of the hand. 

The next factor in the failure was corruption. 



Extravagance such as never was knowTi wasted 
the sous and francs that came from the thrifty 
homes of that beautiful France. Corruption, 
graft, waste — there was never such a carnival 
of bad business. 

And then the French had to fight the diseases of 
the tropic jungles without being armed with that 
knowledge that gave the Americans the victory 
over yellow fever and malaria. It was hardly 
to be expected that the French ever would dis- 
cover the necessity of substituting the Y. M. C. A. 
and the soda fountain for the dance hall and the 
vintner's shop, if the canal were to be completed. 

But the engineers did their work well, as far as 
they were permitted to go. It may have cost too 
much — but it was well done. The failure of the 
French Panama Canal project was due, therefore, 
to moral as much as to material reasons. 

Long years after the French had retired de- 
feated from the field, one could behold a thousand 
mute but eloquent reminders of their failure to 
dupUcate their triumph at Suez. From one side 
of the Isthmus to the other stretched an almost 
unbroken train of gloomy specters of the dis- 
appointed hopes of the French people. 

Here a half-mile string of engines and cars; 
there a long row of steam cranes; at this place a 
mass of nondescript machinery; and at that place 
a big dredge left high and dry on the banks of the 
mighty Chagres at its flood stage, all spoke to the 
visitor of the French defeat. Exposed to the 
ravages of 20 tropical summers, decay ran riot, and 
but for the scenes of Ufe and industry being en- 
acted by the Americans, one might have felt him- 


self stalking amid the tombs of thousands of dead 

Almost as much money was raised by the 
French for their failure as was appropriated by 
the Americans for their success. From the gilded 
palace and from the peasant's humble cottage 
came the stream of gold with which it was hoped 
to lay low the barrier that divided the Atlantic 
and the Pacific. At first the French estimated 
that in seven or eight years they could dig a 
29-foot sea-level canal for $114,000,000. After 
eight years they calculated that it would cost 
$351,000,000 to make it a 15-foot lock canal and 
require 20 years to build it. 

Never was money spent so recklessly. For a 
time it flowed in faster than it could be paid out 
— even by the Panama Canal Company. When 
the company started it asked for $60,000,000. 
Double that amount was offered. The seeming 
inexhaustibility of the funds led to unparalleled 
extravagance; of the some $260,000,000 raised 
only a little more than a third was spent in actual 
engineering work. Someone has said that a 
third of the money was spent on the canal, a third 
was wasted, and a third was stolen. 

The director general at the expense of the 
stockholders built himself a house costing $100,000. 
His summer home at La Boca cost $150,000. It 
came to be known as ''Dingler's Folly," for Dingier 
lost his wife and children of yellow fever and never 
was able to live in his sumptuous summer home. 
He drew $50,000 a year salary, and $50 a day 
for each day he traveled a mile over the line in 
his splendid $42,000 Pullman. The hospitals at 


Ancon and Colon cost $7,000,000, and the office 
buildings over $5,000,000. Where a $50,000 build- 
ing was needed, a $100,000 building was erected, 
and the canal stockholders were charged $200,000 
for it. 

Supplies were bought almost wholly without 
reference to actual needs. Ten thousand snow 
shovels were brought to the Isthmus where no 
snow ever has fallen. Some 15,000 torchlights 
were carried there to be used in the great cele- 
bration upon the completion of the canal. Steam- 
boats, dredges, launches, and whatnot were brought 
to the Isthmus, knocked down, and taken into 
the interior to await the opening of the water- 
way. The stationery bill of the canal company 
with one firm alone amounted to $180,000 a year. 
When the Americans took possession they found 
among other things a ton of rusty and useless pen 
points, not one of which had ever been used. 

Two years' service entitled employees to five 
months' leave of absence and traveling expenses 
both ways. There was no adequate system of 
accounting and any employee could have his 
requisition for household articles honored almost 
as often as he liked. In a multitude of cases this 
laxity was taken advantage of and quite a business 
was carried on secretly in buying and selling 
furniture belonging to the company. One oflScial 
built a bath house costing $40,000. A son of 
de Lesseps became a silent partner of nearly every 
large contractor on the Isthmus, getting a large 
"rake-off" from every contract let. 

Near the summit of the Great Divide the Ameri- 
cans who took possession in 1904 found a small 


iron steamer. It is said to have been the purpose 
of the canal promoters to put this little steamer 
on a small pond in Culebra Cut, and by the aid 
of a skillful photographer to get a picture showing 
navigation across the Isthmus. This steamer was 
hauled by the Americans to Panama, where 
during the years of the American construction 
work it did service in carrying the sick to the 
sanitarium at Taboga. 

The diflFerent uses to which this steamer was put 
during the French and American regimes illus- 
trates the different aims of the Americans and the 
French in connection with the Panama Canal. 
There was little concern about the health of the 
canal workers under the French, in spite of great 
liberality in the construction of hospitals. The 
construction work was let out to contractors, who 
were charged a dollar a day by the French Com- 
pany for maintaining the sick members of their 
force in the hospital. Of course, the contractors 
were not over anxious to put their employees into 
the hospitals. The result was that the death 
rate at Panama reached almost unprecedented 

This was aided to a very large degree by the 
manner of living obtaining there at that time. 
In 1887 Lieutenant Rogers, of the United States 
Navy, inspected the canal work and reported 
that the laborers were paid every Saturday, that 
they spent Sunday in drinking and Monday in 
recuperating, returning to work on Tuesday. A 
prominent English writer declared after a visit to 
Panama that in all the world there was not, per- 
haps, concentrated in any single spot so much 



swindling and villainy, so much vile disease, and 
such a hideous mass of moral and physical abom- 

Add to these things the fact that no one then 
knew of the responsibiUty of the stegomyia 
mosquito for the existence of yellow fever, nor 
that the anopheles mosquito was the disseminator 
of malaria, and it is little wonder that the French 
failed. The hospitals, instead of aiding in the 
elimination of yellow fever, became its greatest 
allies. The bedposts were set in cups of water, 
and here the yellow-fever mosquitoes could breed 
uninterruptedly and carry infection to every 
patient. Wards were shut up tight at night to 
keep out the ''terrible miasma," and the nurses 
went to their own quarters. When morning came 
there were among those thus left alone always 
some ready for the tomb. 

The history of the French attempt to con- 
struct the Panama Canal begins, in reahty, with 
the Suez Canal. In 1854 Ferdinand de Lesseps, 
a Frenchman connected with the diplomatic 
service, saw an opportunity to revive the plans 
for a Suez Canal that had been urged by Napoleon 
in 1798. His friend. Said Pasha, had just suc- 
ceeded to the khediviate of Egypt, and his pro- 
posals were warmly received. The building of the 
canal, which presented no serious engineering 
problems, was begun in 1859 and completed 10 
years later. There was a sordid side to its story,* 
too; but as the losses were borne chiefly by the 
Egyptians, Europe ignored them and looked only; 
to the great success of the canal itseK. __^ 

As a result, de Lesseps became a national hero. 


in France, and when it became known that he 
contemplated piercing another isthmus, the whole 
country rose to his support. In 1875, six years 
after the Suez Canal had been opened, and as 
soon as France had recovered her breath from the 
shock of the war with Prussia, a company was 
organized by de Lesseps to procure a concession 
for the building of a Panama Canal. 

Already the world, as well as France, had come 
to regard de Lesseps as an engineer, rather than 
as a promoter of stock companies, and in this lay 
the germ of the disaster that was to overtake the 
whole scheme. 

In 1876, Lucien Napoleon Bonaparte Wyse, 
a lieutenant of engineers in the French Army, was 
sent to Panama to determine the most feasible 
route and to conclude negotiations for the con- 
struction of a canal there. He made a perfunctory 
survey, commencing at Panama and extending 
only two- thirds of the way to the Atlantic coast; 
nevertheless, he calculated the cost in detail and 
claimed that his estimates might be depended 
upon to come within 10 per cent of the actual 
figures. However weak in engineering he may 
have been, he was strong in international nego- 
tiations, returning to France with a concession 
which gave him the right to form a company to 
build the canal, and which gave to that company 
all the rights it needed, subject only to the prior 
rights of the Panama Railroad Company under 
its concession. The concession was to run for 
99 years, beginning from the date when the col- 
lection of tolls on transit and navigation should 
begin. The promoters were allowed 2 years to 


form the company and 12 years to build the canal. 
The Government of Colombia was entitled to a 
share in the gross income of the canal after the 
seventy-fifth year from its opening. Four-fifths 
of this was to be paid to the National Government 
and one-fifth to the State of Panama. The canal 
company was to guarantee that these annual 
payments should on no account be less than 

When Wyse returned to Paris he got de Lesseps 
to head the project. The hero of Suez summoned 
an international commission of individuals and 
engineers, known as the International Scientific 
Congress, which met in Paris, May 15, 1879. 
There were 135 delegates in attendance, most of 
whom were Frenchmen, although nearly every 
European nation was represented. The United 
States had 11 representatives at this congress. 
After two weeks' conference the decision was 
reached that a sea-level canal should be con- 
structed from Colon to Panama. Only 42 of the 
135 men who met were engineers, and it has been 
stated that those who knew most about the sub- 
ject found their opinions least in demand. M. 
de Lesseps dominated the conference. Several 
members who were radically opposed to its con- 
clusions, rather than declare their difference from 
the opinions of a man of such great distinction and 
high reputation as de Lesseps enjoyed at that 
time, absented themselves when the final vote 
was taken. 

After it was determined to build a sea-level canal, 
the canal concession owned by Wyse and his 
associates was transferred to the Compagnie 


Universelle du Canal Interoceanique (The Uni- 
versal Interoceanic Canal Company) of which de 
Lesseps was given control. The canal company 
was capitalized at $60,000,000. . The preliminary 
budget of expenses amounted to $9,000,000, of 
which $2,000,000 went to Wyse and his asso- 
ciates for the concession. The organizers were 
entitled to certain cash payments and 15 per cent 
of the net profits. 

The canal company soon found it necessary to 
acquire a controlling interest in the Panama Rail- 
road. That corporation insisted on charging 
regular rates on all canal business. In addition, 
it possessed such prior rights as made the Wyse 
concession worthless except there be agreement on 
all matters between the railroad company and the 
canal company. The result was that the canal 
company bought the railroad, and its rights, for 
the sum of about $18,000,000. 

The first visit of de Lesseps to the Isthmus was 
made in the early weeks of 1880. He arrived on 
the 30th day of December, 1879, and was met by 
a delegation appointed by the Government, and 
one nominated by the State Assembly. There 
was the usual reception, with its attendant cham- 
pagne and conviviality, and a fine display of fire- 
works at night. The next day, with a chart be- 
fore him, de Lesseps promptly decided where the 
breakwater to protect the mouth of the canal from 
the "northers" sweeping into Limon Bay should 
be located. He declared that in the construction 
of the canal there were only two great difficulties 
— the Chagres River and Culebra Cut. The first 
he proposed to overcome by sending its waters 


to the Pacific Ocean by another route — a project 
which it has since been estimated would have cost 
almost as much as building the canal. The second 
difficulty he thought would disappear with the 
use of explosives of sufficient force to remove vast 
quantities of material with each discharge. There 
was a great hurrah, and an international celebra- 
tion during de Lesseps' stay. The flags of all 
nations were prominently displayed, with the 
single exception of that of the United States. 

Count de Lesseps was over 70 years old when he 
first visited the Isthmus, though he was still 
active and vigorous. Mr. Tracy Robinson de- 
scribed him as "a small man, French in detail, 
with winning manners and a magnetic presence. 
He would conclude almost every statement with, 
*The Canal will be made,' just as a famous Roman 
always exclaimed, 'Delende est Carthago.' He 
was accompanied to the Isthmus by his wife and 
three of his seven children. Being a fine horse- 
man, he delighted in mounting the wildest steeds 
that Panama could furnish. Riding over the 
rough country in which the canal was being lo- 
cated all day long, he would dance all night like a 
boy and be ready for the next day's work 'as 
fresh as a daisy.'" 

On New Year's Day, 1880, de Lesseps formally 
inaugurated the work of building the canal. A 
large party of ladies and gentlemen visited the 
mouth of the Rio Grande where the first shovelful 
of sod was to be turned. An address was made 
by Count de Lesseps, and a benediction upon the 
enterprise was bestowed by the Bishop of Panama. 
Champagne flowed like water, and it is said that 


the speechmaking continued so long that the party 
did not have time to go ashore to turn the sod, 
so it was brought on board and Miss Fernanda de 
Lesseps there made the initial stroke in the digging 
of the big waterway. 

Some days later the work at Culebra Cut was 
inaugurated. Tracy Robinson thus described the 
scene: "The blessing had been pronounced by the 
Bishop of Panama and the champagne, duly iced, 
was waiting to quell the swelter of the tropical 
sun as soon as the explosion went off. There the 
crowd stood breathless, ears stopped, eyes blink- 
ing, half in terror lest this artificial earthquake 
might involve general destruction. But there 
was no explosion! It would not go! Then a 
humorous sense of relief stole upon the crowd. 
With one accord everybody exclaimed, *Good 
Gracious!' and hurried away for fear that after 
all the dynamite should see fit to explode. That 
was Fiasco No. 1." 

After de Lesseps left the Isthmus he toured the 
United States where he was everywhere welcomed 
although he did not find a market in this country 
for his stock. 

The scientific congress estimated the cost of build- 
ing the canal, whose construction de Lesseps had 
inaugurated, at $214,000,000. M. de Lesseps 
himself later arbitrarily cut this estimate to 
$131,000,000, and announced that he believed 
that vessels would be able to go from ocean to 
ocean after the expenditure of $120,000,000. He 
declared that if the committee had decided to 
build a lock canal, he would have put on his hat 
and gone home, since he beheved it would be 


much more expensive to build a lock canal with 
twin chambers than to build a sea-level water- 
way. There were those who declared that six 
years was the utmost limit that would be required 
for building the big ditch. Others asserted with 
confidence that it could be done in four years. 

During the first three years the company de- 
voted its time to getting ready for the real work. 
By 1885 the profligate use of the money subscribed 
by the French people brought the funds of the 
canal company to a very low ebb. M. de Lesseps 
asked for permission to establish a lottery, by 
which he hoped to provide additional funds for 
carrying on the work. The French Government 
held up the matter and finally sent an eminent 
engineer to investigate. This engineer, Armand 
Rosseau, reported that the completion of a sea- 
level canal was not possible with the means in 
sight, and recommended a lock canal, plans for 
which he submitted. The summit level of this 
canal was to be 160 feet, reached by a series of 
seven or eight locks. After this plan was adopted, 
to which de Lesseps reluctantly consented, lottery 
bonds of a face value of $160,000,000 were issued 
which were to bear 4 per cent interest. But the 
people failed to subscribe. 

At the outset of the work de Lesseps estab- 
lished a bulletin for the dissemination of informa- 
tion concerning the canal; during the entire 
period of his connection with the project this 
bulletin was filled with the most exaggerated re- 
ports, and the most reckless mis-statements in 
favor of a successful prosecution of the work. 
By 1888 the confidence of the French people in 


de Lesseps waned. Unable to raise more money, 
and now popularly dubbed the "Great Under- 
taker/* he found himself in such straits that he 
saw the French Government take over the wrecked 
organization by appointing a receiver with the 
power to dispose of its assets. This proved a 
terrible blow to the people on the Isthmus. 
Untold hardships befell the small army of laborers 
and clerks. The Government of Jamaica repa- 
triated over 6,000 negroes. The Chilean Govern- 
ment granted 40,000 free passages to Chile, open 
to all classes except negroes and Chinese, and for 
several months every mail steamer south took away 
from 600 to 800 stranded people from the canal 
region. Where good times and the utmost plenty 
had prevailed for years, the Isthmus was now 
face to face with a period of want and privation, 
its glory departed and its hope almost gone. 

The receiver of the Panama Canal Company 
assisted in the organization of another company 
known as the New Panama Canal Company. 
With a working capital of $13,000,000, it excavated 
more than 12,000,000 cubic yards of material. 
In 1890 it found itself in danger of losing every- 
thing by reason of the expiration of its concession. 
The services of Lieutenant Wyse were again 
brought into play, and he secured a 10-year 
extension of the concession. In 1893 another 
concession was granted, with the provision that 
work should be begun on a permanent basis by 
October 31, 1894, and that the canal should be 
completed by October 31, 1904. Toward the 
end of the nineties, it was manifest that the con- 
cession would expire before the work could be 


finished, so, in April, 1900, another extension was 
arranged, which stipulated that the canal should 
be completed by October 31, 1910. The New 
Panama Canal Company, as a matter of fact, 
had no other aim in view than to keep the con- 
cession alive in the hope that it could be sold to the 
United States. 

With all of their profligacy, however, the French 
left to their American successors a valuable 
heritage. What they did was done with the 
utmost thoroughness. The machinery which they 
bequeathed to the Americans was of immense 
value. There was enough of this to cover a 500- 
acre farm 3 feet deep, with enough more to build 
a 6-foot fence around it all. The French equip- 
ment was of the best. Dredges and locomotives 
that stood in the jungle for 20 years were rebuilt 
by the Americans at less than 10 per cent of their 
first cost, and did service during the entire period 
of construction. 

Although the New Panama Canal Company 
at one time asked $150,000,000 for its assets, it 
finally accepted $40,000,000. An appraisement 
made by American engineers a few years ago 
showed that the actual worth of the property 
acquired, aside from the franchise itself, amounted 
to about $42,000,000. 

Count de Lesseps lived to a great age. His last 
years were saddened and embittered by the vol- 
umes of denunciation that were written and 
spoken against him. Certain it is that no man 
ever went further than he to maintain confidence 
in a project that was destined to fail, and yet his 
partisans declared that his sin was the sin of over- 


enthusiasm and not of dishonest purpose. Under 
the torrents of abuse that fell upon his head his 
mind weakened, and, fortunately, in his last days 
he realized little of the immeasurable injustice his 
misplaced zeal and overenthusiasm had wrought 
against the people of France. 



PROUD as Americans now are of the success 
of their venture at Panama, in the be- 
ginning there was by no means a general 
agreement that the United States would succeed 
where France had failed. Indeed, the French 
disaster had much influence in strengthening the 
position of those who favored building the Amer- 
ican canal through Nicaragua. 

Prior to the year 1900 little thought was 
given by the American people to any project 
for building an Isthmian Canal anywhere else 
than through Nicaragua. It is true that in 
1897 the New Panama Canal Company became 
active in its efforts to induce the United States 
to adopt the Panama route, but these activities 
made little impression upon public sentiment 
before the outbreak of the Spanish American 
War. During that war interest in the question 
of an Isthmian Canal waned in America, and 
immediately after it the sympathy which France 
had given to Spain made it advisable for the 
Canal Company to postpone its propaganda. 
In his annual message to Congress in Decem- 
ber, 1898, President McKinley recommended 
the building of the Nicaragua Canal. Two days 
later Senator John T. Morgan, of Alabama, made 



a vigorous speech in the Senate, in which he 
charged that the transcontinental raihoads of 
the United States were making efforts to defeat 
the canal project. This charge was made re- 
peatedly thereafter, and it was asserted that the 
railroads espoused the cause of the Panama Canal 
upon the ground of choosing the lesser of two 
evils, judged from their standpoint. Prior to 
1900 both Republican and Democratic parties 
had repeatedly favored the construction of the 
Nicaragua Canal in their national platforms, and 
both branches of Congress had voted for the 
canal at different times. 

In the early part of 1899 the Senate passed a 
bill authorizing the construction of a Nicaraguan 
Canal. The House refused to act on the bill, 
and, at the instance of Senator Morgan, the 
Senate attached a rider to the rivers and har- 
bors bill, appropriating $10,000,000 to begin the 
building of the canal. This passed the Senate 
by a vote of 54 to 3. The amendment was de- 
feated in the House and the matter went to con- 
ference. If the House conferees stood pat in 
their opposition to the Senate amendment, the 
whole rivers and harbors bill would be defeated 
unless the Senate conferees yielded. The House 
conferees remained unshaken in their opposition 
to the Nicaragua Canal provision, and were 
willing to wreck the whole rivers and harbors 
bill rather than to authorize the beginning of 
operations in the construction of the Nicaragua 
Canal under the plan framed by the Senate. 

According to Philippe Bunau-Varilla, the real 
secret of the defeat of the Nicaragua Canal proj- 


ect at this juncture lay in a dispute between 
the House and Senate as to the manner of build- 
ing the canal. The Senate wanted to do it by 
the reorganization of the Maritime Canal Com- 
pany, with the majority of its board of directors 
appointed by the President, using that corpor- 
ation as the agent of the Government for 
constructing and operating the canal. Represen- 
tative William P. Hepburn, of Iowa, at that 
time Chairman of the Committee on Interstate 
and Foreign Commerce, contended that such a 
plan proposed that the United States should 
masquerade as a corporation, instead of doing 
the work in its own proper person, as it was in 
every sense capable of doing. He asked for 
what purpose the Government should thus con- 
vert itself into a corporation, making of itself 
an artificial person and taking a position of 
equality with a citizen.? He further pointed 
out that as a corporation the Government might 
be sued in its own courts, and fined for contempt 
by its own judicial servants. 

A compromise was adopted in the form of an 
appropriation of $1,000,000 to defray the expen- 
ses of an investigation into all of the various 
routes for an Isthmian Canal. This investi- 
gation was to have reference particularly to the 
relative merits of the Nicaragua and Panama 
routes, together with an estimate of the cost of 
constructing each. The investigators were to 
ascertain what rights, privileges, and franchises 
were held, and what work had been done in the 
construction of the proposed canals. They were 
also to ascertain the cost of acquiring the inter- 


ests of any organizations holding franchises on 
these routes. The President was directed to 
employ engineers of the United States Army and 
engineers from civil life, together with such 
other persons as were necessary to carry out 
the purposes of the investigation. A few months 
later he appointed the first Isthmian Canal Com- 
mission, consisting of Rear Admiral John G. 
Walker, Senator Samuel Pasco, Alfred Noble, 
George S. Morison, Peter C. Hains, William H. 
Burr, O. H. Ernst, Louis M. Haupt, and Emory 
R. Johnson. 

Thus it came about that the House and Senate, 
divided only upon the issue of the proper method 
of building the Nicaragua Canal, reopened the 
whole question, and gave to the Panama Canal 
advocates a chanoe to make a fight in favor of 
that route. The advocates of the Nicaragua 
Canal were not satisfied, however, to await the 
discoveries of the commission Congress had 
created. On May 2, 1900, before the commis- 
sion made its report, the House vo^ed 234 to 36 
in favor of the Nicaragua route. The bill went 
to the Senate, where it was favorably reported by 
the Committee on Interoceanic Canals. Senator 
Morgan made a formal motion for the immediate 
consideration of the measure, but it w^as lost by 
a vote of 28 to 21. He then had the 2nd day of 
December following fixed as the date for again 
taking up the matter. His committee made a 
report roundly scoring the representatives of the 
New Panama Canal Company for their activities 
in favor of the Panama route. 

In December, 1900, Secretary Hay signed pro- 


tocols with the ministers of Nicaragua and Costa 
Rica, by which those Governments undertook to 
negotiate treaties as soon as the President of the 
United States should be authorized by Congress 
to acquire the Nicaragua route. In the following 
February, Senator Morgan offered an amendment 
to the sundry civil appropriation bill authorizing 
the President to go ahead with the construction 
of the canal. When Theodore Roosevelt became 
President in September, 1901, he recommended 
the building of the Nicaragua Canal in his official 
statement of policy. 

In the meantime the Isthmian Canal Com- 
mission had been repeatedly attempting to get the 
New Panama Canal Company to state for what 
sum it would sell its holdings to the United 
States. The figures finally presented placed a 
value of $109,000,000 upon the property. After 
this, the Isthmian Canal Commission unanimously 
recommended the adoption of the Nicaragua 
route. Congress again took up the matter, upon 
a bill introduced by Representative Hepburn, 
making an appropriation of $180,000,000 for the 
construction of the canal. This measure was 
favorably reported by the House Committee on 
Interstate and Foreign Commerce, and also 
secured the approval of the Senate Committee 
on Interoceanic Canals. 

A few days later a formal convention was 
signed in Nicaragua by the minister of foreign 
affairs and the American minister, looking to the 
construction of the canal through Nicaraguan 
territory. A week later the Senate ratified the 
Hay-Pauncefote treaty with Great Britain. On 


Jannary 7 the House of Representatives again 
took up the matter and, in spite of the fact that 
the New Panama Canal Company had decided 
to accept $40,000,000 for its property, this offer 
was rejected by the House of Representatives, 
which passed the bill authorizing the construction 
of the Nicaragua Canal by the overwhelming 
vote of 309 to 2. 

After the rejection of the offer of the New Pan- 
ama Canal Company by the House, President 
Roosevelt again called the members of the Isth- 
mian Canal Commission together, and asked 
them to make a supplementary report in view 
of the offer in question. On a motion of Com- 
missioner Morison the commission decided tliat, 
in consideration of the change of conditions 
brought about by the offer of the company to 
sell its property for $40,000,000, the Panama 
route was preferable. It has been stated that 
Professor Haupt, Senator Pasco, and two other 
members of the commission were reluctant to 
abandon the Nicaragua project; that President 
Roosevelt had made it quite clear to Admiral 
Walker that he expected the commission to ac- 
cept the Panama Canal Company's offer; that 
Commissioners Noble and Pasco had given in, 
but that Professor Haupt stood out; and that 
he was induced to sign the report only after Ad- 
miral Walker had called him out of the committee 
room and pleaded with him to do so, stating that 
the President demanded a unanimous report. Pro- 
fessor Haupt afterwards publicly admitted the truth 
of this story in a signed article in a magazine. 

About this time the Senate Committee on In- 


teroceanic Canals appointed a subcommittee of 
six members to study and report on the legal 
questions involved in the transfer of the New 
Panama Canal Company's title, and a majority 
reported that the company's title was defective 
and that it had no power to transfer. It was 
finally decided that the Senate Committee on 
Interoceanic Canals should make no report until 
all of the members of the Isthmian Canal Com- 
mission had appeared before it and testified. 
This delay permitted negotiations between the 
United States, the New Panama Canal Company, 
and the Republic of Colombia looking to a set- 
tlement of the question of title. 

The New Panama Canal Company was now 
thoroughly in earnest in its desire to dispose of 
its holdings to the United States, but the Repub- 
lic of Colombia, desiring to drive a good bargain, 
held aloof. The hope of the situation as far as 
the Panama route was concerned, lay in Senator 
Marcus A. Hanna, of Ohio, who had come to es- 
pouse the Panama route. He declared he would 
not recommend the acceptance of the propo- 
sals of the New Panama Canal Company unless 
a satisfactory treaty could be obtained, and unless 
the shareholders of the company would ratify 
the action of the board of directors in making 
the offer. A meeting of the shareholders was 
called in February, 1902, at which the Republic 
of Colombia, holding a million dollars' worth of 
stock in the company, was represented by a 
Government delegate. He served formal notice 
on the company that it was forbidden, on pain 
of forfeiture of its concession, to sell its rights to 



the United States before that action was approved 
by the Colombian Government, there being a clause 
in the concession providing that in the event of 
such a sale to any foreign Government all rights, 
titles, and property should revert to Colombia. 

When the Colombian Government took up 
the matter it showed a disposition to grasp the 
lion's share. Its minister was instructed to ex- 
act no less than $20,000,000 from the New Pan- 
ama Canal Company for Colombia's permis- 
sion to transfer its concessions. This demand 
was based on the following reasons: First, be- 
cause Colombia's consent was essential; second, 
because Colombia would lose its expectation of 
acquiring the Panama Railroad at the expiration 
of its concession — a road that was then val- 
ued at $18,000,000; third, because under the pro- 
posed contract with the United States, Colombia 
was to renounce its share in the prospective 
earnings of the canal, which might amount to 
a million dollars a year. 

Another proposition was drawn by the Col- 
ombian minister, proposing to lease a zone across 
the Isthmus of the United States for a period of 
200 years at an annual rental of $600,000. At 
another time the Colombian minister declared 
that, inasmuch as the New Panama Canal Com- 
pany had taken advantage of the straitened 
circumstances of the Colombian Government to 
obtain a six-year extension of its concession, 
which was really what the canal company was 
about to sell for $40,000,000, he thought Colom- 
bia ought to require the New Panama Canal Com- 
pany to pay $3,000,000 of the $40,000,000, for 


what the company gained by the extension of 
its concession. 

On January 30, 1902, Senator John C. Spooner, 
of Wisconsin, introduced a bill in the Senate, 
authorizing the President of the United States 
to build an Isthmian Canal at Panama, if the 
necessary rights could be obtained. If those 
rights could not be obtained the President was 
required to build the canal on the Nicaraguan 
route. The Spooner bill provided the machinery 
for the construction of the canal, created the 
Isthmian Canal Commission, and authorized the 
expenditures necessary for undertaking the proj- 
ect. Some six weeks later the Senate Committee 
on Interoceanic Canals rejected the Spooner bill 
and presented a favorable report on the Hepburn 
bill, which authorized the Nicaragua Canal. 

The final struggle in the Senate lasted from 
June 4 to June 19, 1902. Senators Morgan 
and Harris led the fight for the Hepburn bill, 
while Senators Hanna and Spooner championed 
the Spooner measure. The fight resulted in the 
passage of the Spooner bill by a vote of 32 to 24. 
The disagreeing votes of the two Houses were then 
sent to conference, and the House finally receded 
from its position in favor of the Nicaragua 
route, and the Spooner bill became a law. The 
situation as it now stood was that the Panama 
route was chosen on the conditions that the title 
of the company be proved and that a satisfactory 
treaty with Colombia be negotiated; with the 
alternative of the adoption of the Nicaragua route 
in default of one or the other of these conditions. 

Whatever may have been his motives — in 


the light of events which have followed it would 
seem unjust to question them — Senator Hanna 
was imdoubtedly responsible for the revolution 
in Congress and in public sentiment which re- 
sulted in the selection of the Panama route. 
M. Banau-Varilla declares that he met Myron 
T. Herrick in Paris, converted him, and through 
him met Senator Hanna, whom he also convinced. 
In Crowley's "Life and Work of Marcus Alonzo 
Hanna," it is declared that a series of interviews 
between M. Banau-Varilla and Senator Hanna 
had much to do with Mr. Hanna's decision to 
make a fight in behalf of Panama. It was claimed 
by William Nelson Cromwell, in his suit for fees 
against the New Panama Canal Company, that 
he was responsible for converting Senator Hanna 
to the Panama project, and it was asserted, also, 
that he furnished the data from which Senator 
Hanna made his speech which converted the 
Senate, and the House, and the country, and led 
to the adoption of the Panama route. 

At this juncture Providence seemed to lend 
support to the Panama route, for one of the many 
volcanoes in Nicaragua became active and did 
considerable damage. Occurrences since then 
have borne out the wisdom of avoiding the Nic- 
aragua route. A few years ago the city of Cart- 
ago, only about a hundred miles distant from the 
site of the works that would have been installed 
to control the waters of Lake Nicaragua, was 
entirely destroyed by an earthquake. 

W^ith the Spooner bill enacted into law, the 
next proposition which confronted the United 
States Government was that of reaching an under- 


standing with Colombia, which would permit the 
building of the canal at Panama. That country- 
was reminded on every hand and in divers ways 
that unless an acceptable treaty were forth- 
coming the President of the United States would 
be forced to adopt the Nicaragua route. But, 
notwithstanding these reminders, Colombia still 
moved slowly in the matter. After being repeat- 
edly urged to come to terms, and after one Col- 
ombian minister to the United States had been 
recalled and another resigned, the Hay-Herran 
treaty finally was negotiated. 

Before Colombia reached the stage, however, 
where it would agree to enter into negotiations 
with the United States, it had been reminded by 
its minister in Washington that it was dangerous 
not to enter into an agreement. He had de- 
clared that if Colombia should refuse to hear 
the American proposal that a new treaty be 
entered into, the United States would, in retalia- 
tion, denounce the treaty of 1846, and there- 
after view with complacency any events which 
might take place in Panama inimical to Colom- 
bia's interests. He had reported further that the 
United States would, at the first interruption of 
the railroad service, occupy at once Colombia's 
territory on the Isthmus and embrace whatever 
tendency there might be toward separation, in 
the hope of bringing about the independence of 
Panama. This, he had concluded, would be a 
catastrophe of far greater consequence to Colom- 
bia than any damage the Republic might suffer 
by the ratification of a treaty with the United 
States permitting the building of the canal. 


His views in the matter were strengthened 
by a suggestion of Senator Shelby M. CuUom, 
of Illinois, that if Colombia should continue to 
refuse to allow the United States to build the 
canal, which the United States claimed was its 
right to do under the treaty of 1846, the American 
Government might invoke a sort of universal 
right of eminent domain, take the Isthmian ter- 
ritory, and pay Colombia its value in accordance 
with an appraisement by experts. 

About this time President Roosevelt wrote a 
letter to his friend. Dr. Albert D. Shaw, of the 
Review of Reviews, in which he said that he had 
been appealed to for aid and encouragement to 
a revolution at Panama, but that as much as he 
would like to see such a revolution, he could not 
lend any encouragement to it. The Republic of 
Colombia was repeatedly reminded by Secretary 
Hay that if it did not act promptly the President 
would take up negotiations with Nicaragua and 
proceed to construct the canal there. Under 
these conditions Colombia finally agreed to 
negotiate the Hay-Herran treaty, which was 
afterwards rejected by the Colombian Congress. 

It has been asserted that President Roosevelt 
took the view all along that under the treaty of 
1846, Colombia had no right to prevent the 
United States from building the canal, and that, 
in spite of the provision of the Spooner Act re- 
quiring him to proceed with the construction of 
the Nicaragua Canal in the event of the failure 
of negotiations at Panama, he was determined to 
exhaust every possible effort before giving up the 
Panama route. 



SELDOM in the history of international 
relations has a controversy afforded more 
grounds for honest difference of opinion 
than the issue between the United States and 
Colombia, growing out of the revolution and for- 
mation of the new Republic of Panama. The 
most careful and unprejudiced study still may 
leave room for doubt as to the real merits of the 

In 1903, after the United States had decided to 
build an Isthmian Canal, preferably at Panama, 
but if that route were not available at Nicaragua, 
a treaty was entered into at Washington between 
the Governments of the United States and Colom- 
bia. This Hay-Herran treaty, as it was known, in 
simple terms provided that the United States 
would pay Colombia $10,000,000 in cash, and 
$250,000 a year after the completion of the canal, 
if the Republic of Colombia would agree to permit 
the New Panama Canal Company to sell its con- 
cession and property to the United States. This 
treaty, according to President Roosevelt, was 
entered into under negotiations initiated by the 
Republic of Colombia. The treaty was ratified 
by the United States Senate, and was then sent 
to Colombia for its ratification. 



At the time the treaty was pending in the 
Colombian Congress, the President of the RepubHc 
was a man who had been elected Vice President, 
but who had kidnapped the President with a troop 
of cavalry and shut him up in an insanitary dun- 
geon where he soon died. The Vice President thus 
became the head of the Government. Anyone 
who knows conditions in such countries as Colom- 
bia, understands that a President has no use for a 
Congress except to have it register his own will. 
The President of Colombia at first advocated the 
negotiation of the treaty, but he repudiated it 
after it had been signed, and then declared that 
if the Colombian minister to Washington were 
to return to Colombia he would be hanged for 
signing it. The result of this change of front was 
that the treaty was rejected by the Colombian 
Congress. All sorts of stories were put abroad 
in Colombia to arouse opposition to it. One was 
that the United States would make $180,000,000 
out of the canal deal the minute the treaty was 
ratified by Colombia. It was claimed by the 
Colombian Government that the constitutional 
prohibition of the cession of territory to a foreign 
state would have to be changed by amending the 
Constitution before the Congress could legally 
ratify the treaty. 

How little the President of Colombia respected 
the laws of his country is shown by a dispatch 
received by the Government at Washington after 
the secession of Panama, in which it was promised 
that if the United States would assist Colombia 
in putting down the Panama revolution, the next 
Colombian Congress would ratify the rejected 





fl'eaty. Or, failing that, the President would 
declare martial law, by virtue of vested consti- 
tutional authority when public order is disturbed, 
and ratify the canal treaty by presidential decree. 
If the Washington Government did not like such a 
proposal, the President of Colombia would call 
an extra session of Congress and immediately 
ratify the treaty. 

The real cause of the failure of the Hay-Herran 
treaty is not difficult to discover. The concession 
of the New Panama Canal Company under one 
of its renewals expired October 31, 1893. It was 
then extended for a year, and, in 1894, was ex- 
tended again for a period of 10 years. Still 
another extension was granted, which carried the 
date of expiration to October 31, 1910. This last 
extension was granted by the President without 
the consent of the Colombian Congress. In 1903, 
when the Hay-Herran treaty was pending, the 
validity of this last extension was denied, and 
the assertion made that on October 31, 1904, all 
of the rights and property of the New Panama 
Canal Company would revert to the Colombian 

The United States had agreed to pay to the 
New Panama Canal Company $40,000,000 for its 
concession and property. According to Repre- 
sentative Henry T. Rainey, of Illinois, who for 
years led the attack in the United States Congress 
on the acts of President Roosevelt in connection 
with the Panaman revolution, the purpose of 
Colombia in defeating the treaty was to wait until 
the expiration of the concession, when all of the 
property of the canal company would revert to 


Colombia, and it could then sell it to the United 
States and get the $40,000,000, or any other 
amount it could persuade the United States to 

Of course, the New Panama Canal Company did 
not look upon such an arrangement with any degree 
of complacency. It felt that it was a deliberate 
scheme upon the part of the Colombian Govern- 
ment to mulct it out of its property and its rights. 
As a result it was naturally ready to lend aid and 
encouragement to any movement which would 
circumvent this purpose of Colombia. It found 
conditions in Panama just w^hat it might have 

The people of Panama felt that they had the 
same sort of grievance against Colombia that the 
people of the American colonies felt they had 
against England in 1776. The governors of the 
province were, with few exceptions, sent there 
from Bogota, and were entirely out of sympathy 
with the people of Panama. The taxes collected 
at Panama were carried to Bogota, as a rule, and 
the voice that the people of the Isthmus had in 
the Government of Colombia was negligible. 
Furthermore, they felt that they were entitled 
to their sovereignty. 

After the countries of tropical America had 
thrown off the yoke of Spain, Panama found itself 
too small to stand alone, and accepted an invita- 
tion from Bogota to put itself under the Govern- 
ment there with the understanding that it was to 
retain its sovereignty. It soon found that this 
agreement was not respected at Bogota. Almost 
immediately there were attempted revolts and, in 


1840, the Isthmus again won complete indepen- 
dence. The Confederation of New Granada 
promised that the people of the Isthmus should 
have better treatment, and it was set forth in the 
constitution of New Granada that Panama was a 
sovereign state, and that it had full right to with- 
draw and set up an independent government at 
any time. In 1885 a new constitution was pro- 
claimed by Colombia, which had succeeded New 
Granada, and this constitution deprived Panama 
of all its rights as a sovereign state, and made it a 
province under the control of the Federal Govern- 
ment at Bogota. Upon these grounds Panama 
claimed that she was a sovereign state temporarily 
under the duress of a superior government. After 
the defeat of the Hay-Herran treaty the inhabi- 
tants of Panama knew that if the treaty failed and 
no other steps were taken, the Nicaraguan route 
would be followed and Panama would become 
almost a forgotten region instead of a land of great 

The consequence was that the Panamans lent 
willing ears to the suggestion of the representatives 
of the New Panama Canal Company that they 
should undertake a revolution to be financed by 
the canal company. Two representatives of the 
New Panama Canal Company working along 
independent lines were trying to bring about the 
revolution. One of these was Philippe Bunau- 
Varilla, formerly chief engineer of the Old Panama 
Canal Company, but who had become estranged 
from the New Panama Canal Company. The 
other was WiUiam Nelson Cromwell, for years 
general counsel of the Panama Railroad Company, 


and who, in his suit against the New Panama 
Canal Company for an $800,000 fee, claimed to 
have engineered and directed the revolution. 
M. Bunau-Varilla had some stock in the canal 
company and a great deal of pride in seeing realized 
the undertaking to which he had committed the 
best years of his life. 

Coming to New York on another mission, he 
met Dr. Amador, who was one of the Panamans 
desiring the independence of his country. Ac- 
cording to the testimony of M. Bunau-Varilla, 
which is borne out by documentary evidence, 
he and Dr. Amador worked out the plan for 
the revolution. He declares that the documents 
were drawn in the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and as 
far as they were written in Spanish, they were 
copied letter by letter by an English stenographer 
who knew no Spanish, in order that there might 
be no possibility of the secret leaking out. He 
declares that the whole project of the revolution 
as it was carried out was conceived by him in 
cooperation with Dr. Amador, and that Wil- 
liam Nelson Cromwell, the other factor in the 
situation, knew nothing about what was going on. 
He also asserts that William Nelson Cromwell had 
promised to introduce Dr. Amador to Secretary 
of State John Hay, but that later Dr. Herran, 
the representative of Colombia, found out what 
was going on and wrote a letter of warning to Mr. 
Cromwell as to the consequences which would come 
to the Panama Railroad, of which Mr. Cromwell 
was the representative, if that organization should 
give aid or comfort to the projected Panama 
revolution. Thereupon, according to M. Bunau- 


Varilla, Mr. Cromwell turned his back upon Dr. 
Amador, although it has been claimed by some 
that this was only a ruse on the part of Mr. Crom- 
well to shield himself and his company from re- 
sponsibility. About this time M. Bunau- Varilla 
borrowed $100,000 in France to finance the 
revolution, pending the recognition of the new 
Republic by the United States. Other money 
was forthcoming later. 

The revolution itself, which took place in 
November, 1903, was bloodless. The world 
knows that President Roosevelt forbade the Colom- 
bian troops to move across the Isthmus, while 
at the same time he would not allow the revolu- 
tionists to make any move. A similar situation had 
arisen in a former revolution in 1902. At that 
time the Colombian troops were disarmed, and 
three days later insurgent troops were prevented 
by United States marines from using the railroad 
and were actually compelled to leave a train which 
they had seized and entered. The principle was 
enunciated and maintained that no troops under 
arms should be transported on the railroad, no 
matter to which party they belonged. That was 
because to permit such transportation would be 
to make the railroad an adjunct to the side using 
it, and to subject it to attack by the other party. 
In this way, if the Colombian troops used it, the 
insurgents would have attacked, and the United 
States would either have been forced to permit 
such an attack, which might suspend traffic on the 
transit, or to prevent it with force, which would 
make this country an ally of Colombia against 
the insurgents. On the other hand, if the insur- 


gents were permitted to use the railroad, Colom- 
bia would attack it, and in that case the United 
States would have to help repel the attack and thus 
would become the ally of the insurgents. It was, 
therefore, held that the only way to make the 
road absolutely neutral was to allow neither party 
to use it. 

This was the doctrine under which President 
Roosevelt proceeded in 1903. Of course, the 
world knows that this was tantamount to pre- 
venting Colombia from reconquering the Isthmus, 
if that were possible. It is claimed by some that 
if President Roosevelt had allowed the insurgents 
to use the railroad in 1902, Colombia would have 
been defeated in that revolution. 

At the time of the revolution it is said that the 
Colombian garrison which espoused the cause of 
the Panamans was bribed to do so; that their 
commander two days afterwards was paid $12,500 
for his services, and that he is to this day drawing 
a pension of $2,400 a year. It is also charged 
that some of the troops who could not be bribed 
were sent into the interior to repel an imaginary 
invasion from Nicaragua. It is asserted that 
when the governor of the State of Panama 
telegraphed the Colombian Government that 
Nicaragua was invading Panama, the Bogota 
authorities sent additional troops to the Isthmus 
to help fight Nicaragua, and that this accounted 
for the arrival of the gunboats from Cartagena on 
the eve of the revolution. 

At the time of the coup d'etat, the United States 
was living under a treaty made with Colombia in 
1846, guaranteeing the sovereignty of that coun- 


try over the Isthmus in return for the recognition 
of the rights of the United States, under the Monroe 
doctrine, in connection with the building of a 
canal. Under this treaty it was mutually agreed 
that the United States should keep the Isthmian 
transit free and open at all times. It was con- 
tended by President Roosevelt that he was only 
carrying out this provision when he refused to 
allow the revolutionists and the Federal troops 
to fight along the line of the Panama Railroad, 
although this was almost the only ground on the 
Isthmus on w^hich military operations could be 
prosecuted. He admitted the justice of the con- 
tention of the Colombian Government that the 
United States undertook to guarantee the sover- 
eignty of Colombia over the Isthmus so far as 
any alien power was concerned, but denied that 
it was ever intended that the United States should 
be called upon to guarantee it against the people 
of the Isthmus themselves. 

Once the revolution was started three courses 
were left open to the United States: One was to 
force the Panamans back under Colombian rule; 
the second was to let the two sides light to a 
finish; the third was to recognize the indepen- 
dence of the Republic of Panama and forbid 
Colombia to land troops on the Isthmus. Presi- 
dent Roosevelt took the last course. A breezy 
Western congressman remarked in defense of that 
course: "When that jack rabbit jumped I am 
glad we didn't have a bowlegged man for Presi- 
dent!" The result of the revolution, and the 
recognition of the independence of the Republic of 
Panama, was that Colombia, which had tried to 


grasp everything and to get possession of the 
assets of the New Panama Canal Company, now 
found itself without anything. 

Colombia ever since has contended that the 
United States was under a solemn obligation to 
protect the Colombian sovereignty over the Isth- 
mus — an obligation that has been assumed in 
return for valuable considerations — and that it 
had been despoiled of the Isthmus of Panama 
under the very treaty that had guaranteed its 
permanent control of that Isthmus. It further 
asserted that President Roosevelt had been a 
party to the revolution for the purpose of circum- 
venting the stand of the Republic of Colombia. 
It made a long plea against the action of the 
United States and urged that in the event the 
two countries could not come to any agreement, 
the pending questions should be submitted to The 
Hague for adjudication. Secretary Hay at one 
time proposed that a popular election should be 
held on the Isthmus to determine whether the 
people there preferred allegiance to the Republic 
of Panama or to the Republic of Colombia, but 
Colombia would not agree to that. Secretary Hay 
rejected the plea of Colombia for arbitration, upon 
the ground that the questions that Colombia pro- 
posed to submit affected the honor of the United 
States and that these matters were not arbitrable. 

After Elihu Root became Secretary of State, he 
declared that the real gravamen of the Colombian 
complaint was the espousal of the cause of Panama 
by the people of the United States. He said that 
no arbitration could deal with the real rights and 
wrongs of the parties concerned, unless it were to 


pass upon the question of whether the cause thus 
espoused was just — whether the people of Pan- 
ama were exercising their just rights in maintain- 
ing their right of independence of Colombian 
rule. "We assert and maintain the aflBrmative 
upon that question," he declared. "We assert 
that the ancient State of Panama was indepen- 
dent in its origin, and by nature and history a 
separate political community; that it was feder- 
ated with the other States of Colombia upon 
terms that preserved and continued its sovereignty, 
and that it never surrendered that sovereignty 
and was subjugated by force in 1885." Mr. Root 
further asserted that the United States was not 
"willing to permit any arbitrator to determine the 
political policy of the United States in following its 
sense of right and justice by espousing the cause of 
the Government of Panama against the Govern- 
ment of Colombia." 

When Mr. Taft became President it was his 
desire to adjust our controversy with Colombia. 
His Secretary of State, Philander C. Knox, just 
before leaving office, declared that he had spared 
no efforts in seeking to restore American-Colombian 
relations to a footing of complete friendly feeling, 
but that these efforts had been rebuffed by the 
Colombian Government. He declared that it 
was undeniable that Colombia had suffered by its 
failure to reap a share of the benefits of the canal, 
and that the Government of the United States 
was entirely willing to take this consideration into 
account, and endeavor to accommodate the con- 
flicting interests of the three parties by making 
a just compensation in money. In pursuance of 


this idea three treaties were negotiated: One 
between the United States and the Republic of 
Colombia, one between the United States and the 
Republic of Panama, and one between the Govern- 
ments of Colombia and Panama, all three being 
interdependent, to stand or to fall together. 
These treaties were negotiated at the instance of 
Colombia and were framed with every desire to 
accommodate their terms to the just expectations 
of that country. They were accepted by the 
Colombian Cabinet, but were not acted upon by 
the Colombian Congress. 

In the Knox treaty negotiated with Colombia 
in 1910 that country proposed to agree to a popu- 
lar election upon the separation of Panama and to 
abide by the result. The United States offered 
to sign an additional agreement to pay to Colom- 
bia $10,000,000 for a permanent option for the 
construction of an interoceanic canal through 
Colombian territory, and for the perpetual lease 
of the Islands of St. Andrews and Old Providence, 
if Colombia would ratify the treaties with the 
United States and Panama. This proposition 
was refused. It was then proposed that in addi- 
tion to the $10,000,000 the United States would be 
willing to conclude with Colombia a convention 
submitting to arbitration the question of the 
ownership of the reversionary rights in the Pan- 
ama Railroad — rights which the Colombian 
Government asserts that it possesses. In addition 
to this the United States offered its good offices 
to secure the settlement of the Panama-Colombia 
boundary dispute. 

All of these propositions being rejected, the 


Republic of Colombia was asked if it would be 
willing to accept $10,000,000 outright, in satis- 
faction of its claims against the United States. 
This was also refused. 

Acting upon his own authority, the American 
minister then inquired if Colombia would accept 
$25,000,000, the good offices of the United States 
in its boundary controversy with Panama, the 
arbitration of the question of the reversionary 
rights in the Panama Railroad, and the gift of 
preferential rights in the use of the canal — all 
these in satisfaction of its claims. The Colombian 
Government replied that it would not do this and 
that it did not care to negotiate any further with 
the Taft administration, preferring to deal with 
the incoming Wilson administration. 



WHEN the people of the Isthmus of Panama 
revolted against the Government of 
Colombia, they fully realized that almost 
their only hope of maintaining an independent 
government was to secure the building of the 
Panama Canal by the United States. Therefore, 
they were in a mood to ratify a treaty which would 
meet every condition demanded by the Govern- 
ment of the United States. 

The treaty, negotiated and ratified in 1904, gave 
to the United States every right it could have 
desired or which it could have possessed had it 
taken over the whole Isthmus itself. It was 
negotiated by John Hay, Secretary of State, repre- 
senting the United States, and Philippe Bunau- 
Varilla, representing the Government of Panama. 
As the latter was a stockholder in the New French 
Canal Company, whose assets could be reahzed 
upon only through the success of the treaty nego- 
tiations, it naturally followed that he would put 
nothing in the way of the desires of the United 

The treaty gave to the United States most 
unusual rights. For instance, in no other coun- 
try on earth does one nation possess ultimate 
jurisdiction over the capital of another nation; yet 



this is what the United States possesses at Panama. 
The first consideration of the treaty was the estab- 
lishment of the Canal Zone. This gave to the 
United States a territory 5 miles beyond the cen- 
ter Une of the canal on either side, and 3 miles 
beyond its deep water ends, with the exception of 
the cities of Colon and Panama, to hold in per- 
petuity with all rights, powers, and authority 
that the United States would possess if it were 
sovereign, and to the entire exclusion of the exer- 
cise of any sovereign rights, powers, or authority 
by the Republic of Panama. 

Further than this, it gave to the United States 
the same rights with respect to any land, or land 
under water, outside of the Canal Zone necessary 
and convenient for the canal itself, or any auxiliary 
canals or other works required in its operations. 

Further yet, the Republic granted in perpetuity 
a canal monopoly throughout its entire territory, 
and also monopolies of railroad and other means 
of communication between the two oceans. 

Under the terms of the treaty the cities of 
Panama and Colon are required to comply in per- 
petuity with all sanitary ordinances, whether cura- 
tive or preventive, which the United States may 
promulgate. The Republic of Panama also 
agrees that if it can not enforce these ordinances, 
the United States become vested with the power 
to enforce them. The same is true with reference 
to the maintenance of order. The Republic of 
Panama agrees to maintain order, but gives to the 
United States not only the right to step in with 
American forces and restore it, but also to deter- 
mine when such action is necessary. 


The treaty between the two countries further 
provides that the United States has the right to 
acquire by condemnation any property it may 
need for canal purposes in the cities of Panama 
and Colon. The Republic of Panama also grants 
to the United States all rights it has or may acquire 
to the property of the New Panama Canal Com- 
pany and of the Panama Railroad, except such 
lands as lie outside of the Canal Zone and the cities 
of Panama and Colon, not ^needed for the purposes 
of building the canal. The Repubhc guarantees 
to the United States every title as absolute and 
free from any present or reversionary interest or 
claim. It will be seen from all this that the 
United States did not overlook any opportunity 
to make sure that it had all of the powers necessary 
to build a canal. 

It is also agreed by the Panama Government 
that no dues of any kind ever shall be collected by 
it from vessels passing through or using the canal, 
or from vessels belonging to the United States 
Government. All employees of the canal are 
exempted from taxation, whether living inside or 
outside the Zone. The Republic grants to the 
United States the use of all its rivers, streams, 
lakes, and other bodies of water for purposes of 
navigation, water supply, and other needs of the 
canal. It also agrees to sell or lease to the United 
States any of its lands on either coast for use for 
naval bases or coaling stations. 

The Republic of Panama further agrees that 
the United States shall have the right to import 
commodities for the use of the Canal Commission 
and its employees, free of charge, and that it 


shall have the right to bring laborers of any na- 
tionality into the Canal Zone. 

In return for all of these concessions the United 
States gives to the Republic of Panama many 
valuable considerations. Most vital of all, it 
guarantees the independence of the Republic. 
This means that the Republic of Panama is to- 
day practically the possessor of an army and a 
navy as large as the United States can put into the 
field and upon the seas. The only aggressor that 
Panama need fear is her benefactor. 

The second consideration involved the payment 
of $10,000,000 cash to the Republic, and a per- 
petual annual payment of a quarter of a million 
dollars beginning with the year 1913. The ten- 
million-dollar cash payment gave the impover- 
ished new-born government a chance to get on its 
feet, and from this time forward the Panaman 
Government can look to the United States for 
the major portion of its necessary revenues. 

Under the terms of the treaty the United States 
undertakes to give free passage to any warships 
belonging to the Republic of Panama when going 
through the canal, and also agrees that the canal 
shall be neutral. It also agrees to provide free 
transportation over the Panama Railroad for 
persons in the service of the Government of Pan- 
ama, and for the munitions of war of the Republic. 
It also allows the Republic of Panama to trans- 
mit over its telegraph and telephone Knes its 
message at rates not higher than those charged 
United States officials for their private messages. 

Another stipulation of the treaty provides that 
it shall not invalidate the titles and rights of pri- 


vate landholders and owners of private property, 
nor of the right of way over public roads of the 
Zone unless they conflict with the rights of the 
United States, when the latter shall be regarded as 
superior. No part of the work of building or 
operating the canal, however, at any time may be 
impeded by any claims, whether public or private. 
A commission is provided, whose duty it shall be 
to pass upon the claims of those whose land or 
properties are taken from them for the purpose 
of the construction or operation of the canal. 

In carrying out the terms of the treaty the first 
step taken by the Americans was to ''clean up" 
the cities of Panama and Colon. Remarkable 
changes were wrought by the establishment of 
water and sewerage systems, and by street im- 
provements. For several years preceding the 
acquisition of the Canal Zone, and the sanitization 
of the cities of Panama and Colon, the late W. I. 
Buchanan was the United States minister to Colom- 
bia. He was transferred to another South Ameri- 
can capital and afterwards came back to the United 
States by way of Panama. Former Senator J. C. 
S. Blackburn was then governor of the Canal Zone 
or, more strictly speaking, the head of the Depart- 
ment of Civil Administration. As he and Minister 
Buchanan drove through the streets of Panama 
and surveyed the changes that had taken place, 
Mr. Buchanan declared to Governor Black- 
burn that if an angel from heaven had appeared 
to him and said that such a transformation in 
the city of Panama could be made in so few years 
he scarcely could have believed it. 

When he was there the main streets of the city 


were nothing but unbroken chains of mud puddles 
in which, during the wet season, carriages sank 
almost to the axles. When he returned he found 
those same streets well paved with vitrified brick, 
measuring up to the best standards of American 
street work. WTiere formerly peddlers hawked 
water from disease-scattering springs, there were 
hydrants throughout the town and wholesome 
water on tap in almost every house. Where there 
had been absolutely no attempt to solve the prob- 
lems of sewage disposal, where the masses of 
people lived amid indescribable filth, absolutely 
oblivious to its stenches and its dangers, now there 
was a sewerage system fully up to the best stand- 
ard of American municipal engineering. 

When one considers that the Republic of Pan- 
ama is made up largely of the cities of Panama and 
Colon, with a large area of almost wholly un- 
developed territory, it will be seen that this service 
was rendered to practically all the people of the 

The relations which have existed between the 
Republic of Panama and the United States have 
not always proved wholly satisfactory to the 
Panamans. Like all other tropical Americans, 
the Panamans profess great admiration for a 
republican form of government, but the party in 
power seldom has relished the idea of a full and 
free accounting of its stewardship at the polls. 
When the time came for the first national election, 
the party in power sought to insure its return by 
the use of tropical-American methods; that is, by 
a wholesale intimidation of the opposition sup- 
porters. When the registration books were opened 


the administration was unwilling to register the 
supporters of the opposition. The government 
forces always were relied upon to back up the 
registrars. This situation was resented by the 
opposition and the indications were that the usual 
civil war, the tropical American substitute for an 
election, was about to follow. 

At this juncture Governor Blackburn called 
the Panaman authorities together and notified 
them that the United States did not care a con- 
tinental which side won the election, but that it 
was very deeply interested in maintaining condi- 
tions of peace and amity on the Isthmus — con- 
ditions which could not prevail except there be a 
fair election. He reminded them of the right of 
the United States to maintain order in their two 
IM^ncipal cities, and of the blood and treasure the 
United States had invested in Panama, all of 
which would be placed in jeopardy by any civil 
conflict. He therefore declared it the intention 
of the United States to see that there was a fair 

Election commissioners were consequently 
appointed, and they saw to it that the voters were 
fairly registered, allowed to vote, and to have their 
votes counted. The result was that for the first 
time in Central American history there was a fair 
election and for the first time a real change of admin- 
istration without a resort to arms. So successful 
wa8 this plan that in the election of 1912 both sides 
agreed again to call in the United States to umpire 
iJieir battle of the ballots, and once again the 
**oruts" won over the "ins." 

The French Canal Company has some very 


mapleasant experiences with the Republic of 
Colombia when it, as a private corporation, under- 
took to build the canal. It was at the mercy of 
the Government and the Government seldom 
showed mercy. For instance, a Colombian owned 
30 acres of swamp land which was needed for the 
construction of the canal. It was worth $10 an 
acre; he demanded $10,000. The canal company 
took the matter to the courts of the RepubUc and 
instituted condemnation proceedings. Here the 
owner admitted that the land was not intrinsi- 
cally worth more than $10 an acre, but claimed 
that he had as much right to demand $300,000 for 
the tract as if it were located in the very heart of 
Paris; that in every case it was what the land could 
be used for that determined its value. The court 
shared his view and nothing was left for the canal 
company to do but to pay the $300,000. 

Shortly after the Americans took charge, the 
Central and South American Telegraph Company 
wanted to land the new "all American" cable on 
the Canal Zone. They applied to the United 
States for permission which was granted. The 
Panamans fought against it under every possible 
pretext, their desire being to have their consent 
regarded as essential, so that they could get a 
good fee for the concession, but the United States 
notified the Republic of Panama that it had no 
interest whatever in requiring compensation, and 
so the cable was laid. 

While there has been substantial agreement be- 
tween the two countries, it has been difficult to 
pi»event some conditions which are contrary to 
American ideas of morality. For instance, while 


the Canal Commission was strongly opposed to 
having a lottery on the Canal Zone, one is main-' 
tained just across the line in the city of Panama. 
The Panama lottery and the Bishop of Panama 
share the same house. One has to pass the lot- 
tery to see the bishop and, mayhap, a half dozen 
old women ticket sellers will try to intercept 
him before he reaches the church dignitary. 

This lottery is a veritable gold mine to those who 
own it. Each ordinary drawing brings in $10,000 
— $1 for each ticket issued. The grand prize 
takes $3,000 of this, the next 9 prizes calling for a 
total of $900, the next 90 for a total of $450 and 
the remaining prizes for $2,070. Thus, $6,420 in 
prizes is paid out of the total of $10,000 received. 
Out of the remainder, 5 per cent goes to the ticket 
sellers and 5 per cent to the Panaman Govern- 
ment. Once a month the drawing is made for a 
grand prize of $7,500. Most of the money which 
the lottery people make is contributed by workers 
on the canal. Only 64 per cent of the money 
received from the sale of tickets is won back by 
the ticket buyer at each drawing. The net prof- 
its approximate a hundred thousand dollars a 

On the whole, however, the relations entered 
into between the two Republics in 1904 have been 
such as to leave no serious ground for com- 
plaint. They have permitted the satisfactory 
construction of the canal, and they will per- 
mit its satisfactory operation. With the United 
States as the ultimate judge of every question 
vital to American interests, little is left to be 
desired. The fact is that the canal has been built 



with less friction and fewer diflBculties with the 
RepubHc of Panama than could reasonably have 
been hoped for at the outset. This has been due 
principally to the fact that the Americans respon- 
sible for the success of the work have approached 
the Panaman situation with tact where tact was 
needed and with firmness where firmness was 



THE Canal Zone is a strip of territory ten 
miles wide, its irregular lines following 
the course of the canal, which is its axis. 
Over this zone the United States, under its treaty 
with Panama, exercises jurisdiction "as if it were 
sovereign." The American Government was un- 
willing to undertake the great and expensive work 
of constructing the canal without having this 
guaranty to protect it from possible harassment 
at the hands of the Panaman authorities. 

One of the first tasks that confronted the United 
States authorities when they entered upon the 
work of building the canal was that of providing 
a civil government for this territory named by law 
the Canal Zone. Postal facilities had to be 
provided; a police system had to be established; 
customs offices were required; fire protection was 
neceisary; a court system was needed; a school 
system was demanded; and, in short, a sort of 
territorial government had to be put in operation 
before the work of building the canal could go 
forward satisfactorily. 

This government was established in 1904 under 
the direction of Major General George W. Davis, 
the first governor of the Canal Zone. From time 
to time it was extended and improved. More 




than half of this was appropriated out of the 
Treasury of the United States, and the remainder 
collected in the operations of the government. 
In addition to directing the government of the 
Zone, the head of the department of civil admin- 
istration was the titular representative of the 
Canal Commission in all matters in which the 
commission and the Repubhc of Panama had 
a mutual interest. However, in practice, the 
Panaman Government looked directly to the 
chairman and chief engineer on all important 

One of the earliest and most important subjects 
requiring their cooperation was that of sanitation 
in the cities of Panama and Colon. The United 
States agreed to advance money for building sewer 
and water systems, and for street improvements, 
in the two principal cities of the Republic, on 
condition that the Republic of Panama and the 
two cities would reimburse the United States 
Treasury through the water rents. The street 
improvements were to be paid for in 10 years, and 
the sewer and water systems in 50 years; in the 
meantime the United States was to be allowed 2 
per cent interest on the money advanced. This 
amortization of the Republic's debt for these im- 
provements has been going steadily forward. 

In laying out the government of the Canal 
Zone it was thought wise to adhere as closely to 
Spanish laws and customs as was expedient under 
the new conditions. In view of this consideration 
the methods of taxation on the Canal Zone were 
allowed to remain largely the same as under the 
old Spanish laws of Colombia. Likewise the 


Spanish system of judicial procedure was adhered 
to during the early years of the construction period. 
It was not, indeed, until 1908 that the right of 
trial by jury was established in the Canal Zone. 
At that time former Senator J. C. S. Blackburn, of 
Kentucky, was at the head of the department of 
civil administration, and he regarded it as repug- 
nant to American ideas of justice to deny to Ameri- 
cans on the Isthmus the right to be tried for 
felonious offenses by juries of their peers. Upon his 
representations President Roosevelt issued an 
executive order extending the right of trial by 
jury to the Canal Zone, and that order was effect- 
ive after 1908. 

With the early opening of the canal it became 
advisable for Congress to determine the future 
policy of the United States toward the Canal Zone, 
and to lay out a system of government there 
which would meet the needs of the future. It 
was determined that the Canal Zone should be 
used for the operation of the canal, rather than 
for a habitation for such settlers as might choose 
to go there. Hence the provision was made that 
the President of the United States should have 
the right to determine how many settlements 
there should be on the Canal Zone and how many 
people should be permitted to live there. 

It will be the policy of the United States to 
discourage general settlement and to maintain 
only such towns as are necessary for the operation 
of the big waterway, granting only revocable 
leases to any outsiders when it is deemed advisa- 
ble to allow them to occupy land within the Zone. 
There will be only five settlements in the Zone, if 


present plans are carried out: One at Cristobal, 
one at Gatun, one at Pedro Miguel, one at Corozal, 
and the settlement at Ancon and Balboa at the 
Pacific terminus of the canal. The total number 
of people who will reside in these settlements will 
probably not exeed 10,000, a material reduction 
from the 62,000 Uving on the Zone in 1912. Those 
who are still there, but who will not be needed in 
the permanent organization, will be repatriated 
at the expense of the United States Government. 
In 1912 there were approximately 31,000 British 
subjects on the Zone, practically all of them negroes 
from the British West Indian islands and British 
Guiana. The great majority of these will be 
carried back to their homes, as will all of the 4,300 
Spaniards who desire to return. There were 
nearly 12,000 Americans on the Zone at that time, 
and perhaps two-thirds of them will leave before 
1915. There were nearly 8,000 Panamans on 
the Zone and most of them will go to the cities of 
Panama and Colon, or upon the Government lands 
owned by the Panama Repubhc outside of the 

The work of clearing the Zone of its population 
was begun early in 1913. A joint land commission 
was appointed to adjudicate the claims of those 
Panamans who were living within the Zone on 
lands that were needed for the operation of the 
canal. This commission consisted, under the 
treaty existing between the two countries, of two 
Americans and two Panamans. In their work 
they first took up the claims of the poorer classes 
who had nothing but a thatched hut and a small 
patch of ground. The commission visited the 


various parts of the Zone and fixed the value of 
such holdings. The people were given free trans- 
portation over the Panama Railroad, and usually 
were allowed from $50 to $100 for their homes. 
They preferred to move in colonies, so the Republic 
of Panama laid out small towns away from the 
Canal Zone for them. These natives, usually 
almost full-blooded Indians, were treated as 
kindly and as considerately as conditions would 
allow. They were willing to ''fold their tents" hke 
the Arabs, and leave their homes behind as they 
went out to conquer new ones in the jungles 
where the needs of a gigantic waterway could 
not encroach upon them. 

The claims for lands which have to be taken 
from individuals by the United States will aggre- 
gate a half million dollars. As the Panaman 
Government allows homesteading on Government 
lands at a cost of about a dollar an acre, and as 
there are tens of thousands of acres of better 
land outside of the Canal Zone than inside, the 
policy of the United States in freeing this strip 
from native population will not work any great 
injury to the people. 

During the construction period the laws under 
which the people of the Zone hved were made in 
three different ways. Of course, Congress as 
the legislative assembly was always supreme. 
But under the laws passed by it, the President 
of the United States was empowered to issue exec- 
utive orders covering points not touched by con- 
gressional legislation, and under his instructions 
the Secretary of War could promulgate certain 
orders. In addition to this, the Canal Commis- 


sion had a right to serve as a sort of local legis- 
lature. During the year 1912 sixteen executive 
orders pertaining to the Canal Zone were signed 
by the President and the Secretary of War, while 
five ordinances were promulgated by the Isth- 
mian Canal Commission during the same period. 

The court system under the construction- 
period government consisted of district courts, 
circuit courts, and a supreme court. There were 
five district judges and three circuit judges; 
and the circuit judges sitting together constituted 
the supreme court, from whose decisions there 
was no appeal. Under the permanent law there 
will be a magistrate's court in each town, which 
will have exclusive, original jurisdiction in all 
civil cases involving not more than $300, and of all 
criminal cases where the punishment does not 
exceed a fine of a hundred dollars or 30 days in 
jail, or both. Its jurisdiction will include all 
violations of police regulations and ordinances, and 
all actions involving possession or title to personal 
property or the forcible entry and detainer of real 
estate. These magistrates and the constables 
under them will serve for terms of four years. 
There will be a district court which will sit at the 
two terminal towns with the usual court officers. 
The circuit court of appeals of the fifth circuit 
of the United States will be the court to which 
appeals from the district court will be carried. 

The postal service of the Canal Zone is prac- 
tically identical with that of the United States. 
The revenues collected from the sale of stamps and 
postal cards amounted to $87,550 in 1912. 
Nearly a quarter of a milhon money orders were 


issued during that year, representing a total of 
approximately $5,000,000. A postal savings bank 
system is also maintained, a counterpart of the 
one in the United States. 

All mail matter sent from the Canal Zone bears 
Panaman stamps countermarked by the Canal 
Zone government. When the United States es- 
tablished the postal system at Panama, American 
postage was used. The Panamans were very much 
dissatisfied with such a procedure, however, 
since it deprived them of a large share of their 
postal revenue. Their postal rates to the United 
States were those of the universal postal union — 
5 cents per ounce or fraction thereof on all first- 
class mail matter. The rate from the Canal 
Zone was only 2 cents. The result was that 
the citizens of Panama and Colon would not 
patronize their own post offices, but carried their 
mail across the line to the post offices at Ancon 
and Cristobal where they could mail their letters 
at the 2-cent rate. The Panaman Government 
protested against this, and it was agreed by the 
Americans that in the future all mail matter should 
carry Panaman postage stamps. These are fur- 
nished to the Canal Zone government at 40 per 
cent of their face value. In this way the share 
of the Republic of Panama in the postal receipts 
of 1912 amounted to nearly $33,000. 

President Roosevelt selected one of his **rough 
riders," George R. Shanton, to establish the poHce 
force on the Zone. This police force was selected 
generally from men who had seen service in the 
United States Army and had made good records 
there. In 1912 the force consisted of 117 first- 


class white policemen, 116 colored policemen, 20 
corporals, 8 sergeants, 7 lieutenants, and 2 in- 
spectors, besides a chief of police and an assistant 
chief of police. During that year 7,055 arrests 
were made, 70 per cent of which resulted in con- 
victions. Police stations were maintained at 
all settlements along the line. A penitentiary 
was located at Culebra where approximately 140 
convicts were confined. The penitentiary had 
to be removed owing to slides at Culebra Cut, and 
the men were put to work on the roads of the Canal 
Zone. They were kept in well-guarded stockades 
at night. 

Wlien Judge Henry A. Gudger was made a 
member of the judicial system of the Canal Zone 
he believed that it would be the scene of unusual 
lawlessness; he thought it would be a dumping 
ground for lawless people from all parts of the 
world. He therefore beheved in strong repres- 
sive measures, and his earlier sentences were 
made heavy with that end in view. He found 
later, however, that the opposite was true. Under 
the system of quartering the canal help there was 
comparatively little mixing of the races. The 
negroes lived to themselves, the Spaniards to 
themselves, and the Americans to themselves; 
therefore, racial friction was largely overcome. 
The lawless found the Canal Zone a desirable 
place to shun. Judge Gudger soon discovered 
that severe measures were unnecessary, and in 
recommending pardons frequently stated that 
he had imposed sentences heavier than necessary 
to carry out the repressive pohcies he had in 


'A well-organized, paid fire department was 
maintained from the beginning and it was supple- 
mented by volunteer companies in many places. 
In a number of towns fire engines of the latest 
automobile type were installed. Out of 300 
fire alarms in 1912, nearly 200 were for fires in 
Government property valued at one and three- 
quarters million dollars, while the total loss was 
only $5,000. 

The school system of the Canal Zone was laid 
out along the same lines that characterized all 
other activities for the welfare of the people who 
were engaged in building the canal. It was founded 
by Charles E. Magoon when he was governor 
of the Zone, and in 1912 had 75 teachers and of- 
ficials, with an enrollment of 2,105, of whom nearly 
1,200 were white. The standard required of 
the teachers was maintained at a high point. 
Of the 48 white teachers employed in 1912, 13 
held degrees from colleges and universities, 19 
held diplomas from standard normal schools, 
and 12 others had enjoyed at least two years of 
normal teaching. The white children on the 
Zone were given free transportation to and from 
the schools. Those who had to go on the railroad 
to reach their schools were given free passes. 
Those who attended the schools in their own neigh- 
borhood were gathered up in wagons and trans- 
ported to school. 

The system of roads for the parts of the Canal 
Zone adjacent to the canal itself was built mainly 
by convict labor at comparatively little cost. 
They have been useful to the natives in getting 
their few products to market, and during the 


years to come will be available as military roads 
for use in the defense of the Zone. These roads 
are built according to the best American standards 
and are almost the only real roads in the entire 
Republic. The Panaman Government has ex- 
tended one road from the Zone line to old Panama, 
and for a few miles into the interior, but aside 
from this national road activities have been few 

The American road from Panama to the Zone 
boundary, leading toward old Panama, over the 
savannahs, is the pleasure highway of the Republic. 
It is practically the only road in the Repubhc 
where one drives for pleasure, and here every 
automobile in Panama City is pressed into serv- 
ice during the late afternoon and the evening. 
The elite of the capital city own summer homes 
along this road. These homes are by no means as 
elaborate as the summer homes along the Hudson, 
but the fact that they were seated amidst veritable 
gardens of flowers gives them an air of beauty 
and restfulness attractive even to the most blase 

The water-supply system of the Canal Zone 
consists of a number of reservoirs on the water- 
sheds of the Isthmus where no human habita- 
tions are allowed, and where trespassing is 
forbidden. The waters are examined for bacteria 
and other properties once each month, and a 
report thereon is made to the proper officials. 
Twice each month a physical examination of each 
reservoir, and the land from which it receives its 
water, is made by inspectors who report all con- 
ditions to the sanitary and other authorities. 


If there is any sign of contamination, steps to 
overcome the trouble are taken immediately. 

Where the reservoirs fill up to the spillway the 
waste water is not allowed to go over the top, 
but is drawn out from the bottom in order that 
the under layers of water may be the ones wasted. 
Water drawn out for domestic purposes is taken 
from the top wherever possible. The water has 
a somewhat unpleasant taste to people newly 
arrived upon the Isthmus, and in some cases 
serves to disturb the digestive tract, but to the 
people who become accustomed to it the unpleas- 
ant flavor, due to the presence of decayed vegeta- 
tion, is forgotten, and the workers on the Canal Zone 
frequently declare they miss the Panama water 
when they go back to the States. 

The permanent Government of the Canal Zone 
will be, in the main, merely a miniature of the 
government during the construction period. The 
law providing for the operation of the canal 
makes this Government entirely subsidiary to the 
main purpose for which the canal was built. 
It provides that when war is in prospect the Presi- 
dent may appoint a military officer to take charge 
of the Canal Zone, and to conduct its affairs as 
they might be conducted were the Zone nothing 
more than a military reservation. The Government 
will have its headquarters at the Pacific end of 
the canal where Balboa, the principal permanent 
town on the Isthmus, will be located. This little 
American city will be Government-built and 
Government-owned, and it will be the smallest 
of all the world's capitals. 

Under the new Government all old laws, not 


specifically repealed, or contrary to the new ones, 
will be continued in force. All executive orders 
issued by the President, and all orders and or- 
dinances promulgated by the Canal Commission, 
during the construction period, not inconsistent 
with the act creating a permanent form of govern- 
ment, are made laws of the Canal Zone to con- 
tinue as such until specifically repealed by act 
of Congress. 



WHILE the Congress of the United States 
ever has been charged with a lack of ap- 
preciation of the needs of the executive 
branch of the Government, spending money fool- 
ishly here and being niggardly with its appropri- 
ations there, the history of the legislation under 
which the Panama Canal was undertaken and 
completed shows that American lawmakers backed 
up the canal diggers in every necessary way. 

One may read in all the hearings that were 
conducted, both on the Isthmus and in Washing- 
ton, a desire on the part of the congressional 
committees having to do with the canal matters, 
to promote the work, and to enable those directly 
concerned in its execution to carry out their plans 
without hindrance. 

It is probable that no project ever carried to 
completion under the aegis of the United States 
Government was studied more carefully by the 
legislators than the Panama Canal. There was 
a standing invitation from the Isthmian Canal 
Commission to members of the Senate and House 
of Representatives to visit the Isthmus, collectively 
or individually, for the purpose of acquainting 
themselves with the character of the work and its 
needs. This invitation was accepted by a large 

268 .S 




percentage of the members of the House and Senate 
who served during the construction period. When 
a member of either branch of Congress visited 
the Isthmus and saw there the character of the 
work being done, and the spirit of the men behind 
it, he never failed to return an enthusiastic sup- 
porter of the work, ready by vote and voice to 
contribute his share to the legislation needed. 

When the final Isthmian Canal Commission 
came into power a policy of absolute candor with 
Congress was adopted. W^hen the annual esti- 
mates for appropriations were submitted, they 
came to Congress v/ith the understanding that they 
represented exactly what was needed, no more and 
no less. Instead of recommending from 10 to 
25 per cent more than they hoped to get, upon the 
assumption that Congress would scale down the 
appropriations — a policy long followed in many 
of the bureaus of the Government — the canal 
oJBScials asked Congress to understand from the 
beginning that the figures tliey submitted had 
been pared down to the bone. The result was a 
happy one. Congress learned to depend upon 
the figures and to make its appropriations ac- 
cordingly; consequently, the work was never 
handicapped by appropriations deficient in one 
branch and overabundant in another. 

Congress for several years made its appropria- 
tions for building the canal under the assumption 
that it was to cost about $145,000,000, exclusive 
of government, sanitation, purchase price, and 
payments to the Republic of Panama. It was 
not until 1908 that a straightforward, definite 
efifort was made to fix the ultimate cost. Ex- 



perience showed clearly that all hands had hope- 
lessly underestimated both the total amount of 
work to be done and the unit cost of /doing it. 

After a year's experience of carrying forward 
the work at full swing, the commission decided 
to face the situation frankly and attempt to 
ascertain exactly what might be expected. This 
investigation disclosed the fact that the estimates 
of the amount of work to be done were a little over 
50 per cent short. Under the experience of one 
year's work it was calculated that the total cost 
of the canal would be $375,000,000, including 
sanitation, government, and payments to the 
New Panama Canal Company and the Republic 
of Panama, instead of $210,000,000, as these items 
would have aggregated under the estimates made 
in 1906. This was about one and a half times as 
much as the estimated cost of a sea-level canal. 
But, although Congress had fixed the limit upon 
the basis of an aggregate cost of $210,000,000, 
it cheerfully faced the restatement of the antici- 
pated cost, and finally set the limit at $375,000,- 

From that day forward the great eflfort at 
Panama was to live within this limit, in spite of 
the extra work required. While Congress might 
have been willing to increase this limit, in view of 
the fact that an additional 97,000,000 cubic yards 
of material had to be removed, it was not asked 
to do so. The engineers desired above everything 
else to stay within their own estimates, and they 
did the extra work with money saved by increasing 
the eflSciency of the force. 

The first law providing for the government of the 


Canal Zone was enacted in 1904. It gave to the 
President and those appointed by him the right 
to govern the Zone and imposed the duty *'of main- 
taining and protecting its inhabitants in the free 
enjoyment of their Hberty, property, and rehgion." 

In 1907 an effort was made to reduce wages on 
the canal. The sundry civil bill of that year 
carried a provision that wages on the Isthmus 
for skilled and unskilled labor should not exceed 
more than 25 per cent the average wage paid 
in the United States for similar labor. This 
proposition was urged by Representative James 
A. Tawney, of IVIinnesota, then chairman of the 
Appropriations Committee of the House. When 
it came to a vote the wages fixed under Chief 
Engineers Wallace and Stevens were upheld 
by a vote of 101 to 10. Congress took the ground 
that the canal could be built only by the most 
liberal treatment of the people who were building it. 

At another time a provision was inserted in the 
appropriation law establishing the 8-hour day 
law for American workers on the canal. A fight 
was made by the American Federation of Labor 
and other organizations to make it apply to 
the common laborer as well as to the Americans, 
but this was unsuccessful. The 8-hour pro- 
vision did not work well, since the foremen and 
superintendents were permitted to stop work after 
8 hours, while the laborers under them had to 
work an hour longer. This was later rectified 
by providing that the 8-hour law should not 
affect foremen and superintendents in charge of 
alien labor; and thus was overcome the difficulty 
of having an army of common laborers at work 



an hour or so each day without superintendence 
or direction. 

In 1906 it was provided by a joint resolution 
of the Senate and House that the purchase of 
material and equipment for use in the construction 
of the canal should be restricted to articles of 
American production and manufacture, except in 
cases where the President should deem prices 
extortionate or unreasonable. This provision un- 
doubtedly increased by many millions of dollars 
the cost of the machinery with which the canal 
work was executed. While some dredges and 
other equipment were purchased in Europe, foreign 
purchases were the exception rather than the rule. 
When bids were submitted there were times when 
European prices of dredges were placed at less 
than $700,000, while American prices for the same 
dredges would amount to more than $1,000,000. 
When there were such marked difference in bids the 
awards were made to the European manufacturers. 

Although the construction of the canal was 
authorized by the Spooner Act in 1902, it was not 
until 1906 that Congress expressed its views in 
legislation on the question of the type of canal 
that should be built. It was then that it declared 
the canal should be of the general lock type pro- 
posed by the minority of the board of consulting 
engineers, which was a complete approval of the 
plans urged by President Roosevelt. In order 
to make certain this decision as to the type of 
canal, a provision was incorporated in the appro- 
priation bill of that year, setting forth that no part 
of the sums therein appropriated should be used 
for the construction of a sea-level canal. 


Congi^ess was always willing to aid the engineers 
in meeting unforeseen contingencies by giving 
them unusual liberties in the application of moneys 
appropriated. It was provided that as much as 
10 per cent of any appropriation might be used 
for any of the other purposes for which money was 
appropriated, thus allovving the necessary leeway 
to insure a systematic progress of the work through- 
out all its features. This provision many times 
came to the rescue of the chief engineer, when he 
found that more money was needed at one point 
and less at another than had been estimated 16 
or 18 months before. 

While President Roosevelt was in the White 
House Congress gave him abundant authority 
over all phases of the task at Panama. He was 
empowered to do almost anything he thought 
expedient for hastening the work. For instance, 
in 1907 when he considered building the canal 
by contract, Congress provided that nothing in the 
Spooner Act should prevent him from entering 
into such contract or contracts as he might deem 
expedient for the construction of the canal. This 
practically gave him full authority over the limit 
of cost and the methods of building. He was 
thus the sole judge of the character of the contracts 
that he might make. No President in the history 
of the country ever was vested with fuller juris- 
diction and control over a great matter than was 
President Roosevelt in this case. That he did not 
enter into such contract was due mainly to the 
reports made to him by Col. George W, Goethals, 
who had just been appointed chief engineer. 

In 1908 the Secretary of War was authorized 


to purchase for the Panama Railroad Company 
two steamships of American registry of not less 
than 9,000 gross tons each, the cost of which 
should not exceed $1,550,000, for the transportation 
of supplies, equipment, and material, and of 
oflScers and employees of the Canal Commission. 
These ships, when no longer required for that 
service were to be transferred to the Secretary 
of the Navy for use as colUers or other auxiliary 
naval vessels. These ships carried the bulk of 
the cement used in building of the great locks, and 
more than paid for themselves in the saving of 
transportation charges which would have been 
levied by private carriers. In the appropriation 
act of 1909 Congress decided that the carrying 
of marine or fire insurance was bad policy for the 
Government, and provided that no such insurance 
should be carried by the Panama Railroad Com- 
pany, but that it should be reimbursed for any 
loss it might sustain from the appropriations 
made by Congress for the building of the canal. 
There were a number of committees in Congress 
which dealt with canal legislation. Principal 
among these were the Committees on Appropria- 
tions of the two Houses, the Committee on 
Interoceanic Canals of the Senate, and the Com- 
mittee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce of 
the House. The Appropriations Committees dealt 
with the question of appropriations. The House 
Appropriations Committee usually made a trip 
to the Isthmus before each session of Congress. 
There it would hold hearings, questioning closely 
every person connected with the work who had 
made estimates for its benefit, its members seeing 


with their own eyes the projects for which each 
individual appropriation was asked. The prac- 
tice was, during these visits, to go over a part of 
the work and then to hold sessions of the committee 
for the purpose of asking questions about that 
phase of the undertaking. The testimony was 
taken down by an oflScial stenographer and printed 
for the use of every Member of Congress. A few 
months later the chairman and chief engineer 
would make a trip to Washington and furnish the 
committee with such supplementary information 
as the intervening time might have disclosed. 

The Senate Committee did not visit the Isthmus 
as frequently, as it usually found that the hearings 
held by the House Committee afforded it suflBcient 
information on which to predicate its action. 
All matters having to do with organization 
traffic, or general laws for the Canal Zone, were 
handled by the Committee on Interoceanic Canals 
of the Senate and the Committee on Interstate 
and Foreign Commerce of the House. It was 
the latter committee, under the chairmanship 
of Representative William C. Adamson, of Georgia, 
which framed the permanent Canal Law, Uxider 
which the Isthmian waterway will be governed 
and operated. The big fight in Congress over 
the type of canal was waged before the Senate 
Committee on Interoceanic Canals. The records 
of this committee, together with the additional 
records in the hands of Congress, constitute one 
of the most extensive accounts of a great work 
anywhere to be found. The oflBcial literature of 
the Panama Canal is almost as voluminous as the 
canal is big. 



Although Congress usually left the details of 
canal construction to be worked out by the Canal 
Commission and the President, from start to 
finish it showed a determination so to deal with 
the big project that it could look back over the 
work with the feeling that it had contributed 
its share to the triumph of the undertaking. 



NO ONE can dispute the wisdom of the 
United States in deciding to build a lock 
canal. To have undertaken a sea-level 
canal would have involved this Government in 
difficulties so great that even with all the wealth 
and determination of America, failure would have 
ensued. It is, perhaps, putting it too strongly to 
say that a sea-level canal is a physical impossibility, 
but it is not too much to say that such a canal 
would take so much money and so much time to 
build that the resources and patience of the Ameri- 
can people would be exhausted long before it could 
be made navigable. 

The advocates of a sea-level canal declared that 
a channel could be dug through Culebra Mountain 
with the excavation of 110,000,000 cubic yards. 
As a matter of fact, Culebra Cut, with its bottom 
85 feet above sea level, required the excavation of 
almost that same amount. 

Engineers w^ho advocated a sea-level canal de- 
clared that the material in Culebra IMountain w-as 
stable, and that only moderate slopes w^ould be 
necessary. As a matter of fact, the material in the 
mountain proved highly unstable, and, except for 
a few short sections, slides and breaks were en- 
countered all during the construction period. The 



result was that practically two Culebra Cuts were 
dug. The engineers, in beginning the present 
canal, calculated that 53,000,000 cubic yards 
would be excavated in Culebra; the amount actu- 
ally removed was 105,000,000 culic yards. Upon 
this basis a sea-level Culebra Cut might have re- 
quired the excavation of 230,000,000 cubic yards. 

Calculating an average monthly excavation of a 
million cubic yards, the task would have required 
17 years to complete. In other words, if a sea- 
level canal had been undertaken and had been 
physically possible, the celebration of the opening 
of the waterway would have been set for 1925 
instead of 1915. 

Among all of the members of the majority of the 
board of consulting engineers who favored a sea- 
level canal, only one, E. Quellenec, Consulting 
Engineer of the Suez Canal, showed any apprecia- 
tion of the difficulties which were to be expected in 
Culebra Cut. He announced, in voting in favor of 
a sea-level canal, that he could not do so without 
first reminding the United States Government of 
the great difficulties that would lie before it in 
Culebra Cut. Henry Hunter, Engineer of the INIan- 
chester Ship Canal, declared that Culebra Cut pre- 
sented no serious problems at all; that a sea-level cut 
could be dug more quickly than the locks of the 
other type of canal could be built. He further 
declared that it was as clearly demonstrable as any 
engineering problem could be, that it would be 
possible to use 100 steam shovels in Culebra Cut. 
No one has accused the engineers on the canal of 
lack of ability in maneuvering shovels, yet at no 
time were they able to use more than 46. 


If President Roosevelt had followed the recom- 
mendation of the majority of the board of consult- 
ing engineers in favor of a sea-level canal, it seems 
probable that the United States would have fol- 
lowed the French in retiring defeated from the 
Isthmus, or else would have reconsidered its pur- 
pose to build a sea-level canal and have undertaken 
a lock canal, as the French had done. 

But, even if it had been possible to build a sea- 
level canal at Panama, it appears that such a canal 
would not have been as satisfactory as the present 
one. While the canal the United States possesses 
at Panama to-day is a great waterway 300 feet 
wide at its narrowest part, in which ships can pass 
at any point, the sea-level canal projected would 
have been a narrow channel winding in and out 
among the hills, too narrow for half its length for 
the largest ships to pass. Currents, caused by the 
Chagres River, and by the flow of other streams 
into the canal, would have made navigation some- 
what dangerous. 

The principal ground upon which the majority 
members of the board of consulting engineers voted 
in favor of a sea-level canal was that it was less 
vulnerable. This contention, in the hght of what 
has happened at Panama, seems to carry no great 
weight. Such a canal would have required a 
masonry dam 180 feet high across the Chagres at 
Gamboa, to regulate the flow of that river into the 
canal. This dam, very narrow and very high, 
would have been a much fairer mark than the great 
Gatun Dam for the wielder of high explosives. 
Furthermore, while earth dams, like that at Gatun, 
have weathered earthquake shocks of great sever- 


ity, masonry dams, like that proposed for Gamboa, 
have been tumbled to the earth by shocks of much 
less power. The regulating works at Gatun will 
take care of a volume of water approximately twice 
as great as the Chagres has ever brought down. 
On the other hand, the proposed dam at Gamboa 
would have cared for only one-third as great a 
discharge as the highest known flow of the Chagres. 

It was calculated that the lake made by the dam 
at Gamboa would always be held at low stage be- 
tween floods, but if two floods came in quick suc- 
cession this might have been impossible. Such a 
situation would have made the Chagres River 
always a menace to the canal, instead of its most 
essential and beneficent feature. 

Those who objected to the lock type, on the 
ground that the locks could be destroyed, seemed 
to forget that even the sea-level project demanded 
a set of locks to regulate the tides of the Pacific. 
While, contrary to the usual idea, there is no 
difference in the mean level of the Atlantic and the 
Pacific Oceans, the difference in the tides at Pan- 
ama is about 18 feet. This is due to the shape of 
the Bay of Panama. As the tide sweeps over the 
Pacific and into that bay, it meets a funnel-shaped 
shore line, which gradually contracts as the tide 
travels landward. The result is that the tide rises 
higher and higher until it reaches a maximum of 10 
feet above average sea level. When it flows out it 
reaches a point 10 feet below average sea level, 
thus giving a tidal fluctuation of 20 feet. On the 
Atlantic side the tidal fluctuation is only 2 feet. 

Under these conditions the canal could not be 
operated during many hours of the 24 without the 


tidal locks, if at all, and it would be almost as great 
a hindrance to have the tidal locks destroyed as to 
have the present locks injured. Another perpetual 
menace in a canal with a bottom width of only 150 
feet for half of its distance, would be the danger of 
a ship sinking and blocking the channel. When 
the Cheatham sank in the Suez Canal it wholly 
blocked the waterway for nine days, and partially 
blocked it for a month. 

According to the Isthmian Canal Commission, 
the present canal affords greater safety for ships 
and less danger of interruption to traffic by reason 
of its wider and deeper channels; it provides for 
quicker passage across the Isthmus for large ships 
and for heavy traffic; it is in much less danger of 
being damaged, and of delays to ships because of 
the flood waters of the Chagres; it can be enlarged 
more easily and much more cheaply than could a 
sea-level canal. The lock canal has a minimum 
depth of 41 feet, and less than 5 miles of it has a 
width as narrow as 300 feet. It can take care of 
80,000,000 tons of shipping a year, and, by the 
expenditure of less than $25,000,000 additional, 
can increase this capacity by at least a third. It 
can pass at least 48 ships a day, doing all that a sea- 
level canal could do, and many things that a sea- 
level canal could not do. 

No one denies that if it were possible to have a 
great Isthmian waterway at sea level as wide as the 
present lock canal, it would be the ideal inter- 
oceanic waterway. But, as such a proposition is 
out of the question, the American people have at 
least one thing for which to thank Theodore 
Roosevelt — that at a critical time in the history 


of the canal project he allowed himself to be con- 
verted from the advocacy of a sea-level canal to 
the championship of a lock-level canal, in the face 
of a majority report of one of the strongest boards 
of engineers ever assembled, and prevented a situ- 
ation at Panama that would have been humiliating 
to America, and which probably would have ended 
for all time the efforts of centuries to let ships 
through the American Isthmus. 



WHEN Congress decided that the Panama 
Canal should be regarded as a part of 
the mihtary defenses of the Nation, it be- 
came necessary to fortify it in such a way as to 
make it practically impregnable to naval attack. 
It was, therefore, decided that there should be 
ample coast defenses at the two ends of the canal 
and that these defenses should be protected from 
land attack by the quartering of a suflScient num- 
ber of mobile troops to hold in check any landing 
parties that might attack the works by an overland 

In carrying out this plan Congress met every 
demand of the military experts. When the plans 
for the fortifications were pending before the 
Appropriations Committee of the House every 
military authority, from Gen. Leonard Wood and 
Col. George W. Goethals down, who appeared 
before the committee was asked if he considered 
the defenses recommended as suflScient for the 
purposes intended, and each replied in the aflSrma- 

These defenses consist of large forts at each end 
of the canal, with field works for some 6,000 mobile 
troops. The defenses on the Pacific side will be 
somewhat stronger than those on the Atlantic side, 



probably for the reason that better naval protec- 
tion ordinarily could be afforded to the Atlantic 
than to the Pacific entrance, on account of the 
proximity of the Atlantic waters of the canal to 
American shores. 

At the forts on the Atlantic side four 12-inch 
guns, sixteen 12-inch mortars, six 6-inch guns and 
four 4%0-inch howitzers will be mounted. The 
guns at this end of the canal will be distributed 
between Toro Point on the west side of the en- 
trance channel and Margarita Island on the east 
side. There will be two big 14-inch disappearing 
guns at each of these points. They will be so 
placed as to sweep the horizon in the seaward 
direction, and at the same time will be able to 
eoncentrate their fire on the enemy as he steams in 
toward the channel entrance between the great 
breakwaters which cut off Limon Bay from the 

At the Pacific end all of the defenses will be on 
the east side of the channel. They will consist of 
one 16-inch gun, six 14-inch guns, six 6-inch guns 
and eight 4%o-inch howitzers. There are three 
small islands on the east side of the Pacific entrance 
channel known as Naos, Perico, and Flamenco. 
They rise precipitously out of the water and offer 
ideal sites for heavy defense. A huge dump or 
breakwater has been built from the mainland at 
Balboa out to Naos Island and this, in turn, has 
been connected with Perico and Flamenco by 
large stone causeways. The great dump has made 
several hundred acres of available land for quarter- 
ing the eight companies of coast-defense troops 
which will be stationed at the Pacific end of the 


canal. These islands are 3 miles from the main- 
land and their guns will completely bar the way to 
any hostile ships which might seek to enter the 

On the other side of the channel, at a distance of 
about 12 miles, lies the island of Taboga w^here the 
Canal Commission maintains the sanitarium for its 
employees. It had been suggested by some that 
fortifications should be planted there, but it was 
declared by the mihtary authorities that the guns 
of Naos, Perico, and Flamenco would completely 
command this island and prevent a hostile nation 
from using it as a base of operations. 

The range of the guns extends more than a 
mile beyond Taboga Island. The big 16-inch gun 
which will be mounted on Perico Island is the 
largest ever built. It was made at the Watervliet 
Arsenal. It carries a projectile weighing more 
than a ton for a distance of 21 miles. At 17 miles 
it can toss its death-dealing 2,400-pound shell at an 
enemy as accurately as a base-ball player throws a 
ball to a team-mate 17 yards away. Its projectiles 
are filled with powerful explosives, a single one of 
which in the vitals c any battleship would be 
enough to place it out of commission. The big 
guns and the mortars are intended primarily for 
defending the canal from attack by water. The 
smaller guns and howitzers would come into play 
when an enemy approached within a mile and 
would be used to repel his efforts to effect a landing. 
Nearly all of these howitzers may be moved from 
place to place to meet the needs of the field troops 
in case of land attack. Eight of them will be 
permanently stationed at Gatun Locks. There 


will be other field works at Gatun, Miraflores, and 
Pedro Miguel ready for occupancy at a moment's 
notice by the field troops stationed on the Isthmus. 
These howitzers are so located that 12 of them may 
be concentrated at any given point in case of 

The big guns of the permanent forts are all 
mounted on disappearing carriages so that they are 
exposed to fire only at the moment of discharge. 
The 12-inch mortars will not only play their part 
in defending the canal from water attack, but 
will be able to sweep the country on the Atlantic 
side as far inland as the Gatun Locks and on the 
Pacific side as far inland as the locks at Miraflores. 
They have a range of nearly 4 miles, and when 
loaded with shrapnel will prove a most effective 
weapon against field troops operating anywhere 
within the vicinity of the locks. 

The land lying contiguous to the sea-level ends 
of the canal will be platted off into squares exactly 
as a city is laid out. Should hostile troops come 
upon this territory the men in the fire-control 
station would simply ascertain the number of the 
block or blocks on which they were operating, and 
the mortars would be so oriented as to throw their 
big projectiles thousands of yards into the air to 
fall directly on those blocks. They would, there- 
fore, be practically as useful in land operations as 
in the water defense. 

Every feature of the armament defending the 
entrance of the canal will embody the latest im- 
provements known to military science. The car- 
riages for the big guns have been specially de- 
signed, and were put through the most thorough 


and exacting tests before their adoption. The 
fire-control stations are said to be the last word 
in insuring the effective use of the guns. Deter- 
mining how a big gun shall be aimed so that its 
projectile will hit a target 10 miles away is not an 
easy task. Of course, the gun can not be pointed 
directly at the target, since this would cause the 
projectile to fall far short of the enemy, and also 
the effect of the wind and the motion of the enemy 
would carry it wide of its mark. To guess the 
range and to secure it by experimentation would be 
to prevent any effective fire whatever. Therefore, 
it is necessary first to determine the approximate 
range, the motion of the enemy and the velocity of 
the wind. 

There is an ingenious instrument known as the 
range finder, by which the approximate distance 
of the target is determined. This instrument looks 
something like a cross between an opera glass and 
a small telescope. The operator puts his eyes 
to the opera glass part of the range finder and lo- 
cates the enemy just as one would with an ordinary 
pair of glasses. When he locates the hostile ship 
he sees two images of it. There is an adjusting 
screw which he turns until the two images blend 
together and become one. The turning of this 
screw automatically adjusts a scale on the instru- 
ment, and when the two images exactly coalesce 
the distance of the ship is registered on the scale. 
The operators in the fire-control station make the 
necessary calculations as to the effect of the wind, 
the motion of the enemy and other elements 
entering into marksmanship, and telephone the 
results below to the men who aim the gun. 


It takes two men to aim each gun; one takes 
care of its up-and-down movement, and the other 
of its right-and-left movement. When the man in 
the fire-control station telephones that the enemy 
is so many miles away, the man who has charge of 
the up-and-down movement of the gun so adjusts 
his telescopic sight on a registering scale that when 
it is pointed directly on the enemy the muzzle of 
the gun will be elevated high enough to carry the 
projectile that distance. The man who has charge 
of the right-to-left movement adjusts his sight so 
that when it is pointed directly at the enemy the 
muzzle of the gun will be pointed far enough to 
the right or to the left to land its projectile amid- 
ship on the enemy. Each man stands on a plat- 
form and operates a httle wheel on an endless 
screw. He turns this wheel backward or forward 
just enough to keep his sight exactly on the enemy. 

After the gunners have received their instructions 
the first shot is fired. This is called a "ranging" 
shot, and as the best range finder can not register 
the distance to the exact yard it is necessary for the 
fire-control station to gauge exactly how far short 
of, or how far over, the target the projectile has 
carried. The up-and-down sight is adjusted in 
accordance therewith and usually the second, or at 
most the third, shot gets the exact range. This 
method of locating the enemy will be used on all 
the fortifications of the canal. 

It is unanimously agreed by mihtary authorities 
that no naval force will risk an open attack 
upon such fortifications, since almost inevitably it 
would result in the disabling, if not the sinking, of 
a number of battleships and a great crippling of the 


enemy's force that he could not afford to risk unless 
he had first swept the seas of our own naval 

In order to make certain that no surprise attack 
could be successful, one of the most complete 
searchlight equipments to be found in any fortress 
in the world has been authorized for the canal 
fortifications. There will be 14 searchlights, with 
60-inch reflectors, made so that they will send the 
brightest of white lights out to sea and over the 
land as far as the range of the guns may reach. 
These searchlights cost more than $20,000 each, 
and it requires a year to construct the big mirror 
which is placed in each of them. Electric plants 
at each fortress w^ill generate electricity for the 
operation of the guns and of the searchlights. 

In anticipation of sudden need nearly $2,000,000 
worth of reserve ammunition will be kept on the 
Isthmus. There will be 70 rounds for the big 16- 
inch gun — enough to operate it constantly for 
two hours, providing for a shot about every two 
minutes. The big 14-inch guns will carry a shell 
weighing 1,400 pounds, propelled by a 365-pound 
charge of smokeless powder which will drive it 
through the air at an initial speed of nearly half a 
mile a second — enough momentum to carry it 
through at least 5 feet of wrought iron. The 
charge of powder by which these guns will hurl 
their projectiles on their death-dealing mission, 
generates a force which would lift the great 
Masonic Temple of Chicago 2 feet in a single 

Three regiments of infantry, 1 squadron of 
cavalry, 1 battalion of field artillery, and 12 com- 


panics of coast-defense troops will be permanently 
stationed on the Isthmus. The field troops, con- 
sisting of the infantry, cavalry, and field artillery, 
will be stationed at Miraflores, where permanent 
quarters T\dll be provided together with the neces- 
sary drill grounds. These quarters will cost in the 
neighborhood of $3,000,000. At this point they 
can be maneuvered to advantage and moved to any 
part of the Canal Zone needing defense. It was 
originally intended to place these troops at Culebra 
on the east side of the channel, but this would 
necessitate their going a distance of about 5 miles 
to get to a point where they could conveniently 
cross with the artillery to the other side of the 

Quarters for eight companies of coast-defense 
troops are being established on the Naos Island 
dumps. Quarters for two companies of these 
troops are being provided at Toro Point, and for 
two other companies at Margarita Island. These 
will afford suSicient strength at the Atlantic side 
to man the guns temporarily, in case of hostihties, 
until any additional troops needed can be brought 
up. All of the troops, both field and coast defense, 
will be adequately housed and the permanent 
structures erected for them will be as substantially 
built as those of any modern army post in conti- 
nental United States. There will be drill grounds 
large enough to maneuver the troops stationed on 
the Isthmus. Roads affording access to all parts 
of the Canal Zone have been built. 

In addition to the provisions for the permanent 
forces on the Isthmus, additional field works will 
be provided to accommodate the 20,000 troops 


which might be brought to the Isthmus in case of 
war. These field works will take the form of 
barricaded positions, entrenchments, and other 
protective breastworks which will enable the 
troops to undergo a state of siege. It has been 
estimated by the engineers that behind such works 
as have been planned one defender can stand off 
six assailants, so that a body of 20,000 mobile 
troops under these conditions could hold the Isth- 
mus against a siege of 100,000 for a reason- 
able time. These field works will be constructed 
principally around Gatun and Pedro Miguel. 
The buildings for the permanent force stationed on 
the Isthmus will be constructed on the unit system 
so that any necessary expansion can be made. 

The question of fortifying the canal was one 
which engaged the serious attention of Congress 
for a long time. There were two main viewpoints 
as to what policy should be pursued. One conten- 
tion was that the canal should be made neutral, 
open to the ships of all nations, including the 
United States, on equal terms even in case of war 
between the United States and any other country. 
It was contended by those who took this view that 
to declare it neutral would render it immune from 
any attack and guarantee its perpetuity as a great 
commercial undertaking under the control of the 
United States. 

They contended, furthermore, that the United 
States was bound, under the terms of its treaty 
with Great Britain, to make the canal neutral 
and that to fortify it would be to violate the 
Hay-Pauncefote treaty. They asserted that the 
United States was under solemn obligations to 


recognize the principle of neutrality as applied at 
Suez and offered the express terms of the Hay- 
Pauncefote treaty in proof of their contention. 
This treaty provided that "the United States 
adopts, as the basis of the neutralization of such a 
ship canal, the following rules substantially em- 
bodied in the Convention of Constantinople, 
signed the twenty-eighth of October, 1888, for the 
free navigation of the Suez Canal; that is to say: 

*' First, the canal shall be free and open to the 
vessels of commerce and of war, all nations observ- 
ing these rules on terms of entire equality so that 
there shall be no discrimination against any such 
nation, or its citizens or subjects, in respect of 
the conditions or charges of traffic, or otherwise. 
Such conditions and charges of traffic shall be just 
and equitable. 

*' Second, the canal shall never be blockaded, nor 
shall any right of war be exercised, nor any act 
of hostility be committed within it. The United 
States, however, shall be at liberty to maintain 
such military pohce along the canal as may be 
necessary to protect it against lawlessness and 

''Third, vessels of war of a beUigerent shall not 
revictual nor take any stores in the canal except so 
far as may be strictly necessary; and the transit of 
such vessels through the canal shall be effected 
with the least possible delay in accordance with the 
regulations in force, and with only such inter- 
missions as may result from the necessities of the 

It will be seen from this that the language of the 
treaty seems plainly to imply that the United 


States had no right to fortify the canal. It is 
interesting to note, however, that when the con- 
troversy over the tolls between the United States 
and England arose, the English Government ex- 
pressly conceded the right of the United States to 
fortify the canal and to exercise absolute rights of 
sovereignty so far as military considerations were 
concerned. It would constitute an interesting 
chapter in diplomatic history if someone would tell 
the real reason why the English Government 
waived its rights of demanding a neutral canal 
under the Hay-Pauncefote treaty. 

Those who advocated the fortification of the 
canal contended that the United States had ac- 
quired practical sovereignty over the Canal Zone, 
and that thereunder it had a perfect right to pro- 
vide for the defense of the territory. They 
asserted that the canal was undertaken because of 
the military necessities of the United States, as 
demonstrated by the trip of the Oregon from the 
Pacific to the Atlantic, during the Spanish- 
American War and that to fail to fortify the canal 
would be to lose the military advantages which its 
construction had given to the United States. 

It was further contended that to allow the canal 
to be neutral would, in the case of war between the 
United States and some foreign power, compel the 
United States to keep its own warships out of the 
canal its own blood and money had built, or else 
compel its permanent operating force at Panama 
to commit a sort of legal treason by putting the 
enemy's ships through the big waterway on the 
same terms with American ships. 

This contention was answered by those who took 


the opposite view with the statement that all 
treaties would be suspended in case of war and 
that neutralization would cease between the 
United States and its enemies at such a time. 

The other side replied that if this were true, it 
would then be too late properly to fortify the 
Isthmus, and that if the United States expected 
ever to deny to any country the neutrality provi- 
sions of the Hay-Pauncefote treaty, the fortifica- 
tions should by all means be built in advance. 

The long and earnest debate brought forth from 
some the prediction that England would not 
acquiesce in such a construction of the treaty, and 
from others the statement that under the terms of 
that instrument other nations had a right to pro- 
test against the fortification of the canal. In the 
face of these arguments, however. Congress de- 
termined by a substantial majority to fortify the 
canal, and the whole world has acquiesced. 
England not only did not protest, but in its toll 
controversy notes expressly declared that the 
United States had the right to fortify the canal. 



LONG before the Panama Canal was finished 
shipping interests in every part of the world 
began inquiring minutely as to probable 
rates of toll, stating that it would be necessary 
for them to have this information before making 
plans to meet the changed conditions. Some 
wanted to plan construction of new ships, while 
others desired principally to readjust their trans- 
portation lines in accordance with the new condi- 

With this in mind, President Taft in 1912 
recommended to Congress the passage of a law 
fixing the tolls and providing for the permanent 
operation of the canal. Congress, acting upon 
this recommendation, passed what is known as 
the Permanent Canal Law. In this law are stated 
the terms under which the canal may be used 
by the shipping world. It authorizes the Presi- 
dent to prescribe, and from time to time to 
change, the tolls that shall be levied by the Govern- 
ment of the United States for the use of the canal. 
No tolls may be levied on vessels passing through 
the canal from one United States port to another. 
Provision was also made that tolls might be based 
upon gross or net registered tonnage, displacement 
tonnage, or otherwise, and that they might be 



lower on vessels in ballast than upon vessels 
carrying cargo. When based upon net registered 
tonnage, for ships of commerce, the tolls can not 
exceed $1.25 per ton, nor be less, other than for 
vessels of the United States and its citizens, 
than the estimated proportional cost of the actual 
maintenance and operation of the canal. The 
toll for each passenger was fixed at not more than 

Acting under the law authorizing him to fix 
the rates within the limitations stated by the law 
itself, President Taft issued a proclamation fixing 
the toll at $1.20 per net registered ton on all 
ships of commerce, other than those carrying cargo 
from one United States port to another. The 
net registered ton is the unit of measuring a ship's 
cargo-carrj^ing capacity, used throughout the world 
in general, and by British shipping in particular. 
It consists of 100 cubic feet of space, so that when a 
ship is measured its net registered tonnage is 
determined by the number of these units of space 
it contains. A ton of cargo seldom fills a hundred 
cubic feet of space; frequently it will not fill more 
than 40 cubic feet. The charge per ton of actual 
freight under this toll of $1.20 per net registered 
ton ranges from 44 to 80 cents a long ton upon the 
freight carried, depending upon the class of cargo. 
Such a toll adds from 2 to 4 cents per hundred- 
weight to the freight rate between two points 
through the canal. It might cost 5 cents to 
take a barrel of flour from Colon to Panama., or 
vice versa. 

While ships will be charged tolls on the basis of 
net registered tonnage, not all ships carry freight 


upon that basis. In the majority of cases cargo 
is taken on at "ship's option" — either by weight 
or space. Forty cubic feet is estimated as the 
space occupied by an ordinary ton of freight, and 
ships usually carry cargo at rates based on that 
amount of space for each ton. The 40 cubic feet 
method of determining the amount of cargo carried 
is adopted by maritime interests because a long ton 
of wheat occupies about that amount of space. 
From this it will be seen that for the purpose of 
collecting tolls the United States allows 100 cubic 
feet of space for a ton, while the ordinary ship- 
ping firm allows only 40 feet per ton. Thus it 
happens that a shipowner charges the shipper 
for carrying 2j tons where the United States 
charges the shipowner for carrying 1 ton. 

Notwithstanding the fact that the shipowner 
collects for the carrying of 2^- tons where he pays 
toll on 1 ton, he still has to pay what seems, in the 
aggregate, a large sum of money each time his 
ship passes through the canal. An ordinary 5,000- 
ton ship will be charged $6,000 for passing from 
one ocean to the other. A ship like the Cleveland^ 
the first around the world tourist steamer 
advertised to pass through the canal, will have 
to pay $14,000 for the 12-hour trip from Colon 
to Panama. A steamship like the Lusitania 
will have to put up some $30,000 for a single pas- 
sage. The average ship will pay from $5,000- 
to $10,000 for its passage. This seems like a 
high rate, even though it does amount to only 2 
or 4 cents per hundredweight of cargo, but when 
one takes into consideration the time saved in 
passing through the canal, and the cost of main- 


taining a ship on the high seas, the rate becomes 
a reasonable one. 

The average ship costs about 10 cents per net 
registered ton per day for keeping it in operation. 
Thus a 10,000-ton ship will save about a thou- 
sand dollars for each day its voyage is shortened. 
If this voyage be shortened by 20 days, the ship- 
owner makes a net saving of $8,000 when he selects 
the Panama route over some other route. In 
fact, he may save even more than this, for the 
other route might involve the giving of additional 
space for bunker coal, which otherwise would be 
used for cargo. Convenient coaling stations mean 
a minimum of space required for the operation of 
the ship and a maximum of cargo-carrying capacity. 
In this way a merchant ship might save several 
thousand dollars additional by choosing the Pan- 
ama route over the Strait of Magellan. 

It is estimated that the tolls it will be necessary 
to collect to make the canal self-supporting will 
be $15,500,000 a year, since that amount will be 
required to meet the expense of operation and 
return 3 per cent interest on the investment. 
The $15,500,000 is made up of $3,500,000 for 
operations, $250,000 for sanitation and government 
and $11,250,000 for interest on the $375,000,000 
the canal cost. This takes no account of approxi- 
mately $10,000,000 which will be required for the 
support of the troops on the Isthmus. Should 
this be considered, the total annual charges to be 
made would approximate $25,000,000, but this, 
in the view of those who have considered the matter, 
is not a proper charge against the cost of operation. 

It has been stated that a proper system of 



jBnances would provide for the repayment of 
the cost of constructing the canal in a hundred 
years. This would mean an annual charge of 
$3,750,000, and would bring the total annual 
outlay, exclusive of the cost of protection, up to 
$19,250,000. From this viewpoint the canal will 
not be self-sustaining until the total traffic ap- 
proximates 17,000,000 tons a year, which it will 
reach about 1925. 

It has been estimated by Prof. Emory R. John- 
son, the Government expert on canal traffic, 
that the total tonnage which will pass through 
the canal during the first year of its operation 
will approximate 10,500,000 net registered tons. 
Since the shipping of the United States is permitted 
to pass through without paying tolls, the tonnage 
upon which toll will be collected will yield a gross 
revenue of approximately $10,000,000. This will 
afford the United States an income of a little 
less than 2 per cent on the money invested, 
after paying the actual cost of operation. On this 
basis it probably will be four or five years from 
the opening of the canal before the returns will 
yield 3 per cent on the investment. 

The ships of the world use approximately 75,- 
000,000 tons of coal annually. The opening of 
the Panama Canal will save several million tons 
a year and the money thus saved will, in part, 
fall into the coffers of Uncle Sam. A vessel 
en route from Chile to Europe can save nearly 
enough in the cost of coal alone to pay the tolls 
that will be exacted at Panama. 

When the United States came to frame its 
system of toll charges and collections, it was found 


that there was a wide difference of opinion as 
to the right of the United States Government 
to exempt coastwise shipping from the payment 
of tolls. Under the Hay-Pauncefote treaty with 
Great Britain there was also a wide variance 
of opinion as to the question of whether the 
United States, as a matter of national policy, 
ought to exempt from the payment of tolls, 
ships trading between its own ports on the two 
coasts. These questions were argued pro and 
con, and Congress finally decided by a very close 
vote that the United States ought to allow ships 
trading between its own ports to use the canal 
free of charge. No foreign ships are permitted 
under any circumstances to engage in such traffic. 

Those who advocated the exemption of ships 
trading exclusively between United States ports 
from the payment of tolls, did so on the ground 
that it would build up a wealthy American mer- 
chant marine which would be invaluable to the 
United States in time of war, and also that it 
would tend to reduce freight rates between Atlantic 
and Pacific points. They argued that every cent 
added to the cost of transportation through the 
canal would be reflected in freight rates between 
the East and the West. 

Those who opposed the exemption of American 
coastwise shipping from the payment of tolls, 
asserted that the coastwise shipowners already 
had a monopoly on the handling of cargo between 
American ports, and that no further encouragement 
was needed. They argued that it would make 
little or no difference in rates whether tolls were 
charged or not, and that the only people who would 


benefit would be the shipowners. They contended 
that the United States ought to charge everybody 
alike and use the tolls collected for the purpose 
of repaying the money it spent in building the 
canal. Some of them also contended that the 
Hay-Pauncefote treaty bound the United States 
to treat all shippers alike, and that the United 
States could not discriminate in favor of the 
American coastwise traffic without contravening 
the treaty with Great Britain. This view, however, 
did not prevail, and the law, as enacted, exempted 
coastwise shipping. 

England immediately protested against this 
exemption on the ground that it was in contra- 
vention of the treaty between the two countries. 
The story of how the United States came to be 
bound by a treaty with Great Britain in the 
building of an Isthmian canal goes back for more 
than half a century. The year 1850 found the 
North American continent, north of the Rio 
Grande, in the possession of the United States, 
England, and Russia. The United States had 
only recently finished its continental expansion, 
and each of the two countries needed a canal to 
connect their east and west coasts. England 
had long possessed a west coast in Canada, but 
the United States had only recently come into 
possession of a Pacific seaboard. When it came 
to consider the question of connecting its two 
coasts the United States found that Great Britain 
was holding the position of advantage in the 
Isthmian region. It held the Bahamas, Bermuda, 
Jamaica, the Barbados, Trinidad, the Windward 
and Leeward Islands, British Guiana and British 


Honduras; and held a protectorate over the 
"Mosquito Coast," now the east coast of Nica- 
ragua. That protectorate covered the eastern ter- 
minus of the only ship canal then deemed possible. 

Under these conditions the United States con- 
cluded that it was necessary for the support of 
the Monroe doctrine that some sort of an under- 
standing should be reached between the two 
countries. England assented to such an under- 
standing only after Nicaragua and Costa Rica 
had given to the United States its consent to the 
building of a canal across its territory. These 
treaties with Nicaragua and Costa Rica were 
negotiated but never ratified, and were used as 
a club to force Great Britain to make a treaty. 
The result was the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, 
which provided that neither Government should 
ever obtain or maintain for itself any exclusive 
control over an Isthmian canal, and that neither 
Government should ever secure for itself any 
rights or advantages not enjoyed by the other 
in such a canal. The proposed canal was to be 
entirely neutral, and the treaty set forth that 
the two countries agreed jointly to protect the 
entire Isthmian region from Tehauntepec to 
South America, and that the canal always 
should be open to both countries on equal terms. 
The canal under this treaty was intended to 
be entirely neutral with reference to defense, 
with reference to tolls, and with reference to 
such other nations as might join in maintaining 

When the United States decided to build the 
Panama Canal, it found the Clayton-Bulwer 


treaty wholly unsuited to its aims and desires. 
It therefore asked England to enter into a new 
convention; the Hay-Pauncefote treaty was 
the result. This document declared that its 
purpose was to remove any objections that might 
arise under the Clayton-Bulwer treaty to the 
construction of an Isthmian canal under the 
auspices of the Government of the United States 
without impairing the general principle of neu- 

Under this treaty the Government of Great 
Britain made a protest against the decision of the 
United States to exempt its coastwise traflBc 
from the payment of tolls, claiming such exemption 
to be a violation of the neutrality agreement. 
This protest came in the form of two notes to the 
American Government. The first was written as 
a warning to Congress that the British Government 
would regard the exemption of American coast- 
wise traflSc from the payment of tolls as a dis- 
crimination against British shipping, and a 
violation of the neutrality agreement between the 
two countries. It admitted that if the United 
States were to refund or to remit the tolls 
charged, it would not be a violation of the letter 
of the treaty, and acknowledged that if the 
exemption of coastwise American shipping from 
toll charges were so regulated as to make it cer- 
tain that only bona fide coastwise traffic, which 
is reserved for American vessels, would be bene- 
fited by this agreement, then Great Britain could 
have no objection. But it declared that England 
did not believe that such regulation was possible. 

After Congress, with this note in mind, had 


passed the canal toll law with an exemption to 
ships carrying goods between the two coasts of 
the United States, President Taft, in approving 
the measure, declared that the canal was built 
wholly at the cost of the United States on territory 
ceded to it by a nation that had the indisputable 
right to make the cession, and that, therefore, 
it was nobody else's business how we managed 
it. He contended that for many years American 
law had given to American ships the exclusive 
right to handle cargo between American ports, 
and that, therefore, England was not hurt at 
all when that shipping was exempted from toll 

England responded, in a second note, that 
the clear obligation of the United States under 
the treaty was to keep the canal open to the 
citizens and subjects of the United States and 
Great Britain on equal terms, and to allow the 
ships of all nations to use it on terms of entire 
equality. It also contended that the United 
States is embraced in this term of "all nations"; 
that the British Government would scarcely 
have entered into the Hay-Pauncefote treaty 
if it had understood that England was to be denied 
the equal use of the Panama Canal with America. 
The three direct objections urged by the British 
against the American canal law were: That 
it gives the President the right to discriminate 
against foreign shipping; that it exempts coast- 
wise traffic from paying tolls; and that it gives 
the Government-owned vessels of the Republic 
of Panama the right to use the canal free. The 
answer of the United States to the first of these 


objections was that the right of the President to 
fix tolls in a way that would be discriminatory 
against British shipping was a question that could 
be considered only when the President should 
exercise such action. 

The British Government expressed the fear 
that the United States, in remitting tolls on 
coastwise business, would assess the entire charges 
of maintenance of the canal upon the vessels of 
foreign trade and thus cause them to bear an 
unequal burden. This, the second objection was 
answered with the statement that, whereas the 
treaty gives the United States the right to levy 
charges sufiicient to meet the interest of the capital 
expended and the cost of maintaining and opera- 
ting the canal, the early years of its operation 
will be at a loss and, therefore, at a lower rate 
than Great Britain could ask under the treaty. 
The third objection was considered insignificant. 

The British Government, after laying down its 
objections to the American canal toll law, re- 
quested that the matter be submitted to The Hague 
tribunal for adjudication. The American Govern- 
ment declared that this course would not be just 
to the United States, since the majority of the 
court would be composed of men, the interests 
of whose countries would be identical with those 
of England in such a controversy. Before leaving 
office President Taft proposed that the matter 
should be submitted to the Supreme Court of the 
United States. The whole question was left 
in that situation when the change from the Taft 
to the Wilson administration took place. 

As to the merits of the controversy, there is no 


unanimity of opinion on either side of the Atlantic. 
Some British authorities entirely justify the Ameri- 
can position, while some American authorities 
take the British position. It is probable that 
the controversy will require years for settlement. 

Before the canal was open for traffic there was 
much speculation as to what rate policies the 
railroads would adopt to meet the situation caused 
by the competition of the Panama Canal. If 
the same classes of goods are handled through 
the canal as across the United States, there will 
be more than 3,000 different articles on the tariff 
books of steamship hues using the canal. In 
his report on the effects of canal tolls on railroad 
rates. Prof. Emory R. Johnson expressed the 
opinion that the payment of tolls by ships en- 
gaged in coast trade would affect neither the 
rates of the regular steamship lines nor the charges 
of the transcontinental railroads. 

A provision of the canal toll law forbids any 
railroad to be directly or indirectly interested in 
any ship passing through the canal, carrying 
freight in competition with that railroad. This 
provision was inserted to prevent the railroads 
from controlHng the steamship hues using the 
canal, and through that control fixing rates be- 
tween the two coasts on such a basis as to pre- 
vent effective competition with the railroads 
themselves. The result was that a number of 
railroads had to dispose of their steamships 
engaged in coastwise trade. This provision affects 
several Canadian railroads, and after it was made 
the British Government served notice on the 
United States that it intended to take up this 


question and consider whether or not the law in 
this particular does not infringe upon British 

Nothing seems more certain than that, in the 
course of years, canal tolls will be materially 
lowered from the $1.20 fixed by the President. 
It seems inevitable that the Panama Canal and 
the Suez Canal will enter into a Uvely battle for 
the great volume of trade between eastern Asiatic 
and Australasian points and western European 
ports. On this dividing line between the two 
great interoceanic highways there originates many 
miUions of tons of traflSc, and this will be largely 
clear gain to the canal which gets it. The con- 
siderations which will draw this trade one way or 
the other are the rates of toll, the convenience 
of coaling stations, the price of coal, and the cer- 
tainty of the ability to secure proper ship stores. 
This spirit of competition will probably serve to 
lower rates more rapidly than they otherwise might 
be reduced. With some 10,000,000 tons of traffic 
on the great divide between the two canals, ready 
to be sent forward by the route which offers the 
best inducements, it is certain that good business 
policy will call for some hustling on the part of 
both canals. As the business of the Panama 
Canal expands, it can afford to reduce rates. With 
an ultimate capacity of 80,000,000 tons a year, 
as the canal stands to-day, the rate of toll could 
be cut down to 25 cents a ton when that capacity 
is reached, and still afford the United States an 
income large enough to take care of the operation 
and maintenance of the canal, and sanitation and 
government of the Canal Zone, to meet the interest 


on the cost of building it, and to amortize the 
entire debt in a hundred years. 

It is certain that the United States made a good 
investment at Panama. Assuming that the coast- 
wise traflSc is worth to the Government the amount 
of the tolls it is exempted from paying, the canal 
becomes a self-supporting institution from the day 
of its opening, leaving all the military and trade 
advantages it aflFords the United States as clear 



IT WILL require a force of about 2,700 per- 
sons to operate the Panama Canal. The 
major portion of this force will be engaged 
on the port works at the two ends of the 
waterway. With a large mechanical plant at 
Balboa, with large docks for the transhipment 
of cargo, and with other facilities required for 
making the canal the best equipped waterway 
in the world for handling marine business, more 
men will be needed for the conduct of the auxiliary 
works than for actually putting ships through the 

The force required at the locks will be com- 
paratively small. It will consist of men in general 
charge of the lock operations, men in charge of 
the towing operations, men who handle the vari- 
ous mechanism and operate the several types of 
valves for the regulation of the water in the locks; 
and the general labor force consisting of a few 
hundred operatives at each end of the canal. A 
force will be required to operate the big hydro- 
electric station at Gatun Spillway, where the 
electricity for the operation of the locks and for 
the lighting of the canal will be generated. An- 
other force will be required at the auxiliary power 
plant at Miraflores which will be operated by 


steam. Fewer than a thousand men will be 
required in putting ships through the canal. 

When the question of placing the canal on a 
permanent operating basis arose one of the first 
considerations was the scale of salaries to be fixed. 
Having in mind the fact that salaries paid during 
the construction period (which were 50 per cent 
above the standard in the United States) were 
based upon conditions existing in the early days 
of the American occupation, it was decided that 
this was an unfair basis for the permanent or- 
ganization. The salaries for the construction pe- 
riod were made high because they had to be. 
It was more a question of reducing men to risk 
their lives than of fixing fair rates of compensation. 
The conclusion reached was that there was no 
longer any reason why the Government should 
pay salaries so much higher than obtained in the 
States, especially in view of the fact that all 
positions under the permanent organization would 
carry with them free quarters, free medical at- 
tendance, free fuel, free light, free hospital service 
and the like. It was finally determined that it 
would be fair to both the employee and the em- 
ployer to establish as a basis of compensation for 
services in the permanent organization a scale 
of salaries not to exceed 25 per cent higher than 
obtained for similar positions in the United States. 
This decision was made on the basis that it would 
be fair to the employee and at the same time would 
allow the canal to be operated at a cost which 
would impose no undue burden on shipping. 

When Congress took up the matter in the en- 
actment of the permanent canal law, it reflected 


the recommendations of the chairman and chief 
engineer of the Canal Commission in almost every 
particular. With reference to the canal employees, 
that body provided that they should be appointed 
by the President or by his authorities, and that 
they should be removable at his pleasure; also, 
that their compensation should be fixed by him 
until such time as Congress should regulate it by 

The head of the permanent force on the Canal 

Zone will be known as the Governor of the Panama 

Canal. He is to be appointed by the President 

with the advice and consent of the Senate, for 

a four-year term, or until his successor shall 

be appointed and qualified. He will receive a 

salary of $10,000 a year, and will be the personal 

representative of the President on the Isthmus. 

Indeed, the permanent organic act provides 

that the President himseK is authorized, after 

the disbanding of the Isthmian Canal Commission 

• — which is to take place whenever the President 

thinks the work has approached a suflScient degree 

of completion to warrant it • — to complete, govern, 

and operate the Panama Canal, and to govern 

the Canal Zone, if he desires to do it himseK; 

or "cause it to be completed, governed, and 

operated through a governor of the canal." 

Of course, the President will prefer to "cause it 

to be completed, governed, and operated" through 

such a governor. As a matter of fact, when the 

question of selecting a governor comes before the 

President it may be expected that he will choose 

a man in whom he has every confidence to carry 

out the organic law on the Canal Zone, and to 


place the canal in operation. This man will be as 
much of an autocrat on the Zone under the 
permanent organization as the chairman and chief 
engineer was during the construction. 

When President Roosevelt undertook to carry 
out the provisions of the Spooner Act, and to 
have the canal dug by a board of seven commission- 
ers, each independent of the other, he soon found 
that it would not work. After repeated trials he 
came to the conclusion that the control of 
affairs on the Isthmus should be concentrated 
largely under the chairman and chief engineer. 
He therefore issued an executive order requiring 
that all officials on the Isthmus should report 
to the chairman and chief engineer, giving him 
practically all control over the entire project. 
This brought both the Canal Zone Government 
and the sanitary department under the super- 
vision of the chairman and chief engineer. The 
result was a coordination of the work and a satis- 
factory organization for its prosecution. 

When Congress came to make the permanent 
canal law it profited by the unsatisfactory results 
that would have grown out of a rigid adherence 
to the principles of the Spooner Act, and concen- 
trated all authority under the governor of the 
Canal Zone. There were those who thought the 
sanitary department should not be under the 
control of the governor, and still others who felt 
that the operation of the canal probably should 
be under one man and the civil government under 
another. But these suggestions were not fol- 
lowed, and the act as finally adopted makes the 
President practically a czar of the Isthmus, and 


under him the governor need give account to no 
one but the President. 

It has been the ambition of the present chief 
engineer of the canal to see the operating force 
fully installed and things moving along on a satis- 
factory working basis before leaving the Isthmus. 
He thinks arrangements should be made whereby 
acute changes of policy should be prevented. This 
he would do by having a principal assistant who 
would succeed the governor at the end of his four- 
year term. This would permit a continuous policy 
and an unbroken line of action which, according to 
his view, would make for the efficiency of the oper- 
ating force. In speaking of this phase of the mat- 
ter, he stated that were a new man chosen at the end 
of the four-year term of his predecessor — a man 
who had had no previous experience on the Isth- 
mus — there would always be a tendency to make 
radical changes. 

He would have on the governor's staff a doctor 
from the Army to have charge of the work of 
sanitation on the Canal Zone, who would report 
directly to the governor. The quarantine officer, 
in his opinion, should be under the Pubhc Health 
Service of the United States. Under the plan 
as adopted in the permanent canal law, any officer 
of the Army or of the Navy chosen to fill a posi- 
tion in the canal operating force will be paid the 
same salary as a civilian, with the exception 
that he would get only the difference between his 
regular Army or Navy pay and the salary his 
position carried. 

It is estimated that the expense of operating 
the canal will amount to about $3,500,000 a year. 


This includes the cost of operating a number of 
dredges which will have to be maintained in 
connection with the canal work. The estimate 
was made upon the amount of business handled 
at the Sault Ste. Marie Canal which has the largest 
traffic of any canal in the world. 

There will be five departments for the opera- 
tion of the canal outside of the work of maintain- 
ing the civil government and sanitation. The 
operating department will have charge of the 
operation of docks and wharves at the terminals, 
pilotage, lockage, and the lighting of the canal. 
It is estimated that it will cost $400,000 a year 
to maintain the terminals, $150,000 a year to 
light the canal, and that it will require 60 pilots, 
at $1,800 each a year, to take ships through. 
During the first years of operation it is believed 
that a single shift can handle all the business that 
comes, but, as the years go by, it may require two 
shifts and eventually three to keep the work going. 

The engineering department will require about 
500 men and will have charge of all the construc- 
tion and repair work pertaining to the canal 
property, and of all excavation and dredging 
in the canal. It will cost approximately a million 
dollars a year to maintain this department, of 
which three-fourths will be required for the opera- 
tion of the dredges and other equipment for 
keeping the canal open. 

The quartermaster's department will have charge 
of the construction, repair, and maintenance of all 
buildings, roads, and municipal improvements in 
the Zone settlements and of the receipt, care, and is- 
sue of all property and material. This department 


will require nearly a thousand men and the total 
expense will be in the neighborhood of $600,000. 

The electrical and mechanical department will 
have charge of the mechanical and electrical 
apparatus belonging to the canal, and of the 
permanent works at its two ends. 

The accounting department will require some 
60 men with annual salaries amounting to approxi- 
mately a hundred thousand dollars. It is esti- 
mated that the cost of materials for the operation 
of the canal will range around three-fourths of a 
million dollars a year. 

The force which will be maintained on the 
Isthmus, with their families, will make a Canal 
Zone population of approximately 5,000. These, 
in addition to the eight or nine thousand troops 
and marines which will be quartered there, will 
bring the total population up to about thirteen 
or fourteen thousand. Of these perhaps three- 
fourths will be along the southern 10-mile section 
of the canal. But, in spite of the greater popu- 
lation at the PacijBc side, the Atlantic end will 
probably not lack for attraction. It is likely 
that Gatun Lake will be stocked with a supply 
of fresh-water fish, and that shooting preserves 
will be established adjacent to Gatun, to be con- 
ducted in connection with the Washington Hotel 
at Colon. There is also some talk of constructing 
golf hnks adjacent to Gatun, which will be open 
alike to the employees of the canal and to the 
guests of the two big Government hotels — the 
Washington and the Tivoli. 

While a freight-carrying steamer will make its 
stay as short as possible, the probabilities are 


that the passenger-carrying steamer will require 
at least 48 hours to make its calls at the two ter- 
minal cities and pass through the canal. They 
will probably handle the major portion of the 
package cargo, leaving the bulk cargo business 
entirely for freighters. When going through the 
canal from the Atlantic to the Pacific they prob- 
ably will have cargo bound for a large number of 
Pacific ports on diverse routes. This would be 
discharged at Balboa and there be put into other 
ships to be carried to its destination. During 
the time the shipping and unshipping of cargo, 
replenishing stores, taking on coal and like 
operations are being performed, the traveler will 
be afforded opportunity to get acquainted with 
dry land again, and to enjoy for a day or two a 
respite from his long sea journey. 

The plan advocated on the Isthmus for per- 
fecting the permanent organization was as follows: 
The chairman and chief engineer would call 
upon each of the departments to furnish a list with 
the ratings of the best men. The man having the 
best record would be offered a position under the 
permanent organization similar to the one held 
by him under the construction organization. 
If he chose to accept this position under the wage 
standard laid out he could do so; if he did not, 
the next man would be given the opportunity, 
and so on down. In this way it was expected 
that the entire force would be chosen because of 
records made in the service. 



FOUR or five years before the earliest 
probable opening date, shipping inter- 
ests began to arrange their future sched- 
ules with respect to the Panama Canal. 

One can scarcely realize how rapidly the facili- 
ties of the canal will be utilized. At the rate of 
expansion witnessed in the world's marine traflSc 
during the past two or three decades, 17,000,000 
tons of shipping will be handled through the canal 
in 1925, 27,000,000 tons in 1935, and 44,000,000 
tons in 1945. 

The maximum capacity of 80,000,000 tons as- 
sumes a passage of 48 vessels a day through the 
canal, or one for every half hour of the twenty- 
four. Two vessels a day of 4,000 tons each, at 
the present charge, will render the canal seK- 

While the great Isthmian highway will be com- 
pleted far enough ahead to be ready to handle all 
traflSc that offers long before the official opening 
date, it will, on the other hand, never reach that 
stage where dredges will not be needed. There 
are 22 rivers which wend their way from the 
watersheds of the canal, and pour their loads of 
sand and silt into it. Of course, these rivers 
are small — so small, indeed, that few of them 



would be dignified by being called rivers in the 
United States. But when the heavens open and 
the floods descend, as they do so frequently during 
the rainy season at Panama, these usually quiet, 
lazy, little streams become almost as angry as 
the mighty Chagres itseK, and they rush down 
to the canal heavily freighted with sand and 
silt. If the water in the great interoceanic chan- 
nel is to be kept at its appointed depth of 41 feet, 
dredging perforce must be continued from year to 
year, summer and winter, spring and fall. And 
so it is that the dredges will be met by every ship 
that steers its course from Cristobal to Balboa, or 
from the Atlantic to the Pacific. 

Few ships large enough to tax the dimensional 
capacity of the locks ever will go through the 
canal. Full 90 per cent of all the ships that sail 
the seas could go through locks one-half the size 
of those at Panama. So far as commercial ship- 
ping is concerned, a 15,000-ton vessel plying 
tropical waters is considered large, and a 20,000- 
ton ship is an exception. According to the best 
shipping authorities, the day when vessels of 
more than 25,000 tons will find it profitable to 
ply on the routes which lead through the Panama 
Canal is so far in the future that they are not able 
to discern it. With reference to the Navy, naval 
experts generally agree that the United States 
will celebrate many a decade of passing years 
before a battleship too large to use the present 
lock chambers is a possibility. 

When a ship makes its maiden voyage through 
the canal, the measurements to determine its 
net register will be taken by the shipping experts 


in the employ of the United States. When this work 
is completed the master of the ship will be required 
to pay the toll before he can take his vessel 
through the canal. If he should fail to pay the 
toll the vessel itself would be put on the block 
and sold at auction, if necessary, to reimburse 
the United States for its passage. However, it 
is not to be expected that such contingencies as 
these will arise. When once a ship has been 
measured, the formality will not have to be gone 
through with on future visits. It is not expected 
that each ship will be actually measured for 
every dimension as it comes to the canal on its 
first trip, since its net register tonnage probably 
will have been determined long before, and the 
canal oflBcials will only check up the work already 
done elsewhere to assure its accuracy. 

Many ships will go to Panama which will not 
use the canal. For instance, there will be those 
which will leave European ports, loaded in part 
with cargo bound to Pacific points and in part 
with cargo for Atlantic points on the South and 
Central American coast. Such ships will simply 
call at Colon, discharge their cargo bound to 
Pacific points, and take on what additional cargo 
they can get bound for points for which they are 
sailing on the Atlantic side. In stopping at 
Colon they will probably replenish their supplies 
from the commissary department of the canal. 

What the freight department is to a railroad 
the cargo ship will be to the Panama Canal — its 
greatest revenue producer. Such ships will do 
comparatively little loading and unloading of 
cargo at either end of the canal. The tramp 


steamer will figure largely in the traffic that 
passes from ocean to ocean at Panama. With 
no schedule of sailing dates and with no definite 
routes, the tramps constitute the flying squadron 
of the shipping world, moving hither and thither 
seeking cargoes wherever they can find them. 
A tramp steamer may load at Liverpool for 
San Francisco, reach that point through the Pan- 
ama Canal, and, after discharging its cargo, go 
on up to Seattle and load for China. There it 
may discharge its cargo again and go thence to 
India to pick up a load of grain for Liverpool, 
passing through the Suez Canal. Its master 
always will turn its prow to the point where 
profitable cargo awaits it, and this may carry 
it by Panama once or a dozen times a year. The 
line steamers will have their regular sailing dates 
and will pass through the canal at stated intervals. 
The problem of providing coal for passing 
ships is one of the most important with which 
the canal authorities will have to deal. The 
cheaper that commodity can be sold to the ships, 
the more attractive the route will be. For in- 
stance, a 10,000-ton ship which saves a dollar 
a ton on a thousand tons of coal, saves the equiv- 
alent of the cost of operating the vessel for a 
period of from 24 to 36 hours, and this, with the 
rates at Suez and Panama on an equal basis, gives 
at least one day's advantage to the Panama 
route in figuring on a voyage. Pocahontas steam- 
ing coal costs $2.70 per ton laid down at Newport 
News. Under the carrying agreements with ship- 
ping interests that obtained during the con- 
struction period, this coal was carried to Panama 


for $1,395 a ton. It is estimated that the canal 
colliers, which have been authorized by Congress, 
with a capacity of 12,000 tons of coal and with 
a speed of 14 knots, can dehver to the Isthmus a 
half million tons of coal a year. The saving 
which will be effected by having the coal carried 
by Government colliers is a large one. A mer- 
chantman would get $368,000 for delivering 
264,000 tons of coal, while the cost of delivery 
by collier for the same amount would approxi- 
mate $184,000. The average hfe of a collier is 
20 years. The saving effected in these 20 years 
by the Government carrying its own coal would 
be large enough to pay back the million dollars 
which the collier cost, and to yield an additional 
profit of $2,630,000 during the hfe of the vessel. 

The sale of coal at Suez, where an annual 
shipping traffic of some 21,000,000 tons is 
handled, amounts approximately to 1,000,000 tons. 
Thus, it will require two colliers to handle the 
coal when the canal opens, and two more 13 
years later. 

Not all the ships which use the canal will coal 
there. For instance, the Royal Mail Steam 
Packet Company, which was so forehanded in 
its effort to get a good share of the trans-Isthmian 
traffic that it acquired the Pacific Steam Navi- 
gation Company long before the canal opened, 
is building a coaling station at Kingston, Ja- 
maica, where its ships will replenish their bunkers. 
This coaling station will, of course, always be 
at the disposition of the British Government 
in case of war, and of such British merchantmen 
that choose to pass that way. 


Some ships will not negotiate the canal under 
their own power. Many small vessels steer so 
badly that their masters would be afraid to risk 
them going through without aid. For instance, 
the skipper of the Cristobal, one of the 6,000-ton 
cement-carrying ships bought by the United 
States a few years ago, declared, in discussing this 
phase of the matter, that he would be afraid to 
trust his vessel going through the canal under 
its own power. To ships not sujSSciently re- 
sponsive to their helms, Government tugs will be 

Some skippers prefer to have their vessels 
towed by one powerful tug, while others prefer 
several smaller ones. Several tugs are now build- 
ing for towing purposes, and they will also be 
used to tow vessels through the locks in the early 
days of operation, pending the completion of all 
of the electric towing locomotives. 

Two floating cranes will be provided in the 
permanent equipment at a cost of a quarter of a 
milhon dollars each. These cranes, with a lifting 
power of 250 tons, will be suitable for any wreck- 
ing operations in the canal and, also, for Ufting 
the gates in case of repairs being required. 

The canal will probably be the death blow to 
the sailing ship of international commerce. Not 
being able to negotiate the canal under their 
own power, and because of the dead calms which 
prevail in the GuK of Panama, sailing ships will 
be stopped from using the Isthmian waterway. 
When they attempt to journey around Cape Horn 
and the Cape of Good Hope in competition with 
steam vessels which pass through the Panama 


Canal, the operation will afford such little profit 
that in the course of a few years they will have 
to surrender what little share of international 
commerce they have succeeded in keeping. 

The Panamans are inclined to think the United 
States drove a hard bargain when the provision 
was inserted in the treaty that all supplies for the 
building and operation of the canal, and for the 
demands of shipping using it, when imported by 
the United States, should be free of duty. This 
practically gives the United States a monopoly 
of the business of catering to the needs of ships 
passing Panama. The present duty on imports 
is 15 per cent, and the local merchant who would 
sell supplies to the passing ships would be under 
the necessity of adding 15 per cent to his buying 
price before he could compete with the United 
States Government on equal terms. This ad- 
vantage is made all the more marked by the 
reasons of the fact that the United States often 
can make much money out of the operation by 
selling at actual cost, the profit arising from the 
extra shipping which is thereby attracted to the 

The United States will reimburse the owners 
of any vessels passing through the locks of the 
canal, under the control of its operatives, for 
any injury which may result to vessel, cargo, or 
passengers. Provision is made under the perma- 
nent canal law that regulations shall be promul- 
gated by the President which will provide for 
the prompt adjustment, by agreement, and im- 
mediate payment of claims. In case of dis- 
agreement, suit may be brought in the district 


court of the Canal Zone against the governor 
of the Panama Canal. The law says: "The 
hearing and disposition of such cases shall be 
expedited and the judgment shall be immedi- 
ately paid out of any moneys appropriated or 
allotted for canal operation." 

The character of misrepresentations made con- 
cerning the canal was illustrated in a story pub- 
hshed in the midsummer of 1913. This story 
originated in London and declared that all of 
the big shipping interests were afraid of the Pan- 
ama Canal, and that Lloyds would insure ves- 
sels and cargo only at much advanced rates. 
The article went on to state that the represent- 
ative of one of the biggest European lines had 
visited the Isthmus and had returned with the 
announcement that his company could not afford 
to trust its vessels in the canal. 

As a matter of fact, with the United States 
Government standing responsible for any damage 
sustained in the canal, no shipping interest could 
sensibly regard it as extra hazardous to pass 
through it; rather, it would be less hazardous 
than to negotiate the tortuous Strait of Magel- 
lan, where thousands of wrecks tell of unseen 
dangers, or to round Cape Horn with its fierce 
storms and its grave j)erils. 

Much has been said about the probability of 
injury to the canal by persons of evil intent, and 
the Panama Canal law imposes heavy penalties 
on anyone attempting to inflict such an injury. 
The law provides that the governor of the Canal 
Zone shall make rules and regulations, subject 
to the approval of the President, touching the 


right of any person to remain upon or pass over 
any part of the Canal Zone. "Any person 
violating these rules or regulations shall be guilty 
of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction in the 
district court of the Canal Zone, shall be fined 
not exceeding $500 or imprisoned not exceeding 
a year, or both penalties in the discretion of the 
court. Any person who, by any means or any 
way, injures or obstructs or attempts to injure 
or obstruct any part of the Panama Canal, or the 
locks thereof, or the approaches thereof, shall be 
deemed guilty of a felony and on conviction shall 
be punished by a fine not to exceed $10,000 or 
by imprisonment not to exceed 20 years, or by the 
infiiction of both of these penalties. If the act 
shall cause the death of any person within a 
year and a day thereafter, the person so convicted 
shall be guilty of murder and shall be punished 
accordingly." As a further precaution, individ- 
uals will not be allowed to approach the locks 
with any sort of packages unless they are properly 
vouched for. 

The possibility of serious injury to the locks 
will be carefully guarded against. They will 
be lighted at night by electric lamps of large 
candlepower and the whole lock structure will 
be kept as light as day throughout the night. 
Men will be always on sentry duty, and an ade- 
quate system of intercommunication will enable 
the sentries to call out a guard large enough to 
repulse any attack of any small surprising party. 



THE Republic of Panama is one of the small- 
est countries in the world, its territory 
being about equal to that of the State of 
Indiana. It has no national debt, and has 
$7,000,000 invested in mortgages, on real estate in 
New York City. 

When it received $10,000,000 from the United 
States, in payment for the rights under which the 
Panama Canal was built, it immediately invested 
about 75 per cent of it, using the remainder for 
paying the expenses of the revolution, and for 
setting the new government on its feet. It now 
receives $250,000 a year from the United States as 
rental for the Canal Zone, and this, with the 
$350,000 received as interest from its real estate 
mortgages in New York, gives it an annual income 
of $600,000 outside of money raised by the usual 
processes of taxation. 

Under the treaty with the United States, 
Panama has its independence guaranteed, and 
recognizes the right of the United States to main- 
tain order within its boundaries. This entirely 
does away with the necessity of maintaining an 
army and navy. The result is that with no 
appropriations required for military purposes, 
and with a $600,000 income from the Canal 



Zone, it enjoys one of the lowest tax rates in the 

Although the Republic of Panama has its 
Declaration of Independence and its Glorious 
Fourth, the former was written by a foreigner, and 
the latter occurs in November. There is some 
dispute as to who wrote the declaration of indepen- 
dence, but the best information points either to 
Philippe Bunau-Varilla, a Frenchman, or to Wilham 
Nelson Cromwell, an American. These two gen- 
tlemen differ upon this subject, each claiming that 
he was the Thomas Jefferson of Panama. 

When the $10,000,000 was paid to Panama by 
the United States, one of the first things done was 
to build a university, locally known as the National 
Institute. Some $800,000 was spent in the con- 
struction of the buildings, which are located near 
the line of the Canal Zone. But it so happens that 
Panama has few teachers qualified to hold univer- 
sity chairs, and fewer students qualified to pursue 
university courses; and the result is that the uni- 
versity is more a place of buildings than a seat of 

No other country in the world calls in another 
nation to superintend its elections. When the 
first presidential election was held the United 
States took the initiative and demanded the right 
to supervise the balloting. Before the second 
election was held the President became ambitious 
to succeed himself, although the constitution pro- 
vided that he could not do so. He thereupon de- 
cided to resign for a period of six months, in favor 
of one of his partisans, thinking that this would 
allow him to live up to the letter of the constitution 


even though he were violating its spirit in becoming 
a candidate for reelection. This situation was 
brought to the attention of the United States, and 
the President was pohtely but firmly informed that 
the subterfuge would not be permitted. When the 
election approached each side thought that the 
other was trying to win by fraud, and the United 
States was asked to referee the political battle. 

The City of Panama is famous for its wickedness. 
Men who have seen the seamy side of life in all of 
the big cities of the world declare that Panama is as 
bad as the worst of them. Until a few years ago 
bull-fighting was permitted, but the buUs were so 
poor and the fighters were such butchers that the 
Government finally outlawed this form of entertain- 
ment. Cock-fighting persists, and numerous cock 
pits are popular resorts every Sunday. Nowhere 
else can one witness a greater frenzy in betting than 
at one of these cocking mains. The backers of the 
rival birds nod their heads and place their bets so 
rapidly that it is more bewildering to the onlooker 
than the bidding at an auctioneer's junk sale. 

The prize ring has succeeded the bull ring in 
gratifying the Spaniard's thirst for gore, and 
scarcely a Sunday passes that there is not a prize 
fight in Panama. Few Americans who attend them 
come away without a f eehng of disgust over the poor 
fighting, the brutality, and the trickery resorted to. 

While the Americans have done so much for 
pubUc cleanliness in Panama and Colon, the masses 
seem to know little more about sanitary living to- 
day than before the Americans came. The 
stenches which greet the visitor in the native 
quarters are no less odorous than those encoun- 


tered in other cities of tropical America. The 
bathtub is an unknown quantity among the masses. 
Most of the natives who Uve in the cities are en- 
gaged in some Une of small trade. It may be that 
a shop has only a platter of sweetmeats and a few 
bottles of soda on ice, and that another has only a 
bushel of different kinds of tropical fruits, but out 
of the small sales large families manage in some 
way to exist. The markets open early in the 
morning. There is no spirit of rivalrj'^ among the 
market men, and they act usually as if they were 
conferring a favor upon the buyer. At the markets 
many Indians are encountered who bring their 
wares from the interior and offer them for sale. 
These usually consist of pottery, net bags, charcoal 
and the like. 

Life among the Panamans in the jungle is simple 
indeed. With his machete the householder may 
provide a thatched roof for his mud-floored hut, 
and he can raise enough beans, plantains and 
yams, and burn enough charcoal, and catch enough 
fish to meet all of his needs. In the kitchen the 
principal utensils are gourds and cocoanut shells. 
The most tempting morsel that the Panaman can 
get is the iguana, a lizard as big as a cat, whose 
meat is said to taste like spring chicken. It is 
about the ugUest creature in the animal world, and 
yet it means more to the native Panaman than 
does possum meat to the cotton-field darky of the 

The unconscious cruelty of the average native is 
remarked by almost every visitor. He is usually 
too lazy to be conscious of cruelty, for that would 
require exertion. When he catches the iguana. 


for instance, he takes it alive so that it may be 
fattened before being killed. Its short legs are 
twisted and crossed above its back, and the sharp . 
claw of one foot is thrust through the fleshy part of 
the other, so as to hold them together without 
other fastening. The tail, being useless for food, is 
chopped off with the machete, and thus mutilated 
and unable to move, the lizard is kept captive until 
fat enough to eat. 

The fruits of Panama are neither so numerous 
nor so plentiful as those of Nicaragua or Jamaica. 
The mamei is a curious pulpy fruit the size of a 
peach, with a skin like chamois and with a smooth 
pit the size of a peach-stone. The sapodilla is a 
plum-colored fruit with seeds in a gelatinous mass. 
One is usually introduced to the sapodilla with the 
remark that, although the seeds are eaten, they 
have never been known to cause appendicitis. 

Cedar is preferred to mahogany in Panama. 
The Indians make their cayucas out of mahogany 
logs, and it is not uncommon to see bridges 40 feet 
long and 5 feet thick, made of mahogany logs 
which would be worth several thousands of dollars 
in an American furniture factory. 

Panama is famous for its tropical flowers. 
Many of them are beautiful, but few are sweet 
smelling. Orchids abound, especially on the 
Atlantic side, and while the waters of the Chagres 
were being impounded in Gatun Lake, native boat- 
men would go out in their cayucas and gather 
orchids from the trees. One of the most beautiful 
of the orchids of Panama is the Holy Ghost orchid. 
It blooms biennially, and when its petals fold back 
they reveal a hkeness to a dove. 


Some of the American women on the Canal Zone 
became enthusiastic collectors of tropical flowers. 
Among these were Mrs. David Du Bose Gaillard 
and Mrs. Harry Harwood Rousseau. Both of 
these ladies spent much time hunting orchids and 
other flowers for the verandas of their houses and 
for their gardens. Mrs. Rousseau made trips into 
several of the other countries of Central America 
in her quest for new orchids. The collections 
made by these two ladies represent the finest on 
the whole Isthmus of Panama. 

The animal Ufe of the Isthmus is not abundant, 
although some deer and a few tapirs are to be 
found. Alligators abound in the Chagres River 
and other streams of the Zone. Perhaps the most 
interesting form of animal life to be found on the 
Isthmus is the leaf-cutting ant. This ant seems 
to be nature's original fungus grower. As one 
walks around the American settlements, he fre- 
quently comes upon a long path filled with ants, 
passing back and forth. They resemble a sort 
of miniature yacht under full sail, except that the 
sails are green instead of white. Upon closer ex- 
amination it is found that what seemed to be a sail 
is a triangular piece of leaf carried on the back of 
the ant, with its edges to the wind so as to overcome 
air resistance. The ants do not gather these 
leaves for food, but they store them in such a way 
that a fungus grows upon them. They eat the 
fungus, and when the leaves are no longer useful 
they are thrown out and new supplies brought in. 

The native remedies used by the Panamans are 
many and interesting. For stomach troubles, 
which are very rare, they eat papaya. The papaya 


is a sort of fruit which might be a cross between a 
cantaloupe, a watermelon and a pumpkin, except 
that it grows on trees. It has the rind of a green 
pumpkin, the meat of a cantaloupe, and the seeds 
of a watermelon. It is probably richer in vegetable 
pepsin than any other plant in existence — a pepsin 
which neutralizes either alkaline or acid conditions 
in the stomach. It is said that a tough steak, 
wrapped in the leaf of the papaya tree overnight, 
becomes tender as the result of the digestive action 
of the pepsin in it. 

The Indians and Panamans who live in the jun- 
gle use the wood of the cacique, or "monkey 
cocoanut," to stop any flow of blood. In their 
materia medica they have a large number of tropi- 
cal plants which they use for their ailments. 

The way in which sanitary instruction may be 
made efficient is illustrated among some of the 
people of Panama. Upon one occasion the Canal 
Record carried a small diagram of how to make a 
sanitary drinking cup out of a sheet of paper. 
After that there were many Panamans who, al- 
though in a hundred ways indifferent to contagion, 
would no longer drink from common drinking cups, 
but would make their own sanitary cups. Even 
the Jamaican negroes employed around the offices 
of the commission in many instances would not 
think of using the common drinking glass at the 
office water-cooler. 

Two tribes of Indians on the Isthmus have not 
mixed with the Caucasians or the negroes. They 
are the Chucunoques and the San Bias Indians. 
The latter tribe has never been known to allow a 
white man to remain in its territory after sun- 


down. Even the higher officials of the Panaman 
Government are forced to respect this tradition 
when they treat with the San Bias chiefs. 

Government land in Panama can be bought at 
the rate of $49.60 for 247 acres, with reductions for 
larger areas. The Government invites foreign 
capital, declaring that the United States stands as 
a perpetual guarantee against revolutions within 
and aggressions without. 

The story of the early days in Panaman history 
is a strange admixture of romance and cruelty. 
The Isthmus was discovered in 1500, and first 
settled by an adventurer who had been the Royal 
Carver in the king's household at Madrid. Balboa, 
carrying with him a small force of men and a lot 
of bloodhounds, one of them a dog of mighty 
prowess, known as Lioncico, or "Little Lion," 
which drew a captain's pay because of its fighting 
qualities, crossed the Isthmus in 1513 and dis- 
covered the Pacific Ocean. After him came a 
new governor of the Isthmus, who put Balboa to 

The Spaniards were unspeakably cruel to the 
Indians. Even those who received them kindly 
were tortured and roasted to death, because they 
did not produce enough gold. One governor rode 
a mule, which was noted for the frequency of its 
braying. The Indians were taught that the mule 
was asking for gold, and in meeting these demands 
they not only had to give what they possessed, but 
were forced to rob the graves of their ancestors as 
well. Upon one occasion the Indians, having cap- 
tured a number of Spaniards, melted a lot of the 
yellow metal and poured it down their throats. 


telling them to drink until their thirst for gold was 

After the Spaniards had established themselves 
upon the Isthmus, the English buccaneers, Drake 
and Morgan, fell upon their cities and despoiled 
them. The ruins at Old Panama, which once was 
a city of 30,000 inhabitants, to-day tell the story of 
the effective work of Henry Morgan when he raided 
it and captured its treasure. 

While the Spanish conquerors, the French fili- 
busters, and the English buccaneers, who took 
their turns in pillaging Panama, were cruel beyond 
imagination, they were always famous for their 
outward evidences of religion and piety. The 
Spanish were always chanting hymns and honoring 
the saints ; the French would shoot down their own 
soldiers for irreverent behavior during mass; the 
English pirate captains never failed to hold divine 
services on Sunday, and often prohibited profanity 
and gambling. 

Where once Spaniards tortured Indians and 
British buccaneers raided Spaniards, where once 
revolution after revolution left a poor and desolate 
country, to-day the gates of Panama are open to* 
the world, and its trade is invited again to pass that -, 
way. The people of the Isthmus believe that the 
glory which departed when Morgan sacked Old 
Panama, forcing the Pacific trade to seek the 
Strait of Magellan, will return with the opening 
of the Panama Canal, and that their capital, 
whose walls cost so much that the Spanish king 
thought he could see them from his chamber 
window in Madrid, will retrieve its ancient glory. 



WHILE the Panama Canal seems destined 
to endure for all time as the greatest arti- 
ficial ship way in the world, there are other 
waterways, while small in comparison, that are in 
themselves wonderful works of engineering. In 
point of traffic the greatest canal in the world is 
the Sault Ste. Marie Canal, popularly called the 
^'Soo." In point of economy of distance and 
world-affecting consequence the Suez Canal ranks 
with, or next to, Panama. 

The Suez Canal was built while the Civil War 
was raging in the United States, and was opened 
for the passage of vessels on November 17, 1869. 
It is about twice as long as the Panama Canal, the 
distance from Port Said, at the Mediterranean ter- 
minus, to Suez at the Red Sea end, being approxi- 
mately 100 miles. When constructed its depth 
was 26 feet, 3 inches, and its bottom width 72 feet. 
The maximum vessel draft permitted was 24 feet 
7 inches. The canal was in operation for 11 years 
before vessels of this draft presented themselves 
for passage. 

During the first dozen years of its operation 
various curves were straightened, the turning-out 
places where vessels passed one another were en- 
larged, and their number increased to 13. This 



telling them to drink until their thirst for gold was 

After the Spaniards had established themselves 
upon the Isthmus, the English buccaneers, Drake 
and Morgan, fell upon their cities and despoiled 
them. The ruins at Old Panama, which once was 
a city of 30,000 inhabitants, to-day tell the story of 
the effective work of Henry Morgan when he raided 
it and captured its treasure. 

While the Spanish conquerors, the French fili- 
busters, and the English buccaneers, who took 
their turns in pillaging Panama, were cruel beyond 
imagination, they were always famous for their 
outward evidences of religion and piety. The 
Spanish were always chanting hymns and honoring 
the saints ; the French would shoot down their own 
soldiers for irreverent behavior during mass; the 
English pirate captains never failed to hold divine 
services on Sunday, and often prohibited profanity 
and gambling. 

Where once Spaniards tortured Indians and 
British buccaneers raided Spaniards, where once 
revolution after revolution left a poor and desolate 
country, to-day the gates of Panama are open to* 
the world, and its trade is invited again to pass that -, 
way. The people of the Isthmus believe that the 
glory which departed when Morgan sacked Old 
Panama, forcing the Pacific trade to seek the 
Strait of Magellan, will return with the opening 
of the Panama Canal, and that their capital, 
whose walls cost so much that the Spanish king 
thought he could see them from his chamber 
window in Madrid, will retrieve its ancient glory. 



WHILE the Panama Canal seems destined 
to endure for all time as the greatest arti- 
ficial ship way in the world, there are other 
waterways, while small in comparison, that are in 
themselves wonderful works of engineering. In 
point of traffic the greatest canal in the world is 
the Sault Ste. Marie Canal, popularly called the 
^'Soo." In point of economy of distance and 
world-affecting consequence the Suez Canal ranks 
with, or next to, Panama. 

The Suez Canal was built while the Civil War 
was raging in the United States, and w^as opened 
for the passage of vessels on November 17, 1869. 
It is about twice as long as the Panama Canal, the 
distance from Port Said, at the Mediterranean ter- 
minus, to Suez at the Red Sea end, being approxi- 
mately 100 miles. When constructed its depth 
was 26 feet, 3 inches, and its bottom width 72 feet. 
The maximum vessel draft permitted was 24 feet 
7 inches. The canal was in operation for 11 years 
before vessels of this draft presented themselves 
for passage. 

During the first dozen years of its operation 
various curves were straightened, the turning-out 
places where vessels passed one another were en- 
larged, and their number increased to 13. This 



work of straightening curves and widening the 
canal has continued from that time until the pres- 
ent, and to-day vessels may pass one another 
through a large part of its length. The policy 
increasing the general dimensions of the canal was 
begun in 1887. By 1890 its depth had been in- 
creased to £9J feet, so that it could accommodate 
ships having a draft of 26 feet 3 inches. The work 
of deepening continued, and when the United 
States began to build the Panama Canal this work 
was speeded up, so that by 1908 a depth of 32f feet 
was attained and vessels of 28 feet draft could be 
accommodated. In 1909 it was decided that it 
would be necessary to make the canal still deeper, 
and a project, which will not be completed until 
1915, was then undertaken, calling for a depth of 
36 feet 1 inch. By 1898 the width of the canal 
had been increased from 72 feet to 98J feet. This 
is now being still further increased to 134 J feet. 
Even when this project is completed in 1915, the 
Panama Canal still can accommodate ships of 5 
feet greater draft than the Suez Canal. 

The maximum draft of ships permitted to use the 
Suez Canal is demanded in comparatively few 
instances. A recent report showed that 94 per 
cent of the ships using the canal had a draft of less 
than 26} feet, and that only 1 per cent had a 
draft of 28 feet. The increase in the depth of the 
canal, therefore, was made largely in anticipation 
of future shipping requirements. 

When the canal was completed it required 49 
hours for a ship to pass through it. The growth in 
its dimensions, together with the increase in the 
number and size of passing stations, the straighten- 


ing of curves, and the improvement of facilities, 
have brought down to 17 hours the average length 
of time required for the transit. Ships not 
equipped with electric searchlights are not per- 
mitted to pass through at night. The improve- 
ments being made on the canal are being paid for 
mainly from the revenues derived from tolls. 

The Suez Canal was constructed, and has been 
enlarged and managed, by a private corporation 
which has invested from the beginning of the con- 
struction up to the present time about $127,000,000 
of which approximately two-thirds has been se- 
cured from the sale of securities, and one-third 
from the earnings. The original capital of the 
Suez Canal Company, issued in 1859, was 400,000 
shares of $100 each. These shares partake of the 
nature of both bonds and stock, for they are en- 
titled to interest of 5 per cent as well as to partici- 
pation in the company's profits. Provision is made 
for their redemption, but when redeemed they 
continue to share in the profits and merely lose the 
interest-bearing feature. On December 31, 1911, 
378,231 of these shares were in circulation. 

In 1875 the British Government, through Lord 
Beaconsfield, purchased the 176,602 shares held by 
the Khedive of Egypt, paying some $20,000,000 
for them. The British Government does not own 
a majority of the shares, and the Suez Canal is 
controlled and operated by a French company. 
The annual dividends have increased from 4.7 per 
cent to 33 per cent. The shares are closely held 
and trading in them is light. The stock sells at a 
premium of over 1,000 per cent. When the work 
of building the canal was undertaken, 100,000 


shares were given to the founders. These shares 
are not stock, but are, rather, certijScates of obh- 
gation, requiring the company to pay 10 per cent 
of its profits to the promoters and founders of the 
original company and their heirs and assigns. The 
net profits of the canal amount to about $17,000,000 
a year. Of this the stockholders get $12,000,000, 
the Egyptian Government $2,500,000, the found- 
ers of the company $1,500,000 and the administra- 
tive oflScers and the employees divide $100,000 
among them. 

The trafiic of the Suez Canal during the first 
two years was relatively small, for the reason that 
the canal is not a practicable one for sailing vessels, 
and steam vessels had to be built. These, being 
much less efficient than freight steamers are to-day, 
were slow in securing the trade that had been en- 
joyed by the sailing vessels. The rate of tolls 
charged by the Suez Canal Company has declined 
steadily since the canal went into operation. On 
January 1, 1912, they approximated $1.30 a ton, 
with a reduction of nearly a third for vessels in 
ballast. On January 1, 1913, the rate was made 
approximately $1.20 a ton, the fraction of a cent 
higher than the rate at Panama. The passenger 
tolls are $2 for passengers above 12 years and $1 
for children from 3 to 12 years of age; children be- 
low 3 years are carried free. The highest toll 
charged on the Suez Canal was in 1874 when it 
was $2.51 a ton. 

The Suez Canal has proved highly profitable to 
its owners. No one believes that the Panama 
Canal will yield as great a return on the capital 
invested. The cost of the Panama Canal will be 


four times the cost of Suez, and it is doubted by 
traffic authorities whether the Panama Canal will 
ever handle as much business. 

The Manchester Ship Canal, which connects 
Manchester with Liverpool, was constructed only 
after years of preliminary agitation. There was 
opposition by the railways, and from the industrial 
and commercial centers with which Manchester 
competes. Over 300 petitions were presented to 
Parliament before its consent was obtained for the 
construction of the canal. Work was begun in 
November, 1887, at which time it was estimated 
that the canal would cost $42,000,000. It was 
opened for traffic January 1, 1894, after $75,000,000 
had been spent in building it. Of this about 
$60,000,000 went into actual construction work. 
The Manchester Canal is 35j miles long. It ex- 
tends from Eastham, about 6 miles from Liverpool, 
to Manchester. Its original depth was 26 feet, 
but this has been increased to 28 feet. Ships with 
a length of 550 feet, a beam of 61 feet, a height of 
70 feet, and a draft of 27 feet can use the canal. 
There is a difference of 58 feet 6 inches in level 
between Eastham and Manchester, and this is 
overcome by five sets of locks. The highest lift is 
16 feet. 

The Manchester Canal Company owns the 
Bridgewater Canal and makes connections with 13 
other barge canals. It handles about 6,000,000 
tons of freight a year, of which the bulk is sea- 
borne. Although it connects with 13 barge canals, 
the amount of barge traffic handled is less to-day 
than it was a decade ago. From the beginning the 
Manchester Canal has had to compete with the 


railroads, and they cut their rates to such a basis 
that they get the business and force the canal 
company to operate as a losing venture to its, 

In spite of the competition of the railroads, the 
canal has managed to increase its business at about 
the same rate that traffic through the Suez Canal 
has increased, and a little more rapidly than it has 
been estimated that traffic through the Panama 
Canal will grow. The shareholders have not yet 
received any dividends, but it seems probable that 
in the course of a few years all of the securities will 
earn an annual income. Many shareholders have 
been more than compensated for their subscrip- 
tions by the collateral benefits they have received 
from the canal. 

The Government of Germany constructed a 
canal connecting its Baltic and North Sea ports, 
and named it the Kaiser- Wilhelm Canal. The 
natural route from the Baltic to the North Sea 
around Denmark is circuitous, dangerous because 
of storms, and is guarded by foreign powers. The 
canal was begun in 1887 and completed in 1895, 
and was constructed primarily for military and 
naval purposes, although it has proved to be of 
great value to the commerce of Germany. It 
connects Brunsbuttel Harbor on the Elbe with 
Holtenau on Kiel Bay. It passes through low 
lands and lakes and along river valleys. It is 61 
miles long and, as it was first constructed, had a 
width of 72 feet and a depth of 29^ feet. The total 
cost of the canal was approximately $37,000,000. 
It was in operation only 12 years until it was 
found necessary to enlarge it. The reconstruction 


of the canal was authorized by the German Govern- 
ment in 1907, and the work, which is expected to 
be completed in 1914, was started in 1909. When 
this work is completed the canal will be 144 feet 
wide and 36 feet deep. At 10 places it will be 
widened so as to permit ships to pass. New twin 
locks, built for the regulation of the tides — for the 
canal itself is at sea level — will be 82 feet longer 
and 37 feet wider than the Panama locks. The 
maximum depth of these locks will be 45 feet, al- 
though at low tide they will be a Uttle less than 40 

During a recent year commercial vessels with an 
aggregate net register of over 7,000,000 tons used 
the Kiel Canal. The increase of business during 
the first decade of the present century amounted to 
70 per cent, or a httle more than the estimated 
increase for each decade at Panama. The net 
receipts from the operation of the canal are not 
sufficient to pay interest on the investment. No 
effort is made to levy tolls that will provide for 
interest charges, or for the amortization of the 
principal. The canal does not connect regions of 
enormous traffic, nor does it greatly shorten ocean 
routes. The longest route is cut down only 429 
miles. The German Empire was so well pleased 
with the success of the Kaiser- Wilhelm Canal that 
the enlargement it is now making represents an 
expenditure one and a half times the original cost. 

The Amsterdam Canal was built to connect 
Amsterdam with the sea. Formerly, ocean-going 
vessels were small and the Zuider Zee River was 
then a stream of considerable depth. Gradually, 
however, the Zuider Zee became shallower and the 


size of ocean vessels larger, so that the commercial 
supremacy of Amsterdam was threatened by the 
competition of Rotterdam and Antwerp and north 
German ports. In 1818 a corporation constructed 
what was known as the "North Holland Canal," 
which was large enough to accommodate ships 
employed in the East India trade. It had a 
minimum depth of 20 feet and a minimum width 
of 100 feet. This canal, however, had numerous 
curves and it was constructed by a roundabout 
route of 52 miles from Amsterdam northward to 
the North Sea, while Amsterdam is less than 17 
miles from the sea by direct route. 

In 1863 a concession for the construction of the 
North Sea Canal was granted and two years later 
active work began. It was finished in 1876. 
There were no serious engineering difficulties to be 
met, there being no rivers to be crossed, no towns 
to block the way, and only three bridges to 
be built. The work consisted mainly of building 
embankments, draining and reclaiming land, and 
dredging the channel. The canal was not com- 
pleted according to the original plan. Extensive 
enlargements and improvements were decided on, 
and a larger additional lock was undertaken in 1889 
and completed in 1896. At that time it was the 
largest canal lock in the world. Plans are now 
being considered for building another new lock, 
which will be larger than those at Panama. The 
bottom width of the canal is now 164 feet. It can 
accommodate vessels 721 feet long, with a 79-foot 
beam and of 30 feet draft. The construction of 
the canal cost $16,000,000. Improvements have 
brought the total amount up to about $24,000,000. 


Since 1893 all toll charges have been eliminated, 
and the canal has been operated at the expense of 
the State. The annual average cost of operation 
and maintenance is about $200,000. This canal 
bears about the same relation to the city of Am- 
sterdam that the Delaware River Channel bears to 
the city of Philadelphia, or the improvements on 
the lower Mississippi to the city of New Orleans. 

The Cronstadt and St. Petersburg Canal is 16 
miles long and gives St. Petersburg an outlet to the 
GuK of Finland. It was built at a total cost of 
about $10,000,000. It has a minimum width of 
£20 feet and a navigable depth of about 20| feet. 
It was built primarily as a mihtary undertaking, 
but has proved of great service to Russian com- 

Another important European canal is that ex- 
tending from the Gulf of Corinth to the Gulf of 
Aegina in southern Greece. Its length is about 4 
miles, a part of which was cut through soft granite 
rock and the remainder through soil. It has no 
locks. The bottom width is 72 feet and the depth 
26 J feet. The average tolls are 18 cents per ton 
and 20 cents for passengers. 

No other canal in the world can rival the one at 
Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., which connects Lake 
Superior with Lake Huron, in the enormous volume 
of its shipping. There are really two canals — 
one owned by the Canadian Government, and one 
by the United States Government. The canal 
belonging to the United States was begun in 1853 
by the State of Michigan, and opened in 1855. It 
had a length of about a mile and was provided with 
twin locks 350 feet long, allowing tlie passage of 


vessels drawing 12 feet of water. The United 
States Government, by consent of the State of 
Michigan, began in 1870 to enlarge the canal, and, 
by 1881, had increased its length to 1.6 miles, its 
width to an average of 160 feet and its depth to 16 
feet. A lock 515 feet long, 80 feet wide, and 17 
feet deep was located south of the locks which were 
built by the State. 

In 1882 the United States Government took over 
the entire control of the canal. Five years later 
the locks that had been built by the State were 
torn down, and a new one 800 feet long, 100 feet 
wide, and 22 feet deep was put into commission in 
1896. The Canadian Canal, 1 J miles long, 150 feet 
wide, and 22 feet deep, was built on the north side 
of the river during the years 1888 to 1895. Its locks 
are 900 feet long, 60 feet wide, and 22 feet deep. 

The traffic through the Sault Ste. Marie Canals 
averages around 60,000,000 tons a year. This is as 
much as the Panama Canal can expect to get 40 
years after its opening. The tonnage of the 
American Soo Canal passed the million mark in 
1873, reached the 20,000,000 mark in 1899, and 
amounted to 46,000,000 net tons in 1909. It now 
ranges around 50,000,000 tons. It will be seen 
from this that the American Canal, built on the 
south side of St. Mary's River, gets about ten 
times as much traffic as the Canadian Canal, built 
on the north side of the river. This gives the 
American Soo Canal more than twice as much 
traffic as the Suez Canal, and about four times as 
much as the Panama Canal expects to begin with. 

A canal which was built primarily for drainage 
purposes, but which seems destined to fill an im- 


portant place as a traffic-carrying waterway, is the 
Chicago Drainage Canal connecting Lake Michi- 
gan at Chicago with the Illinois River at Lockport 
— a distance of 34 miles. It was built for the pur- 
pose of reversing the movement of water in the 
Chicago River and preventing the pollution of 
Lake Michigan. The sewage of the city now goes 
to the faraway Mississippi instead of the Lakes. 
The minimum depth of the canal is 22 feet, and its 
bottom width 160 feet. To complete the project 
the excavation of nearly 44,000,000 yards of ma- 
terial was required — enough, if deposited in Lake 
Michigan in 40 feet of water, to form an island a 
mile square with a surface 12 feet above the water. 
The city of Chicago and the State of Illinois have 
agreed to turn this canal over to the United States 
Government, if it will deepen the Illinois and 
Mississippi Rivers to 14 feet between Lockport and 
St. Louis. This would give a complete water con- 
nection from upper Mississippi River points to 
Lake Michigan, and open up a highway to the Gulf 
of Mexico. The estimated cost of this project is 

The completion of the Panama Canal will 
probably result in an unprecedented activity in the 
development of inland waterways in the United 
States. The new markets which it will open up to 
American products and the old markets it will 
stimulate and extend, will demand large additional 
facilities for getting the products of the American 
farm and factory to the seaboard. Already prep- 
arations for capitalizing the commercial oppor- 
tunities which the opening of the canal will afford, 
are being made in various parts of the country. 


The Erie Canal, connecting Buffalo and Albany 
and giving the Great Lakes a water outlet at New 
York, is being widened and deepened at an expense 
of $101,000,000. The propaganda of the American 
Rivers and Harbors Congress, looking to the appro- 
priation of $500,000,000 to be spent in a systematic 
program of inland waterway development, is meet- 
ing with encouragement in every part of the coun- 
try, and it is the expectation of those who believe 
that the Government should commit itself to such 
a program, that within 25 years the stimulus to 
waterway development given by the opening of the 
Panama Canal, will give to the United States one 
of the finest systems of inland waterways in the 



THE most rapid change in the commercial 
map of the world wrought in centuries 
will be witnessed during the years fol- 
lowing the completion of the Panama Canal. 
Cities that heretofore have been mere way sta- 
tions on the international routes of trade will 
grow into rich centers where the new roads of 
the commercial world will cross. On the other hand, 
cities which in the past have gloried in a trade 
supremacy of international recognition will see 
themselves displaced and their prestige lost. 
The readjustment will not be the matter of a day 
or a year; even a generation may pass before 
it is completed; but the ultimate changes will 
certainly be greater and more world-encompass- 
ing than anyone now can forecast. 

The capture of Constantinople by the Turks 
was directly responsible for the discovery of the 
New World. It cut oflf the cities of the Mediter- 
ranean from communication with India, and sent 
Columbus westward in quest of another passage, 
which could not be obstructed by the Mussul- 
man tyrants of the East. At last the Panama 
Canal is to afford that passage, and to bring the 
whole earth into smaller compass. 

Of course, the United States will be the first 



to realize the great benefits of the canal. It will 
double the eflBciency of the American Navy by 
permitting it to concentrate its forces on either 
ocean in shorter timej> by weeks, than can be 
done by any other nation; consequently, it will 
add to American military prestige throughout the 
world. The benefits immediately accruing to the 
people of the United States will be as great in a 
commercial way as in military advantage. As 
the capture of Constantinople caused the up- 
building of many notable regions through the 
transformation of international trade routes, so 
will the completion of the Panama Canal open 
up new markets and new opportunities to the 
Mississippi Valley, the world's greatest granary. 
Its grain and meat products, loading by way 
of Gulf ports, can go to the ends of the earth with 
but little outlay for expensive rail transportation. 
It is even probable that the great awakening inci- 
dent to the opening of the canal, may hasten the 
day when the Lakes-to-the-Gulf waterway will be 
an accomplished fact and when ships may load in 
Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, St. Paul, and Minne- 
apolis and sail directly to the ports of the world, 
thus beginning an era of commercial development 
surpassing even the wonderful growth of the 
half century just closed. 

Pittsburgh may then be able to send its tre- 
mendous output of manufactures to all parts of 
the world without transhipment; Kansas City 
will feel the stimulus of the new waterway; and 
the Pacific coast, long cut off from the eastern 
section of the United States by high mountain 
barriers that have been only partially overcome 


by railroads, will find its great resources within 
marketable distance of the Eastern States. 

Canada, too, will feel the stimulus of the canal. 
No longer will its great crops have to find their 
slow outlet over railroads that must cross the 
backbone of a continent, but, pursuing the avenues 
of least resistance, they may move to all parts of 
the world by way of the Great Lakes and the 
Mississippi River. 

South America will greatly benefit by the 
completion of the canal. Already its west coast 
countries and cities are getting ready for the boom 
of business that is to follow. Brought thousands of 
miles nearer to all western trade centers — so 
close that their raw products and American 
manufactured products can be exchanged to 
advantage — there will be a growth of trade whose 
prospect already has awakened the lethargic South 
American to the possibilities ahead. 

These possibilities well may be considered by 
the business men of the United States. To-day 
North America buys a large percentage of the 
products of South America; but, when the South 
Americans have money to spare, they spend only 
$1 out of $8 in North America — the other $7 
goes to Europe. The American exporter will find 
himself quickened by the history-making change 
the canal will produce and, if he goes at it in 
earnest, he will be in a position to reverse the 
present situation and get $7 of South American 
trade where Europe gets only $1. 

Australia and New Zealand will experience, 
perhaps, a greater change in the trade routes than 
any other countries outside of the Americas* 


The Australian commerce now is largely carried 
by way of Suez. The opening of the Panama 
Canal will place New Zealand 1,200 miles nearer 
to London than it is by way of Suez, and the 
eastern ports of Australia will be as near to England 
by way of Panama as by Suez. All Australasian 
ports will be brought several thousand miles 
closer to the Atlantic ports of the United States 
than they are to-day. No one who has heard an 
Australasian complain of the long delays and 
the excessive freight rates that intervene between 
him and his American shoes, can doubt that the 
closer proximity of American markets will be 
welcomed in that faraway land under the southern 
cross. Sydney will be 4,000 miles nearer to 
New York through the Panama Canal, and 5,500 
miles nearer to New Orleans and Galveston. 

The transcontinental tonnage now handled 
by the railroads, which ultimately will go by the 
canal, aggregates 3,000,000 tons a year. The 
seaboard sections of the United States, of course, 
will benefit more largely than interior points, for 
the reason that interior points will have to take a 
combined rail-and-water route. This will involve 
railroad transportation and transhipment of cargo, 
also rehandUng charges. After the canal is opened 
it is probable that the railroads will prefer to 
supply the intermountain States directly from 
eastern sources, instead of maintaining the exist- 
ing policy of giving low rates to Pacific coast 
cities, so as to give them dominance over the 
shipping business of the intermountain region. 
The total coast-to-coast traffic of the railroads is 
said to approximate one-fifth of the entire traffic 



carried across the Rocky Mountains. Only one- 
third of the through traffic of the transcontinental 
hues from the East to the West originates east 
of a Hue drawn through Buffalo and Pittsburgh. 
It is this third of the westward business that will be 
affected mainly by the operation of the canal. 

The principal effect the Panama Canal will 
have in the readjustment of the trade map of the 
world is not, perhaps, as much in changing exist- 




ing routes as in creating new avenues of business. 
In every region where there is promise of unusual 
benefit by reason of the opening of the Panama 
Canal, an effort is being made to capitalize the 
advantages to be derived therefrom. The west 
coast of South America feels the stimulus of 
suddenly being brought thousands of miles closer 
to the best markets of the world, and anyone 
who travels down the coast from Panama may see 


at every port signs of a determination to reap full 
advantage of the new opportunities. 

Even Guayaquil, a city that for years has been 
a hissing and a byword to the masters of all ships 
plying up and down the west coast because of its 
absolute indifference to all requirements of sanita- 
tion, has prepared for a campaign of cleaning-up, 
in order that it may become a port of call for all 
the ships passing that way. Heretofore, masters 
of ships, in order to comply with quarantine 
regulations elsewhere, have given it a wide berth 
whenever possible. 

Chile, Peru, and Ecuador — all three have 
caught the spirit of the new era which a completed 
canal proclaims, and are striving to set their houses 
in order for the quickened times they see ahead. 
With the Central American RepubUcs it is the 
same. Handicapped as they are by revolutions 
that sap their life-blood, or dominated by rulers 
who have no other object in governing the people 
than to exploit them, these countries still hope for 
much from the canal, and new activities are be- 
ginning to spring up in every one of them. 

It is not improbable that the canal will play 
an important part in transforming the economic 
situation of the world during the generations 
immediately ahead of us. One needs only to study 
the distribution of humanity over the countries 
of the earth to find how unevenly the population 
is scattered, and to learn what great tides of 
immigration will have to flow westward to estab- 
lish the equilibrium of population, which some 
day is bound to come. When Asia has a population 
of 50 per square mile and Europe a population of 


100 a square mile, while North America has 
15 and South America has 7, it is apparent that 
the future holds great changes in store. The 
potential development of the two Americas 
challenges the imagination. South America, with 
its virgin soil all but untouched, can support a 
population haK as dense as that of Europe. 
This means that it can make room for 300,000,000 
immigrants. Likewise, it is fair to assume that 
North America, with its up-to-date methods of 
agriculture, industry, and commerce, can support 
a population as dense as that of Asia with its 
primitive methods of manufacture and agriculture. 
This means that North America has room to 
accommodate 300,000,000 souls. In other words, 
room still remains for 600,000,000 persons on the 
continents which the Panama Canal divides. 
When the day comes, as it seems certain that it 
will, that the Americas reach their full growth, 
even the Panama Canal, larger by far than any 
other artificial waterway in the world, will be 
much too small to acconmiodate the traflSc which 
naturally would pass its way. 

The foreign trade of the United States with its 
90,000,000 of population, aggregates 60,000,000 
tons a year. Assuming that foreign trade would 
grow in the same proportion as population, it 
will be seen that the foreign trade of the two 
Americas at a time when the population of South 
America becomes half as dense as that of Europe, 
and that of North America half as dense as that 
of Asia, will approximate 500,000,000 tons. As- 
suming further that only one-fifth of this would 
pass through the canal, the American commerce 


alone would exceed its capacity, leaving all the 
trade between the Orient and eastern Europe to be 
taken care of by future enlargements. 

More immediate, however, will be the realization 
of the prophecy of William H. Seward, Lincoln's 
Secretary of State, that the Pacific is destined 
to become the chief theater of the world's events. 
As the population of the earth stands to-day, more 
than haK of all the people who inhabit the globe 
dwell on lands which drain into this greatest of 
oceans. Yet, in spite of that fact, the trade that 
sweeps over the Pacific is but small in comparison 
with that which traverses the Atlantic. \Vhere 
a thousand funnels darken the trade routes of 
the Atlantic, a few hundred are seen on the 

But in Japan one may find an example of the 
possibilities of the Pacific in the years to come. 
When China, with its 400,000,000 people, awakens 
as Japan has awakened, and builds up an inter- 
national trade in proportion to that of Japan, it 
will send a commerce across the seas unprecedented 
in volume. When it buys and sells as Japan buys 
and sells, the waters of the Orient will vie with 
those of the Occident in the size of their fleets 
of commerce. 

The opening of the Panama Canal promises to be 
one of the factors in hastening the day when the 
Orient will become as progressive as the Occident, 
and when sleeping nations will arise from their 
lethargy and contribute uncounted milhons of 
tons of traffic to the Pacific Ocean, making it a 
chief theater of commerce as well as of world 


In our own country the course of empire has 
been sweeping toward the Pacific, Where once 
the center of most things lay east of the Mississippi 
River, now we find its agriculture, its mining 
industries, and its commercial activities gradually 
moving westward. The center of cotton produc- 
tion, once in those States celebrated in the melodies 
of the Southern plantation, has moved westward 
and to-day in Texas, Oklahoma, and even Southern 
California, cotton is grown in a way which shows 
that King Cotton has caught the spirit of the age 
and is extending his territories westward toward 
the Pacific. And all of this means a growing busi- 
ness and an expanding traffic through the Panama 

On the Atlantic side there are signs without 
number that many nations will be up and doing 
in the reformation of the commercial map of the 
world. The islands of the Caribbean form a screen 
around the Atlantic end of the canal, and the 
majority of them are British possessions. Many 
of their cities will be situated upon the new inter- 
national trade routes that will be called into being 
by the opening of the Panama Canal. At King- 
ston, Jamaica, great improvements are projected, 
coaling stations are planned, and other steps are 
being taken which will enable the British Govern- 
ment to reap what advantage it can from the con- 
struction of the canal. With its splendid 
diversity of climate, brought about by the wide 
range of elevated land, the fruits of the temperate 
zones may be grown, as well as those of the Tropics, 
and, as John Foster Fraser expresses it, Jamaica 
may become the orchard of Great Britain. 


Denmark is planning extensive shipping facili- 
ties in its beautiful harbor of Charlotte Amalia 
on the Island of St. Thomas. This island, which 
commands one of the principal passages from 
the Atlantic to the Caribbean Sea, might to-day 
be a possession of the United States had this 
Government been willing to buy it when Denmark 
was anxious to sell. It was here that the bold 
pirates of the Spanish Main hid their crews in 
the all but landlocked harbor, and waited for 
the shipping which passed through Mona passage. 
Here Bluebeard 's castle still standsj a mute re- 
minder of the romantic days when buccaneers 
dominated the Spanish Main. 

The north coast of South America also expects 
to figure largely in the new commercial map. 
The northern cities of Venezuela are on' the route 
from eastern South America through the canal, 
and on one of the natural routes from Pacific 
ports to Europe. Nowhere else in the w orld will 
one find a more delightful climate or a more 
picturesque city or scenery than in northern Ven- 
ezuela. Caracas, the capital, is but two hours' 
ride from the port of La Guaira, and less than 
a day's journey from Puerto Cabello, and,J^ while 
the commerce which may be developed in Ven- 
ezuela will, for the most part, find its outlet 
to the sea through the Orinoco River, La 
Guaira and Puerto Cabello will always prove 
attractive ports of call for passenger-carrying 

The changes in the commercial situation of Asia 
and the Americas, brought about by the opening 
of the canal, will be many. There will be a sudden 


readjustment of existing trade routes and this 
will be followed by a long era of development of 
new conditions, which will be so gradual as to be 
almost imperceptible, and yet so immense as to 
excite the wonder of humanity when it stops to 
reckon its full eflfect and meaning. 



THE great development of the southern 
part of the New World, extending from 
the Rio Grande to the Strait of Magellan, 
certain to take place as a result of the opening 
of the Panama Canal, spells opportunity for 
American commerical expansion. This vast ter- 
ritory, covering an area nearly three times as great 
as that of the United States, has a population of 
only 50,000,000. Its resources have been merely 
scratched on the surface. Its potentialities, acre 
for acre, are as great as those of the United States. 
Porto Rico will serve for a criterion by which 
to measure the future possibilities of this Empire 
of the South. In Porto Rico one may see the 
benefits of the institution of a really good govern- 
ment, and the success which attends a proper effort 
to develop natural resources in tropical America. 
If American opportunities in all Latin America 
may be measured by American successes in that 
island, then, indeed, the future is rich with prom- 
ise. During a single decade the external com- 
merce of this little gem of the West Indies was 
more than quadrupled. It now amounts to some 
$80,000,000 a year, and only about 12 other 
countries in the world buy more goods from the 
American manufacturer. 



The expansion of internal business has kept 
pace with the growth of external commerce. In 
seven years taxable values increased from less 
than $90,000,000 to more than $160,000,000. 
In a single year the amount of life insurance written 
in the island nearly doubled, and fire insurance 
increased nearly half. The exportation of sugar 
increased fivefold in 10 years, and the exportation 
of cigars 14 times. The population of the island 
has increased by half under the beneficient policies 
of the United States, going up from 800,000 in 
1898 to 1,200,000 in 1912. During a single year 
Porto Rico buys about $35,000,000 worth of goods 
from the United States, and ships practically the 
same amount to this country. 

Should all Latin America prove as good a 
customer in proportion to area as Porto Rico, 
our trade with Latin America alone would be 
many fold greater than the entire foreign trade 
of the United States to-day. Should all Latin 
America, even with its present population, buy 
as liberally from the United States as Porto Rico 
does, we would sell annually to it nearly $2,000,- 
000,000 worth of products. 

The most necessary step in developing the 
potentialities of Latin America is to provide good 
and stable government. Commercial statistics 
show how prosperity flourishes where good govern- 
ment reigns, and of how poverty dwells where 
misgovernment exists. One may go to Porto 
Rico, to Jamaica, to Curacao, or to St. Thomas, and 
in each of these countries may behold the whole- 
some rule of northern Europeans and their 
descendants. The people have at least those sub- 


stantial rights which are necessary to the peace, 
happiness, and well-being of humanity; and equally 
without exception trade statistics show a greater 
foreign trade, in proportion to area and population, 
than is enjoyed in any country where misrule pre- 
vails. Porto Rico could be buried in a single lake of 
Nicaragua; it is only one-fifty-seventh as large as 
Central America; and yet Porto Rico has a foreign 
trade greater than all the territory from the Isth- 
mus of Tehuantepec to the Isthmus of Panama. 

How to improve governmental conditions in 
those countries where misrule prevails is a most 
serious problem. Had it not been for the Monroe 
doctrine it is safe to say that not one of the Re- 
pubUcs of tropical America would be in existence 
today. Instead, their territory would be colonial 
possessions of the several powerful nations, and 
their people would be living under the comparatively 
wholesome rule of those nations. As it is, in a 
majority of the Republics south of the Rio Grande 
there is a state of affairs which makes against the 
development of resources and the best interests 
of the people. The whole theory under which these 
countries are governed is that primitive oiie: 
"Let him take who has the power, and let him 
keep who can." The result is that they are 
Republics only in name, and that the only way to 
change administrations is to have a revolution. 
Revolutions mean poverty; poverty means un- 
developed resources, and so in some of these 
countries conditions were as bad in 1913, after 
nearly a century of so-called repubUcan rule, as 
they were when the yoke of Spain was thrown off 
in 1821. How to bring about those conditions 


of peace and amity essential to national growth 
and development in these countries is the problem 
that has vexed more than one administration in 

Some have answered that the best way to do it 
is to abrogate the Monroe doctrine and to let 
every Latin American tub stand on its own bottom, 
a proposal that might benefit these countries 
vastly, but which contains many possibilities of 
evil to the United States. Others have suggested 
that our experiment in Porto Rico offers the 
solution of the problem, at least so far as tropical 
North America is concerned. They assert that 
the end would justify the means, and that the 
planning of the same character of government 
in this territory that exists in Porto Rico today, 
would be the greatest godsend that the masses 
of the people of these countries could have. Still 
others have advocated a "hands-off" poUcy so 
far as the rule of these countries is concerned, 
allowing them to fight whenever, and in whatever 
way, they wish, but at the same time adhering 
rigidly to the Monroe doctrine against European 

Whatever the ultimate conclusion, it seems use- 
less to hope for prosperity and expansion in coun- 
tries whose industries constantly suffer from the 
galling blight of ever-recurring revolution. The 
great problem that Hes before the American people, 
if the Latin America of the future is to become 
like the Anglo-Saxon America of today, is that 
of devising a policy which will insure conditions 
of peace and good will in the several sword-ruled 
countries south of the Rio Grande. 


As matters stand today in the majority of the 
countries of Latin America, although their Govern- 
ments owe their very existence to the United 
States, there is a feehng of antipathy against 
Americans, which places the American exporter 
on an unequal footing with his European rival. 
There is a prejudice against Americans, partly 
the result of a widespread feeling that the United 
States is the great land-grabber of the Western 
world, but mostly the result of the attitude of a 
large number of Americans who go into these 
regions. For instance, for years one could not go 
about the streets of Mexico City without hearing 
some American berating the "blankety blank 
greasers," and asserting that the United States 
could take 5,000 men and capture Mexico City 
in a two-month campaign. It happens that the 
Mexican is a proud individual and naturally he 
bitterly resents such asseverations. 

The same is true elsewhere, and by personal 
contact prejudice rather than a feeling of friendship 
has been aroused. The European usually goes 
into these countries because there are few op- 
portunities at home. He is usually representative 
of the best citizenship of his homeland, and quite 
as much the gentleman in Latin America as 
at home. While there are a great many splendid 
types of American citizenship scattered throughout 
Latin America, a greater number of people have 
gone there because they could not get along in 
the United States, and their hostile attitude 
toward the natives excites by far more prejudice 
than the better class of Americans can counteract 
by sympathy and good feeling. Americans who 


visit these countries expressing contempt for 
everything they see, and everything the people 
do, are the greatest hindrances to the reahzation 
of the commercial opportunities which the United 
States possesses in Latin America. 

If the manufacturers of the United States are 
to realize to the full the benefits which may be 
derived from the opening of the Panama Canal 
they will have to reform their methods of dealing 
with the Latin Americans. It is just as effective 
to send to buyers at home catalogs written in 
Greek or Sanscrit as to send to the majority of 
Latin Americans catalogs printed in English. 
In traveling through these countries, endeavoring 
to ascertain wherein Americans have failed in their 
efforts to get a proper share of their foreign trade, 
one hears on every hand the complaint that the 
American manufacturer seldom meets the condi- 
tions upon which their trade may be based. 
No satisfactory credits are given, and no effort 
is made to manufacture machinery fitted to their 
peculiar needs. Agricultural machinery, for 
instance, which may serve admirably in the United 
States, is wholly out of place in many of these 
countries; and yet the Latin American customer 
must either buy the surplus of these machines or 
go elsewhere for machinery built to answer his 

The European traveUng salesman in these 
countries carries a line of goods immediately 
answerable to local requirements. Furthermore, 
the European exporter understands that the 
system of credits in Latin America is not the same 
as prevails in Europe and the United States, 


and he complies with their requirements. Of 
course, his prices are placed high enough so that 
he is nothing out of pocket for the seeming con- 
cessions he had made. The result is that in 
traveling in these countries, one meets three or 
four foreign 'Mrummers" where he meets one 
American traveling man, in spite of their nearness 
to the United States. It will take years, even 
with the Panama Canal in operation, to overcome 
the disadvantage which bad business policy has 
placed upon the American manufacturers. 

If the opening of the Panama Canal spells 
new American commercial opportunities, it also 
develops a new field of international politics 
in which the United States must make itself the 
dominant factor, and in which it will have a 
transcendental interest. It will unquestionably 
give to the Monroe doctrine a new importance 
and render its maintenance a more urgent neces- 
sity than ever. Prior to this time the breaking 
down of the Monroe doctrine would have been 
greatly detrimental to the interests of the United 
States, but from this time forth the domination 
of the Caribbean by some other strong nation 
would likely prove most disastrous to American 
welfare. It might even lead to the loss of the 
canal itself, and we then would witness that great 
waterway transformed from a military asset of 
immeasureable benefit into a base of operations 
against us. 

Probably the chief danger to which the Monroe 
doctrine is exposed is from those countries whose 
rulers profit most by its enforcement. While 
the United States can control its own affairs in 


such a way as not to bring into question this 
doctrine, it is not so certain that the rulers of some 
of the Latin American nations will always do as 
well. In fact, some of the countries have con- 
ducted their affairs in such a way as might have 
involved the United States in a war with a foreign 
power. The knowledge that a small tropical 
American republic might act so as to force the 
United States into a critical situation has resulted 
in a desire on the part of the responsible authorities 
at Washington to exercise over the Republics 
of the Caribbean such a guiding control as would 
serve to prevent them, through any ill-considered 
or irresponsible act, from exposing the United 
States to dangerous controversies with foreign 

For instance, here is a country which owes a 
large debt to British bondholders. It defaults 
on the interest for a period of years. Efforts 
to collect are futile. Finally it is decided by 
the President that he needs additional funds. 
He reaches an agreement with the representatives 
of the bondholders, by which they agree to refund 
the debt and to lend him an additional half a 
million dollars, upon the condition that he hypothe- 
cate the Government's export tax upon coffee to 
secure the amortization of the refunded debt. 
He does so. Matters move along quietly for a 
httle while, but soon he needs additional funds. 
He negotiates with New York bankers, getting 
from them the funds he needs, and hypothecates 
with them the same coffee tax that he had hitherto 
hypothecated with the British bondholders. Of 
course, the British bondholders protest at this 


impairment of their securities. He laughs at 
their protest. England sends a warship to his 
ports. He appeals loudly to the United States 
for the maintenance of the Monroe doctrine; but 
the United States does not hear him, so he decides 
to treat the British bondholders fairly. If he 
had not done so, and England had been seeking 
to break down the Monroe doctrine, an ideal op- 
portunity would have been afforded. 

It is to prevent such situations as these that 
many Americans hope that the Government may 
devise some plan that will at once protect the 
United States from such menaces, and at the same 
time allow the people of these countries to work 
out their own destiny in their own way. 

The situation in tropical America today, with 
a few exceptions, seems to be that the republics 
have the form of liberty without its substance, 
and the shadow of civilization without its realities. 
Some of them have had over fifty revolutions in 
as many years. Some of them have been in the 
grip of tyrants who were as heartless in exploiting 
their people as was Nero in ruling Rome. The 
masses have received nothing from the Government 
except oppression, and they live in that hopeless, 
heartless ignorance so well described by a Spanish 
writer, picturing conditions in Porto Rico before 
the American occupation. We know that this 
picture was a true one. It was drawn in 1897 
and won the prize awarded by the Spanish Govern- 
ment at the centennial celebration of the retire- 
ment of the English from this island. After dilating 
upon the splendors and magnificence of Porto 
Rico, this artist of the pen said of the masses: 


"Only the laborer, the son of our fields, one 
of the most unfortunate beings in the world, with 
the paUid face, the bare foot, the fleshless body, 
the ragged clothing, and the feverish glance, 
strolls indifferently with the darkness of ignorance 
in his eyes. In the market he finds for food only 
the rotten salt fish or meat, cod fish covered with 
gangrenish splotches, and Indian rice; he that 
harvests the best coffee in the world, who aids in 
gathering into the granary the sweetest grain in 
nature, and drives to pasture the beautiful young 
meat animals, can not carry to his lips a single 
shce of meat because the municipal exactions place 
it beyond his means, almost doubling the price 
of infected cod fish; coffee becomes to him an 
article of luxury because of its high price, and he 
can use only sugar laden with molasses and im- 

That picture applies to more than 90 per cent 
of the people in tropical America to day. It 
explains why these countries, which might be made 
to flow with the milk and honey of a wondrous 
plenty, are poverty-stricken and unable to work 
out a satisfactory destiny for themselves. It 
shows why Cuba, Porto Rico, and Jamaica to-day 
are rich in internal trade, and prosperous in 
foreign commerce, while other countries are eking 
out a bare and scanty existence. 

American commercial opportunities around the 
Mediterranean of the West, in particular, and in 
Latin America, in general, will reach their full when 
government there becomes government for the 
welfare of the people rather than for the aggran- 
dizement of the ruling class. 



WHEN, on February 20, 1915, the Panama- 
Pacific International Exposition opens its 
gates to the world, in celebration of the 
completion of the Panama Canal, it expects to 
oflPer to the nations of the earth a spectacle the 
like of which has never been equaled in the history 
of expositions. It is estimated that $50,000,000 
will be spent in thus celebrating the great triumph 
of American genius at Panama. And those who 
know the spirit of the people of California, who 
are immediately responsible to the United States 
and to the world for the success of the under- 
taking, understand that nothing will be over- 
looked that might please the eye, stir the fancy, 
or arouse the patriotism of those who journey 
to the Golden Gate to behold the wonders of 
this great show. 

The spirit that was San Francisco's following 
the terrible calamity of April 18, 1906, when the 
city was shaken to its foundations by a great 
earthquake, and when uncontrollable fire com- 
pleted the ruin and devastation which the earth- 
quake had begun, has been the spirit that has 
planned and is carrying to a successful culmina- 
tion the Panama-Pacific Exposition. The San 
Francisco earthquake came as the most terrific 


blow that ever descended upon an American 
city. It left the metropolis of the Pacific a mass 
of ruins and ashes. In five years a newer and a 
prouder San Francisco arose from the ashes of 
the old, and greeted the world as the highest 
example of municipal greatness to which a com- 
munity can rise at times when nothing is left to 
man but hope, and that hope is half despair. 

The fire destroyed 8,000 houses, leaving such 
a hopeless mass of debris that $20,000,000 had to 
be raised to reclaim the bare earth itself. In 
five years 31,000 finer and better houses had taken 
their places. Assessed values before the fire were 
$30,000,000 less than five years after. Bank 
clearings increased by a third and savings-bank 
deposits were greater after only five years than 
they were before the terrible catastrophe. 

It may be imagined what wonders this spirit 
of the Golden West will accomplish when applied 
to the creation of an exposition. It is easy to 
forecast that, beautiful as have been the exposi- 
tions of the past, and magnificent as has been the 
scale upon which they were planned, fresh palms 
will be awarded to San Francisco and the great 
fair it will offer to the world in 1915. 

The city of the Golden Gate was planning a 
great celebration nearly two years before the 
calamity which overtook it in 1906. The first 
suggestion for holding a world's fair at San Fran- 
cisco was made on June 12, 1904, when Mr. R. B. 
Hale wrote a letter to the San Francisco Mer- 
chants' Association advising its members that it 
would be wise to take steps toward securing for 
that city a great celebration of the 400th anni- 


versary of the discovery of the Pacific Ocean, in 
1913. The matter was agitated for a year and a 
half and, a Kttle more than three months prior to 
the earthquake. Representative JuHus Kahn in- 
troduced in the National House of Representa- 
tives a bill providing for the celebration of the 
discovery of the Pacific, in 1913. Then followed 
the great catastrophe, and for the eight months 
next ensuing the problems of planning a new and 
greater San Francisco demanded all the atten- 
tion of the people of that city. In December, 
1906, however, the Pacific Ocean Exposition Com- 
pany was incorporated with a capital stock of 

By 1910 New Orleans had loomed up as an 
aspirant for the honor of holding the great in- 
ternational celebration of the completion of the 
Panama Canal, and San Francisco understood 
that time for action was at hand, and, moreover, 
that money raised at home for the exposition 
would be the most eloquent advocate before 
Congress. Realizing this, a great mass meeting 
was called and in two hours subscriptions amount- 
ing to $4,089,000 were raised, headed by 40 sub- 
scriptions of $25,000 each. 

In the fall of that year San Francisco was af- 
forded an opportunity of attesting the universality 
of its interest in the success of the exposition. 
A proposition to vote $5,000,000 worth of bonds 
for the exposition was referred to the people. It 
carried by a vote of 42,040 to 2,122. The State 
of California also gave its citizens an opportunity 
to show their feeling, and by a vote of 174,000 to 
50,000 made available bonds for $5,000,000 for 


the purposes of the exposition. The result has 
been that from first to last, within the confines 
of California's borders, a sum approximating $20,- 
000,000 has been raised for exposition pur- 
poses. To this, $30,000,000 will be added by 
outside governments and by exhibitors and con- 

The fight which led to the choosing of San 
Francisco as the city for holding the Panama 
celebration is, for the most part, familiar history. 
The law under which this choice was made was 
signed by President Taft on February 15, 1911. 
The presidential signature was the signal for the 
beginning of operations looking to the comple- 
tion of all of the exposition buildings a full six 
months ahead of the opening date. The details 
of the site were worked out promptly. The site 
selected includes the western half of Golden Gate 
Park; Lincoln Park, which is situated on a high 
bluflf overlooking the approach from the Pacific 
Ocean and the Golden Gate; and Harbor View, 
which is an extensive tract of level land, stretch- 
ing along the shore of San Francisco Bay and 
back to the hills and the principal residential 
portion of the city. 

Each element in this extensive site possesses 
its own peculiar charm; Golden Gate Park with 
its great variety of flowers and semitropical 
plants and trees; Lincoln Park with its outlook 
on the broad Pacific and along the rugged coast- 
line to the north; and Harbor View with the 
Golden Gate to the left, a chain of climbing hills 
across the harbor in front, and the long sweep of 
bay and islands to the right. What nature has 


not done for the site of the exposition will be 
done by the art of the landscape gardener. 

An ocean boulevard, to be made one of the 
most beautiful drives in the world, will become 
one of the permanent memorials of the exposi- 
tion. A great esplanade, planted with cypress 
and eucalypti and Uberally provided with seats, 
will extend along the water's edge for about half 
the entire length of the exposition grounds, 
affording ample opportunity for the thousands 
of visitors to watch the great water events which 
will constitute one of the features of the exposi- 
tion. On the south side of this esplanade the 
principal exposition buildings, consisting of eight 
great palaces, will be located. A great wall, 60 
feet high, will be built along the northern and 
western waterfronts for the purpose of break- 
ing the winds which sweep down the harbor, and 
will be continued around the other two sides of 
the exposition grounds proper so as to constitute 
a walled inclosure which, in appearance, will re- 
mind one of the old walled towns of southern 
France and Spain. 

The two principal gateways to the exposition 
grounds will open into great interior courts, 
around which the buildings will be ranged. It 
will be possible for the visitor to go from one 
building to another and complete the entire cir- 
cuit of eight main ekhibition palaces without 
once stepping from under cover. The three 
largest courts are named: The Court of the Sun 
and Stars, the Court of Abundance, and the 
Court of the Four Seasons. The Court of Abund- 
ance represents the Orient, and the Court of the 


Four Seasons, the Occident; the Court of the Sun 
and Stars, uniting the other two, will typify the 
linking of the Orient and the Occident through 
the completion of the Panama Canal. There 
will also be two lesser courts, known as the Court 
of Flowers and the Court of Palms. Outside 
of the walled city there will be five other import- 
ant exhibition palaces. 

The Panama-Pacific Exposition will be differ- 
ent from any that has gone before. Where others 
have been built on broad, level plains, this one 
will be located in one of nature's most beautiful 
natural amphitheaters, with the residential por- 
tions of San Francisco and the towns of the sur- 
rounding country looking down upon it. The 
architecture will be of such a nature that will 
make the "Fair City" indeed a fair city to 

If Chicago had its "White City," the San Fran- 
cisco fair will be all aglow with rich color. It 
will be made to harmonize with the "vibrant 
tints of the native wild flowers, the soft browns 
of the surrounding hills, the gold of the oranger- 
ies, the blue of the sea." The artist in charge of 
this phase of the work declares that, "as the 
musician builds his symphony around a motif or 
chord," so it became his duty to "strike a chord 
of color and build his symphony upon it." The 
one thing upon which he insisted was that there 
should be no white, and the pillars, statues, 
fountains, masts, walls, and flagpoles that are 
to contrast with the tinted decorations are to be 
of ivory yellow. Even the dyeing of the bunting 
for flags and draperies is under the personal 


supervision of the artist in charge of the color 
scheme of the exposition. The roofs of the build- 
ings will be harmoniously colored and the city 
will be a great party-colored area of red tiles, 
golden domes, and copper-green minarets. "Im- 
agine," said Jules Guerin, the artist, "a gigantic 
Persian rug of soft melting tones with brilliant 
splotches here and there, spread down for a mile 
or more, and you may get some idea of what the 
Panama-Pacific Exposition will look hke when 
viewed from a distance." 

The lighting of the exposition will be by indi- 
rect illumination, affording practically the same 
intensity of light by night as by day. Lights 
will be hidden behind the colonnades, above the 
cornices, and behind masts on the roofs. Sculp- 
ture will stand out without shadow at night as by 
day. Great searchlights, many of them con- 
centrated upon jets of steam, and playing in 
varying color, will add to the beauty of the scene. 
Even the fogs of the harbor will be made to con- 
tribute to the night effect of the exposition, and 
auroras will spread like draped lilies in the sky 
over the exhibition. 

The sculpture will be unique in the history of 
exposition-giving. That phase of the work is 
under the control of Karl Bitter. In front of 
the main entrance, at the tower gate, there will 
be an allegory of the Panama Canal called 
"Energy; the lord of the Isthmian way." It 
will be represented by an enormous horse stand- 
ing on a heavy pedestal, the horse carrying a man 
with extended arms pushing the waters apart. In 
the Court of the Sun and Stars two great sculp- 


tural fountains, typical of the rising and setting 
of the sun, will carry out the idea of "the world 
united and the land divided.'* In every part of 
the exposition scheme the sculpture wiU tell the 
story of the unification of the nations of the 
East and the West through the construction of 
the Panama Canal. 

Nothing seems to have been overlooked in the 
plans that have been made to celebrate the open- 
ing of the Panama Canal at San Francisco. There 
will be a working model of the Panama Canal, 
with a capacity of handling 2,000 people every 
£0 minutes. A reproduction of the Grand Canyon 
of Arizona will be another feature. The hber- 
ality of the prizes offered is indicated by the fact 
that premiums in the live-stock exhibits alone 
aggregate $175,000. 

One of the greatest events of the exposition 
will be the rendezvous of representative ships 
from the fleets of all the nations of the earth in 
Hampton Roads in January and February, 1915. 
Their commanders will visit Washington and be 
received by the President. He will return with 
them to Hampton Roads and there review what 
promises to be the greatest international naval 
display in history. After this a long procession 
of fighting craft, perhaps accompanied by an 
equally long procession of tourist steamers, pri- 
vate yachts, and ships of commerce, will steam 
out of the Virginia Capes and turn their prows 
down the Spanish Main to Colon. Here the 
canal authorities will formally welcome the ship- 
ping world and pass its representatives through 
to the Pacific, whence they will sail to San Fran- 


CISCO, there to participate in the great celebration 
during the months which will follow. It may be 
that this great procession will be headed by the 
U, S. S. Oregon^ whose trip around South Amer- 
ica in 1898 proclaimed in tones that were heard in 
every hamlet in the United States the necessity 
of building the great waterway. 

In addition to the great exposition at San 
Francisco, another will throw open its gates dur- 
ing 1915 — the Panama-Cahfornia Exposition at 
San Diego. This exposition will be held at a 
total outlay of, perhaps, $20,000,000. Nearly 
$6,000,000 is being spent on a magnificent sea 
wall. The San Diego and Arizona Railway is 
being built on a new and lower grade for nearly 
mo miles. About $5,000,000 will be spent in 
making the exposition proper in Balboa Park. 
Over 11 miles of docks and a thousand acres of 
reclaimed land for warehouses and factory sites 
will be ready when the exposition opens on Jan- 
uary 1, 1915. The fair will have 30 acres of 
Spanish gardens. A great Indian congress and 
exhibit will be held, representing every tribe of 
North and South America. This exposition will 
in nowise interfere with the big show at San 
Francisco, but will be supplemental to it. 

When the Suez Canal was finished, its opening 
was celebrated by the most magnificent fete of 
modern times, the profligate Khedive Ismail 
Pasha apparently endeavoring to outdo the tra- 
ditions of his Mussulman predecessors, Haroun 
al Raschid and Akbar. The fete lasted for four 
weeks, Cairo was decorated and illuminated as 
no city, of either Occident or Orient, ever had 


been before. The expense of the month's car- 
nival was more than $21,000,000. 

An opera house was built especially for the 
occasion, and Verdi, the famous Italian composer, 
was employed to write a special opera for the 
occasion. That the opera was "Aida," and that 
it marked the high tide of Verdi's genius, was 
perhaps more than might have been expected of 
a work of art produced at the command of an ex- 
travagant prince's gold. 

The canal itseK was opened on November 16, 
1869, a procession of forty-eight ships, men of 
war, royal yachts and merchantmen, making 
the transit of the Isthmus in three days' time. 
In the first ship was Eugenie, Empress of the 
French. In another was the Emperor of Austria, 
and in still another the Prince of Wales, after- 
wards Edward VII. A more imposing gathering 
of imperial and royal personages never before 
had been witnessed, and all of them were the 
Christian guests of the Moslem Ismail. 

When the procession of royal vessels had 
passed through, the captains and the kings went to 
Cairo for the fete. The canal was open for traflSc. 
It was significant that the first vessel to pass 
through in the course of ordinary business, paying 
its tolls, flew the British ensign. The building 
of the canal had wrecked Egypt, financially and 
politically; was destined to end forever the hope 
of Asiatic empire for France; and was to make 
certain England's dominion over India, a thing 
de Lesseps and Napoleon III had intended it 
to destroy. 

The celebration of the completion of the Suez 



Canal was the wildest orgy of modern times, the 
last attempt to Orientalize a commercial mider- 
taking of the Age of Steam and Steel. 

The celebration at San Francisco will be more 
magnificent in its way, and will cost more money. 
But the millions will not be thrown away for 
the mere delectation of the senses of two score 
princes — they will be expended for the enter- 
tainment and the education of millions of people, 
the humblest of whom will have his full share 
in the celebration. 

From the spruce woods of Maine, from the 
orange groves of Florida, from the wide fields 
of the Mississippi Valley, from the broad plains 
of the Colorado, from the blue ridges of the AUe- 
ghenies and the snow peaks of the Rockies, 
Americans will go to the Golden Gate to com- 
memorate in their American way the closer 
miion of their States, the consummation of the 
journeys of Columbus: The Land Divided — 
the World United. 





Accessory Transit Company, 199 

Accidents, 72 

Amador, Dr., 238, 239 

A-Ccounting department, 315 

American Federation of Labor, 271 

American clings to home habits, 177 

American Federation of Women's 
Clubs, 176, 180 

American mind wanted canal, 11 

American Rivers and Harbors Con- 
gress, 346 

Amsterdam Canal, 341-342 

Amundsen, 4 

Amusements, 178, 188, 189, 190, 191, 

Ancon Hill, 89 

Ancon Study Club, 183 

Animal life, 331 

Ants, 331 

Appropriations for canal, 269 

Aspinwall, William H., 102 

Babel of American ambitions, 80 

Bailey, John, 197 

Balboa, 6, 7, 89, 90, 333 

Barnacles, 40 

Beef, Price of, 166, 167 

Beauregard, P. T. G., 204 

Bitter, Kari, 374 

Blackburn, Joseph C. S., 138, 142, 

250, 252, 258 
Board of consulting engineers, 32 
Boswell, Helen Varick, 180 
Bridles, 77 

British bondholders, 365 
Brooke, Mark, 133 
Bryce, James, 20, 23 
Buccaneers, English, 334 
Bull-fighting, 328 
Bunau-Varilla, Philippe, 222, 230, 

237, 238, 246, 327 
Burke, John, 143 
"Bush dwellers," 155 

Cables, 78 

Caisson gates, 62, 63 

Caledonia, 159 

Camp Fire Girls, 183 

Cantilever pivot bridges, 57 

Canada, Western, 20 

Canal not constructed to make money, 

Canal Zone, 6, 7, 247, 326 

Canal Zone government, 256-267, 
271, 312 

Canals, 335-346 

Canals, Isthmian, 194-205 

Cargo ship, 319 

Central and South American Tele- 
graph Company, 253 

Chagres River, 2, 5, 27, 32, 33, 36, 
37, 40, 82, 110, 214, 280, 330 

Chagres Valley, 33, 36 

Chain for stopping vessels, 58, 59, 60 

Channel, Sea-level, 46 

Charies V, 194 

Chauncey, Henry, 103 

Cheops, Pyramid of, 24 

Chicago Drainage Canal, 345 

Childs, Orville, 199 

Choice of route, 221-232 

Chucunoques, 332 

Civil administration, 138 

Civil-service requirements, 136 

Claims, Adjustment of, 323 

Claims for lands, 260 

Clay, Henry, 197 

Clayton-Bulwer treaty, 15, 17, 198, 
302 303 

Cleveland (Ship), 297 

Clutches, Friction, 57 

Clubhouses, 186 

Coaling, 320 

Coaling plants, 91, 92 

Cock-fighting, 328 

Cole, H. O., 143 

Collisions, 60 




Colombia, 227, 228, 231, 233-245 
Colon Beach, 101 

Columbus, Christopher, 3, 194, 347 
Comber, W. G., 143 
Commercial map, 347-357 
Commissary, 164-175 
Commissary department, 30 
Compagnie Universelle du Canal 

Interoceanique, 213, 214' 
Concession, Extension of, 104 
Concession to the French, 196 
Concrete mixers, 54 
Congress and the canal, 268-276 
Conquercrs, Spanish, 334 
Constantinople, Capture of, 347, 348 
Constantinople, Convention of, 292 
Contra Costa Water Company, 43 
Contract system, 13 
Contractor's Hill, 79 
Controversy with Colombia, 233-245 
Cook, Thomas F., 144 
Corozal (Dredge), 84 
Corruption, 14 
Corruption in building French canal, 

9, 207 
Cortez, Hernando, 195 
Cost of canal, 5 
Cost of French canal, 208 
Cotton production. Center of, S55 
Coupon books, 169 
Court system, 261 
Courtesy of West Indian Negro, 157 
Courtesy of workmen, 147 
Cranes, Floating, 322 
Cristobal, 6, 7 
Cromwell, William Nelson, 230. 237, 

Cronstadt and St. Petersburg Canal, 

Cruelty of natives, 329 
Cruelty of Spaniards, 333 
Culebra Cut, 5, 13, 21, 26, 34, 35, 40, 

70-81, 214, 216, 277, 278 
Culebra Mountain, 4, 20, 79, 80, 196, 

Cullom, Shelby M.. 232 
Culverts, 50 

Dams, Emergency, 60, 61 
Davis, Charles H.. 196 
Davis, George W., 134, 256 

Death rate, 103 

Debts of American Republics, 365 

Department store, 166 

Deportation of laborers, 152 

Devol, C. A., 143 

Dikes, 126 

Dikes of HoUand, 44 

"Dingler's folly," 208 

Diplomatic entanglements, 17 

Dredges, Ladder, 84 

Dredges, Suction, 83 

Duty on imports, 323 

Dynamite, 28, 74 

Eads, James B., 202, 203 
Eastern Roman Empire, 8 
Eating places, 170 
Economy in handling material, 55 
EflSciency records, 72, 73 
Eight-hour working day, 137, 271 
Elections in Panama, 251, 327 
Electric current, 67 
Electrical department, 315 
Endicott, Mordecai T., 135 
"Energy; the lord of the Isthmian 

way," 394 
Engineering department, 314 
Engineering difficulties, 29 
Engineering project of all historj', 

Englishman deJ5es Tropics, 177 
Equipment for hauling material, 53 
Erie Canal, 346 

Expense of operating canal, 313 
Extravagance in building French 

canal, 207 
Ernst, Oswald H., 135 

Filibusters, French, 334 
Finley, Carlos, 11, 106 
Fire department, 264 
Fishing, 192 
Flamenco Island, 88 
Flowers, 330 

Foreign trade of U. S., 353 
Fortifications, 18. 283-294 
Foundations, 90 
Eraser, John Foster. 355 
French began work in 1880, 5 
French canal, 53 
French failure, 206-220 



Prencli Panama Canal Company, 

French spent $300,000,000, 8 
French Canal Company, 9, 93, 252 
Fruits, 330 

Gaillard, D. D., 138, 139 

Gamboa, 40 

Gatun Dam, 13, 21, 23, 25, 26, 32-34, 

36, 41-43, 56, 279 
Gatun Lake, 36, 37, 38, 45, 47, 50, 56, 

60, 62, 82, 95, 315, 330 
Goethal, George Washington, 13, 18, 

33, 43, 119-132, 273 
Gold Hill, 79 
Golf links, 315 
Good Hope, Cape of, 19 
Gorgas, WnUam C, 105, 108, 134, 

138, 142 
Government ownership of railways, 99 
Graft, 14 

"Great undertaker," 218 
Guayaquil, 19 
Gudger, H. A., 263 
Guerin, Jules, 374 
Gulf States, 20 

Hains, Peter C. 135 

Handling the traffic, 317-325 

Hanna, Marcus A., 227, 230 

Harding, Chester, 143 

Harrod, Benjamin A., 135 

Hay, John, 246 

Hay-Herran treaty, 16, 231, 232, 

233, 235 
Hay - Pauncefote treaty, 17, 225, 

300, 301, 303, 304 
Health of canal workers, 210 
Heat of the Tropics, 179 
Hepburn, William P., 223 
High cost of living, 175 
Hise, Elijah 198 
Hodges, Harry F., 139, 141 
Honolulu, 19 
Hoosac Tunnel, 71 
Hospitals, 112, 208, 209 
Hotels, 100, 101, 171 
Hunter, Henry, 278 
Hunting, 191, 192 
Hydrauhc excavation, 79 
Hydraulic Fill. 85 

Ice plant, 92 
Ice, Price of, 168 
Iguana, 329 
Inmaigration, 157 
Incas Society, 152 
Injury to the canal, 324 
International commerce, 3 
Isthmian Canal Commission, 12, 88, 

96, 97, 109, 119, 201, 224, 225, 229. 

268, 269, 311 

Johnson, Emory R., 18, 299. 306 

Kahn, Julius, 370 

Kaiser - Wilhelm Canal. 340-341 

Kiel Canal, 340-341 

Knox, Philander C, 43, 243 

Labor in passing ships through, 68, 69 

Laborers, 367 

Land, Prices of, 333 

Laws of Canal Zone, 266, 267 

Lesseps, Ferdinand de, 8, 132, 211- 

Lidgerwood cableways, 53 
Lidgerwood dirt car, 25 
Lidgerwood dirt trains, 76 
Lidgerwood flat cars, 74, 77 
Life on the zone, 176-193 
Lighting of locks, 325 
Liquor question, 186 
Lloyd, J. A., 196 
Lloyds, 324 

Lock canal, 13, 18, 137, 216, 217, 281 
Lock machinery, 57-67 
Locks, 19, 26, 46, 48-55, 58, 62, 

Locomotives, Electric, 65-67 
Lottery, 217, 254 
Loulan, J. A., 148 
Lusitania, 297 

Machinery, Dependable, 57 

Machinery, Abandoned, 207 

Machinery, Value of, 219 

MacKenzie, Alexander, 119 

Magellan, 4 

Magellan, Straits of, 19 

Magoon, Charles E., 109. 135, 136, 

"Making the dirt fly," 27 



Malaria. 9. 11, 105, 207. 211 

Man-made peninsula, 45 

Manchester ship canal, 29, 30, 339 

Manila, 19 

Manson, Sir Patrick, 11, 106 

Manufacturers of U. S., 363 

Margarita Island, 284 

Maritime Canal Company, 200, 223 

Markets, 329 

Marriage, 155 

Married men more content, 179 

Materia medica of Panamans, 331 

Matrimony, Premium on, 179 

Mears, Frederick, 143 

Melbourne, 19 

Menocal, A. G., 200 

Metcalf, Richard L., 139 

Miraflores, 26, 27, 40, 47, 55, 61, 67. 

82, 89. 126 
Mississippi Valley, 20 
Mistakes in building, 12 
Mahogany. 330 

Money for building always ready, 11 
Monroe doctrine, 7, 15, 360, 361, 
Morgan, Henry, 334 
Morgan, John T., 221 
Mosquito Coast, 198 
Mosquitoes, 9, 11, 12, 105-107, 114, 


Naos Island, 87, 284 

National geographic society, 23 

National Institute, 327 

Naval display, 375 

Navy, Efficiency of, 348 

Negroes, 154-163 

Nelson, Horatio, 197 

New Caledonia, 7 

New Granada, 237 

New Panama Canal Company, 133, 

219, 221, 224-228, 233, 235-237, 

242, 270 
Nicaraguan Canal, 15, 16, 198, 199, 

201, 222, 230, 231 
Nicaraguan Canal Commission, 199 
Nombre de Dios, 7, 53 
North Sea Canal, 342-343 

Olympic, 59 

Operating force, 309-312 

to;hids, 330 

Oregon (U. S. Ship), 10 
Organization, 133-144 
Organization of government on Canal 
Zone, 313 

Pacific Ocean Exposition Company, 

Pacific Steamer Navigation Company, 

Palmer, Aaron H., 197 
Pan American Conference, 7 
Panama, 236, 237, 239, 240, 241, 

243. 246-255 
Panama, Bay of, 280 
Panama-California Exposition. 376 
Panama Canal Company, 133, 218 
Panama City, 12, 43 
Panama - Pacific Exposition, 368- 

Panama (Republic), 6, 15, 326-334 
Panama Railroad, 7, 34, 68, 88. 93, 

104, 136, 214, 228, 245 
Panama Railroad Steamship Line. 100 
Pay-day, 160, 161 
Pay of Americans, 173 
Paying ofiF canal army, 30 
Pedro Miguel, 25. 27. 47. 48. 55, 61, 

Pennsylvania tubes, 50 
Perico Island, 88, 285 
Pilots, Canal, 60 
Police force, 262, 263 
Population of the zone. 315 
Porto Rico, 358-360 
Position of canal, 5 
Postal service, 261 
Prize fighting, 328 
Purchase of material, 272 

Quartermaster's department, 174. 314 
Quellenec. F.. 278 

Railroads opposed to canal, 222 

Rates, Passenger, 103 

Rates, Railroad, 99 

Rating of employees, 151 

Reed, Walter, 106 

Reimbursement to owners of vessels 

for accidents, 323 
Rental for Canal Zone, 326 
Religious activities, 183 



Roads, 191, 264, 265 
Robinson, Tracy, 215, 216 
Root, Elihu, 242 
Ross, Roland, 11, 106 
Rosseau, Armand, 217 
Rourke, W. G., 143 
Rousseau, Harry H., 138, 139, 148 
Royal INIail Steam Packet Company, 

Safety appliances, 57 

Safety for ships, 281 ' 

Sailing ships. Death blow to, 322 

Salaries, 310 

San Bias Indians, 332 

San Diego and Arizona Railway, 376 

San Francisco earthquake, 368-369 

Sanitary department, 30 

Sanitation, 105-117, 328, 332, 352 

Sault Ste. Marie canal, 314, 335. 

Saville, Caleb M., 41, 143 
School system, 264 
Schools, Night, 187 
Sea-level canal, 13, 18, 137, 272, 279- 

Secret societies, 184 
Servants, 181, 182 
Shanton, George R., 262 
Shaw, Albert D., 232 
Ship railway, 202, 203, 204 
Shipping routes. International, 351 
Shonts, Theodore P., 135. 137 
Shovels, Steam, 83, 150 
Sibert, William L.. 138, 139 
Simplon Tunnel, 71 
Site of exposition, 371 
Slides, 77, 78 
Smith, Jackson, 138, 139 
Social diversion, 182 
Society of the Chagres, 152, 153 
Soda foimtain, 178 
"Soo" locks, 62 

Spanish American war veterans, 128 
Spanish language. Study of, 181, 

Spanish Main, 356 
Spillway, 26, 37, 38, 39 
Spooner, John C. 229 
Steamship lines, 98 
Stegomyia, 11, 107. 115, 211 

Stevens, John F., 27, 102, 119, 129, 

130, 136, 138 
Stoney Gate valves, 50 
Strangers' Club, 182 
Street-car system, 191 
Strikes, 129 

Suez Canal, 21, 29, 335-339, 376, 377 
Suez Canal rules, 292 
Supplies for building canal free of 

duty, 323 
Switches, Limit, 57 

Tabemilla, 78 

Taboga Island, 285 

Taboga Sanitarium, 113 

Taft, Wm. Howard, 33, 118 

Tehuantepec, Isthmus of, 202, 204 

Tehuantepec railroad, 203 

Tierra del Fuego, 4 

Thatcher. Maurice H.. 139 

TivoU Hotel, 100, 170 

Titanic marine stairway, 45 

Tolls, 18, 295-308, 319 

Toro Point, 46, 87, 284] 

Towing, 322 

Track shifter, 76 

Trade opportunities, 358-367 ^ 

Traffic, 18, 19 

Tramp steamer, 320 

Transcontinental tonnage, 350^ 

Transportation of material excavated, 

Traveling salesmen, 363-364 
Treaties with Colombia and Panama, 

Tropics, Diseases of, 9 
Type of canal, 275 

University Club, 182 

Vaccination of negroes, 162] 
Vanderbilt, Comehus, 199 
Voting, 184, 185 

Wages, 146, 165 

W^allace, John Findley, 130. 133. 

Washington Hotel, 101 
Washington monument, 23, 25, 26 
Water, Control of, 65 
Water supply, 265, 266 



Watertight material, 41 
Wickedness of the City of Panama, 

WiUiams, E. J., 143, 160 
Williamson, S. B.. 143 
Wilson. Eugene T., 143 
Wilson, T. D., 204 
Wire screens, 12 
Women's clubs, 180, 181 
Women's Federation of Clubs. 183 

W^ood, Leonard, 108 
Workmen, 145-153 
Wyse, Lucien NapoleoK Bonaparte, 
212, 218 

Yellow fever, 9. 11. 12. 105, 109, 

110. 112, 211 
Yellow fever conmiission, 106 
Young Men's Christian Association, 

176, 180, 207 

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