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Centennial Edition BALBOA HEIGHTS, CANAL ZONE, JANUARY 28, 1955 5 cents
Summit, later Culebra, was the terminal of the Panama Railroad in 1854. Just beyond Summit, at midnight, January 27, I855,
the last rails of the first transcontinental railroad were laid. The next day, the first train ran across the Isthmus.
invisible border bl
Panama will join
A special train,
n~ 4-1,0 A,,,arncn~v
both coasts and from both sides of the
between the Canal Zone and the Republic of
today in celebrating the centennial of the
commemorating the first railroad crossing
/iw--nfn ,Ter ^rni n *a Fn/oi n'v/o i i i n o IQtJ"'a
"The great connecting link of the Atlantic and Pacific
Oceans is completed; the Panama Railroad is finished, and the
first train has already made its appearance among us, opening
up a new era of prosperity for the people of the Isthmus of
Wuil-l -hncw. nnrcio Ponama's! ,qfnr k -erTld ran!rnan r t3 ha t
January 28, 1855
i�; ^ ; `V'''
'C N - 'i
WILLIAM HENRY ASPINWALL
into a fortune of more than $100,000,000 in
investments. In 1868 the Panama Railroad
holders 44 percent in dividends; holders of its
they had fallen on evil days when dividends
paid its stock-
shares felt that
7.5 percent in the years between 1876 and 1903. It paid
almost $24,000,000 into the Treasury of the United States
between 1904 and 1949 when it was a corporation owned
entirely by the United States.
In 1913 the Panama Railroad hauled 2,916,657 passengers
and transported 2,026,852 tons of freight across the Isthmus;
at this time it was reported to have the heaviest per-mile
traffic of any railroad in the world.
For the Panama Railroad, V. I. P. could mean Very Im-
portant Passengers: United States Presidents Theodore Roose-
velt, William Howard Taft, Franklin Delano Roosevelt; Queen
Emma of the Sandwich Islands; Queen Marie of Roumania;
princes and counts and scores of noblemen of lesser rank;
Edwin Forrest, Sarah Bernhardt, and Ana Pavlova; Louis
Agassiz, Samuel Clemens, Charles Farrar Browne (Artemus
Ward), Richard Harding Davis; movie stars and movie com-
panies on location.
Gold And Silver
Its cargo has been no less varied than its passengers
fumes from France, lacquer from China, silver from
lumber from Canada, automobiles from the United S
furniture from Scandinavia, cattle and sugar from Pai
have all been hauled in its freight cars. There have
guns and tanks and jeeps for the armed forces, glass
metal tanks for Panama breweries, bananas for the mark
the United States. At one time houses in the about-
abandoned Canal towns were dismantled into section;
JOHN LLOYD STEPHENS
JOHN LLOYD STEPHENS
those sections stood on end in railroad flat cars, to be moved
miles to their new locations.
During the first 12 years of its operations, the Panama Rail-
road carried over $750,000,000 in gold dust, nuggets, and gold
and silver coin-and collected a quarter of one percent on
The history of the Railroad parallels the growth of the United
States and the development of railway transportation.
During the early part of the nineteenth century when the
steam locomotive was beginning to come into general use, men
of all nations began to plan some means of simple travel between
the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The Isthmus of Panama, across
which treasure-laden trains of burros had been plodding for over
300 years, was a likely spot for such a railroad crossing.
Exploration And Plans
As early as 1825, six years before the first steam locomotive
drawn train ran from Albany to Schenectady, Welwood Hislop,
a Jamaican merchant, asked the Congress of New Granada
(later Colombia) for a concession for uniting the two oceans,
either by a railway or a canal. New Granada refused him and
Hislop never made a survey of the route.
In 1828 and 1829 Capt. John Augustus Lloyd of the British
Army and Capt. Maurice Falmarc who, although a citizen of
Sweden, was in the New Granadan military service, explored
the Isthmus with the idea of building either a railroad or canal;
they found what they considered a practical route but were
unable to raise the necessary capital to pick up the concession
offered by New Granada.
By 1835 the westward trek across the United States to the
Pacific Northwest had begun; President Andrew Jackson
appointed Col. Charles Biddle of Philadelphia to investigate
possible isthmian routes in Panama and in other arts of
January 28, 1955
THE PANAMA CANAL REVIEW
coast. The latter contract eventually landed in the hands of
a group, among whom was George Law, who had had experi-
ence in building canals, bridges, and railroads. The Pacific
contract was granted to a syndicate headed by William Henry
Aspinwall, a New York financier and a grand-uncle of Franklin
Delano Roosevelt. Aspinwall's main interest was not in the
Pacific Mail Steamship Company which was organized to
carry the mail but in the construction of a trans-continental
railroad at Panama.
In 1847 and 1848, together with John Lloyd Stephens, a
lawyer, travel writer, diplomat, and explorer; Henry Chauncey,
a New York businessman; and J. L. Baldwin, a civil engineer;
Aspinwall explored the proposed route across the Isthmus.
The party followed the valleys of the Chagres and Obispo
rivers to the continental divide, where they found a 300-foot
pass, and then continued down the valley of the Rio Grande
to the Pacific.
Satisfied that a railroad could be built, they began negotia-
tions with New Granada and in December 1848, obtained an
exclusive 49-year concession which left the company free to
decide whether the Isthmian crossing should be all-rail, a
combination of rail and ship, or a macadam road for horse-
drawn vehicles. Four months later they obtained a charter
for the Panama Railroad Company under the laws of the State
of New York and capitalized the company at $1,000,000.
In the meantime a second group of engineers had resurveyed
the route and had found a summit gap at 260 feet, some 40
feet lower than that discovered by the first party.
Headquarters At Gorgona
Believing it more feasible to build the railroad by contract
than with their own forces, they let a contract to John C.
Trautwine and George M. Totten, two prominent American
engineers who had been working on a Magdalena River project
By this time the number of California-bound travellers, on
their way to gold and fortune, had reached considerable
proportions. In order to capitalize on this ready-made busi-
ness, the railroad's pioneers decided to build the first section
of the railroad from Gorgona-where passengers changed
from river boats to mule trains-to the Pacific, a distance
of about 30 miles. Totten and Trautwine soon found that
wages and materials had so increased in cost that they would
have been ruined had they tried to continue with their con-
tract under the original terms.
The Railroad Company canceled the contract and took into
its own employment the two engineers and the small force they
had formed. In January 1850, construction headquarters
were set up at Gorgona and two shallow draught steamers
purchased for the river haul. By April Totten and Trautwine
had discovered that the plan was impracticable and decided
-.- = * J . I - ,�
-- . I. - '
Daily trains were soon running from Aspinwa]l.
to transfer the start of the railroad to the Caribbean coast.
They investigated-and discarded-several alternate loca-
tions and finally decided on Manzanillo Island, a mangrove-
covered swamp bordered by a coral reef, as the railroad's
Atlantic terminal. Stephens left for Bogota to negotiate a
new contract and Totten for Cartagena to recruit labor;
Trautwine was left on the Isthmus to begin work with what
labor he could collect locally.
Swamps And Fever
The little force lived on an old brig, which rocked unceasingly
and nauseatingly in the Caribbean swells. Of this period,
Trautwine wrote some years later: "The stifling heat and the
myriads of insects in the cabin and hold of our small brig
prevented other sleep than that rising from exhaustion and
frequently compelled us to pass whole nights on deck, in the
rain, rather than encounter the annoyances below . . . The
frame houses which had been sent from New York for our
accommodation were pushed forward with all the speed that the
intervals between the heavy rains would admit cf, but the
delays from that source and from the sickness of our carpenters
(of whom at one time but two out of twenty-eight were able
to work) were so great that they were not ready for occupancy
until the beginning of December."
At first there was no doctor with the railroad force; the first
did not arrive until July 1850. And, of course, neither he nor
.I'I$ f * n
January 28, 1855
"Awful accident near Gatun bridge, nine miles from Aspinwall," the artist entitled this early Panama Railroad picture.
his later colleagues saw any connection between the malaria
and the mosquito to which virtually the entire force fell victim.
One of the early Railroad doctors, C. D. Griswold, wrote in
1851: "By observing proper precautions, a great deal may be
done to avoid the miasma which is the essential cause of the
fevers. Miasma is eliminated while the surface is drying,
after having been saturated by an overflow of the streams or
previous rains; consequently at such times, the atmosphere
contains more poison than any other."
Hie recommended that there be fires, or some other heat, at
night and that sleeping rooms be on an upper floor.
The directions, of course, were completely useless. A quar-
ter of one early work party died of the "swamp illness," others
deserted to the easier life of river boatmen.
Despite illness and hardship the work had been progressing,
although slowly. In August 1850, a force of about 400 began
grading the route from near the present Mount Hope station
toward Gatun. Within a few months, the force was more than
1 1 I i 1 � 1 1 � � " P
and the Philadelphia, from their usual anchorage at the mouth
of the Chagres into Limon Bay. The thousand passengers,
unwilling to waste even a day on their way to fortune, saw
the work trains which had been running as far as Gatun for
about six weeks. They demanded transportation regardless
of accommodations and price.
At 50 cents a mile and with an additional charge for their
baggage, they rode to Gatun where they transferred to the
river boats. From that time on the Panama Railroad carried
passengers as far as its tracks extended. When the railroad
was completed in 1855 it had already earned over $1,000,000.
Tower Of Babel
In the meantime the railroad was having trouble finding
bor. There were workmen from the Magdalena River,
tives from the coast, West Indians, Irishmen from Cork,
ermans, Coolies, and Chinese. Fever, the climate, and
rmesickness took their toll of each batch of new arrivals. Of
one group of 1,000 Chinese, only 200 survived; those who did
January 28, 1955
THE PANAMA CANAL REVIEW
man who had been a Texas Ranger-to organize a police force.
He had been a commission merchant and agent in Panama
since 1851 and for some time had been escorting his own mule
trains across the Isthmus. He organized a mounted guard of
about 40 and by October had run the bandits off the road.
The Last Rail
With the tracks laid from the Caribbean to a little beyond
Summit, Totten concentrated all his efforts on the Panama
City end. Finally, at midnight on January 27, 1855, the two
gangs met, and the last rail was laid. The following day the
first train ran from ocean to ocean.
The Panama Railroad had been built, at a monetary cost of
$7,407,535, and at an untold cost of hardship, sacrifice, and
human life, after five years of struggle, setbacks, and dis-
Although its tracks spanned a continent, the railroad was
still a somewhat makeshift affair and for the next four years
Totten and his forces replaced the temporary construction
with something more lasting. New wharves were built at the
Atlantic terminal, the entire line ballasted, a telegraph line was
installed, and an iron bridge replaced the wooden bridge at
The Railroad directors set what they admittedly considered
a fantastic fare of $25 for a one-way passage. To their surprise
and financial advantage passengers gladly paid this fare which
remained in effect for almost 20 years. By 1859 the railroad's
total gross receipts for the eight years since 1851 amounted to
$8,146,605, while running expenses, including depreciation,
came to a little more than $2,000,000.
Drama And Tragedy
The Panama Railroad's early years were filled with drama,
tragedy, and excitement. On April 15, 1856, 17 passengers
were killed and 29 hurt in the famed Watermelon Riot. A
passenger's cavalier refusal to pay a vendor for a piece of
melon led an angry mob to attack about 940 passengers who
had just crossed the Isthmus and were waiting for tenders to
take them to their ships in Panama Bay.
Three weeks later the railroad had the worst wreck in its
entire history; the final toll was 40 dead and 60 injured. A
little later $50,000 of a gold shipment mysteriously and perma-
nently disappeared from one of the railroad's strong rooms.
The peak of the Panama Railroad's prosperity was reached
in 1868 when it paid 44 percent in dividends. From 1856 to
1870 inclusive, the annual dividends never fell below 12 percent;
on January 23, 1860, the New Orleans Picayune complained:
"The Panama Railroad paid its semi-annual dividend of
6 percent as usual, making a total of 12 percent, although its
business justified a 24 percent dividend. The stock closed
today at 1334."
The 10 years from 1859 to 1869 were the golden years for
the Panama Railroad; historians agree that many of its sub-
General offices of the Panama Railroad were located tor years
in this frame building near the Colon Freight House.
sequent troubles could have been avoided by the railroad
Its directors made no attempt to stimulate trade and even
turned away business which
into a dispute with the P
which had used the railroad
lines. As a result the s
Straits Line and withdrew
badly managed and soon b
the period when its tracks
"two streaks of rust in the
The completion of the Union-I
Railroad of some of its business- -
expected, since a thriving trade t
Its stockholders lost heart at ti
new contract with Colombia. T
payment of $1,000,000 in gold and
for the full term of the 99-year c
together were reflected by the
dropped from over $200 to about
In the meantime, the French
h did not
pacific Steam Navigation Company
I for its connection with the Atlantic
shipping company established the
from Panama. The railroad was
ecame unsafe to travel. This was
were contemptuously referred to as
pacificc deprived the Panama
but not so much as had been
o Central America had been
$80 a sl
of events and at the
ed for an immediate
payments of $250,000
. All of these things
in a short period it
(Continued on page 8)
r 1 Ilin *
January 28, 1855
an during the French days; the
was taken at Paraiso in 1883
Three i,6oo-horsepower ALCO-GE locomotives
For just 100 years the Panama
Railroad has been running trains
back and forth across the Isthmus
of;, Panama. During that time a
great variety of rolling stock has
made its way along the tracks
which bridge the almost 50 miles
between Colon and Panama.
, coal, and
stock are diesel-electric.
have been luxurious affairs like the
$40,000 private cars of the French
director, or little
self-propelled "scooters," like the
"Toonerville Trolley" which young
Cook Works built the 2oo-Class:
one of this type
is the railroad's
a Mogul of the
i93o's. The Panama City
Station in the background.
B~PT ----�I ~-~ ~y~
THE PANAMA CANAL REVIEW
h The Years
Mogul zoo-Class locomotives were sturdy workhorses;
was junked in 19g15
day's trains on the Panama Railroad Line.
oldtimers can remember. Its
coaches have ranged from little
box-like affairs to today's cars
which can carry 68 passengers in
seated comfort and a good many
more than that on football and
prize fight nights.
A few of the Panama Railroad's
earliest rolling stock appear on
other pages of this edition of THE
PANAMA CANAL REVIEW.
Here are eight of the locomotives
and a few of the cars which have
done valorous service at one time
or another in the Panama Rail-
Belgian locomotives were rebuilt at the Empire shops for Cana:
Below, a locomotive of the
tunnel under Miraflores
- V ..
January 28, 1855
(Continuel froTm page i)
an Isthmian canal.
lieutenant in the French
Bonaparte, obtained a con
canal across Panama. Im
control of the railroad.
68/70ths of the outstanding
the railroad's outstanding
Panama Railroad, however,
and directors were predomi
French and the cot
During the peri
ment was increase
director general rot
relocating the tracF
Early in the 18i
branch line from
terminal basin and,
Work was started o
between Callao and
In 1893 the Pana
time, although its
d of F
Ie in a
n a por
0, 1878, Lucien B.
Navy and a
stock for $17
* . I.A
grandson of Lucien
Colombia to build a
arranged to secure
,135,000 and assumed
general offices of the
New York, the officers
tans appointed by the
transacted in English.
, the railroad's
improved; the French Company's
$40,000 car. A start was made on
it clear of Culebra Cut.
e French began construction of a
to La Boca, dredged the Pacific
an extensive maintenance program.
t and pier in La Boca, the only port
where ships could dock at low tide.
ma Railroad went into the red for the first
directors claimed that its earnings were
enough to pay expenses and fixed charges. It paid no divi-
dends from 1895 through 1900, but by 1901 dividend payments
were resumed. These amounted to 2 percent in 1901, 4 percent
in 1902, and 8 percent in 1903, the year in which Panama
revolted from Colombia to become an independent republic.
Under American Ownership
On May 4, 1904, the United States received from the French
their Isthmian rights and properties. Among these were
68,887 of the 70,000 shares of the Panama Railroad Company;
47.65 miles of single track between Colon and Panama; 26.07
miles of siding; 35 locomotives, 1,008 freight cars, 24 passenger
cars, 5 cabooses, and 2 specie cars; the Island of Manzanillo
and the 70 railroad-owned buildings there; and about 26
buildings in Panama City.
With this transfer the Panama Railroad returned to United
States control and began one of the most vigorous periods of
The remaining shares of stock were purchased; the Isthmian
Canal Commission recognized that it would be a "large and
valuable adjunct" during the construction of the Panama
Canal. It was not until 1905, however, that the railroad began
to be put into shape to enable it to do its part in the building
of the Canal.
John F. Stevens, Chief Engineer for the Isthmian Canal
Commission, had been Chief Engineer and Vice President of
the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad. He considered
transportation the key to the canal construction. He halted
all excavation until the transportation system was in order,
began the double-tracking of the road for its entire length
except over Culebra Hill and in the Gatun-Mount Hope section,
and replaced all of the 56-pound rail with 70-pound metal.
In 1905 he reported: The Panama Railroad is very largely
a creature of the canal . . . and the construction of the latter
in thm nhc~anon nF +he rlrailnd rnnld ta nrnorbor* llr rmnnaoihla "
President Theodore Roosevelt toured the line of the Panama
Railroad when he visited the Isthmus in November 19o6.
bad ones-it indicates
In 1906 a lock-type c
that the railroad would
location from Gatun to
water when Gatun Lake
So that it would not
placed entirely on the e
anal was decided upon. This meant
have to be relocated since its original
what is now Gamboa would be under
cross the canal, the railroad was to be
ast side. with its rails laid on a berm
40 feet wide and 10 feet above water along a ledge on the east
side of Culebra Cut. This plan was abandoned when slides
in the Cut as the excavation proceeded made it clear that the
berm was not a safe location; it would have been possible for
both railroad and canal to have been blocked at the same time.
The relocation of the railroad was almost as much of a
project as its original construction. The first tracks had
followed the easiest contours of the terrain. The engineers
were asked to raise it to a certain elevation and keep it there,
in country that did not favor that method of location. Before
the entire new line was finished about 10 million cubic yards
of fill had to be made, a tunnel built at Miraflores, and the
Chagres bridged at Gamboa.
To complicate the project still further, the original line was
hauling tremendous quantities of material. All of the dry
earth used in building Gatun Dam was hauled from Culebra
Cut, 25 miles away. The bulk of materials-cement, steel,
and lumber-for the construction work plus the supplies for
the day-to-day living of the Canal force was brought from
New York and transshipped by railroad "along the line."
In 1908, for instance, the railroad reported 281,820,000 ton
January 28, 1955
THE PANAMA CANAL REVIEW
the main line by a track across the Paraiso trestle.
Canal was opened to ship traffic in 1914 a ponto
replaced the trestle until 1920 when the Canal cro
As the Canal construction drew to a close, the fut
Panama Railroad was in doubt. Finally, on June
the Railroad's Board of Directors, practically all
members of the Canal Commission, decided that "the
of the railroad over the Isthmus was both a military
mercial necessity." All new construction and equip
to be of a permanent nature.
ure of the
During Years Of Peace
From almost its beginning the Panama Railroad had
provided quarters, hospitals, commissaries, and recreation
facilities for its forces. It owned the hotels which housed
visitors and the telephone system. After the formation of the
Canal organization in 1914, the Railroad continued ownership
of many of these, and its business operations were closely
meshed with those of the Canal enterprise. But, back to the
Prior to the opening of the Canal, the Panama Railroad had
operated as a co-carrier for a number of steamship lines, handl-
ing cargo to be transshipped across the Isthmus. During
1915 and 1916 it resumed this role when a series of slides
closed the waterway for eight months. For several months
during this period the Atlantic side terminal handled 10 percent
more cargo than it had in the peak days of 1912.
During the depression years of 1921 and 1922, following
the end of World War I, the Panama Railroad showed a
deficit for the first time. Business conditions gradually
improved and by 1927 the railroad began a program of track
renewal which continued for the next dozen years. In 1937
the standard rail for the main track was changed from 90 to
100 pounds; the completed main track mileage consists of
about 17 miles of 100-pound track and 34 miles of 90-pound rail.
Between 1936 and 1939, the main track was reballasted by
stripping out the original run-of-bank gravel which was fouled
with dirt and no longer afforded proper drainage. The main
track was raised on a lift of crushed stone ballast from the
Sosa Hill Quarry in Balboa.
These rehabilitation measures paid off when the Panama
Railroad traffic was tremendously increased with the beginning
of the later-abandoned third locks project, with the pre-war
construction projects, both civilian and military, and with the
heavy loads of the World War II years.
Forty-eight old banana and boxcars were converted into
labor cars; during the peak of the wartime projects, in 1943,
labor trains carried 30,000 workers to and from their jobs each
day. By 1942 the freight load had increased by almost 500
- .- *-� ..
Banana cars and freight cars were converted to haul laborers
during the busy pre-war and World War II period.
percent over the pre-war years and freight terminals were
packed with cargo. Passenger traffic skyrocketed; in fiscal
year 1943 it totaled 1,146,899- -the heaviest year's cargo since
the end of the Canal construction period.
Between 1939 and 1942, to replace equipment over 30 years
old, the railroad bought five new 701-class steam locomotives
for the freight and passenger service, five new 401-type diesel
locomotives for freight use, together with 130 boxcars, flat-
cars, and gondolas. The railroad's most recent acquisition is
several ALCO-GE lomotives which have been in use since 1953.
Almost 100 years of life for the Panama Railroad as a
corporation under the laws of the State of New York ended
June 30, 1948. On that date, by Act of Congress, the Panama
Railroad became a corporation of the United States. Its
stock was consolidated into one share, that share to be held
by the Secretary of the Army. But, as in the case of the old
corporation, its affairs continued to be directed by a board of
13 and the Governor of the Canal Zone continued as its president.
Panama Canal Company Formed
Three years later, however, the Panama Railroad went out
of business as a separate entity. Its operations were merged
with the business operations of the Canal enterprise and a new
Company was formed. Today, the Panama Railroad is an
auxiliary and supporting service of the Panama Canal Com-
pany. It operates four passengers trains in eich direction
across the Isthmus daily; two freight runs are made an average
of six days a week. It transports about half a million passengers
and hauls a quarter of a million tons of freight aueh vnnr
January 28, 1855
Senior Engineer is B. W. McIntyre, a second generation Panama
Railroader. His first railroad job was as a clerk in the Pedro
Miguel railroad yard during construction days.
"In 1850, Surveyor Brown worked 297 days at $3.75 a day.
How much money did he earn that year?"
Senior men of the
of the special train
today, just 100 years
ican continent, from
At the controls of
Panama Railroad's force will be in charge
which crosses the Isthmus of Panama
after the first train ran across the Amer-
Atlantic to Pacific Ocean.
the steam locomotive pulling the special
1 will be Bernard W. McIntyre, senior of
the Panama Railroad's engineers and himself a second-gener-
ation railroad man. His father was a conductor on the
Railroad's Central Division during construction days.
The conductor min charge of today's special train will be
Clarence B. McIlvaine, who started railroading in 1926 with
the Cleveland Southwestern Railroad in Ohio. He has been
a conductor on the Panama Railroad for 23 years.
Mr. McIntyre had his first personal experience with trains-
other than riding on them-when he was only 15 years old.
His first summer job was as a clerk in the Pedro Miguel yard
office from which some 80 locomotives pulled out each morning,
Senior Conductor C. B. Mcllvaine gives a hand to a local heroine
Miss Aminta Melendez of Colon. During the 1903 revolution
she rode a P. R. R. engine carrying dispatches.
to haul the dirt trains in the cut.
R. I. F. - By History
A little later he
directing the dirt t
made much of the
notification said, in
"There will be a
Division on Octobe
water into Culebra
r 10, 1
to work full time as a towerman,
out of Pedro Miguel. History has
which ended that job. His formal
cessation of work m the Central
3, on account of the admission of
you are hereby notified that your
services will be dispensed with on or before that date."
As he recalls it today, he was just about the last person out
of the Cut. "The last shovel was moved out," he says.
"Then I left."
For a while he worked with the Mechanical Division and
then served in the Army during World War I. Returning to
the Isthmus he foresook railroading for a time, to drive the
Governor's car, but in 1923 he went to the United States and
for the next nine years worked on the Southern Pacific out of
Los Angeles. He has been an en
Railroad since 1935.
Most of the time, he says, he has
life of a railroad engineer," but he d
During the late 1930's he was on
pay car, well-loaded for its day's
collided head on with two engines. (
k.*. . t � * I
gineer for the
'lived just the average
oes admit to one out-of-
a locomotive pulling a
work. The locomotive
joins, bills, and the guns
>* � a *
January 28, 1955
THE PANAMA CANAL REVIEW
"During one week, 649 passengers rode across Panama at
$25 a head. How much money was collected?"
From questions such as these the history of the Panama
Railroad has become a live subject for the boys and girls in
the Canal Zone schools.
The Canal Zone children have learned to spell "exploration,"
"mosquito," "engineer," as common words, and such names
as "Aspinwall," "Stephens," and "Chauncey."
In English classes they have written letters, applying for
jobs on the Panama Railroad in the 1850's as construction
engineers, railroad engineers, doctors, and laborers, and made
up imaginary conversations between two or three travelers on
their way to California-by Panama Railroad, of course.
Songs And Stories
They have staged pantomines depicting the placing of the
last rail at Summit on a dark rainy
or a ride on the first train across the
In art classes they have painted
of the Panama Railroad construction
trains from old boxes and pieces of
books of trains. The music classes
song-books which the construction
and the science classes have reported
midnight in January 1855,
pictures of various phases
n story, built old-fashioned
cardboard, or made scrap-
have found songs in their
gangs might have sung,
on how a locomotive works
All of these projects, and many more, were suggested in a
teaching unit prepared for the Canal Zone schools by Mrs.
Cleone Treffinger, who teaches third grade at the Balboa
elementary schools when she is not delving into the history
of the Panama Railroad.
She read books of history and books on railroading, scanned
old records and talked to railroad men to prepare the material
which has been put together in 29 single-spaced mimeographed
pages. She did research in the Canal Zone library and further
digging for facts in the files of the Panama Canal Press Office
and talked with art and music supervisors to get their
The material she prepared was translated into Spanish for
use in the Spanish language schools. While it was aimed
primarily at children in the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades,
there was material included which could be used for the lower
grades or in the secondary schools.
The subject matter, according to schools officials, was well
received by the youngsters who were learning history the
painless way-if anyone can consider arithmetic problems and
spelling bees painless.
Up to January 21, over 10,000 orders had
the Canal Zone Postal Service for first-day
be issued today in commemoration of the 1
of the Panama Railroad.
Commemorative stamps, bearing a pictu
Railroad's earliest locomotives, go on sale ti
Zone post offices. The covers mailed from
will all bear the 1
deposited in the r
The special ca
cancelation has b
suspended more t
The Postal Sei
a postal clerk at
mail clerk on the
his service with t
been received by
covers which will
re of one of the
today in all Canal
way Mail Service cancelation, as will any
car on today's commemorative train.
ation will be the first time the railway
used since the railway mail service was
a year ago.
's senior employee, Harry W. Peterson,
Cristobal post office, will be the railway
imemorative train today. In addition to
)ost offices, which dates back to 1917, he
is an old railroad man. His first Isthmian job was as a clerk
in the Railroad's Receiving and Forwarding Agency in 1916.
One Million Stamps
One million of the purple three-cent stamps, issued in com-
memoration of the Railroad's anniversary, were ordered.
Each stamp is approximately 0.85 by 0.98 inches, in hori-
zontal format. They are issued in sheets of 70, perforated all
around and with the plate numbers on each sheet.
The stamp was designed by Leo C. Page, Chief of the
Architectural Branch of the Engineering Division. Victor S.
McLoskey, Jr., of the staff of the Bureau of Engraving and
Printing, prepared a model. Others of the Bureau's staff who
were connected with preparation of the stamp were Matthew
D. Fenton, who engraved the picture, and Reuben D. Barrick,
who did the lettering and numerals.
The design for the commemorative stamp is based on a
woodcut which appeared in Harper's Weekly of January 1859.
It portrays one of the Panama Railroad's earliest locomotives,
against a background of tropical foliage.
The two upper corners bear the centennial dates in white on
a dark background; the denomination-3 cents- appears in
blocks in the lower left- and right-hand corners, with the
words "Canal Zone Postage" between the denomination blocks.
Two former Governors of the Canal Zone, who also served
as Presidents of the old Panama Railroad Company, visited
the Bureau of Engraving during the time when stamps were
printed and saw sheets of the new issue run off.
(Continued from poge 1) of the special train at 5:05
p. m. will be Roberto Heurtematte, Comptroller General of the
Republic of Panama, who was, until recently, Panama's Ambas-
sador to the United States, and Fred deV. Sill, prominent old-
timer who is well-versed in Isthmian history. Two Atlantic
side ministers, the Rev. Paul H. W. Olander of the Margarita
Union Church and the Rev. James M. Kelly, C. M., of the Holy
Family Church at Margarita, will deliver the dedicatory
prayer and the benediction, respectively.
Tmmediately following the hlf-hnnr nronrram thnos attend-
Canal Zone schools have been studying the Panama Railroad's
history in arithmetic, English, art, and music classes.
During the day today, every passenger who crosses the
Isthmus by Panama Railroad will be presented with a special
commemorative souvenir pass; it was designed by Leo C.
Page, Chief of the Architectural Branch, who a
the commemorative stamp, and printed at the
Printing Plant. Done on gold paper-for the
Days-the passes are ornamentally lettered
sketch of an early Panama Railroad train.
nd carry a
January 28, 1855
I I I~.m � . 11 .
For miles the Panama Railroad winds along the shore and across arms of Gatun Lake.
NE HUNDRED YEARS AGO TODAY
First railroad train made what
was then a hazardous and
Isthmus of Panama.
was one of the most significant events in the history of transportation in the New World.
achievement we can trace with remarkable
the marked influence
pletion of the Panama Railroad upon events and progress of this immediate area and its
lopment and expansion of the nations of the Western Hemisphere.
This is the third n
notable anniversary which
within a few months
we people of th
The other two
Isthmus, Americans and Panamanians, have
the Republic of Panama
on November 3,1903, and the
beginning of the Panama Canal construction by the United States on May 4,
These three historic dates are inseparably
The completion of the Panama Railroad served
world attention on the strategic importance of the Isthmus for world commerce.
ward, the Panama Railroad played an important part in the
development of the
s, in the actual founding
Republic of Panama, in the construction and operation
of the Panama Canal.
second largest city of the
and its most
inlet for water-borne trade,
birth to t
successful building of the Panama Railroad.
completion of a rail link between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans 100 years ago had a profound influence
settlement and development of our
and upon the commerce of Central and South American
nations bordering the Pacific Ocean.
It saved many months of weary tacking by sailing
ships on the
* ) I II t l l l I 1
1 . t 1 I A . 1 . I . I 1. 1 I 1 . 1 I f I
I � I I
t . I I