Panama Canal Museum TV Script
Host Elizabeth Neily, Panama Canal Museum Director
Talent Gerry DeTore, Board of Trustees
Hello, I am Elizabeth Neily, Director of the Panama Canal Museum here in
Seminole. Florida. Since joining the museum staff three years ago, I have
discovered that most people are very surprised to hear that we have a museum
dedicated to preserving the history of the American Era of the Panama Canal right
here in Pinellas County. The first question that I always get asked is why here?
Well, I have invited one of the members of our board to tell you about the museum
and why it was located here. Gerry DeTore offers museum outreach programs in
the community. As someone who pretty much grew up in the Panama Canal Zone,
Gerry has the unique perspective of a Zonian.
I understand that you were just a child when you moved to Panama. Why did your
family move there?
How long did you live in the Canal Zone?
You must have gone to school there. What was that like?
So you are a Zonian. What does that mean?
When we talk about the Canal Zone... exactly what kind of a place was it? How big
was it? What are we talking about size wise?
Can you share a little bit about the history of the Panama Canal? When was it
Why did America build it?
How did the United States get permission to build a canal in Panama? And why
was it built there and not somewhere else?
So America signed a treaty with Panama. What next? I understand that there were
a lot of challenges that had to be overcome before the building could start.
I guess one of the biggest problems was overcoming some of the tropical diseases
that plagued the canal workers. What was that about? Disease and Mosquito
What about building the infrastructure housing for the workers and the
But I understand that "Breaking the Back of the Isthmus" by cutting down the
Continental Divide at Culebra/Galliard Cut was really the biggest challenge.
Building the dam that created Gatun Lake was another engineering feat. What can
you tell us about that?
There was some controversy at the time about what kind of canal it would be. At
first they decided on a sea-level canal then they changed to a lock system canal.
Why was that?
How does the lock system work?
The Canal Zone also had a governor. Why was that and who were some of the
How was growing up in the Canal Zone different than growing up in the United
What did you do as a kid?
Finally the Panama Canal was turned over to Panama in 1979, bringing about the
gradual end of the American Era. How did that come about?
Finally, why was the Panama Canal Museum located in Seminole?
What can visitors expect to see when they visit the museum.