Panama and the Canal in Picture and Prose


Published in 1913, Panama and the Canal in Picture and Prose is a comprehensive overview of Panama and the Panama Canal in the year before it was opened to commerce. Organized in 20 chapters, the book begins with an introductory chapter about Jamaica, “the front door to Panama.” Chapters two through six give an overview of the history and geography of Panama. Chapter 15 covers the geography, population, economy, and other aspects of the newly-established Republic of Panama; Chapter 16 is devoted to the Indians of Panama. The remaining chapters deal mainly with the construction and future operations of the canal, covering such topics as construction of the Gatun Dam and locks; the challenge of the Culebra Cut; chief engineer George W. Goethals; sanitation and the war against mosquitoes; social life, labor, and governance in the Canal Zone; and fortifications, tolls, commerce, and quarantine. The book reflects the pride and sense of optimism with which Americans greeted completion of the canal. The final chapter concludes: “If [the canal] be properly conducted in its completed state, managed and directed upon the broad principle that, though paid for wholly by the United States, it is to exist for the general good of all mankind, it should be, in the ages to come, the greatest glory attached to the American flag. In abolishing human slavery we only followed last in the train of all civilized nations. But in tearing away the most difficult barrier that nature has placed in the way of world-wide trade, acquaintance, friendship and peace, we have done a service to the cause of universal progress and civilization the worth of which the passage of time will never dim.” The book is more than 400 pages long and includes a color map, 16 watercolors, and more than 600 black and white photographs.

Last updated: October 30, 2015