The Panama Swim


The construction of the Panama Canal, its opening to traffic in early 1914, and the Panama Pacific International Exposition, held in San Francisco in 1915 to celebrate the completion of the canal, all inspired a wave of songwriting in the United States. The most notable of the compositions honoring the canal was “The Pathfinder of Panama,” written by the military march composer John Philip Sousa in 1915. This was also a time in which American popular sheet music publication was enjoying a golden age of sorts. Songs were published with cover art and accompanying illustrations that often overshadowed the quality of the compositions themselves, most of which are long forgotten. Shown here is the sheet music for “The Panama Swim,” a song for voice and piano published in Los Angeles, California, in 1914, composed by Gladys Green. The song has two verses, the first of which reads: Come all you folks from over yonder, / Thro’ the Panama canal and see the wonder. / Nineteen Fifteen San Francisco, San Diego will be in, / The Panama Canal and Exposition swim; / You will see the great big waters splatter, / The Atlantic and Pacific come together. / Thro’ the big ditch they will slip in the Panama Canal Exposition swim.

Last updated: September 22, 2015