Queen of the Panama Canal


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 “Queen of the Panama Canal,” a song for voice and piano published in Chicago, Illinois, in 1914, with music and words by Joseph Carson. The song has two verses, the first of which reads: In the far off land of Panama, / Underneath the clear blue skies, / Where the tropical sun is shining, / Lives a maid with those sun-lit eyes, / And to her I’ll soon be sailing, / With a heart that’s fond and true, / For I’m going to claim her hand / On that narrow stretch of land / Uncle Sam has just cut through.

Last updated: January 8, 2018