Tag Archives: Culebra-Cut

Undercurrents of the Caste System

I dared to dream about entering and
actually finishing high school but my path
seemed littered with obstacles. Image.

In my last two years in primary school I had made no plans for attending secondary school; that is until 1950 when my experience with Teacher Ana Sanchez when we were out canvassing for the school fair and she opened up a window for me to even contemplate such a notion. I had not considered it possible to continue studying into secondary school given my family circumstances but Teacher Ana virtually lit up the fire in me with an assurance that my father had spoken to her about sending for me someday. Continue reading

Culebra Cut – Part III

Images: Top: Early slide in Culebra
Middle: Another early slide covering train track
Bottom: Culebra Cut today


The totally unforeseen nature of the approximately 22 “
slides” that plagued the construction of the Panama Canal, and in particular the operations in Culebra Cut, was what made them such a deadly and thoroughly exacerbating feature of the canal’s creation. The slides were also the single most convincing factor in determining that a sea level canal would never be possible in Panama. Continue reading

Culebra Cut – Part II

A line of “powder men” carrying 50 lb. boxes of dynamite on their heads; all West Indian. 

Images: Top- a West Indian dynamite crew in Culebra Cut
Bottom- a dynamite “magazine” or storage unit.

The amount of dirt excavated at Panama has been calculated in many different ways. Some engineers have measured it by the number of dirt cars that carried the soil, rock and other debris out of the construction area. Generally, it has been said that an entire train of dirt cars would be able to circle the world four times at the Equator if we were to understand the massive excavation undertaking. Continue reading

Culebra Cut- Part I

Top image is a map view of the Panama Canal Route
showing the location of Culebra Cut
Bottom image shows a very early photo of
Culebra Cut in all it’s ominous splendor.


At a gathering of visiting congressmen a few days after his appointment in Panama (March 31, 1907)
Colonel George W. Goethals, the new Chief Engineer, remarked, “I now consider that I am commanding the Army of Panama, and that the enemy we are going to combat is the Culebra Cut and the locks and dams at both ends of the Canal…” Continue reading