Tag Archives: Cuts

Joshua Austin Reid- From Dispensary Director to New Dangers

The former Gorgas Hospital atop Ancon Hill in Panama. Image thanks to Panamacz.com

Image thanks to Panamacz.com

Although the widow Reid did not elaborate much on the issue of my grandfather’s employment, Joshua Reid seemed always to occupy a position of leadership in the community. As Director of the Silver Roll Employees’ Dispensary he was also responsible for overseeing Public Health in those parts of the segregated Panama Canal Zone and as director one of his important duties was the identification and control of vectors against all sicknesses. 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

The First Diggers- The “Silver Roll”

Above we have an old “French Canal” image from 1886 of a West Indian excavation crew- Black diggers- in the Paso Obispo Cut. Image thanks to www.canalmuseum.com

The black employees or the “Silver Roll” labor force, as it was named from the beginning, constituted the bulk of the work force on the US Government’s Canal Zone and canal construction projects at any time in the history of those projects. In fact, it had been so since the inception of the works and into the creation of what would become known as the “Canal Zone” area of Panama. Continue reading