The Panama Canal

On Sunday, June 26, 2016, a Chinese freighter transited the expanded Panama Canal. The man who inaugurated the canal nearly 110 years ago, President Theodore Roosevelt, would have been astounded. When he arrived in the Isthmus of Panama in 1906 with his trusted photographer, Horace Dade Ashton, no canal existed.   

President Roosevelt and Horace Ashton saw a huge sign that read “We’ll do our best to help you build it!” upon their arrival in Panama. Ashton describes their time there in the following paragraphs.

“‘Ah, that’s bully!’” Roosevelt exclaimed. At that moment, the president recognized an old friend operating the steam shovel. He strode up to the man and shook his dirty hand as if he were a long-lost brother. I sprang into action with his camera. The president then hopped on and took over the steam shovel.”

“‘It was pouring rain,’ said Ashton, a member of the Explorers Club, who took photographs every seventy seconds. ‘The entire three days Roosevelt was there, it poured as it never did before. We were hip deep in wet and slimy clay every which way we turned every hour of every day!’”

Travel and trade have changed a great deal as a result of this pivotal journey.

To accompany Horace Ashton on his life’s journey, please read The Spirit of Villarosa,

by Libby J. Atwater

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