Silver City/Rainbow City . . . Town's Name "Grew Up"
The Panama Canal Review . . . April 4, 1952


According to old Panama Canal records the name Silver City was never officially adopted by the Canal. The name sort of "grew up" with the town after a series of evolutions. Accordingly, the town will be officially named by Governor Newcomer after the vote is taken.

The construction of the town was authorized in July 1919 by Governor Chester Harding. The area was filled by spoil taken from the Army post of Fort Davis then under construction, and the houses were built during 1920 and 1921. The town cost originally in the neighborhood of $750,000, of which $600,000 was paid by the Panama Railroad Company.

Town's Name "Grew Up"

The evolution of the town's name as Silver City was a tortuous one. The first reference to it was a report of the Building Site Committee which recommended that "when funds are available, a town for silver employees be built on the new fill south of Folks River and south and east of the Corral." This recommendation, approved by Governor Harding, was signed by Major E.E. Person, Assistant Chief Health Officer, Chairman; Major W.R. Grove, Chief Quartermaster; Hartley Rowe, Resident Engineer of the Building Division; and Daniel E. Wright, Municipal Engineer.

The memorandum of the Building Site Committee was forwarded to the Governor by Judge Frank Feuille, then Special Attorney for The Panama Canal, who was serving as Chairman of a Committee on Standard Nomenclature of Geographic Features of the Canal Zone, which had been appointed some years earlier by Col. George W. Goethals. In forwarding the report, Judge Feuile used the original and proper name of "Fox" River instead of "Folks" River.

Many Names Used

During the time the town was being constructed, several different designations were used. Among these were: The Folks River end of Manzanillo Island; silver town at Mount Hope; new silver townsite at Big Tree; and Cristobal Silver Townsite.

After the area was occupied, it was variously called Silvertown, Silver Town, and Silver city. The name "city" in Silver City was not capitalized until July 1921 when used in some official correspondence. Thereafter, however, all official correspondence referred to the town as Silver City, although the files do not indicate that it was formally named as were other towns of the Canal Zone, such as Frijoles, La Boca, and Balboa.

Camp Coiner Included

The official name to be selected for Silver City will include the section now known as Camp Coiner and residents there will be given an opportunity to vote along with residents of "Rainbow" City and those of the old section of Silver City.

The name Camp Coiner, which is to be eliminated after the selection of the new name, was given to the area in 1942 when it was occupied by the main offices of the Construction District of the Panama Engineer Division. Up until then, it had been known as Camp Randolph and the change in names was made to avoid confusion. The name was selected in honor of Lt. Col. Richard T. Coiner, Corps of Engineers, who died in August 1933 while serving as Department Engineer in the Canal Zone. The use of the name was continued without official recognition after the area was transferred to the Canal in 1945 for a housing development.


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January 16, 1999

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