Canal Zone Towns


Ahorca Lagarto (Hang the Lizard)
This village is of ancient origin.  In 1549 the military regiment of the Order of Santiago was sent to clean out native insurgents (actually, “Los Cimarrones” -- the "wild ones", the majority of whom were escaped African slaves) in the interior. The regimental insignia was a lizard. After camping one night on the Chagres, the regiment was attacked by natives who took up the cry, “Ahorca Lagarto” and the regiment was decimated. Three centuries later the village is still called Ahorca Lagarto in memory of this attack.

Ancon (Anchorage)
Ancon has been primarily a residential area. The hospitals and courts were also located here.  It is considered by many to be the most sonorous of Canal Zone names. The name goes back hundreds of years in isthmian history.  In 1545, Pizarro, seeking to control the Isthmus of Panama and its rich ports, sent two expeditions from Peru. The first expeditions pillaged the old city of Panama before it was recalled. The second expedition was divided into forces, one of which under Rodrigo de Carbajal, landed at “Ancon, a small cove 2 leagues from Panama". The American Insane Asylum occupied the buildings on the present San Juan Hill in 1907 and 1908.  It was very near the old graveyard on Ridge Road which was moved to Corozal in 1915.  From old maps, it does not appear that there was any settlement here, until the place was chosen by the French Canal Company in 1881 as the site for its general hospital.

Balboa
In 1909 this townsite was named after the discoverer of the Pacific Ocean at the suggestion of the Peruvian Minister to Panama.  Before that the two towns at the Pacific end of the canal were known as Old La Boca and New La Boca (the mouth). All of the Balboa flats were filled land, with a base of soil taken from the harbor by a pipe line dredge.  Several feet of dirt from Diablo Hill is packed on top of this spoil. At one time there was a drainage canal running right through the town and emptying into the sea approximately in line with the present Masonic building on Balboa Road.

Barbacoas
This was a small native village on the banks of the Chagres where the natives built a swing bridge.   The name is from the Kuna language, meaning Bridge Big.  The Panama Railroad built its first bridge here.  Before the railroad was finished, travelers would take bongos upriver to take the Cruces Trail to Panama City.

Bas and Haut Obispo (Low and High Bishop)
These two towns remained almost exactly as they were when taken over from the French and served mainly as railroad camps. At Bas Obispo, the first Marine Camp was established. It was called Camp Elliot, and its commanding officer in 1911-12 was a lieutenant named Smedly Butler, who later attained fame as a general. A story among Canal old timers is that Butler picked out the best site on Ancon Hill for a Marine Corps camp.  The site was reserved for the camp for many years; consequently when it came time to chose a location for the Balboa Administration building the second best place had to be selected.   Bas Obispo originally was on the trail from Gorgona to Panama. The French began construction of locks here in 1887.  The US housed 1,744 people here in 1908 when Bas Obispo was a typical Canal town. It was here, in December 1908, that 26 lives were lost and a dozen men were maimed in a premature dynamite explosion.

Bohio
This town handled the canal excavation in the lake area during construction days. Some of the excavating was done by commission dredges and some by contract. [This was about the only contract excavations made.] The town was at the end of the sea level excavation made by the French and was to have been the site of their first set of locks after they decided to make a lock type canal.  The other locks on the Pacific end were to have been located between Ancon and Sosa Hills, about where the Balboa flats are now. [Also near Bohio were the hamlets of Penas Blancas and Buena Vista, both on the river and each merely a collection of huts of various descriptions.]

Caimito
Caimito was located across the Chagres River from San Pablo.  It is one of the names found on Esquemeling’s map. It was a canal labor camp during the French construction period and also under the Americans until the work in that area was finished.

Caledonia
This was a suburb of Panama Cityinhabited almost exclusively by West Indian construction workers.

Cardenas
This townsite was built in 1961 for employees of the FAA.  It is located between Ft. Clayton and Corozal.  

Chagres
“Old Chagres” was a native village, across from Ft. San Lorenzo at the mouth of the Chagres River. “New” Chagres was built up by the Americans during the 1850’s ... and was the first landing place on the coast of Panama, for the railroad people, and the “Argonauts” (the 49ers) who chose the Panama route as the fastest, safest route to the gold mines of California.  It was also referred to in those days as “Yankee town” and the route the 49ers took across the isthmus was termed the “Yankee Strip”.

Corozal
Originally Corozal was a railroad base. It was taken over from the French in 1904 and occupied by the Isthmian Canal Commission for the next eleven years until it was turned over to the US Army in November, 1915. The largest mess and bachelor quarters on the Pacific side were at Corozal. In the very early days before the Canal headquarters was moved from the DeLesseps building on Central Plaza (became the Panama Post Office and now the Interoceanic Canal Museum), the workers lived and ate at Corozal and commuted back and forth to Panama City by work train.  Corozal was also the headquarters of the Pacific Division which was headed by the only civilian engineer, S. R. Williamson, in an army organization.

Coco Solo [Lone (only) Coconut]
This is a former Naval and submarine base located on the Atlantic side.  It was turned over to the Panama Canal Company as a townsite and became the home of Cristobal High School, when the town of Cristobal reverted to the Republic of Panama as part of the Treaty of 1955.  It was opened as a residential area for Panama Canal/CZ Government employees.   Cristobal High School re-opened at Coco Solo in 1959.

Cristobal (Christopher)
This town is part of the rim of Manzanillo Island.  Cristobal long been a place or residence for Panama Railroad employees as the entire Manzanillo Island was the property of the railroad under the original concession for its construction.  During the construction era, it was the northernmost town on the Isthmus. In the early days employees living here were occupied mainly with the dredging of the harbor and the approaches to the locks. Large quantities of stone produced from the quarries of Porto Belo, which were also under the jurisdiction of the Isthmian Canal Commission and of sand obtained from the region around Nombre de Dios were brought in here. Four tugs and about fifty barges were used for this work which at times involved the handling of 1,000 to 1,200 cubic yards of crushed stone or sand daily. When the Americans first came to Colon, it was a squalid little town. The Panama Railroad Company built up what is now Cristobal, from the swamp lands once called Manzanillo Island, during the construction of the Panama Railroad in the 1850’s. It was originally referred to as “El Otro Lado” (The Other Side) ... once the railroad was completed to the Pacific/Panama City ... the Americans named it Aspinwall.   At that time Panama was a province of Columbia, the Colombians insisted the town be named after Columbus ... eventually the Americans gave in, as Columbia refused to deliver any mail to Aspinwall or even Aspinwall/Colon.   The towns became known as Cristobal and Colon (Columbus). The development of New Cristobal and Colon Beach, as that area appears today, came after the canal was completed. The swampy area in the heart of the island was filled and an extensive housing development was undertaken in 1917. Many additional quarters were built there in the 30’s.  New Cristobal and Colon Beach areas, including the original Cristobal High School, were given to Panama in the Treaty of 1955.  Colon Hospital was closed and eventually torn down.  Cristobal High School, Cristobal, is now used as a Collegio for the students of Colon, Republic of Panama.

Culebra (Snake)
The headquarters for General Goethals and the Isthmian Canal Commission. The offices of the office engineer and the chief quartermaster, now known as head of the supply division, were located here.  Culebra, the original capital of the US Canal construction, was a small village founded by Panama Railroad surveyors in 1850.  Four years later, it enjoyed a brief prosperity as the southern terminal of the railroad, at that stage of its construction. The French used the town when they began to excavate dirt out of the Cut, and the US made it their construction capital until 1909 when most of the buildings were moved to new locations at the Pacific end of the Canal.

Curundu
Along with Rainbow City and Los Rios, Curundu got its name by popular vote.   Once called “Skunk Hollow”, some residents decided that it should be changed and suggested Jungle Glen as a more fitting name.  Others were for keeping the name of Skunk Hollow. An editorial in The Star & Herald of March 18, 1943, was in favor of retaining the name. The problem was solved by ballot and a headline announced the result, “Skunk Glenners Vote Overwhelmingly for name Curundu.” Curundu was the name of the little river nearby.  It is a historic name, which has been spelled a variety of ways, but the exact meaning is not known.

Diablo Heights
The community of Diablo Heights can be traced as far back as the middle of the 16th century. According to Isthmian histories, the narrow Isthmus of Panama was terrorized by bands of Cimarrones, runaway Negro slaves, who preyed upon the treasure trains on the Camino Real. They became such a threat to life and property that the Spanish viceroy sent expeditions to clean them out. They managed to evade their attackers and in 1552 were granted recognition by the Governor of the Province. At that time, they had three main villages, one of which was called Diablo (Devil). It was located near the present site of Diablo Heights. In 1940, the Canal Zone Director of Posts objected to the decision to name the post office, which was located there until March 31, 1961, Diablo Heights - pointing out there was already considerable confusion over Balboa and Quarry Heights which were often written as “Q Heights” and “B Heights".  He suggested Cerro Diablo which would retain the name but put it all in Spanish.  The governor decided to keep the name and Diablo Heights it remains.  When this townsite was turned over to the Republic of Panama as required by the Treaty of 1977, the name was changed to Altos de Jesus.  However, the signs kept disappearing and so the town is still named Diablo.

Empire
This townsite was located south of Las Cascadas.   Empire was the headquarters for the central division of the Isthmian Canal Commission. Some shops were located here for use in overhauling the steam shovels used in Culebra Cut. The town was also the base for the division engineers.  Headquarters for the Canal auditing system which was headed first by H.L. Strunz and later by H.A.A. Smith and others were located here. The name of Empire, is a misinterpretation of the original Spanish name “Emperador” (Emperor). Before the opening of the Panama Railroad, the pack trail from Gorgona to Panama crossed the line of the present Panama Canal, passing the head waters of the Obispo River and through the hills to the Cruces Trail and Panama. The “49ers” put up at Empire on their way across the Isthmus to California. Empire was the site of the largest French construction town, and it was here that the French moved the first earth from Culebra Cut in 1882. The US used the French shops here to repair their steam shovels, and Colonel Gaillard and other officials lived here. A suspension bridge carrying air hoses, water mains, and a roadway crossed the Cut at this point. Old timers say that Empire was aesthetic; she went in for high art. Among her women were some whose water color sketches were famous and her musical circle was celebrated throughout the Isthmus.

Frijoles
This was a railway station stop and a village of 784 inhabitants in 1908. It was here that for many years an old Frenchman ran a distillery in which he made rum of such good quality that he boasted that it was sold in Colon to rectifiers who made it into “genuine French cognac.”

Gamboa
Opposite Gorgona was the “old town of Gamboa” ... it was another base camp whose only outstanding feature was a bridge across the Chagres River. Upon the completion of (new) Gamboa,  the Dredging Division was moved from Paraiso ... the reasons for moving were three: First, the housing at Paraiso was antiquated, inadequate and unsatisfactory and the time was fast approaching when all the houses would have to be entirely replaced; second, it was considered important that the floating craft be moved away from the entrance of the Pedro Miguel locks; and third, it was considered desirable to move the floating craft north of the slide area so that it would not be necessary to lock bare loads of spoil through toward the Pacific to a dumping ground. The present town of Gamboa, for which Mr. Claybourne worked for fifteen years, is rightly called “Claybourne’s Dream” and is one of the most beautiful spots on the isthmus.   Gamboa is the Spanish name of a fruit tree of the quince family. It is also a well-known surname still found today in Panama and Spain. Since the tree is not native to Panama, it seems likely that the name goes back to some of the early Spanish explorers.

Gatun
Evidence exists that Gatun took its name from the river which appears on Spanish maps as early as 1750. It appears that names were first applied to rivers and streams, often with a descriptive adjective to characterize a particular body of water. Some believe that the Gatun River was named “el gato” (the cat) because of its smooth running feline quality. [Records show that beginning about 1882, the river was called the Gatuncillo.] There are/were still some local people, however, who insist that the name came from "gatunero", seller of smuggled meat, since the area around Gatun was once known as a place where stolen cattle were brought for sale to travelers. The old village of Gatun, which lay on the river flats below the present town, was abandoned in 1908 and the site is now covered by 80 feet of rock and earth under Gatun Dam. At the time it was abandoned, the village contained a church, priests house, school, a dozen small shops, and 90 or more small houses of all descriptions, from the bamboo hut with palm thatch to the typical sheet-iron-roofed shanty, and served a population of 600. Most of the buildings were moved (about 2 miles away on the new line of the PRR) to the new townsite now known as Gatun. “Old Fort” at Gatun: The antiquity of the place is uncertain because none of its buildings were of masonry. In his narrative of the pirate Morgan, Esquemeling says, “The first day they sailed only six leagues, and came to a place called De Los Bracos. Here a party of his men went ashore, only to sleep and stretch their limbs, being almost cripple with lying too much crowded in the boats. having rested awhile, they went abroad to seek victuals in the neighboring plantations; but they could find none, the Spaniards being fled and carting with them all they had.” The location on the river corresponds to that of Gatun. Even if the situation of De Los Bracos is not identical with old Gatun, the narrative indicates that the region thereabout was somewhat settled. It is also known that the Spaniards had erected a fort 120 feet above the river, and evidences of the old fort are found today. In the early days of the California immigration, Gatun village was the first stopping place up the river from Old Chagres village (at the mouth of the Chagres River which was the starting point for the canoe journey up the Chagres) ... “bongo-loads of California travelers used to stop for refreshments on their way up the river, and where eggs sold for a dollar and the rent for a hammock was $2 a night.”  In 1881 the French chose Gatun as the site of one of the canal residencies, erected machine shops there and built a number of quarters for laborers, calling the new section Cite de Lesseps. This continued as a center of the work of excavation until 1888 when all operations ceased, not to be resumed here until 1904.   When the Americans arrived in 1904, Gatun was the center of a comparatively large river trade.  Bananas and other produce from the Gatun, Trinidad and Chagres Rivers were brought there for transshipment by rail and for sale.  In construction days, work in Gatun was largely concerned with the construction of the locks and the building of the dam and spillway. Spoil taken from the lock excavations and from the Canal prism was piped by means of centrifugal dredges to fill the core of Gatun Dam.

Gorgona
This town bears the name given by Pizarro to an island off the coast of Colombia, because he found such treacherous currents around it. It may be that this name was adopted arbitrarily, or that the Chagres River travelers found some eddies which reminded them of the currents off Gorgona Island in the river at this location.  Of this place Otis says: “The native town of Gorgona, was noted in the earlier days of the river travel as the place where the wet and jaded traveler was accustomed to worry out the night on a rawhide, exposed to the insects and the rain and in the morning if he was fortunate regale himself on jerked beef and plantains.” This was the base for the mechanical division. At one time more than 2,000 men were employed here. The shops were the repair point for all rolling stock on the Panama Railroad until the establishment of the Mechanical Division in Balboa. The shop site and more than half of the town is now underwater and the rest overgrown with jungle. In the French time, large shops were situated here, at the point where the American shops were, known as Bas Matachin. At the time of the first Canal Zone census in 1908, its inhabitants numbered 1,065 whites, 1,646 blacks and 39 Chinese, a total of 2,750. The reputation once enjoyed by Gorgona as the wildest town in the Zone was probably inherited from its long service as a river port, a French construction camp, and, under the US the largest machine shop on the Isthmus. The shops covered 3 acres in 1905 and 21 acres in 1913 when they were moved to Balboa Hill, 3.5 miles from Gorgona (the very hill from which Balboa saw the Pacific Ocean). This hill, 1,000 feet high, was a triangulation point for Canal surveyors in laying out the line of the “Big Ditch.” From a tower that once stood on this hill photographers could take pictures of both oceans on clear days.

La Boca
La Boca means "the mouth".  This town is located on the Pacific Side of the Isthmus near the beginning of the Canal channel.  The Dredging Division under W.G. Comber had its headquarters at La Boca until it was absorbed by the Pacific Division in 1907.

Las Cascadas
This town was the division point for handling locomotives and rolling stock for the excavation of Culebra Cut. Las Cascadas was a large town, at one time having a population of more than 5,000.  It had a few shops and a round house, but was important principally because it was the base for survey parties. A man named Zook and another named Zant were in charge of these survey parties. The town was abandoned and all of the buildings were torn down. For a time during the 1920’s it was a Seventh Day Adventist settlement before the Adventists moved to Balboa.  Las Cascadas, a 40-foot fall in the Obispo River existed here, giving the town its name. The French used the site for a labor camp. In 1908, Las Cascadas was one of the centers of Canal life and 2,425 people were housed here. The transportation headquarters of the Central Division had facilities for 40 locomotives in this town during construction days.

Lion Hill and Tiger Hill
Two hamlets located between Gatun and Bohio. They were essentially railroad camps that had persisted since 1851 when they were, successively, the terminus of the railroad. These hills were named by the railroad construction crews because their monkey population filled the nights with a roaring sound that was at first mistaken for the sounds of lions and tigers.

Los Rios
The town was named by popular ballot in 1954 when it was first built,  with Sibert and Alhajuela being considered also as possible choices. The streets had already been named for local rivers and it was decided it would be fitting to call the town “The Rivers".  Los Rios is situated next to Corozal.

Mamei
This was railroad station in 1862, and little more than that today.  It was the location of several quarters for canal workers some years ago.

Margarita
This name comes from the little island which is now Fort Randolph, but where the island got its name is apparently lost in history. Margarita came into existence as a Third Lock town in the earlt 1940s.  In 1917 the Commissary Division established a hog farm “in the Mt. Hope district on a point on the new Margarita Rd.” ... the farm, quite naturally was known as the Margarita Hog Farm and its location is where Margarita now stands.  Construction of Margarita townsite was approved in January 1940 and its first occupants moved into their homes in December of that year.

Mt. Hope
This was first railroad stop after Cristobal.  It was originally called Monkey Hill, because of its profuse population of monkeys.  Mt. Hope was the location of the main bakery and cold storage facilities.  Also, the cemetery for the railroad construction workers is located here.  James Stanley Gilbert is buried at the cemetery ... his headstone, once visible from the road just past the railroad station, is no longer there and is assumed that at some point was moved to Corozal.

Matachin
Here the Chagres is joined by the Rio Obispo, its greatest tributary. This section of river is now part of the Panama Canal. During the construction of the Panama Railroad, its chief engineer  Col. Totten designated Matachin a way station, and built a passenger depot there as well as a system of sidetracks to enable trains bound in opposite directions to pass each other. The Chinese disaster during railroad construction days became the source of several legends which joined others in the mythology of the "Yankee Strip".   One story has it that since “mata” is Spanish for “kill” and “chino” means “Chinese,” then Matachin was named as a contraction for “Dead Chinaman” in commemoration of the Chinese suicides. This is not so.  Matachin also means “butcher” and was so named on maps drawn as early as 1678, long before the Panama Railroad.  Also, there is an elaborate article by one L. Simonix published in 1884 in the Bulletin, a publication of the French Canal Company, which adds to the Chinese legends with this passage: “It is said that upon the railway of the Isthmus, which is 75 kilometers in length, there is buried a Chinaman under each cross tie.” This is completely untrue.   There were over 140,000 cross ties used in the original Panama Railroad - more if one counts those in sidetracks and spurs - and never more than a thousand Chinese were employed by the railroad. In 1908, there were 2,042 inhabitants here and the US first planned to locate the principal locomotive repair shops at Matachin. The Chagres was diverted from its channel here and when the excavation was finished in this area, the town went into a decline.

Miraflores
Miraflores, which means "look at flowers",  was not chosen because flowers were growing where these Pacific side locks are located.  It was actually desolate swamp land. The name dates far back in Isthmian history, but a check of old records gives no clue as to how, why, or when the name was first applied to this area. It is a common Spanish surname and chances are that Miraflores was named for an individual during Spanish colonial days. There are several South American countries with towns of this name. Miraflores was a small town at first, being mainly a camp for lock construction. A temporary insane asylum was located here at one time, after the institution had been moved from San Juan Hill in Ancon, and before the completion of the institution at Corozal. Built by the French to house their laborers, when the US took over the canal construction, Miraflores continued to be used as a labor camp. When the locks were completed and the canal went into operation, this choice "lake floor" property ceased to be attractive as a residence site.

Paraiso
Paraiso was a steam shovel and general construction dump until the water was let into Gatun Lake. Then it became headquarters of the Dredging Division, which was first under the direction of John MacFarlane and was later headed by John G. Claybourne. Paraiso means "paradise" and it was a stop on the “dry season trail” between the Atlantic and Pacific.  Early Canal Zone legend has it that Sir Henry Morgan first saw Old Panama from a hilltop (Cerro de Buccaneros "Hill of the Buccaneers") near Paraiso. During the 1850s when surveyors and engineers were laying out the railroad line, they found a pass which led into what F.N. Otis, a few years later, described as “the most beuatiful undulating valley of Paraiso, or Paradise, surrounded by high conical hills where Nature in weird profusion seems to have expended her choicest wealth.” The French had their district headquarters and a machine shop here. Paraiso was the only town along the line where the water, which came from nearby springs, could be used right out of the faucet without precautionary boiling.  During the construction period, the railroad crossed from the east to the west bank on a trestle at this point [Following the left bank of the Rio Grande for the next four miles, the line crossed that river’s principal tributaries - the Pedro Miguel, Caimitillo and Cardenas]. After the valley of Paraiso, there came the broad plain of Corrisal and the swamp of Correndeu - where in the distance could be seen the bald peak of Mount Ancon, and on the left the Cerro de Buccaneros. When the water was let into the Cut, a pontoon bridge was used for the trains until the tracks were relocated on the east bank. The Dredging Division headquarters remained in Paraiso until the completion of the town of (new) Gamboa.   The old housing was torn down at Paraiso in the 1950s and new housing built.

Pedro Miguel (Peter Magill)
This was important mainly because it is the site of the first of the Pacific locks after Gatun Lake, and lock headquarters were located here.  South of the town, between Red Tank and the tunnel through Miraflores Hill, is one of the heaviest dumps on the Isthmus. This is a fifteen foot fill which was created from material from the cut and locks excavation. It also dates from the French canal days. Pedro Miguel served the US construction venture as the southern roundhouse and marshalling yard for the dirt trains which worked in the Cut. Pronounced "Peter Magill" by most Americans living in the Canal Zone. This name has aroused the most curiosity, and has provoked the most numerous arguments and discussions. One old timer reports that he remembers well the story he heard while still a boy, that Pedro Miguel was the name of a railroad section foreman. There was no town there in the old days and the stop on the Panama Railroad was known simply as “Pedro Miguel’s Cabin".  Others insist that the name was originally San Pedro Miguel (St. Peter Michael) the name the Spanish gave the river which is near the town. An 1867 history of the Panama Railroad refers to the river as "a narrow tidewater tributary of the Rio Grande"  which the railroad crossed on an iron birdge.  Others say that the area was named by the French to honor a saint and then translated into Spanish. Further research indicates that the name goes back farther still in history. Early accounts of the conquistadores in Panama mention a soldier named Pedro Miguel, a contemporary of DeSoto, and a 1729 Spanish map shows a hill named Cerro Pedro Miguel as well as the river, Rio Miguel.

Rainbow City
This town has had numerous names, among these: The Folks river end of Manzanillo Island, silver town at Mt. Hope, new silver townsite at Big Tree, and Cristobal Silver Townsite.  After it became occupied, it was also called: Silvertown, Silver Town and Silver City. The town name was voted on by the residents in the 1950’s and re-named Rainbow City. Located in between Cristobal/Colon and Mt. Hope ... Camp Coiner was also included in the town and the vote. The name Camp Coiner was given to the area in 1942 when it was occupied by the main offices of the Construction District of the Panama Engineer Division; it had been called Camp Randolph. It was named Camp Coiner to avoid confusion, named in honor of Lt. Col. Richard T. Coiner, Corps of Engineers.

Red Tank
The beginnings of this townsite are hazy. A 1904 timetable for the Panama Railroad shows a stop called Pedro Miguel Tank, five-tenths of a mile south of Pedro Miguel proper. Old timers recall there was a big water tank, painted with red lead, on a hill behind what later became the town. From this undoubtedly came the name of Red Tank, a local-rate community. The last of these residents were moved out to La Boca in November of 1953.

Rio Grande
Located south of Culebra, this was the site of the first reservoir which supplied water to the Pacific side and Panama City. When the first water was turned into Panama City and sprouted from the hydrants, seven or eight hundred stark naked youngsters appeared on the streets and had the time of their young lives. Nothing is left of the town except the resevoir which was drained by a spillway just before the signal station on the west bank of the Canal, directly across from the mooring station. The spillway was done away with in 1910.

Rousseau
A former Navy community located on the west side of the canal on the Pacific Side of the Isthmus.  It housed FAA employees before Cardenas was built. Rousseau was returned to the navy after the occupants had moved.  The houses were torn down, but the cement footings are still there.

San Pablo
This place was originally a plantation worked by Catholic priests. It was a railroad station in 1862, a laborers’ camp in the French days, and during the American occupation has been a small canal village.

Tabernilla
This was one of the centers of French work and there was a small field repair shop at this point. Druing the American occupation it became a village of over 2,000 inhabitants because here is situated the largest dumping ground of the canal work.


The villages between Gatun and Matachin, before being covered by the water of Gatun Lake, were known to European civilization many years before Jamestown was settled or Massachusetts Bay was an English colony. Many of them date from the early days of navigation on the Chagres River, when it was one of the most used routes for commerce across the Isthmus. Among these are: Ahorca Lagarto, Barbacoas, Caimito, Matachin, Bailamonos, Santa Cruz, Cruz de Juan Gallego and Cruces (Venta Cruz).


Compiled by Virginia Hirons

Bibliography:
Friar, Willie, “Place Name and Their Meanings," Panama Canal Review. Panama Canal Company,  Spring 1972.
Gilkey, Lloyd,  "Early Day Towns 'Along The Line,'" The Panama American, August 15, 1939.
“Lake Villages,” The Canal Record , December 6, 1911.
Schott, Joseph L., Rails Across Panama,  Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1967.

CZBrats
November 14, 1999


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