Snippet of History
The Opening of the Panama Railroad - 1855

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The following highly entertaining account of the inauguration of the Panama Railroad, as sophisticated New York viewed it, is worth copying.  The Daily Courier, issued in Panama, in the issue of Friday morning, February 16, 1855, had the following from the New York Mirror:


"Invitations are out for the most sublime and magnificent nuptials ever celebrated upon our planet, the wedding of the rough Atlantic to the fair Pacific Ocean.  An iron necklace has been thrown across the Isthmus; the banns are already published and the bridal party will leave this city on Monday next, February 5th, to perform the august ceremony.

"Some seven millions of dollars have been spent in achieving this union, but the fruits thereof will soon show it has been money well invested.  Across the bosom of the Isthmus the golden products of our Pacific borders and the incalculable treasures of the distant Orient are destined to flow in unremitting streams.

"The stupendous enterprise of uniting the two oceans which embrace the greater portion of the globe, we are proud to say, was conceived and executed by our own citizens in the frowning face of obstacles that none but Americans could have overcome.  The swamps, the mists, and miasma of the Isthmus drove all the engineers of Europe home in despair who contemplated the gigantic undertaking and the herculean work was left to the hands and hearts of men in whose vocabulary 'there is no such word as fail.'

"The engineers of England and France pronounced the project utterly impracticable.  To the late lamented Aspinwall, his associates and others, the world is indebted for the completion of the Great Bond—this commercial linking of the hemispheres—an enterprise so full of poetic sublimity and so fraught with interest coextensive with the whole earth may well command the attention of the whole world and deserves to be fitly inaugurated."

That the editor of the Aspinwall Courier was a loyal American is evidenced by the following:

"Passengers bound to California left here on the morning of the 16th and had an agreeable and expeditious transit across the line.  To the United States belongs the honor of this work.  From its inception to its consummation, it is purely American—American genius conceived the plan; American science pronounced it practicable; American capital has furnished the sinews; and American energy has prosecuted the gigantic enterprise to its completion in spite of the most formidable difficulties."

From: Picturesque Panama by Jean Heald, 1928

February 21, 2000

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