Growing Up in the Canal Zone

One of the strengths of the Panama Canal Museum Collection is its large number of personal photographs depicting everyday life in the Canal Zone, such as the ones shown below.

What do you remember most about your childhood in the Canal Zone? Who were your childhood friends and what activities did you do with them? Where were your favorite places to go?

2006.11.8.1Unidentified group of women and children with dolls, 1930s.

2009.15.5R. Z. Kirkpatrick and Ralph Hamilton K. called “Kirk,” undated.

2011.2.73Gladys Brathwaite and Ida May Gilbert, 1915 or 1916.


  • Scott Boykin

    I lived at Fort Gulick in 1974 when I was in the sixth grade. I really loved it! It was my favorite place we lived, and we moved around a lot as an Army family. I loved wandering the jungle paths around Fort Gulick and going down to Lake Gatun. The animals we saw were fascinating. Once our school parking lot was invaded by spider monkeys. We used to chase the kudamundis, armadillos, and iguanas. Thank God we never got too close to one! I also loved it when we would go to Fort San Lorenzo overlooking the Chagres River. We used to go snorkeling at a place that had a marine biology research center — I can’t recall the name — and it was great. We also would go snorkeling at Portabello and the adults would scuba dive. It was a great adventure for a kid.

  • fctownsend


    I’m looking at the photo

    Unidentified group of women and children with dolls, 1930s.

    I believe I see my mother and aunt in the photo BUT– the year would have to be 1920’s NOT 1930’s.

    So could you please check the date, and let me know

    If it is the 1920’s I’ll identify my mom and aunt for you.


    Frank Townsend


    • ufpcmcollection

      Thanks for your comment below! While we cannot currently access the physical photograph to see what’s written on the back, our online records date the photo as 1930’s. The donors of this photograph were Jerry and Diane Cox, if that provides you any additional insight.

  • robertdryja1947


    I have posted comments directly in the past but now I cannot do so. Instead wordpress with something called gravetar asks for a lot of private information. Can you correct the linkages?


    Robert Dryja


  • fctownsend

    I was delighted to see the Clement sisters, Virginia, and Betty in the photo
    “Unidentified group of women and children with dolls, 1930s”, which I had not seen before. Virginia (my Mom) is the tall girl in the center with a ribbon in her curly hair, My aunt Betty is on the far left and has a part in her bangs. I believe the photo date is about 1918 or 1919 and was taken at Las Cascadas or Balboa

  • Wilhelmina Field Patterson

    I lived in Gatun in 1943 then moved to Margarta came back to states after second war world then moved back to New Cristobal in late 1946 until we moved back to the states in June 1948.

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