Object of the Day

A Portrait During Construction

01-95-5-(6)Can you estimate a time period for this image? Is it during the construction of the Panama Canal? Where is this image captured?

What kind of machine is behind the man? What does it do? Why is the man posing with the machine?  Why are the other men not? Was this a popular form of portraiture in Panama? Do you own any photographs like this one?

If so, please share with us your stories about this location.

If you have any more information about this photograph or the machinery, please share with us in the comments section!

0 Comments

  • bkarrer2013

    This would be rather late in the PC Construction Period circa 1912-13. The white man is likely the Bucyrus steamshovel #207 (see the back end with the number) operator… He would have been on the Gold Roll. The black guys were his “helpers’ from the Silver Roll who helped with the loading and any other dirty little job as needed. They would be West Indians. I have a number of other similar photos & postcards like this in my collection… this one, I must say, is one of the best I have seen. This would be at the bottom of Culebra Cut. Water was let into the Cut in Sept 1913 and it appears to be pretty far down so i am confident it is likely a noon break shot (note few shadows). These guys were the “kings” of the diggers and justly proud of their work… so I can imagine this guy collecting his men for a group shot. ALL the shovels were run on train tracks & they consumed a lot of coal to provide the steam that operated them. There is a famous photo of Teddy Roosevelt in the cab of a steamshovel on his isthmian visit in November 1906. Bob Karrer

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    From: The Panama Canal Museum Collection at UF [mailto:comment-reply@wordpress.com] Sent: Friday, January 10, 2014 12:59 PM To: bkarrer@comcast.net Subject: [New post] A Portrait During Construction

    ufpcmcollection posted: “Can you estimate a time period for this image? Is it during the construction of the Panama Canal? Where is this image captured? What kind of machine is behind the man? What does it do? Why is the man posing with the machine? Why are the other men not?”

  • Robert Dixon Gordon

    “What can I say”, We turned over the Panama canal to the Panamanian administration in the year 2000, operating fully. (We expect it to remain that way) After, 29 years and 5 months of us federal service, I retired, but stayed on with the new administration (ACP) in order to make certain that the canal would remain open, and be operated in the same democratic manner, as it were, under the us administration. The situation at the canal, at this time, in my personal opinion, isn’t transparent. However, after all the sacrifice made there, during the us administration, to include the early days of it’s construction, clearly demonstrates, that the waterway should not go unattended. Teddy Roosevelt is probably rolling in his grave at this time. That’s the God sent truth. Robert Dixon, retired security officer, & guard leader, Canal Protection division.
    NOTE: US president Regan quote: “We bought it, we built it, and we should keep it”.

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