Index of Images

Panama Canal Construction Days
Portrait of the Towns
Las Cascadas

Las Cascadas Photos

Bird's Eye View
Engine House 1
Engine House 2
Train Station
Street Scene
Coal Chute
View of town 1
View of town 2
Old French Store
Loco Shops
Coal Chute
Police Station

Town Map 1909

Camp Otis

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During the construction of the Panama Canal, much of the work to complete the Canal was done in the Culebra Cut. Because of this, many little villages were constructed along the west bank of the soon to be Culebra Cut. These were known as the Culebra Cut Villages. These included Bas Obispo, Haut Obispo, Camp Elliott, Las Cascadas, Camp Otis, Empire, and Culebra. There were other little hamlets and fincas along the way as well. In it’s peak, the Culebra Cut Villages were big and offered just about everything a normal permanent town would. Stores, Markets, Churches, Clubhouses, Post Office, Fire Station, Police Station, Hospital/Clinics and more could be found in each of these villages.

This presentation is about two of these villages, or should I say one. Camp Otis and Las Cascadas were basically within the same village border but were identified with separate names. I wanted to do a presentation on Camp Otis for the CZ Images Military History section. As I began research, I found how the two villages were tied together so closely, I decided to keep them together here as well. I have walked the land that these two villages once stood on while looking for bottles and relics. Parts of the old village and camp could still be seen then.

The name Las Cascadas means "the waterfalls" or "cascades". Here the Obispo River formerly tumbled over a precipice forty feet high on its way to the Rio Chagres. This village dates from the French times, when it became the site of a labor camp. Under the Americans it continued as one of the centers of canal life. Here were established a engine-house, where forty locomotives used to tie up for the night to be cleaned out an made ready for their morrow’s work, and an air-compressor plant to supply air to the drills in the north end of Culebra Cut. It does not appear on maps prior to 1880 and was not touched by the old trail that ran through Obispo on its way to Panama. In 1908, Las Cascadas had 2,425 inhabitants - 957 whites, 1,424 blacks and 44 others. - "The Panama Guide", by John O. Colins, 1912

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