Here is a picture of Stephen's Tree near Ahorca Lagarto. This picture is from a 1955 commemorative Review of the 100th anniversary of the Panama Railroad. There is also a picture in "A Trip Panama Canal" 1911, as well as an engraving in "History of the Panama RR" 1862. 

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John Lloyd Stephens was one of the builders of the Panama Railroad. Not to be confused with John Fitzgerald Stevens, builder of the Panama Canal. Roberto Bruno, member of the PHS (Panama Historical Society) has done a lot of research on his life and gave a talk on his accomplishments. He was one of the first to document Maya ruins in Central America and the first one to do surveys before coming to Panama to do the railroad amounts other deeds.

Funny that the Souther Command Network Television (SCN TV) in Panama thru Armed Forces Network (AFN) had an advertisement about him calling the father of American archeology because of his Maya investigations never mentioned his great accomplishment at Panama.

My diving partner, Lance, and myself after reading books from the 1850s about a large tree next to the rail line that was Stephens' favorite tree. He gave orders to preserve it (I think it's large size guaranteed it also). The publications we read and had pictures include: Harper's Weekly (1859), History of the Panama Railroad (1862), A Trip Panama Canal (1911), & a Panama Canal Company Review commemorating of the 100th anniversary of the railway (1955). This was called Stephens' Tree. We set out to find this tree starting about 15 years ago. We looked for the largest tree trunk around the vicinity and came up dry several times. Lance left Panama just before the end of 1989. During the el Niņo year armed with a couple other diving partners and more research as to were exactly the rail line passed in the area we looked again. Gatun Lake was the lowest it had been in recent memory. We looked for the biggest tree rising out of the water and went there. Normally at high water this stump was awash. Sure enough after a quick dive to 55 feet of depth, we found it, the rail line is next to it.

What importance is this? I'm not sure except I think it is exciting but it would be nice if the company that is mining tree stumps in Gatun Lake for commercial purposes leave this one as a monument to the builder of the Panama Rail Road.

Now all I have to do is locate the site of Stephens' Cottage and that will be another story.

Doug Allen