Photo of the Week
January 14, 2018

CZ Images contributor Peggy Huff sent me the above photo which almost looks like a aftermath from a war, but it is the construction of the Gatun Spillway's Hydro-Electric
Station.  I have never seen this photo before and is a real classic capture in time.  As usual, this photo sent me on a campaign to find out more information which fortunately I found some great data about this KEY structure in the operation of the Panama Canal Locks and Canal Zone towns.  During the construction days, there  were small electric steam plants in operation to provide electricity for lock construction and other electrical needs in the new Canal Zone.  The powers to be realized that with so much water in reserve in the Gatun Lake, they should make use of it instead of spilling it over the gates of the spillway, hence the plans for construction of the Gatun Spillway Hydro-Electric Plant were drawn up and construction began.  I found out a lot of information about this power plant through research and is a very interesting story of how important this plant was and still is today.

I had the old colorized post card immediately below in my collection and added it to this week's presentation as it was taken pretty close to when the above photo was taken.  It still has the scaffolding on the end of the building to haul the building material and terracotta roof tiles up.  This scaffolding is seen in both photos.

Below the post card are two really great old photos showing the completed building and the interior of the plant showing the generators.  I found these photos on the web site, titled "Gatun Spillway, 6000kW hydroelectric station, 1914.

I extracted a few pages from Canal Records that give details about this power station.  Might be long reading, but well worth the time.

Volume 5 - July 3, 1912

Volume 7 - May 6, 1914

There will be more to this story next week. 




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