Photo of the Week
April 30, 2000

Here we are anchored on top of the old construction town of Tabernilla.  Every dry season, we would go and explore the old hilltop of the now underwater town of Tabernilla.  The old hill top sits about 10 feet underwater all year long.  When dry season comes and the lake level drops, this old hilltop becomes an island.  Unfortunately, this photo shows a scene taken from the exposed hilltop, and not the actual hilltop.  Snorkeling the shallows and searching the exposed shore would always turn up a relic or two.  The most interesting item is the old horse trough in the center of this old hilltop.  This trough is made of cement and could have been to water horses, wash laundry or was a source of water for those that lived on top of this hill. I wish I had photos, but never thought of doing so, or never had a camera.  On several occasions, equipped with SCUBA gear, we would travel down the side of this old hill, down the old stairway and view the old town.  There are many old building foundations, the cement stairs and the old rail line.

Tabernilla ("Little Tavern") was one of the centers of the French works, and there was a small field repair shop with a few buildings that served as quarters for the working force.  During the American occupation it became a village of over two thousand inhabitants (2,079 in 1908), because here was situated the largest dumping ground on the canal work.  The location was chosen in 1906 because it was on the main line of the railroad, outside of the canal prism and afforded a plot of ground two miles long and almost as wide for wasting of spoil. In all about sixteen million cubic yards of material was wasted here, all of which is now below the present day lake level.  The dump was abandoned at the close of 1910, and immediately the village population decreased, the people remaining there being largely employees with families who cold not procure quarters elsewhere.  They were later relocated when the flooding of the Gatun Lake began.

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