Photo of the Week
June 19, 2020

Charles M. Butters

Continuing with photo from two weeks ago of the four movers and shakers of the Panama Canal. We look at the third man in the photo.  This man is Charles M. Butters who was one of the first American employees to be brought to the Isthmus during the Canal construction days.  He was employed in July 1904 as a levelman by the Isthmian Canal Commission.  Levelman is a surveyor who operates a leveling instrument.  This must have been a important and tiresome job in 1904.  He moved into work with the Canal was as a civil engineer.  He was employed through the construction period and after the Canal was opened in 1914 he was employed in the Dredging Division s junior and later assistant engineer.  

He was also one of the first Canal employees to retire under the voluntary service plan after 30 years of service.  He retired in July 1934.

Butters was John Claybourn's right hand man tackling many difficult jobs in the dredging arena.  Especially during all the slides occurring in the cut after the Canal opened.  Charles M. Butters was very intelligent man and outstanding engineer.

Charles M. Butters – Service began July 26, 1904 he was awarded the Roosevelt Medal #122 – Bar 1 # 77, Bar 2 #53, Bar 3 #42, Bar 4 #22 - This is an incredible record with so many bars and all low serial numbers.  He was truly a shaker and mover with the Canal project.

His wife Adelaide Winchenbaugh – was a mover and shaker of her own starting out with the local Women’s Club of the time.

Butters died at his home in Needham, Massachusetts, December 1956.  He was 80 years old when he died.

Another great man that made the Panama Canal a successful accomplishment for the United States of America.



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