Photo of the Week
September 19, 2020

This week we continue with William Sibert, Col. Goethals and POTUS William Howard Taft's visit to Panama and the diggings.  The above photo isn't the best in the world, but has a good talk to give.  Body language and facial expressions are great to study and surmise what is going on in these men's minds.  For instance,  look at Goethal's face and then Sibert's face.  The both have a competition going on as to who has the meaner look.  Goethals standing the photos center and Sibert to the right of Taft.  CZ Images contributor Carl Berg sent me a book by W. Storrs Lee called The Strength to Move a Mountain recently and the author talks about when Goethals took over as Chief Engineer in 1907, he had no fondness for Sibert but kept him on the team because Sibert was an excellent engineer.

From the book: Everlasting suffering the admonishment of Congressmen who thought too much money was being spent at the Isthmus, Goethals pounced on the drastic change of program for the Pacific locks as an excuse for a general shake-up in the Canal organization for the sake of economy. He had no affection for the civilian organization inherited from Stevens, and particularly he had no affection for the man in charge of locks and dams, William Sibert, who was constantly intruding with ideas at odds with his own. This was the Colonel's big opportunity to exercise  the chain of command discipline he had learned at West Point.....Major Sibert was much too distinguished an engineer to be dropped, so he was placed in charge of the Atlantic Division where he would have less opportunity to contest what was being planned for the opposite end of the Canal.

With that, I suppose the air was thick when both men were together or in the same area.

Immediately below is another Taft visit photo taken that same day.   Goethals is standing behind Taft and appears to be briefing him about this piece of track that is being studied.   Sibert is standing with his back to the camera.  Great photo!

I have included a colorized post card at the bottom of this group of photos which is another great photo showing Goethals briefing Taft about something not necessarily digging related.  It appears they are in a town which I am guessing is Colon because of the mature coconut trees and tall building in the background.  Harry Rousseau is standing behind Goethals in white.  I believe Sibert is standing just outside the photo with only his hand and sleeve showing.  The guy in the green hat is in the middle diggings photo.  I don't know who he is.

More to come next week.


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