Photo of the Week
June 3, 2001
This is a excerpt from an article called "Watercraft Fleet Keeps Canal Afloat", by Vicki Boatwright. Panama Canal Review - Summer 1978.
The original name of a little workboat with bright red awnings that residents of Gamboa are accustomed to seeing chugging up and down the Chagres River is lost in history, but its usefulness goes on. Now the Hyacinth II, this craft was built in 1882 and was the property of the Compagnie Universelle du Canal Interoceanique. When Lt. Mark Brooke signed the receipt for the assets of the French in early 1904, the little craft became property of the Isthmian Canal Commission. Its amazing continuance in service is due to its special talent: it is the only Company powerboat that can pass under the Gamboa Bridge at high water, and as such it is invaluable in hyacinth control work. (The article continues about other Panama Canal watercraft).
The article states that the original name of the Hyacinth II is lost in history, I may have possibly found it. Below is a old photo that I found in a very old personal photo album of a watercraft that looks exactly like the Hyacinth. Same hull design and deck structure. The photo has the name which appears to be US Margurite. Unless there were more than one of these style watercraft, I would say that this in fact was the original name of the Hyacinth II. There is no date on this photo, but judging from the others in the album, it was taken just prior to or right after the opening of the Canal.
Now....you ask, "Where is the Hyacinth II today? See below......
The Panama Canal Company sold the Hyacinth II as excess back in the '80s. In fact, my brother and a friend purchased it. The engine was gone and it needed work. They worked on it for a while and then sold it to another person who put a engine in it as was going to use it as a tourist boat. I left Panama and lost track of what happened to it until I got a email from Jason Critides who is now the owner and is reworking her from bow to stern. Here is a photo he sent me.
And the legacy continues over 120 years after it was built!
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