Photo of the Week
October 14, 2001

 I recently purchased this really great old post card.  What caught my eye was the old stone trestle that these people are standing by.  The title of the card is, "Washing day at Lagarto, Panama".  I recognized this old railroad trestle as one that I have SCUBA dived down to in Gatun Lake.  The trestle stands there today as shown in this post card with the exception of the steel or wooden bridge structure that once held track.  Originally a friend found the trestle with his depth finder on his boat.  We dove the area which was 65 - 70 feet deep and found the original Panama Rail Road line.  We followed the line until we came to this trestle.  It was interesting to find and see this large man-made structure so deep and forgotten by all.  We explored the area and came up with three nice 10 foot sections of "U-Rail" (original Panama Railroad Rail) and brought them to the surface with lift bags.

While diving in the area, we ventured out into what was once called the "Black Swamp" which was very eerie.  And again along the rail line, there were many fence posts along the line that were once Lignin Vitae railroad ties.  

This trestle did not cross the Chagres, but another small river that emptied into the Chagres.

History: The hamlet called Ahorca Largarto was located on a  bend of the Chagres River, and may well have been a resting place for the cramped travelers in canoes in the old days.  The origin of it's name claims the author and historian Otis,  "Ahorca Lagarto, 'to hang the lizard,' deriving its name from a landing-place on the Chagres near by; this again, named from having, years back, been pitched upon as an encampment by a body of government troops, who suspended from a tree their banner, on which was a lizard, the insignia of the Order of Santiago."  In 1908 it had sixty-two inhabitants, of whom three were white, two yellow, and the balance Negro.

This area today is all underwater near Isla Juan Gallegos (also known as "Lion Island" named after the nearby early town of "Lion Hill") in Gatun Lake.

Another chapter of our Canal Zone history!

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