Photo of the Week
January 27, 2002

There is a little island that sits out in the Bay of Panama.  The island is part of the chain of islands that the Amador Causeway now connects to the mainland.  This little island has hundreds of years of history.  Ships used to anchor off of it during the days of the early days Spanish exploration up until the days when the French started construction of the Panama Canal.  Due to the drastic tides and the mud flats off of the City of Panama, large sea vessels could not get near the city.  Smaller boats were loaded with cargo and passengers from these vessels and taken to the mainland.  When the Americans purchased rights to the Canal Zone, these islands were included in the deal.  The islands were connected to the mainland with the rock and dirt excavated from the Culebra Cut diggings.  This served as a break water to prevent currents from filling the canal with silt and also served as a base for railroad track and later a road.

This little island is named Culebra Island.  During the early years years of the French era there was a quarantine station built on the island (see above).  Although this colorized postcard calls the island Naos, it is actually Culebra Island.  After the relocation of the quarantine station the little island was used in the defense of the Pacific entrance to the canal.  This little island actually had two large 14 inch railroad guns stationed on it.  

When the coastal artillery days were over Culebra Island sat quietly for many years.  The Boy Scouts started using it and was also known as Boy Scout Island.  The picture below was taken in the 1970s and shows the old foundations of the quarantine buildings (compare the two photos) and the large bunker built during the coastal artillery days.  At high tide in the dry season, the rocks pictured were full of lobster just waiting to be plucked up.

With the treaty taking affect and the islands being turned over to the Republic of Panama, Noriega built a little "Casa" out on the rocky point to the right.

I am not sure what is happening there today, but it probably looks just like the photo below.


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