Photo of the Week
July 21, 2002
Not many Zonians have ever heard of the Rio Grande River before. I don't mean the Rio Grand between Mexico and the United States. The Rio Grande was a small river that originally ran through the jungle behind Contractors Hill and formed a small valley from Paraiso to the La Boca mud flats. The Rio Grande River Valley is one of the reasons the 11 miles from La Boca to Paraiso was selected for the Canal axis. To control the Rio Grande's flow and to provide drinking water for the Pacific towns, including Panama City it was damed. An old steel bridge that was part of the original Panama Railroad served as the base of the dam. The Rio Grande Reservoir provided drinking water for many years until Miraflores Lake, the Cut and Gatun Lake were formed. The Miraflores filtration plant then took water from them. (See photo and article below for more information).
Going Strong at 1OO-Plus
SOMETHING NEW has been
added to a structure which has undergone a number of changes and served
a variety of purposes on the Isthmus for more than 100 years.
Photo and article from Panama Canal Review - September 1, 1961
As adventurous youth, we used to explore this old structure many times. Remember "the slide" just before Contractors Hill? Well that was the culvert mentioned above. As far as I know all of it is still there and always will be. I used to go bottle hunting across the bridge and up into the jungle behind the old reservoir basin. There was an old settlement there in the construction days....and you guessed it. The town was called Rio Grande. Rio Grande can be found on most of the old Canal maps.
piece of our forgotten Canal Zone history.
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