Photo of the Week
October 6,  2002

This week's photos are interesting ones.  The title of the card is, "Chagres River when in flood passing under Gamboa Bridge".  This appears to be an aftermath of a flood as the water seems to be receding.   The area that the men are walking on is the dike that held back the water of the lake from getting into Culebra Cut during the dry excavation days. The track used by dirt trains has been washed out. But, the most interesting thing about this photo is there are two Gamboa bridges!!  I have seen a couple photos  showing both bridges, but this is the first colorized post card I have seen.  The bridge that is higher from the river's surface is the Gamboa bridge that still stands today.  The other lower trestle was built by the French in 1888.  
Photo from the collection of CZ Images contributor Vicente Pascual

Excerpt and photo from the book "Rails to the Diggings", by Charles Small (below):  

"To keep the Obispo River out of the excavation, from Emperador north, the French built a diversion channel, which extended past Las Cascadas on the east bank. For this construction they built a railroad line, independent of the P.R.R., and extended it to 
Gamboa. Their second lock canal design required a diversion of the P.R.R. to the east bank at a high level. Therefore, in 1888, they bridged the river for this relocation but did not work beyond the end of the bridge.

This bridge could not be used by the Americans because it was in the path of their canal and at too low an elevation. The French bridge was removed and a new bridge built at a higher elevation. This bridge was completed during July 1908. The original dyke, built to keep the Chagres out of the Culebra cut, was used as the northern exit for the dirt trains which proceeded north to the dumping grounds. As the excavation deepened, and the dyke was raised, the grades on these exit tracks became too steep. The dyke track was extended on a 1V2 grade to the level of the relocated P.R.R. New entrance and exit tracks were provided from the relocated P.R.R. into the cut on a 2V2 grade. These connections were combined in the Tower R interlocking plant early in 1912."

Gamboa looking south circa mid 1907. No. 3 is an ex P.R.R. 0-4-OST of the 1880s.
The bridge was built by the French and completed in April 1888. Because this bridge was at a low level a new bridge will be built. The work of pouring the concrete piers is in progress behind the French bridge. On the right side of the hill in the background is the old French construction line to Emperador. PCC 2019


Another historical tid-bit from our home.  Long live the memory of the Canal Zone.

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