Photo of the Week
July 20, 2003

This week's image is a scan of a painting entitled "Premature Explosion" by William Harnden Foster, Empire, C.Z., 1910.  It is a really great image of what one of the many premature blast during the construction of the Panama Canal.

Here is a excerpt from the book Panama and the Canal, by Willis J. Abbot

    One day at Matachin and engineer with whom I was talking called a Spaniard and sent him off on an errand.  I noticed the man walked queerly and commented on it.  "It's a wonder that fellow walks at all" said my friend with a laugh.  "He was sitting on a ledge once when a blast below went off prematurely and Miguel, with three or four other men, and a few tons of rock, dirt and other débris went up into the air.  He was literally blown at least 80 feet high.  The other men were killed, but we found signs of life in him and shipped him to the hospital where he stayed for nearly eight months.  I'd hesitate to tell you how many bones were broken, but I think the spine was the only one not fractured. and that was dislocated.  His job is safe for the rest of his life. He love to tell about it.  Wait 'till he gets back and I'll ask him".
    Presently Miguel returned, sideways like a crab, but with agility all the same. "Tell the gentleman how it feels to be blown up", said the engineer.
    "Caramba! I seet on ze adige of ze cut, smoke my pipe, watch ze work when - Boom!  I fly up in air, up, up!  I stop.  It seem I stop long time.  I see ozzair sings fly up past me.  I start down - I breath smoke, sand. Bang! I hit ground.  When I wake I in bed at hospital.  Can't move. Same as dead"!
     "Miguel never fails to lay stress on the time he stopped before beginning his descent", comments my friend, "and on the calmness with which he viewed the prospect, particularly the other things going up.  His chief sorrow is that not moving picture man took the incident".

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