Photo of the Week
July 1, 2007 

The photos shown this week are in commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of the Panama Canal Society.  I will be reunion bound this coming week and the theme for this year's Panama Canal Society reunion is Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the Panama Canal Society.  The Panama Canal Museum has created a great display in commemoration of this historical event which will be shown at the reunion.


In July 1932, a number of recently retired employees of the Panama Canal on board the “ANCON” gathered in the ship’s lounge to hold a farewell meeting before docking in New York and going their separate ways. Saying farewell to their dear friends they had lived and worked with for so many years was very difficult.

    An intense desire was expressed by everyone to keep in touch with all the retired folks and to perpetuate the friendships formed in the Canal Zone . A suggestion by John F. Warner, the Society Founder, to form an Association of Ex- Employees was the best way to accomplish this desire; hence, the Association of Ex- Employees was organized and officers were elected. Robert S. Houston was elected the first President and John F. Warner was elected the first Secretary-Treasurer. In the beginning, there were fifteen charter members of the Association.

    The Association of fifteen former employees grew over the years with more and more retirees joining its ranks. In 1946 it became the Panama Canal Society of Florida, Inc., with a membership of 335.  The location of the Association’s headquarters was in Florida primarily because of the concentration of Panama Canal retirees throughout the state and because most of the officers resided in Florida .

    In the beginning, Mr. Warner, as Secretary, would consolidate news reports monthly from various sources and send the report to all members.  This practice continued until May 1947 when it was replaced by a newsletter. This newsletter continued without an official name until its last publication on September 15, 1950.  In December 1950, the newsletter was given the official name of Canal Record.  It was named after the newspaper that was published by the Isthmian Canal Commission (I.C.C.) for construction day workers.  The I.C.C. publication ceased circulation in 1914 with the opening of the canal.     

     From the beginning fifteen founding charter members, the Society has grown to 3,681 members as of December 2006. The first annual reunion was held in 1933 with 47 members in attendance. Now, we have approximately 3,000 members attending each year.  This year’s reunion will commemorate our Society’s 75th anniversary and we expect a record attendance.

Historical information from the History of the Panama Canal Society, by Tom Peterson


S.S. Ancon Returned to Service

The Panama Railroad Steamship Company steamship Ancon, which was temporarily withdrawn from service April, 1923, and laid up in Gatun Lake, will be restored to the New York — Port-au-Prince — Cristobal run, leaving New York on May 2, 1925.

The Ancon has been thoroughly overhauled and refurbished to carry 250 passengers instead of the 78 for which it formerly had accommodations.  The hull was scaled and painted on the Isthmus, and in August, 1924, the steamer was dispatched to New York , where the reconditioning was completed at a cost of approximately $525,000.

The remodeled Ancon will replace the General W.C. Gorgas, which is scheduled to arrive at Cristobal April 24, 1925, and will be laid up in Gatun Lake after completing discharge.

The Ancon is a steamer of 9,315 gross tons, 489.5 feet long and 58 feet in beam.  It was built in 1902 at Sparrow’s Point Maryland, and was purchased by the I.C.C. in 1909.  During the construction period the Ancon and its sister ship, the Cristobal, were used primarily for the transportation of cement from the United States to the Isthmus.

The Panama Railroad Company’s service between New York and Cristobal will be maintained by the Ancon, the Cristobal, and the Panama, with sailings approximately every 7 days, with the exception of the one interval of 12 days every fourth week.

Historical information provided by Bill Fall.

Shown here is the Panama Railroad Steamship Line pier in New York City.  This is the pier that the S.S. Ancon would tie up to when making it's trips back and forth to Panama and New York City.  Note the shadow of the ships mast on the wall.  It looks very similar to that of the S.S. Ancon's forward mast.  It may very well be the S.S. Ancon coming into dock.

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