Photo of the Week
August 2, 2015

This week's photo is another nice aerial photo from back in 1979 with a couple of great stories to tell.  This photo is of Mamei Curve and a part of San Pablo Reach in the Panama Canal.  Mamei Curve is north of Gamboa and is your first curve in the Canal after the straight Gamboa Reach.  Mamei Curve was named after the construction day town of Mamei which was in this general vicinity and the old town of Sam Pablo just to the right of this photo.  The land on the bottom right of the photo used to be the home of the Darien Radio Station which had large antennae towers like Summit used to have.  The strange shaped island is what we used to call Man Bottle Island as it was loaded with nice old French Construction era bottles, including the most sought after Man Bottle.  The Man Bottle was a nice large case gin bottle with a man embossed on one panel.  The island was being downsized at the time of this photo and would eventually be removed to widen the channel.  PCC had been slowly bulldozing the island down to a flatter elevation so the dredge could come in and remove it.  We use to hustle up to the island every chance we could to look for bottles and we found lots of them.  In 1977-78 when there was a drought that caused the lake to go down, beaches formed in the back of the island (facing the mainland) and we hit bottle dumps like crazy.  We spent many hours digging fine bottles during this drought.  I think I dug at least ten of the famous Dog Bottles on the back of this island.  There were lots of broken Man Bottles, but I didn't find any whole ones.  This spot was probably one of the best spots I have ever dug bottles at.  All bottles were 1880s era while the French were living and working there.

Now another very significant thing about this photo is the sunken ship in the middle of the channel.  I am not sure how many knew about this accident that happened, but living in Gamboa and having family and friends working for Dredging Division, I heard all about it.  This sunken ship was the Quidnet which collided with another ship called the Seatide.  This was probably one of several serious ship sinking in  Panama Canal history.  As you see, it is basically in the middle of the channel and it sunk crossway in the channel in 50 ft. of water.  I found an article written in the Panama Canal Spillway in August 1979 right after the accident happened. (See Attached)  I couldn't find any more information about the outcome, but will keep looking.  I know that ship was finally raised and floated up by Barro Colorado Island (Tavernilla Curve), pushed up into a large inlet and sunk where it still sits today.   More to come if I can find more information and hopefully photos.

I found this photo in a book titled Panama Canal, Editions Delroisse, Distribuido por Distribuidora Lewis, S.A. - No printing date.

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