Photo of the Week
July 24, 2016

I knew I had this photo, but couldn't find it until this past week.  It is a great photo showing the old Gorgona Masonic Lodge up on the hill overlooking the Gorgona Shops.  The most special thing about being able to see this old lodge building is I found the stairs (show with the yellow arrow) going up that hill one day while out exploring the area for bottles.  I was plugging along the shore line in my old wooden row boat and saw a stone structure barely visible because of the jungle growth.  I approached the structure and found it to be stone and concrete stairs.  After some clearing, I went up the stairs and came to the top of this hill where stone and concrete foundation pillars stood in the jungle.  These were the foundation pillars for the old Masonic lodge as seen in the photo above.  I had no idea what these foundation pillars were for until much later and after I left Panama when I came across this photo. I wish I had know then what I know now and I wish I had had a camera to take photos of the stairs and pillars.  The back side of Gorgona Island had many old stone and concrete foundations from the old buildings that made up the town, but not as large as these lodge foundations.

Shown at the foot of the hill, is the old Gorgona Shops which was a very large operation during the American Construction of the Canal and just about took care of manufacturing, repair work on steam shovels/locomotives and maintenance of everything.  These shops were the heartbeat of the lake area construction.  These shops were moved to Balboa when the water began to rise when the Gatun Lake was flooded.  The Chagres River can be seen to the left of the shops on this photo.  All this area and the lower parts of the old town of Gorgona below the 85 foot above sea level were flooded.  The bottom of the stairs to the lodge were just touching the water when I found them.

I wonder if those stairs and foundations are still there today?  With all the widening and dumping may have destroyed them by now.  I would like to see for myself in a future trip to Panama .... that is if people are still allowed to explore areas in the lake.

Gorgona Island is located across the Canal from where the old Gamboa Airstrip was located.

A good perspective set of then and now photos of the town of Gorgona and Gorgona Island are located on this page (click here) that I posted in May of 2003.

Below is a photo of the Gorgona Shops which was probably taken from on the Masonic Lodge hill in 1913.


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