Photo of the Week
November 26, 2017

Continuing with photos of the dynamiting of the Gamboa Dike on October 10, 1913 this week with three really great photos I found on the Internet and from the April 2, 1954 Panama Canal Review (2nd photo down with the narrative that was printed below the photo in that issue).  The bottom photo is a rare photo of Gorgas standing on the dike.  I can see now that the Gamboa Dike was quite a BIG DEAL back in the construction days.

Above is a SUPER capture in time that came from the Library of Congress showing an island or peninsula of what is left of the dike on the West Bank of the Canal.  To me, these people are crazy as this piece of dike can wash away any minute.  I never heard of anyone being killed during the dike removal, but could seeing this.  Once again, like last week, you can see some houses in the bush in the background that would have been the old construction town of Matachin.  The pipes you see are left over from the dynamite drill holes.

ONE OF THE biggest events of the entire construction period was the blowing up of the Gamboa dike on October 10, 1913. It attracted international attention for it marked the beginning of the end of the construction period.

The picture above is one of the rare photographs in the Canal files taken shortly before the event. It shows the dike shortly before the big blast was set off by President Woodrow Wilson from the White House through a com­plicated telegraph and cable relay to the Isthmus.

This view is rare because it is one of the very few pictures showing Mrs. Goethals while on the Isthmus. It also shows Nicholas Longworth, veteran Ohio Congressman, and his wife, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, whose father, the famous "Teddy" Roosevelt, was largely responsible for the building of the Canal.

Mrs. Goethals is third from the left in the picture and the Longworths are standing next to Colonel Goethals at the extreme right. The others in the picture are not identified.

The Ohio legislator served in Congress from 1903 until 1913 and again from 1915 until his death in 1931. He was speaker of the House for the last six of those years. At the time this picture was taken he was not in Congress, having lost his seat in the national Democratic victory in 1912 when President Wilson was elected. He and Mrs. Longworth were personal friends of the Goethals family.

The Gamboa dike was blown by a heavy charge of dynamite sunk in 400 four-inch holes drilled into the dam across the Chagres River. Drill rigs were still working when this picture was taken and the galvanized iron pipes into which the dynamite was loaded may be seen along the dike.

The actual blast failed to be as spectacular as was expected and a half hour after the dam was broken a cayuco went through the opening. Hundreds of spectators lined the banks to watch the blast, among them being Colonel Goethals. He declined, however, to have his picture taken that day by a States news photographer who had been assigned to cover the big event.



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