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Royal Mail Steam Packet Company's agent; next to this is seen the general rendezvous of the Railroad Company's officials (usually known as the mess house) imbedded in a grove of coco and banana trees. Within fifty yards of the rolling surf, the sea breeze ever laying through the surrounding foliage, it would be difficult to find a more desirable tropical residence. Still farther on to the right are the buildings of the terminus, car repositories, etc., and machine shops whose tall chimneys send up steady columns of smoke, while the ring of many hammers breaks cheerily upon the ear.
First the city built up along the reef near the sea, then back into the swampy land behind the reef. The French added to it in the early 80's by dredging material from their canal channel and depositing borrowed rock and earth upon the swampy land, making a foundation for their employes' village, now a village of American Canal workers, known as Cristobal. When the American Canal builders came here in 1904, Colon had ten thousand people, and about nine thousand of them lived in shanties built on piles. At high tide the houses were surrounded by water, so that no one could walk along the streets back of Front Street without danger of falling into the mire. Since then the town site has been filled in, and the Panamans and the Panama railroad are paying for the work. Colon is clean, well drained, and healthful today, although it doesn't look it. It has 18,000 inhabitants, and there are 2,000 in Cristobal. In 1870 Colon had 8,246 inhabitants, and in 1896, 13,203.
Colon has suffered from several destructive fires, the more important being that of 1885, referred to on page 127, and that of March, 1911, when ten city blocks were burned and 1,200 people left without shelter.
The sightseer in Colon should begin where the settlement itself began in 1850, at the north end of the island,
known as Colon Beach. On the site where Washington now is being erected the new Washington Hotel. Hotel, a modern structure of reenforced con
crete and hollow tile, the first eating house was built for the railroad employes; and arcund it grew up the railroad village. It was not an attractive place in the old days, except that the waves were then breaking on the reef just as they are now, and coconut palms were waving before the breeze; and yet to it came to live and give their life's work the men and women who built the Panama Railroad, and were identified with its early history. The eating house later gave place to a large frame structure which in time was itself enlarged. This was recently moved to a site behind the Episcopal Church, where it now remains in its original character as an employes' eating and lodging house. On a plat of grass in front of the old hotel, on a site now occupied by one corner of the new Washington, a monument was erected to the founders of the railroad, Aspinwall, Stephens, and Chauncey. It is a shaft of red granite on a base of red stone with the busts of the three founders cut on the shaft near the base. It is to occupy the center of a flower bed at the entrance to the new hotel; that is, on the side looking towards Colon, where it will be nearly hidden by plants and ferns, a merciful eclipse, since the monument is very ugly.
The new hotel accommodates 175 people, having 88 bed rooms, and contains all the baths, toilet rooms, writing and lounging-rooms, dining-rooms, kitchen with modern cooking apparatus, electric lights and fans, and other conveniences that distinguish a thoroughly up-to-date hotel. It is run by the Panama Railroad, that is, by an agent of the United States Government, just as the Tivoli, at Ancon, is conducted by the Canal Commission. The architecture is of the Spanish Mission style modified to suit the local conditions. Broad verandas look out upon the sea and between the hotel and the sea wall is laid out a garden, where palms, ferns, and other tropical plants have been planted At the east end, the sea wall is blocked out to provide a swimming pool, open on the sea side, 125 by 100 feet and from 3 to 9 feet deep; a baffle wall has been constructed in front to protect it from rough water. There is a breeze here all the year round, and the Washington Hotel will be as cool in July as Bar Harbor, and no warmer in winter time than it is in July. Like the other Government. hotels, it will have no bar, but in other respects will be the same as a good hotel at an American summer resort.
The gray stone building in modified Gothic style, immediately west of the hotel site, is Christ Episcopal Church,
which was built by contributions from the Christ Panama Railroad Company and missionary Church, societies. It was dedicated in 1865 and, except Hospital, for a few years, when it was used as a ColomQuarantine. bian arsenal, barracks, and storehouse, has
been a place of worship ever since. At first under the jurisdiction of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States, its government was changed to the Anglican Church in 1883, when thousands of British ne
groes came from the West Indies to work on the Canal, and again in 1907 it passed to the American Episcopal Church, when the American canal work had been established. Both whites and blacks worship here, but the majority of the members are negroes.
Beyond the row of railroad employes' quarters, in the enclosure about half a mile west of the church, also fronting on Limon Bay, is the Panama Railroad and Isthmian Canal Commission hospital with 525 beds, and modern means for treating all kinds of illness. This hospital has grown from a small field hospital established by the Panama Railroad Company in 1851. Immediately beyond it is the quarantine station at which persons from plague and fever ports must remain to complete their period of six or seven days' isolation before being allowed to cross the Isthmus. or enter the city of Colon.
On the beach between the site of the hotel and the piers of the Panama Railroad Company is the office headquarters of the railroad whence the superintendent and his subordinates direct the conduct of the railroad and steamship line on the Isthmus. Adjoining the line of piers immediately south of the office building and the hotel site is the Colon freight office of the railroad company. It was built in 1864 and rebuilt after the fire in 1885. This building has also served as quarters from time to time for Colombian troops, and within its walls in November, 1903, were concentrated the American residents of Colon and the half hundred marines sent there to defend them from the massacre threatened by the commander of the Colombian troops that had recently landed on the Isthmus.
Other buildings in Colon worthy of mention are the masonry structures of the Panaman Government-one a
public school, and the other a municipal Other building; the frame building on the water buildings. front near the railroad station, which is the
home of the Strangers' Club; the brick house adjoining it, in which the Isthmian poet, J. K. Gilbert, wrote his poems, now collected in the book, "Panama Patchwork,” and the concrete block railway station. Owing to encouragement by the railroad company, which owns nine-tenths of the land in Colon, there is a distinct tendency on the part of merchants and others to build concrete structures. A Masonic hall is to occupy the block immediately back of the commissary building; the railroad is erecting a threestory building on Front Street, which is to be used as stores and living apartments; and other concrete buildings are in process of erection.