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been enlarged and refitted into the present Gorgona Shops. The Americans also did considerable excavation at this point. It is the starting place for canoe trips up the Chagres River. As soon as the Gorgona Shops are moved to Balboa, the cause of existence of Matachin as a camp of canal laborers will have ceased and the village will again sink into a hamlet. In 1908 Matachin had 2,042 inhabitants, of whom 698 were whites, but its population has greatly decreased since 1909, when excavation at this point was completed.
One other point in the lake region, on the abandoned line, is worthy the tourist's knowledge. In all but one
spot the location along the river was good, Black Swamp. and that spot lies about five miles south of
Gatun and is known as the Black Swamp. It is simply a swamp over which it was difficult to construct a railroad line, because the weight of the embankment and of the rails and rolling stock was so great as to displace the light, water-impregnated material underneath. On this account the road sometimes sank into the swamp. This was particularly true when the Americans placed the new heavy rolling stock upon the railroad in 1905, and from that time until 1908 this section of the line required constant attention.
In the effort to form a fill over which the trains could pass safely a number of old French dump-cars were thrown in bottom-up and thousands of tons of earth and rock were dumped there, only to sink into the swamp and afford but temporary relief. In 1908, however, the railroad engineers succeeded in constructing a trestle and filling it with cinder and other light material which successfully withstood the traffic up to the time when the railroad was abandoned in January, 1912. There is no subject on the Isthmus to which the chronic liar turns with greater joy than to the Black Swamp. The tourist will make a mistake in interrupting him or indicating in any way that he disbelieves the tales. Almost invariably they are untrue, but almost as invariably they are interesting. Soundings made in 1908 showed that the solid bottom beneath the swamp is 185 feet below the surface. It is an interesting comment on the stories that the watershed of the Chagres will not hold the water impounded by Gatun Dam, to know that this swamp has remained here, four feet above the level of the river, ever since the railroad was constructed in the middle of the last century.
The Relocation Country. Returning now to Gatun from a side trip that the tourist will hardly take, and yet which must be considered because of the historic interest of the old river towns and the former route of the railroad, the traveler takes the train over the new line of the Panama Railroad, known as the "relocation.”
From Gatun to Pedro Miguel the country through which the railroad runs is “new;" that is, it is jungle little touched by the transit life until January, 1912. There were settlers in the bush all along the river, but they make little impression on the jungle, merely planting a few vegetables, and making trails from their homes to the main trails. The village of Monte Lirio was a typical “bush" hamlet before the railroad work was begun, its houses of bamboo and thatch, or board and thatch, its streets muddy, and sanitary conveniences none. It drowses on in much that condition now, while near it is the new Monte Lirio, known as Mitchellville, so named after a foreman popular with the workers. At various points along the line, town sites have been laid out in order that people driven from their homes in the Lake Region may have somewhere to rebuild. On either side of the train as it passes through this section may be caught pretty glimpses of the jungle, the trees and plants always green, those that dry up in the dry season being so few as to make little impression on the general color-scheme.
One half mile north of Monte Lirio the railroad crosses an arm of Gatun Lake, which reaches up into Panama territory by way of the valley of the Gatun River. The bridge over this arm of the lake is 318 feet long and is built in three spans, two of them composed of fixed girders 103 feet long, and one of a bascule or lift span, which can be raised to let ships pass into the upper part of the lake.
The point where the railroad crosses the Chagres River is known as Gamboa (a fruit like the quince). The bridge
is built on a curve and spans an opening 1,300 Gamboa and feet wide. The channel span is a 200-foot Gamboa riveted truss, and it is connected with the Bridge. banks by 14 through-plate-girder spans, each
80 feet long. From the bridge one catches a glimpse of the northern entrance of Culebra Cut. A new townsite has been laid out at the northern end of the bridge. Pending the use of the relocated line between Gamboa
and Paraiso, after the opening of the Canal, the trains leave the relocation here, back down across the dike that separates the excavation in Culebra Cut from the Chagres River, and run up the old line of the railway to Pedro Miguel. There is nothing of interest on the east side of Culebra Cut between Gamboa and Paraiso, except the jungle and glimpses of its primitive life, because all the canal villages are along the old line of the railroad on the west side of the canal. A paragraph will tell about each one as the tourist catches glimpses of them while his train speeds on.
The Culebra Cut Villages. (For facts on work in this section see page 88.) Obispo means “bishop.” There are two hills at this point, one of them higher than the other, called Haut Obispo, while
the lower is called Bas Obispo. The Obispo Bas Obispo. River flows into the Chagres at this point,
and here in days before the railway was built was a hamlet of bush people. As explained at greater length in the section of this book on the canal, the Obispo Valley is utilized as the canal route to a point near the divide at Culebra. The hamlet was situated on the trail from Gorgona to Panama, was made a railroad station, and when the French began work was turned into a labor camp, with small shops. Excavation continued here on the sea-level plan until 1887, when the emplacement for locks was begun. Under the Americans the excavation was continued and Bas Obispo became a typical canal village. In 1908, it had 1,744 inhabitants; but its importance and size have dwindled rapidly since 1910, when the excavation was practically completed at this point.
This village will always be associated in the minds of Canal workers with the greatest accident that has occurred
on the canal. In December, 1908, the work Bas Obispo in Culebra Cut at this point had reached a Explosion. stage where it became necessary to dig out
the side of the rock hill that rises above the canal on the west bank. To this end, 53 holes were drilled along the edge of the hill, and into them was packed 44,000 pounds of 45-per-cent dynamite. It was planned to set off this charge after the men had quit work at 5 o'clock on the evening of December 12. The last hole was being tamped at 11:10 o'clock on the morning of the 12th, when one of them exploded, setting off the others. The side of the hill was thrown forward into the canal, as had been planned, but beneath it were buried several men on their way home to lunch, while many others were struck by flying rocks. In all twenty-six people were killed, and a doze were permanently maimed.
Situated upon a hill at Bas Obispo is the camp of the Marine Corps, Camp Elliott. It is a tribute to the spirit
of this corps of the service, that the pretty Camp Elliott. little settlement was laid out, streets made,
and some of the buildings erected by the men of the command. A battalion of marines is stationed here. In the course of three years this camp will be abandoned for one at the Pacific entrance to the canal.
Every American in Panama delights in displaying his knowledge of Spanish to the tourist. Invariably this knowl
edge is only sufficient to enable him to get Las Cascadas. into trouble with a coachman and require a
policeman to extricate him; but he supposes that the tourist knows nothing of this, and is duly complacent. Your guide is of that type. Right along he has been telling you the English translation of the Spanish names and will continue to do so. Las Cascadas, for instance, means “the waterfalls” or “cascades." Here the Obispo River formerly tumbled over a precipice forty feet high on its way to the Chagres, and here still tumbles down the water collected by the diversion canal on the west side of Culebra Cut. This village dates from the French times, when it became the site of a labor camp. Under the Americans it continued as one of the centers of canal life. Here were established an engine-house, where forty locomotives
tie up for the night to be cleaned out and made ready for their morrow's work, and an air-compressor plant to supply air to the drills in the north end of Culebra Cut. It does not appear on the maps prior to 1880 and was not touched by the old trail that ran through Obispo on its way to Pan-,
In 1908, Las Cascadas had 2,425 inhabitants—957 whites, 1,424 blacks and 44 others.
In 1911 the labor camp near Las Cascadas was turned over to the United States Army for a temporary post, and
quarters were hastily devised to accommodate Camp Otis. a regiment of infantry hurried down from
the States for no particular purpose that was apparent. It was named Camp E. S. Otis, in honor of the Major General of that name.
This village was originally called Emperador, and some American who knows even less Spanish than your guide,
translated it Empire. It really means EmEmpire. peror. At this point, prior to the opening
of the railroad, the trail from Gorgona to Panama crossed the line of the present canal and the headwaters of the Obispo River, and made off through the hills to join the Cruces trail to the city. Emperador was a stopping place for pack trains. Here the French made their first excavation in Culebra Cut, January 20, 1882, in the presence of a large assemblage of officials of the Canal Company and the State of Panama. The Bishop was present and blessed the work, and some champagne was opened to baptize it. The largest of the French villages was made here, shops were opened for the mounting and repair of equipment, and the place was made the headquarters of the Division Engineer. On the hill overlooking Culebra Cut are several houses erected by the French, now used by their successors on the job. The old French quarters were occupied by the Americans, and the machine shop was rebuilt. In this shop are now repaired all the steamshovels working on the canal and railroad. On top of the hill is the office of the Division Engineer, Lieut. Col. D. D. Gaillard, and the homes of the Resident Engineer, Mr. A. S. Zinn, and other canal officials. From the observation platform in the Division Office, may be obtained the best single view of Culebra Cut, showing how it winds like an elongated letter “S,” following the contour of the ground in order to minimize the amount of excavation. A closer view may be obtained from the suspension bridge over the Cut, built