As both the French and Americans found out the hard way, everything had to be imported by the Isthmus of Panama for the construction of the canal.
“Everything, everything, has to be brought to Panama, including the men to do the work.
There would be no home-grown labor force to count on, no armies of Egyptian fellahin this time. Labor had to be figured like freight, very expensive freight.
Then every pick and shovel, every tent, blanket, mattress, every cook stove and locomotive, had to carried by ship across thousands of miles of ocean. The canal builders could count on Panama to provide nothing but the place to dig the canal.”
Much of the work of preparation during the first two years of American occupation—1904-1905—would have been seriously delayed without the French supplies and equipment. In the shops and storehouses were found a plentiful supply of repair parts, shop tools, stationary engines, material and supplies of all kinds of good quality.
The American Isthmian Canal Commission (I.C.C.) gradually replaced the old French equipment with machinery designed for a larger scale of work (such as the giant hydraulic crushers supplied by the Joshua Hendy Iron Works), to quicken the pace of construction.
The railway greatly assisted in the building of the canal. Besides all the massive tons of men, equipment and supplies the railroad hauled around it did much more. Essentially all of the tens of millions of cubic yards of material from the required canal cuts were loaded by steam shovel onto rail cars and hauled out by steam engine.
Techniques were developed to pick up large sections of track by steam powered cranes and relocate them without rebuilding them. This allowed the track to precede the railroad mounted steam shovels where ever they needed to go. Massive scrapers were developed to scrape the dirt off the dirt cars where it was being unloaded allowing them to be unloaded rapidly.
The railroads and the steam shovel were the two main pieces of power equipment used to construct the canal. One of the suppliers of steam shovels and cranes for the construction of the waterway, was Bucyrus International, Inc. Bucyrus is a manufacturer of heavy mining equipment. Founded in Bucyrus, Ohio in 1880, the headquarters were moved to its current location in South Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1893.
They were an early producer of steam shovels. Its products now include large electric rope shovels, walking draglines, and rotary blasthole drills for the surface mining industry.
Below are several pictures of a large railway steam crane that is currently displayed beside the Balboa Railroad Station. It was recently painted and looked as if it were new. It was one of many steam heavy equipments used during the construction of the Panama Canal. Here we go.
Yep, everything had to be imported into Panama to successfully accomplish the construction of the Panama Canal. I’m glad they got hold of this baby. Good Day.