The Panama Canal Railway
Stories from the United States' relationship with the Panama Canal, in celebration of its centenary
The Panama Canal railroad was constructed by the American Government, in what at the time was still a territory of “La Gran Colombia.” Despite the fact that the first to devise a railway on the Isthmus of Panama was Simón Bolívar, the technological limitations at the time and the aggressive terrain complicated the construction process. After the economic panic of 1837, and the futile French attempt, the United States finally decided to build a railroad from ocean to ocean. Motivated by the gold fever and the strong migration to the West Coast that it produced, the works began in May 1850. From the very it was obvious that the conditions would be very harsh towards the workers. Despite this and other setbacks, the work was completed in early 1855. It had a total cost of $ 8 million and consisted of almost 76 kilometers of railway. Even though at the time it was built for commercial reasons, it would be a fundamental piece in the construction and management of the Panama Canal.