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Construction of the Panama Canal, mural paintings

The murals depicting the construction of the Panama Canal were painted by William B. Van Ingen of New York, who also painted murals for the Library of Congress and the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, at an agreed price of over 1,000 sq. ft. at $25 per sq. ft. The murals were commissioned by Col. Goethals after the completion of the canal and were installed in the rotunda of the Administration Building in Balboa, Panama, on January 1915, only a few months after the completion of the Panama Canal. Color renditions of the four murals were included in Goethal’s four-part article on the construction of the Panama Canal, published by Scribner’s vol. 58 (3), 1915_

Construction of a sidewall at Miraflores locks. The huge culverts are large enough to drive a train through. Panama Canal Authority.

Construction of the Gatun Dam spillway. Gatun Lake was formed by damning the mighty Chagres River, creating the largest man-made lake in the world at the time. Panama Canal Authority.

Construction of one of the lock gates, steel structures 65 ft. wide and 7 ft. thick, varied in height from 43 to 48 ft. and weighed from 490 to 730 tons each. Panama Canal Authority.

Excavation through the Continental Divide, digging some 270 ft. and removing 262 million cu. yd. of earth and rock hauled by train from what was known as the Cucaracha slide and later named Gaillard Cut. Panama Canal Authority.

Visitors were brought by special trains to view the Culebra Cut excavation. At times the noise from the dynamite explosions made conversations difficult. Painting by Severino Baraldi, Look and Learn©, London.

Last modified: Mar 05, 2020