Thursday, September 22, 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday: The Pacific and Atlantic Oceans Meet in Panama

It would appear that Jean La Forêt was following the story of the creation of the Panama Canal.  This article was among the items saved in my "treasure chest."  The article was published in the Excelsior on Saturday, October 11, 1913.  The Excelsior was a French newspaper that ran from 1910–1940.  It was particularly known for publishing large numbers of photographs.  (Some of its World War I photos have been digitized and are available online here and here.)

The page I have, page 5, is not complete.  It was cut off at the bottom.  I don't know how large the original page is, but the piece I have is 14 3/4" x 15 1/2".  It has several folds, and I unfortunately don't have something large to store it in, so I keep having to fold it up again.

This map was pasted over the upper left of the photo montage about the Panama Canal.  You can see on the Canal article where I folded it out of the way so that I could scan the entire article.  Neither the front nor back of this 7" x 6 1/4" clipping indicates the name or date of the newspaper from which it was cut.  Lord Cowdray and his withdrawn oil contract do not appear to be relevant to the story of the Panama Canal, as that event occurred November 27, 1913, a month after the canal was finished, but the map shows where a canal was possibly being considered in Colombia.

Because the Panama Canal article is in French, I've transcribed and translated it below.

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Les eaux de l'Atlantique et du Pacifique se sont réunies hier

Le barrage qui retient les eaux du lac de Gatun

Une equipe d'ouvriers au travail

Carte panoramique de l'isthme de Panama traversé par le canal interocéanique
Fortifications projetées / 2 Ecluses / 1 Ecluses // 3 Ecluses / Barrage / Fortifications projetées / Port
Océan Pacifique // Océan Atlantique
Cd(?) de San Juan / Cerro de los Hormigueros / Comboy(?) / Limite de la zone concedée / Peña Blanca / Sra de Piña(?)
Panama / Miraflores / Pedro Miguel / La Culebra / Gorgona / Lac de Gatun / Gatun / Rio Chagres / Chagres
Limite de la zone concedée / C Mitra(?) / Las Cruces / C C—— / Lomas de Ahorca Lagarto / Colline de —ge / Colon
Ruines du Vieux Panama

Coupe du canal de Panama
Atlantique / Colon
Ecluses de Gatun / 26 m d'Elévation des eaux au dessus du niveau de l'Atlantique
Longueur du Canal  50 kilomètres
Montagne de La Culebra / Niveau à 26 m au dessus de la mer
Niveau des Océans
Pedro Miguel (Ecluse) 9 m 50
Miraflores (Ecluses) 16 m 50 d'elévation
Pacifique / Panama

On fait sauter un tronçon de terre pour la percee du canal

La disposition parallèle des ecluses

Hier matin, à neuf heures, l'ocean Atlantique et l'océan Pacifique ont mêlé leurs eaux dans le canal de Panama.  A cette heure, en effet, le président Wilson, sans quitter la Maison Blanche, à Washington, a pressé sur un bouton électrique, et immédiatement, à 3,000 kilomètres de là, vingt tonnes de dynamite ont fait exploser et sauter la digue de Gamboa, dernier obstacle qui empêchait les océans de se rejoindre.  Nous publions ici quelques photographies prises au cours des travaux que nécessita cette gigantesque entreprise.

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The waters of the Atlantique and the Pacific met yesterday

The dam that holds back the waters of Lake Gatun

A team of workers at work

Panoramic map of the isthmus of Panama crossed by the interoceanic canal
Projected fortifications / 2 locks / 1 lock // 3 locks / dam / projected fortifications / port
Pacific Ocean // Atlantique Ocean
City(?) of San Juan / Hill of the Ants / Comboy(?) / limit of the canal zone / Peña Blanca / Sra de Piña(?)
Panama [City] / Miraflores (locks) / Pedro Miguel (lock) / La Culebra / Gorgona / Gatun Lake / Gatun / Chagres River / Chagres
Limit of the canal zone / C Mitra(?) / Las Cruces / C C—— / Ahorca Lagarto hills / (?) hill / Colon
Ruins of Old Panama

Panama Canal cut
Atlantic / Colon
Gatun locks / 26 m elevation of water above the level of the Atlantic
Length of canal 50 kilometers
La Culebra Mountain / 26 m above sea level
Sea level
Pedro Miguel (lock) / 9 m 50
Miraflores (locks) / 16 m 50 elevation
Pacific / Panama [City]

A section of land was blown up for the canal cut

The parallel arrangement of the locks

Yesterday morning, at nine o'clock, the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean mixed their waters in the Panama Canal. At that time, President Wilson, without leaving the White House in Washington, pressed an electric button and immediately, 3,000 kilometers away, twenty tons of dynamite exploded and blew up the Gamboa dike, the final obstacle that prevented the oceans from meeting.  Here we publish some photographs taken during the work that this gigantic enterprise required.

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So why was Jean interested enough in the Panama Canal that he saved this newspaper article?  Panama was not mentioned in any of the entries in his journal.  Maybe he went there during one of those stretches he did not document.  Or maybe he was simply noting it because it was a significant engineering accomplishment.

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