SANITATION AT PANAMA

WILLIAM C. GORGAS
1912 Journal of the American Medical Association  
Before going directly into the question of sanitation at Panama I think it would be well to tell something of the geography of the locality, and to dwell somewhat on a few other points. I am frequently asked how the work is getting on at Panama, and if it is really as far advanced as the papers report. As far as I can judge, what the papers say about represents the condition of affairs. The chief engineer states that he will be ready to pass ships through the canal by the fall of 1913, and that
more » ... l of 1913, and that it will be formally opened by Jan. 1, 1915. It is not generally appreciated that if a line were to be drawn straight south from the United States through Panama, this line would barely touch Ecuador and would in general fall well west of South America. In other words, South America is altogether east of North America in longitude. This causes the isthmus connecting the two continents to run in a general direction from east to west. The Pacific Ocean, south of this isthmus, was known to the early explorers as the South Sea, and the Caribbean, lying to the north, as the North Sea. The canal runs from Colon on the North Sea to Panama on the South Sea. Panama, in latitude, is thirty miles south of Colon and, in longitude, thirty miles east of Colon. Tt is not really a canal which the government is building at Panama, but a waterway consisting of lakes, locks, canal-and sea-approaches. In selecting this locution the lowest point in the mountain range extending from Alaska to Patagonia was found to be at Panama, where the mountains run east and west. Then the river on the north and the river on the south which had their source nearest this low point, in the hack-bone of the mountain range, were located. These rivers were damned, forming lakes; these lakes were connected through this lowest point in the mountain range by a deep cut; locks were placed in these dams so that ships could be raised into the lakes or lowered from the lakes ; and then, lastly, approaches 'were cut from the North Sea on the north to the dam across the northern river, and likewise from the South Sea on the south to the du in across the southern river. This is the waterway being built by our government across the Isthmus of Panama. A ship coming from the north will sail south through the northern approach, seven miles to the northern locks, where she will be lifted 85 feet to the surface of the lakes; she will then sail 24 miles south through the northern lake, then 9 miles through the cut connecting the two lakes; then she will be dropped 30 feet into the southern lake, then sail 2 miles through this southern lake, then he dropped through locks 55 feet from the lake level to the level of the South Sea, and then sail 8 miles through the southern approach to the South Sea. If it were being contemplated to connect Los Angeles and New Orleans by canal, and a similar plan were adopted, we would proceed as follows: Place a dam in the Mississippi Hi ver for the purpose of backing the waters ol' this river to the foot-hills of the "Rockies on the east; then another dam in the Colorado River for the purpose of backing its waters to the foot-hills of the Rockies on the west. We would now.have two greal hikes, one to the east of the Rockies and the other to the west.
doi:10.1001/jama.1912.04260030305001 fatcat:soc5h6aq6ncifntyo3wig7p47y