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Greetings from Panama! My name is Marina Ehrman and I have been a professional tour guide and promoter for Panama Tourism and Travel Company since 2005. I love what I do and am proud to share what my country has to offer. It is filled with endless leisure and commercial attractions, friendly happy people who open their doors to all visitors. Panama is a country of incomparable natural beauty with a variety of tourist attractions, beautiful beaches in the Pacific and Caribbean. The tropical climate year round with its diversified flora, fauna and indigenous groups make it one of the most important of Ecotourism in Latin America. I invite you to know our country’s history, culture and also enjoy the cuisine, folklore and traditions that only a place in the world can provide………Panama! Contact me and I’ll organize your visit and will be happy to welcome you in Panama. For more information on Panama, follow my Facebook page and my blog. Visit

Who was the 1st Chief Engineer during the construction under US administration?

On May 6th, 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt appointed John F. Wallace Chief Engineer of the Panama Canal Project. The job awarded Wallace a $25,000 annual salary -- the highest of any government employee other than the President. On June 21, Wallace, along with assistant engineer William Karner, set sail on the Allianca from New York. After a rough weeklong voyage, the ship arrived in Colón, Panama during the rainy season. The streets were thick with impassible mud and houses elevated just a few feet above dirty, foul smelling water. Wallace and his men were not optimistic about the future in their new home.
Wallace realized almost immediately that the Isthmus' harsh terrain would be a serious obstacle to construction. The task ahead of him seemed impossible: to dig a channel 50 miles in length and 30 feet below sea level stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific coast. He would have to cut through dense jungle, control parts of the flood-prone Chagres River and haul away sections of the Culebra Mountain hundreds of feet above sea level. Daunted, Wallace asked for more time to survey the area, but Roosevelt's directive to "Make the dirt fly!" prevented any further delay

To meet the government's demands for fast, visible progress on the canal, Wallace attempted to excavate the spoil as quickly as possible, but flooding and landslides caused repeated setbacks. The delays damaged morale among workers already suffering from terrible food and living conditions.

Logistical problems added to the inefficiency. At the start of the project, the laborers only had at their disposal the antiquated machines left behind a decade earlier. Soon Wallace ordered newer equipment from the U.S., but the giant steam shovels excavated more spoil than the existing train infrastructure could remove, forcing Wallace to operate them at 25% of their peak efficiency or less.
Wallace also faced bureaucratic challenges from Isthmian Canal Commission (ICC). A seven-member presidential committee was established to help avoid the inefficiency and corruption that had plagued the French 15 years earlier. The ICC had to approve every decision Wallace made in the Canal Zone. With engineers filling out more than 1,000 work request forms weekly, even the simplest tasks often took months to complete.
Overwhelmed, Wallace resigned abruptly in June 1905. His successor was railroad mastermind John Stevens, engineer of the Great Northern Railroad that traversed the Pacific Northwest. Right at the start of his tenure Stevens did the one thing that Wallace failed to do -- stop digging.

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