August 16, 1914

by Richard van Pelt, WWI Correspondent

Opening of the Panama Canal with the Steamer SS Ancon at the Pedro Miguel Locks. Source: canalmuseum.com

The Oregon Statesman today reported the opening of the Panama Canal:

PANAMA CANAL INVITES WORLD
Official Passage Signalizes Opening of Waterway to Commerce

U. S. S. Ancon Makes Trip, Carrying Many Notable People in Nine Hours
Goethals Expresses Satisfaction at Handling of Locks

Panama, Aug. 15 – The Panama canal is open to the commerce of the world, henceforth ships may pass to and fro through the great waterway which establishes a new ocean highway for trade.

The steamship Ancon owned by the United States war department, with many notable people on board, made the official passage today which signalized the opening of the canal. She left Cristobal at seven o’clock this morning and reached Balboa on the Pacific end at four o’clock this afternoon, having navigated the water way in nine hours.

Returns to Balboa.

The Ancon did not anchor at Balboa, but proceeded into deep water in the Pacific beyond the fortified islands, where she anchored in the channel of the canal until her return to Balboa when she landed her passengers.

The Ancon will remain at the Balboa docks for some time, discharging her cargo, this being the first commercial voyage made through the canal.

The canal having been officially opened, it will be used tomorrow for the transfer of four cargo ships which will thus shorten their routes. The private yacht Lagata owned in Los Angeles, will be transferred to the Pacific, homeward bound.

Lock Operations Rapid

The trip of the Ancon was the fastest yet made by a large ocean steamer, the locking operations being quicker owing to greater experience. The steamer went through the Gatun locks in seventy minutes, a speed never before equalled, the other locates were equally rapid.

Col. George Goethals, builder of the canal and governor of the zone, watched the operations closely and was manifestly pleased at the handling of the locks. He declared that even this would be made much better with time.

Secretary Garrison sent this telegram to Governor Goethals:

“On behalf of the government and the people of the United States, express to you and through you to all concerned in the achievement, the intense gratification and pride expressed today. by the successful passage of vessels through the canal the dream of the centuries has become a reality. Its stupendous undertaking has been finely accomplished and a perpetual memorial to the genius and enterprise of our people has been created. The fully earned and deserved congratulations of a grateful people go out to you and your co-laborers.

(Signed) “Lindley M. Garrison, Secretary of War.”

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About whclarc

We are devoted to providing information fresh from the Archives, Library and Collections of the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem, Oregon. We specialize in the history of Marion County and the greater Salem area.
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