Tales from the Panama Canal

Panama 2

My favorite stories from David McCullough’s The Path Between the Seas (1977):

“A clerk from the Ancon post office, a Mr. S.C. Russel, walked across the Isthmus in fourteen hours, and that too was news. On April 27, 1913, an aviator from California, Robert G. Fowler, flew a small single-engine hydroplane from the Bay of Panama to Limon Bay, the first transcontinental flight, ocean to ocean in an hour and thirty-five minutes. Four others had attempted the flight before but had failed because of the turbulence of the air. Fowler, who had taken a photographer along for the ride, had banked in a big, slow circle over Culebra Cut to get the first aerial views. Far below, at the bottom of the gaping chasm, men were looking up and wildly waving to him.”

“The lowest toll on record was paid by Richard Halliburton, world traveler, best-selling author, toast of the lecture platform, who in the 1920’s swam the length of the canal, doing it in installments, one day at a time. He was not the first to swim the canal, but was the first to persuade the authorities to allow him through the locks. So based on his weight, 140 pounds, he was charged a toll of 36 cents.”

Panama Halliburton


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