This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Panama Canal. When the lock gates opened on August 15, 1914, a new world of opportunities for ships carrying commercial goods, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, followed the current and sparked a revolution. But without the help of the Panama Railway, Stewart Iron Works and the millions of men who dedicated blood, sweat and tears to build the canal, this international waterway would cease to exist.

Among many historical projects such as the original jail cells at Alcatraz and fences around the United States Capitol, Stewart Iron Works designed the railroad gates and iron fence for the Mechanical Division Plant at Balboa, Canal Zone. SIW supplied the fence at a unit price of $2.85 per linear foot, or in other words, $2,850 for the 1,000 feet ordered!

The railroad was an important dynamic during the construction of the Panama Canal; transporting millions of tons of men, equipment, and supplies. The railroad was built parallel to the canal to increase traffic from east to west, and ran a Central American line of steamships such as, the SS Salvador, SS Guatemala, SS Cristobel, and SS Ancon; those of which would be the first of many to cross the Panama Canal.

As a blogger for SIW, I cannot be certain the railroad gates and iron fence are still standing. What I do know is if they are, these gates are representing the quality of Stewart Iron Works, and the legacy we have of transforming iron and steel into objects of function and beauty.



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