Lt. Col. David D. Gaillard

U.S. engineers began canal construction along the Panamanian Isthmus in 1904. President Theodore Roosevelt originally appointed seasoned railroad builders to lead the project but in April of 1907, he transferred supervision to a group of officers and civilians of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Completed through competition and coordination of military and civil experts, the Panama Canal is a tribute to the engineers who built it.

Gatun Spillway Dam

As the largest engineering project of its time, the Panama Canal was an intricate system of locks, dams, lakes, and excavations. Designed to lift ships through Panama's rugged mountains and lower them into shallow coastal bays, it stretched from sea to sea and across the continental divide to join together America's coasts and the great shipping nations of the world.

Postage stamps commemorating canal construction

After its completion, the Panama Canal was celebrated as one of humandkind's paramount achievements. The U.S. government issued medals to those who helped build the canal and the engineers considered it to be their greatest legacy. They returned with thousands of images, artifacts, and stories. The Office of History has gathered some of these resources for display on this site and in a small exhibit at Headquarters, USACE.