Engineers
Memories
Gaillard's castles
Lt. Col. Gaillard's Engineer Castle

To commemorate the Panama Canal’s completion and the engineers who made the century-old project possible, the Office of History has compiled a collection of artifacts, images, and video from the construction effort.  Much of the collection was loaned by the family of Central Division Engineer David D. Gaillard to the Office of History.  Other images are courtesy of the Sydney B. Williamson Collection at the Virginia Military Institute as well as the Library of Congress and the National Archives.

David Gaillard's Sword

Railroad Spike

Canal Matches

Canal Service Medal

ICC Rail Pass


This sword was made by Luckhaus & Gunther of Remscheid, Germany, and was purchased by the Spanish Army. Gaillard likely acquired this sword while serving in Cuba as the colonel of the 3d U.S. Volunteer Engineers during the Spanish–American War. It is believed he used it in Panama as a machete while in the field.



This is an original railroad spike from the Panama Railroad. Spikes are common today and are sold as souvenirs of a visit to the canal.




A book of matches from the Canal Zone Commissary, where workers could purchase all kinds of manufactured items.





The medal was awarded for two years of continuous service in the construction of the canal, between May 4, 1904, and December 31, 1914. Service beyond two years was recognized in two-year intervals with an additional service bar.








An identification tag belonging to David D. Gaillard. In addition to serving as identification, these items allowed access to the railroad and other facilities in the Panama Canal Zone.