Page images

January 1, 1901, at a cost of $2,148.303. This included the steel pier which cost the major portion of this sum. The pier is 960 feet long, and the depth of water alongside is 26 feet at low tide. In 1905 it was found necessary to make a considerable extension for the unloading of lumber and heavy materials destined for the Isthmian Canal Commission. The pier is equipped with electric cranes and other apparatus for rapid unloading, while the wooden lumber dock was so built that it enables the unloading of as much as 200,000 feet of lumber in a single day.


When the Panama Railroad was opened in 1855, it threw the men engaged in the pack-train business out of a job. At that time the criminal element formed a considerable constituent of the population, their number being augmented by the idle pack-train men, who finding nothing! profitable to do turned to ways dark and devious. In addition, many were openly antagonistic to the railroad which had taken from them their means of livelihood. All of this led up to the occurrences herein related. It should be understood that the better class of private citizens had no part in the affair, although the authorities were charged with woful laxity. Afterwards, the best people of the town took the initiative and helped rid it of the lawless element. - Editor.

A fearful night in Panama was that of the 15th of April, 1856. The vesper bells had just sounded from the towers of the Cathedral, but instead of the usual Ave

Maria, the calm of that moonlight evening was broken by distant cries and the noise of many feet rushing through the streets. The church bells outside the walls tolled the signal of fire, but unconsciously they rang an alarm of a more terrible nature than that, an alarm that spelled robbery and murder and sent more than a dozen to an unknown grave.

Shouts of To the Cienaga," were heard on every hand, and the rush concentrated itself in that direction. The Cienaga was a district of the town, then outside the city proper, where were located the passenger station, of fices, and wharf of the Panama Railroad Company. The same buildings are standing to-day, practically intact, and are now known as the old passenger station, and the American Wharf. In 1856 there was a cluster of cheap hotels and eating houses in the vicinity of this station. These have since disappeared.

On the afternoon of April 15th, 970 passengers arrived at Panama from New York, bound for the California. gold fields. They had expected to embark immediately on the steamer John L. Stephens, but the tide being out, they were detained on shore. Some of the passengers were gathered about the station waiting to get their tickets registered, while others went to the hotels and eating houses. Shortly after six o'clock one of the passengers said to have been under the influence of liquor, became involved in an altercation with a negro fruit vendor over the settlement for a piece of watermelon. The negro made a hostile demonstration with a knife, whereupon the passenger drew his revolver and fired. A commotion immediately ensued. The passenger sought refuge in the Ocean Hotel, along with some of his companions.

Here the crowd assembled, and inside of fifteen minutes an attack was made on the Ocean Hotel, McAllister's store, and the Pacific House, the latter situated to the left of the railroad depot. Capt. McLane, agent of the Pacific Mail Steamship Company, and Mr. William


Bird's eye view of Culebra and vicinity-Panama.

Isthmian-American & P.RR.News Agency & Advertising Bureau, A. Bienkowski

[blocks in formation]

Nelson of the railroad company were not far away when the outbreak occurred, and quickly sent for Col. Garrido, and the police. Meanwhile some of the passengers had started down to the wharf to embark, while others clamored for guns and ammunition to go to the rescue of the women and children in the hotels. All the arms in the railroad office at the time consisted of a double-barreled gun, brace of pistols, a sabre and fourteen old flintlock muskets. After some delay these guns were given out and loaded for defence, but a sentry was stationed at the door to prevent any from going out and joining in the fight. While this was going on, Mr. Center, another of ficial of the railroad, succeeded in getting the women and children removed from the Ocean Hotel.

Col. Ward, the American consul, and Mr. Sabla, his secretary, arrived on the scene at this juncture, and endeavoured with other cooler heads to restrain the male passengers from mixing in the fray. An old cannon belonging to the railroad company was dug out of the sand and loaded with rivets, but Col. Ward and Mr. Center gave positive orders that it was not to be fired unless an advance was made by the mob. The consul then sent his secretary to see if the police were coming, but as he did not return, (having been shot in the leg), the consul and Mr. Nelson went forward to see how matters stood. They had not advanced beyond the Pacific House when a crowd of natives came from among the cane huts. Mr.

Nelson called to them not to fire, but they disregarded the order and let off a number of shots, some of which hit Col. Ward's horse. Mr. Nelson expostulated with the people, but they told him to keep out of the way and not to go back to the station, unless he wanted to be killed. Mr. Nelson persisted in his course toward the station and finally reached there in safety.

In the meantine most of the passengers and persons at the station had got inside the company's fence and sheltered themselves as well as possible from the bullets that now flew thick and fast. The mob had maintained a regular fire on the building, killing several and wounding others A report was then spread that the natives were changing their positions and everyone felt a little casier, believing that when Col. Garrido arrived with the police, the affair would be speedily terminated. Soon after the

bugle of the police was heard, but instead of charging on the rioters, they joined issue with them, and commenced firing on the depot. By this time the natives had reached the freight house and were busy pillaging it.

Col. Ward, with some of the others then returned to town for the purpose of inducing the Governor to come and stop the massacre. On their way up they were halted by a party of armed natives, but were finally permitted to proceed. Arriving at the Governor's house, they found him away, but there was a crowd of men about the place carrying guns and demanding powder and ball. After some further scarc', the Governor Was located in another street. He agreed to accompany the American party back to the station, but stated he had already been there, and got a bullet through his hat.

Reaching the scene of the trouble once more, they found the natives still plundering the Ocean Hotel, and McAllister's store, while a man on the beach had a cannon loaded and pointed at the steamer Taboga lying near by. It was with some difficulty that he was induced not to fire. Here too they learned that Col. Garrido of the

« PreviousContinue »