Canopy Family Panama

The Deck Story

 

On the deck outside the Canopy Tower, a small sign tells this story:

This deck is made from the ties and rails of the world's first transcontinental railroad. Built by the Panama Railroad Company, an American enterprise incorporated in New York City, it connected the Atlantic and Pacific across the Isthmus of Panama and was inaugurated on January 28, 1855. The newspapers of the day announced the event as "the most sublime and magnificent nuptials ever celebrated upon our planet, the wedding of the rough Atlantic to the fair Pacific Ocean". (How's that for hyperbole?)

The railroad was used extensively by all citizens of the world to travel between the Atlantic and the Pacific without having to cross the dangerous western plains of the United States on foot, or go by ship around the tip of South America in a longer and, perhaps, more hazardous route.

Upon completion of the Panama Canal in 1914, large parts of the original railroad disappeared under the waters of the Gatun Lake and new tracks were laid.

In 1998, in an international bid, the Government of Panamá auctioned the railroad. The winner was an American company, Kansas City Railways, which proceeded to lift the old tracks and is now in the process of building a whole new railroad.

All the wood in this deck is salvaged from the old Panama Railroad ties. Most of it is of the species Níspero (Manilkara zapota), a very hard local wood. It has been exposed to the tropical elements for more than 50 years without any chemical treatments and it is still in great condition.

Most of the steel structure of this deck consists of tracks from the old Panama Railroad.

Underneath the deck you may still see the foundations for the fuel tanks of the old Semaphore Hill Radar Station.

We invite you to use this deck to observe and appreciate the rainforest and its inhabitants from a different perspective than from the top of the Tower. Listen carefully and you might very well hear, amidst the sounds of the rainforest, the whistles and rumbles of the first "iron horses" that crossed the American Continent.
 

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