Thursday, July 8, 2010

Amador Causeway

Long before the Causeway was a four mile long stretch of hotels, restaurants and bike paths, it was simply a series of islands – Naos, Culebra, Perico and Flamenco- off the coast of Panama. Not much is known about the islands before the Spanish arrived, but on the island of Naos, there is thought to be a pre-Colombian graveyard.

For many years after the Spanish arrived, the islands were a pirate’s paradise. Trade ships that were arriving to and leaving from the islands full of riches were the primary targets!

When the United States took over construction of the Panama Canal in the early 1900s, they used the rocks and earth removed from the Culebra and Guillard Cuts to connect the four islands. The causeway creates a breakwater that protects the ships waiting to enter the canal. It also helps prevent the buildup of sediment that could clog the entrance to the canal.

In 1913 all four islands were joined and became known as Fort Grant. This military zone was built to protect canal access during World War I, World War II and the Cold War. Many of the fortifications and underground bomb proof structures still exist. (We did not get to see any of them!)

In the 1970s, after the United States decided it would give the Panama Canal back to the Panamanians, a transition began. The United States started to move out and the Panamanians gradually moved in. During that time, however, access to the causeway was limited.

Finally, on December 31, 1999 the entire Canal Zone, including the Amador Causeway was returned to Panama. Since then, the causeway has begun anew. There is little, if any obvious evidence of the U.S. military base. There are new buildings and buildings under construction. Surely the Amador Causeway will continue to attract the locals and tourists alike!

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