Ancon Hill -- Ancon Rock Quarry [p1 of 1]
Since the arrival of the French on the Isthmus of Panama in 1879, Ancon Hill played a major role in plans for the construction of the Panama Canal. The hill, which overlooks the city of Panama from a height of 636 feet, takes its name from the Spanish word Ancon, which means 'anchorage.'
ANCON ROCK QUARRY
Large quantities of building materials, including stone and concrete, were required in the construction of the three sets of canal locks. A quarry located at Porto Bello on the Caribbean coast provided stone and concrete for, the Gatun Locks. After considering several locations on the Pacific coast, including Cocoli Hill, Sosa Hill and "the hills north of Corozal," an area on the western side of Ancon Hill was selected as the site for the Pacific side rock quarry.
The Ancon Quarry began operation on February 10, 1909. Part of the quarry operation involved the on-site crushing of stone for use in making concrete. Dynamite and steam shovels were used to loosen and remove large blocks of stone from the rock faces. The stone was then loaded by steam shovel onto conveyor cars and transported to the crusher plant. There the stone was broken into pieces approximately five inches in diameter before falling onto a conveyor belt. From the conveyor belt, the material was dumped into bins and transported to the construction site.
Accidents were rare at the rock quarry, but they did occur. Two such accidents involved premature dynamite explosions. The first, which occurred on August 30, 1910, resulted in the death of four laborers; the second occurred on July 19, 1911, in which four men were killed and two others were seriously injured.
Quarry operations literally reshaped the face of Ancon Hill. It produced over 3,200,000 cubic yards of rock for Canal construction projects, primarily for construction of miraflores locks, prior to closing on October 31, 1914. On March 31, 1920, when The Panama Canal issued names for streets and roads in the Ancon and Balboa areas, the road "branching to the south of the old Ancon Quarry to the entrance to the Quarry Heights military reservation" was officially named Quarry Road. [Canal Record; 14 April 1029, p.510]
Evidence of the concrete foundation of the quarry and rock crusher operations are still visible at Quarry Heights in the jungle in front of and between Quarters #18 and Quarters #20.
[Source: A History of Quarry Heights Military Reservation. Prepared by Graves + Klein, Architects,Engineers of Pensacola, Florida, for United States Army South (USARSO) through the Directorate of Engineering and Housing, United States Army Garrison Panama. Researched and Compiled by Suzanne P. Johnson, Cultural Resources Specialist, Consultant to Graves + Klein. Editor: Richard M. Houle, Chief, Engineering Division, Directorate of Engineering and Housing, USARSO. (Entire text minus photos online at https://www.denix.osd.mil/denix/Public/Library/NCR/note9.html.)
Site developed, owned and maintained by
William H. Ormsbee, Jr. 2005
ANCON HILL OTHER OCCUPANTS
- Ancon Rock Quarry
- Ancon Hospital (French)
- Ancon Cemetery
- Gorgas Hospital
- Former U.S. District Court
- Tivoli Hotel
- Herricks Heights housing area
- Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
- Middle America Research Unit
- Cable Heights